Xbox One: always-on, used game questions remain unclear

Tuesday, 21 May 2013 19:24 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Xbox One was announced today, and despite rumors to the contrary, VG247 was told in Londo today it will not require an always-on connection. However, we have heard conflicting reports regarding the need for an online connection, and whether the console will allow for used games to be played – another heavy rumor for eons.

Get the skinny on what is clear and what isn’t below.

Second hand games

According to Wired, each gaming disc will be installed for a single owner, and if installed by a second account – say a used buyer – that owner will be given the option to pay a fee and install the game from the disc.

This way the new game owner would still have the game stored in the cloud, and able to play it, while the second hand owner could do the same as well.

“We have only confirmed that we designed Xbox One to enable our customers to trade-in and resell games at retail. Beyond that, we have not confirmed any specific scenarios.”

This will also work with letting friends borrow titles. They can play it, but if they don’t own the game, they will have to pay a fee to access it on the console.

However, while Microsoft would not elaborate on specifics, a representative told Sam Clay today in London that information regarding installed games and how this pertains to online will be released tomorrow.

Earlier we were told the system would support pre-owned games with “policies to be announced soon,” giving the assumption said restrictions on the used-end would be coming from a publisher standpoint.

Major Nelson took to his blog to try and clear things up a bit further.

“While there have been many potential scenarios discussed, today we have only confirmed that we designed Xbox One to enable our customers to trade-in and resell games at retail,” he said. “Beyond that, we have not confirmed any specific scenarios.”

He also clarified that should someone be playing their games at a friend’s house, “there is no fee to play that game while you are signed in to your profile.”

This is where the cloud comes in along with tying GamerTags to purchased titles, we’re guessing.

Always-online may still be the future

Users will also be able to continue to play games when offline if in single-player and will be able to watch a movie without being connected. So if you lose your Internet connection for some reason, you will still be able to watch or play. But the console will require users to at least log into the system at some point.

Further into the Wired piece referenced above, Xbox executive Marc Whitten said that Xbox One developers will be able to create games implementing the firm’s Azure cloud service, such as hosting part of the game in the cloud instead of being stored on the hard drive. Think SimCity basically. This would mean an online connection would be required to play the game online all the time.

While Whitten said Microsoft isn’t forcing any developer to do this, he hopes “they do” make use of the service in such a way. This means an always-online future is still in the cards for the system on a game-by-game basis at this point.

Microsoft corporate vice president Phil Harrison elaborated a bit further regarding the online component, stating that Xbox One is just one of “many devices in your life that require the Internet to function.”

“Xbox One is no different in that it requires, at some point in the beginning and at various times through its on state, to connect to our cloud and to our Internet.”

“Xbox One is no different in that it requires, at some point in the beginning and at various times through its on state, to connect to our cloud and to our Internet,” he said. “That is to deliver Xbox Live functionality, that is to deliver download content to you, that is to deliver some of the innovations around TV and entertainment that we showed today. But it doesn’t require it to be online all the time.”

Harrison also reiterated comments made by Whitten by stating that “single-player games that don’t require connectivity to Xbox Live,” and that they will be playable without interruption should your Internet connection go down. Same with Blu-ray movies and other downloaded entertainment.

“But the device is fundamentally designed to be expanded and extended by the Internet as many devices are today,” he said telling Kotaku that he “believes” a user would have to be connected at least once every 24 hours.

A Microsoft representative further tried to clarify matters to Kotaku by issuing a statement regarding Harrison’s comments, which reads almost exactly as Major Nelson’s above:

“While Phil [Harrison] discussed many potential scenarios around games on Xbox One, today we have only confirmed that we designed Xbox One to enable our customers to trade in and resell games at retail,” said the rep. “There have been reports of a specific time period — those were discussions of potential scenarios, but we have not confirmed any details today, nor will we be.”

So, there’s a bit a of a caveat – possibly. However, we expect Microsoft to clear this up a bit more tomorrow, as Sam Clay was told.

Other rumors debunked, confirmed

Achievements, GamerScore points and entertainment downloads will also transfer over and more on game streaming will be discussed at E3 next month where 90 minutes worth of games will be shown off.

Other rumors pointed to the system being backwards compatible, while others did not, but the later is the case: it is not backwards compatible and none of your digital titles will transfer over to the new system. This is according to our man on the ground, Sam Clay.

More rumors talked of a revamped friends list, allowing users to add more friends with less restrictions on numbers. Apparently this bit is true as well, because Marc Whitten told Polygon that number has been raised to 1,000. Lucky is the man with that many friends, I reckon.

“You’ll have your Gamertag, which will be semi-anonymous, and you’ll be able to use your real name with your friends,” he said. “You as a user will be able to say who on your friends list will see you as your real name.”

The system will also not function without Kinect connected – so there’s a bit of a rub for some of you.

But at least you can play your games offline when in single-player – for now.

Get caught up on all Xbox One news here.