Faced with an angry backlash from gamers who were prepared to abandon the Xbox One en masse for the PlayStation 4, Microsoft has performed a startling U-turn over its console’s policies, announcing that game-sharing and offline play will now be allowed.
In a blog post this week, Microsoft’s president of interactive entertainment Don Mattrick explained that the company had taken its fans’ concerns on board, before thanking them for their “assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One.”
“We appreciate your passion and willingness to challenge assumptions over connectivity and digital licensing,” wrote Mattrick.
“We still believe that the majority of gamers want to access the cloud and play games online, but we also understand that consumers want a choice of both digital and physical content. We’ve listened to your feedback and its clear that you want the best of both worlds.”
Okay, so what does this mean?
Basically, Mattrick has announced a complete reversal of the Xbox One’s most heavily criticised rules:
- No more online requirement: While users will need to sign in online to set-up the console, after that they’ll never need to connect again if they don’t want to. However, those who never connect will only be able to play physical, disc-based games.
- No more “check-in” requirement: Shortly after it announced the Xbox One, Microsoft revealed that while online connectivity wasn’t a requirement for disc-based games, users would still have to connect at least once every 24 hours, otherwise their console would be rendered inoperable. Now, that’s no longer a requirement.
- Games are yours to do what you want: Mattrick stated that there will be no restrictions on disc-based games anymore, which means you’ll be free to trade, share, sell, lend, loan or give away any physical game that you buy, without paying any ‘fees’ to Microsoft.
- No regional restrictions: In a move that will appeal to a good proportion of gamers, Mattrick stated that there’ll be no regional restrictions on games, which means any physical game you purchase will work on your console, regardless of which country you bought it in.
Microsoft’s U-turn is Great News for 4K Lovers
Given Sony’s announcement that the PlayStation 4 would have none of the restrictions originally imposed on the Xbox One, one can’t help thinking that Microsoft has been forced into surrender. A recent poll by The Sun newspaper summed up gamers’ sentiments towards the company’s ruthless policies, revealing that almost 79% of consumers were set to buy the PS4 over the Xbox – essentially, it was game over for Microsoft before the console wars had even begun.
But no matter what your feelings on Microsoft’s face-saving exercise, there’s no doubt that from our point of view, this is great news. Lest we forget, for all its restrictions the Xbox One will be one of the few devices around capable of supporting ultra high-definition resolution, which is a huge bonus for anyone who owns an Ultra HD 4K TV. Admittedly there’s not much 4K content around at the moment, but in the next year or so that will surely change, which means the Xbox One is essentially ‘future-proofed’ in readiness for the emerging display technology that’ll eventually become the standard requirement before too long.