After its catastrophic showing at E3 and humiliating drubbing at the hands of Sony, Microsoft has finally caved in and conceded gamers the right to share games and buy them second-hand on the Xbox One, freed them of the need to be continuously online to use the console, and allow removed all regional restrictions on where the console can be played.
A complicated activation system for sharing games and the requirement to be continuously connected to the Internet even when playing single player titles combined with inferior hardware and a higher price practically delivered leadership in the next generation to Sony, though it is hard to see such a belated about-face doing much to change this.
Less conspicuous, though perhaps even more important, than the DRM fiasco is a climbdown on regional restrictions – some had noted that the combination of online activation and limited regional service may have meant the console would have been unable to play any games at all outside of launch territories:
However, Microsoft now claim there “will be no regional restrictions” – not that this will be much consolation to those stuck in the majority of the planet without warranties on their hardware or any prospect of localised releases of their favourite EA Sports titles.
Microsoft’s sweetly scented PR patter on the subject – “Your Feedback Matters” (just not at any point prior to Sony appearing to be winning it would seem):
You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc. The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world.
So, today I am announcing the following changes to Xbox One and how you can play, share, lend, and resell your games exactly as you do today on Xbox 360. Here is what that means:
•An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, 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.
•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.
In addition to buying a disc from a retailer, you can also download games from Xbox Live on day of release. If you choose to download your games, you will be able to play them offline just like you do today. Xbox One games will be playable on any Xbox One console — there will be no regional restrictions.