E3 News: Xbox One Requires Online Connection, Publishers Free to Add Fees to Pre-owned

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Posted By Chella Ramanan

Microsoft has launched a website offering more details on the Xbox One, in a hope of allaying any consumer concerns regarding always on, pre-owned licensing and Kinect. These may not be the answers you’re looking for.

Is Xbox One always on?

Micorosft says: 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.

We say: Well, I guess technically, this is a no. It’s more of an inconvenience, rather than a major connectivity issue.

Can you trade-in games?

Microsoft says: 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.

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.

We say: This one is a bit of a cop-out. Microsoft doesn’t charge a fee, but publishers can if they want and it looks like the ebay days are over. No rentals at launch either.

Can you lend games to your friends?

Microsoft says: 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.

We say: Yes, you can, if publishers let you. And no ‘lending’ to strangers with maybe a cash incentive, so don’t get any ideas.

What about Kinect and privacy issues?

Microsoft says: 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.

If you don’t want the Kinect sensor on while playing games or enjoying your entertainment, you can pause Kinect. To turn off your Xbox One, just say ‘Xbox Off.’ When the system is off, it’s only listening for the single voice command — ‘Xbox On,’ and you can even turn that feature off too. Some apps and games may require Kinect functionality to operate, so you’ll need to turn it back on for these experiences.

We say: So Kinect isn’t an insidious spying device, offering Microsoft HAL-like access to your home.

Analysis

Microsoft has finally answered the questions that have been dominating the headlines since their big reveal, in May. That clears things up nicely and now we can just focus on the games at its E3 press conference on Monday – or so Microsoft hopes. They have answered the most pressing questions, but there’s no good news there, really.

And to top it all, Microsoft adds this caveat at the end. Make of it, what you will.

"As we move into this new generation of games and entertainment, from time to time, Microsoft may change its policies, terms, products and services to reflect modifications and improvements to our services, feedback from customers and our business partners or changes in our business priorities and business models or for other reasons. We may also cease to offer certain services or products for similar reasons."

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