The Xbox One will no longer need to connect to the internet at least once every 24 hours, will no longer support any new restrictions on the way second-hand games are currently played, and will no longer be region-locked, Microsoft announced in a blog post today. The sudden about-face comes less than two weeks after Microsoft first detailed the new console\’s controversial online and DRM policies.
Those changes were met with a vocal, largely negative reaction amongst core gamers, a feeling that was only intensified days later after rival Sony revealed that it would not impose any similar policy changes on its PlayStation 4. Today, Microsoft appears to have taken that strong consumer response to heart.
Under Microsoft\’s previous plan, Xbox One owners would be required to check in online at least once per day, even if they only wanted to play an offline game. That requirement has now been cut. Publishers can still decide to make their Xbox One games always-online, as they have long been able to do, but the console itself will no longer need a periodic internet connection to work.
\”After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again,\” wrote Xbox head Don Mattrick in a post on the Xbox Wire blog. \”There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.\”
Similarly, Microsoft now says that the trading, lending, reselling, gifting and renting of disc-based games will not function any differently than it does on the current Xbox 360. \”There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360,\” said Mattrick.
Before today, Microsoft had a somewhat vague plan in place that would let publishers decide whether or not their games could be resold and used second-hand, and whether or not they wanted charge a fee for said resales. Microsoft itself acknowledged at the time that the Xbox One would not support \”loaning and renting games\” at launch either. All of this will no longer be the case.
This will all be helped by the Xbox One\’s newfound acceptance of physical discs. Under the old policy, the console would install every disc-based game to its hard drive and the cloud, effectively rendering the physical media useless after its first use.
But now, any disc-based game will need to be in the Xbox One\’s tray to be used, similar to how the Xbox 360 works today. Microsoft says downloadable versions of Xbox One games will still be available on the same day as their physical counterparts as well.
Finally, Microsoft also announced that the Xbox One will not have any regional restrictions upon its launch. The console would only function in the country in which it was purchased under the original plan, even if the owner of said console moved to a different part of the world. Now, Microsoft says that any Xbox One will be usable all the same, regardless of which area it is located.
WhatHiFi was first to report on the Xbox One\’s new procedures, with Giant Bomb following up on the news shortly afterwards.
The changes should appease the many vocal critics of Microsoft\’s past decisions, but they will force the company to cut many of the Xbox One\’s previously planned cloud-based features. For instance, Microsoft says that downloadable games can no longer be shared or resold without the online policies in place.
The console\’s former solution for sharing games, wherein users could share their entire Xbox One games library on any console they were logged into with up to 10 members of their \”family,\” has been scrapped for the time being too. If users want to share their disc-based games, they\’ll have to bring their physical discs with them the old-fashioned way.
The ability to access one\’s entire games library on any Xbox One console in general is also gone. Microsoft says digitally purchased games will show up under one\’s Xbox One account at all times, but that disc-based games will need the actual disc to be played on any given console.
The dramatic shift in policy led some to speculate that Microsoft may cut the price of the Xbox One in order to further align it with the PlayStation 4, but the company says that will not be the case. \”On the price we feel strongly that we are delivering an immense value in gaming and entertainment,\” Xbox Live VP Marc Whitten told Polygon. The console can still be pre-ordered today for $499, and is still on track to hit retailers sometime in November.