Posted on June 6, 2013, Mark Burnham Tons of New Xbox One Info: The Good, Bad & WTF
Well, well well! What an interesting Thursday this has become for anyone who’s been paying attention to the deluge of confusion and worry created by the initial unveiling of Microsoft’s Xbox One back on May 21 (which seems like it was about nine years ago).
Microsoft today published quite a bit of information to attempt to clear up some of the confusion about used games, sharing, always-on connectivity and more.
So, how’d Microsoft do? It’s a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, we’ve got some good news to share. On the other … there were a couple disappointing answers, and more confusing ones.
We’ve broken the most salient bits of information down into three buckets for you: Good, Bad and WTF. Read on for a breakdown of how the Xbox One is shaping up.
Control the thing with other devices via wi-fi
“With Wi-Fi Direct, Xbox One can speak directly to smart wireless devices and connect to them through the cloud. This means your smartphone or tablet will interact with Xbox One seamlessly.”
Neat. As Xbox 360 players can do now with Microsoft’s SmartGlass app, you’ll be able to use your smartphone to whip through menus on the Xbox One. It’s a handy feature that will probably be even more useful.
Buy all games digitally at launch.
“You’ll be able to buy disc-based games at traditional retailers or online through Xbox Live, on day of release. Discs will continue to be a great way to install your games quickly.”
Digital games on launch day: excellent, as terms of convenience. Saw it coming. Surprised it took a major console manufacturer this long.
Play games in your library remotely through the cloud.
“Access your entire games library from any Xbox One — no discs required: After signing in and installing, you can play any of your games from any Xbox One because a digital copy of your game is stored on your console and in the cloud. So, for example, while you are logged in at your friend’s house, you can play your games.“
This is arguably the coolest thing we’re hearing about today. Using the cloud to access and play games from your library on any Xbox One sounds great, and it seems as though you’ll be able to skip installing at a friend’s house. Surprising we didn’t hear about it until now, although it raises some questions about taking games to locations where the Internet connectivity isn’t as strong.
Kinect does have privacy options.
“You are in control of your personal data: You can play games or enjoy applications that use data, such as videos, photos, facial expressions, heart rate and more, but this data will not leave your Xbox One without your explicit permission. Here are a few examples of potential future scenarios:
A fitness game could measure heart rate data to provide you with improved feedback on your workout, allow you to track your progress, or even measure calories burned.
A card game could allow you to bluff your virtual opponent using your facial expressions.”
Good. It sounds like the Kinect 2 will have buttons you can push to control privacy settings, although we still have a lot of questions on this front, though — read our breakdown of the new privacy info.
Sell your old games, no fee from Microsoft.
“Today, some gamers choose to sell their old disc-based games back for cash and credit. We designed Xbox One so game publishers can enable you to trade in your games at participating retailers. Microsoft does not charge a platform fee to retailers, publishers, or consumers for enabling transfer of these games.”
So, the Xbox One’s default state is “no used games,” but publishers can allow them if they’d like, as we noted in our used game breakdown. And the used game market will be completely controlled by publishers and their retail partners, which eliminates any market competition. This is basically what we all feared.
Always-on connectivity requirement
“With Xbox One you can game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your library. Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection, but you can still watch live TV and enjoy Blu-ray and DVD movies.”
This is a big one, and it’s true. So that’s it. You can’t game unless it connects to Internet once every 24 hours. It is a Gremlin that needs Internet to survive. You must feed it.
Share games in your house.
“Your friends and family, your guests and acquaintances get unlimited access to all of your games. Anyone can play your games on your console–regardless of whether you are logged in or their relationship to you.”
This is a WTF, because it’s a bit funny this is listed seemingly expecting applause. I can share games with people in my own house, on my own console! That’s amazing, I’m preordering mine right now!
The Kinect won’t spy on you.
“You are in control of what Kinect can see and hear: By design, you will determine how responsive and personalized your Xbox One is to you and your family during setup. The system will navigate you through key privacy options, like automatic or manual sign in, privacy settings, and clear notifications about how data is used. When Xbox One is on and you’re simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded.”
Thanks guys! ‘Preciate you not secretly recording my converations.
Give games to friends.
“Give your games to friends: Xbox One is designed so game publishers can enable you to give your disc-based games to your friends. There are no fees charged as part of these transfers. There are two requirements: you can only give them to people who have been on your friends list for at least 30 days and each game can only be given once.”
Confusing. What? You can only give games to BFFs, guys. Also, it’s designed so publishers can allow this, which, again, means you don’t actually own the games you buy, nor can you do what you want with them.
Publishers can charge fees for used games.
“In our role as a game publisher, Microsoft Studios will enable you to give your games to friends or trade in your Xbox One games at participating retailers. Third party publishers may opt in or out of supporting game resale and may set up business terms or transfer fees with retailers. Microsoft does not receive any compensation as part of this. In addition, third party publishers can enable you to give games to friends. Loaning or renting games won’t be available at launch, but we are exploring the possibilities with our partners.”
Game rentals, and loans, are not available at launch. Bam. Furthermore, publishers can charge fees for used games if they want, so Microsoft’s position here almost doesn’t matter. They won’t charge you for used games, but Capcom might, for instance. Again, this is a huge blow to used games and consumer rights. Read our breakdown about sharing and trading for more.
“Xbox One will enable new forms of access for families. Up to ten members of your family can log in and play from your shared games library on any Xbox One. Just like today, a family member can play your copy of Forza Motorsport at a friend’s house. Only now, they will see not just Forza, but all of your shared games. You can always play your games, and any one of your family members can be playing from your shared library at a given time.”
So, “family members” can access your game library remotely, which is potentially cool. But how does it know what profiles are owned by my family members? Is there a “family group” function that allows you to build a list of profiles owned by family members? Furthermore, what’s to stop me from saying Ross Lincoln is my brother, so he can access my library remotely? And also — only one family member can play family games at a time? Potentially a bit of a bummer.