New Xbox One Information We Almost Wish We Didn’t Know

Microsoft has released more information about the Xbox One. Some of it is bad. Some of it is worse.

By now it is getting to be embarrassingly easy to rant about the Xbox One.  The sheer number of things Microsoft is doing with the console that seem to be at best questionable is mind-boggling.  The one assurance Microsoft has been giving us is to wait until E3, to give them the opportunity to show us the games they have coming out for the console since they chose not to at the reveal.

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What Microsoft has done, finally, is give us a bit more information about the console’s capabilities and requirements in regards to its online needs and who can play what game when.  We finally have some definitive answers to these questions.

I almost wish we were still wondering

For starters, let us get a summary of the basic facts.  No renting or lending games to friends, the console has to be online at least once a day to confirm you own what you have installed, and Kinect can be turned off, but will still be listening for the command to turn the Xbox One on, meaning it is not actually off.

Now let us look at some of the bullet-pointed features Microsoft seems to think we should be pleased with.

Purchase and Play

They mention we can buy disc or digital, which is fine on its own but also is not particularly exciting to anyone who has used a PC in the five to ten years.  Anyone can play any games installed on a given console without the owner being there.  Okay, that gives it at least one feature previously considered common sense with a console gaming system.

People to Play

One potential positive, people can set up their Xbox Live accounts so up to ten friends and family can play their entire games library from any Xbox One.  That actually is a cool feature, until you notice on a different page that even if you, personally, are the one playing your games library on another Xbox One, it will shut off after one hour.  You can take your game to a friend’s house and play on his Xbox One, but only for one hour.

Let us all take a moment to consider the many games we have enjoyed playing only the first hour of.

Used Games… Sorta

More good news, players can actually trade their games to their friends!  As long as the friend has been on your friendlist for at least 30 days… and the game you trade can never be traded ever again… and it will not be available at launch.  Not being available at launch makes this sound like an added feature for either legal reasons or in response to fan outrage after the reveal itself, but it is still a (small) step in the right direction, so I will let it slide.

Used games can be traded in to specific retailers if the game’s publisher allows it.  Microsoft has officially stated that they have enabled publishers the right to render their games completely unable to resell, even if the retailer being sold to has a partnership with Microsoft specifically for that purpose, or to trade to a friend.  Publishers have been implementing restrictive DRM for quite some time, so it seems given many of them will prohibit trading or reselling of their games.


I totally trust all of these guys to let me resell their games.  Totally.

Contractual Kinect Double-Talk

On the plus side, Microsoft says now we will be able to disable the Kinect’s ability to turn the Xbox One on with a voice command, implying we can actually genuinely turn the thing off.  They also assure us our personal data will never leave the console itself and can set up the exact settings for how much data it gathers involving logging people in.

Here is the ultimate problem with the assurances regarding Microsoft’s protection of our privacy: they are just words.  Words are nice, words are great.  I am using words right now, and it is glorious.  The problem is that words are useless if they cannot be believed, and Microsoft’s trustworthiness on the topic of privacy is dubious.

How can I believe the console will not share my personal data when Microsoft has patents specifically related to doing so?  How can I trust having a camera and microphone in my living room when Microsoft has stated clearly they can and will change their policies whenever they feel the need, for whatever reason they deem necessary?

Words are fantastic for communication, but if they were as reassuring as Microsoft seems to hope theirs will be, the Xbox One would not need so many forms of control.


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Wokendreamer
Writer, gamer, and generally hopeful beneath a veneer of cynicism.