Microsoft on Used Games, Always On & Kinect Privacy for Xbox One

A press release answers some of the most pressing questions swirling around Microsoft's new console

Microsoft released a press statement this afternoon clarifying a number of Xbox One related issues that have been the subject of heated debate, rumor, and uncertainty since the consoles announcement a couple of weeks ago.  The critical talking points the company ran down were the devices rumored need to check in with Microsoft servers every 24 hours, the possibility of selling and playing used games, and concerns over privacy issues around the required Kinect camera. 

Always On: Practically, Yes

The TL;DR is that yes, the Xbox One will need to check in with Microsoft every 24 hours or it will disable consumers' ability to play games offline.  The press release also notes that if you’re on a console accessing your games library through the cloud, that machine will need to check in on an hourly basis or you won’t be able to play the games you’ve purchased offline.  While it won’t be possible to play offline games without this check-in, Microsoft was clear that live TV and Blu-ray/DVD films would still be accessible.

The press release tallies up a number of advantages of a console that they can guarantee has some form of broadband connection, including “massive, persistent worlds” that can change and evolve even while the player isn’t actively playing, and games that are always up to date and ready to play.  The latter is possible because the console will run in a low-power, connected state even when the player isn’t signed in, allowing it to passively receive updates on the fly whenever they become available. 

Used Games: Also Yes

The language in the press release regarding used games puts the ball squarely in publishers' courts, while making it clear that Microsoft won't be taking a cut of profits from disabling/enabling games on players' accounts.  “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.”

This means that it will be up to publishing houses like Activision and EA on a title-by-title basis to determine whether or not their games can be removed from a player’s account so they can be resold.  The statement goes on to emphasize that any game a player has downloaded from Xbox Live or installed on their machine from a disk will be available to that player in the cloud from any Xbox One they’re signed into.

Kinect and Privacy: Don't Freak Out Too Much

Today’s press release indicates that while the Xbox One is powered down, the only input the Kinect will respond to is “Xbox On” to active the system, meaning it won’t surreptitiously be filming, recording, or listening to your conversations while it’s not specifically enabled.  Microsoft also stated that during the setup process, the system would guide you through toggling on or off various privacy and sign-in settings, and claimed that they would be completely transparent about what data is collected and how it's used.

Published Jun. 6th 2013
  • Germ_the_Nobody
    Correspondent
    Well Microsoft's seemingly been more up front about it. I believe Sony is doing the exact same thing when it comes to used games.
  • Alan Bradley
    Columnist
    Sony's been very smart by being very vague and general about their own DRM policies, and letting Microsoft take all the early heat
  • AndyLunique
    Featured Contributor
    I had a feeling they would put used games in the Publisher's court, I mean this is where all the online pass madness started in the first place. I think Microsoft got hit really hard because they simply chose the wrong words for their conference.
  • Alan Bradley
    Columnist
    The sense I've gotten from talking to developers and others in the industry is that it was publishers like EA and Activision that were pushing so hard for greater control over used games in the first place. This sounds like Microsoft's attempt to shift the responsibility off their own shoulders.

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