Xbox One will not require regular online check-ins or place restrictions on game-lending “as a result of feedback from the Xbox community,” Microsoft announced today.
The announcement is a complete reversal of the company’s previously announced DRM policy for games on the Xbox One.
“After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One,” Xbox executive Don Mattrick wrote in a blog post, “you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. 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.” Mattrick added that Xbox One would be region-free; any Xbox One disc would function in any Xbox One console.
Additionally, Mattrick wrote, players will be able to “trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today. There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.”
This will come at a small cost — despite previous announcements, Xbox One will require that discs remain in the tray in order to play games, and players will be unable to share downloaded games. In other words, it’ll work exactly like the Xbox 360 — for better and for worse.
Before today’s announcement, things were looking bad for Microsoft. Scores of memes mocking the Xbox One were made. Public consumer polls put the PlayStation 4 ahead of the Xbox One by a wide margin. The Navy Times called the Xbox “a sin against all service members,” arguing that the console’s restrictive online policies were “a ‘showstopper’ for any service members who rely on their Xbox for off-duty diversions downrange, in the field, or at sea.”
The company had also planned a complicated license-transfer scheme that would allow Xbox One users to trade in games at approved retailers, but which would prevent them from simply allowing a friend to borrow the disc, also putting the kibosh on game rentals.
Capitalizing on online anger about Microsoft’s policies, Sony took E3 by storm with their announcement that the PlayStation 4 would use no similar DRM scheme. Sony even went so far as to publicly mock Microsoft’s complicated policies via its YouTube channel.