Microsoft has broken its Xbox One silence to answer the most burning questions. Yes: you need to be online every day. No: the Kinect won’t record you. Maybe: you can have some used games.
At A Glance
The Xbox One needs to check-in online every day. If it doesn’t establish a connection, you won’t be able to play games, although you can still watch on-disc movies.
If you log into your Xbox Live profile from another Xbox One, you’ll have access to all your content – but you’ll need to go online once every hour at minimum.
You’ll be able to buy disc-based games at traditional retailers or online through Xbox Live, on day of release.
Games licensing will be tied to consoles, and third-party publishers may charge a fee for activating used games at their discretion.
Renting and loaning games will not be available at launch. Microsoft is working with publishers to make it happen.
Kinect won’t record you while the console is in stand-by mode, and won’t share your data without permission.
You can give your games away to your friends as gifts – but only once.
In a series of Xbox Wire posts, Microsoft has put paid to various misconceptions about the Xbox One – and confirmed other details. The first of these is that the console will need to go online every single day if you want to keep gaming. Microsoft justified this decision by pointing out the many advantages of a networked console, and said it is preparing for a “connected future”.
“While a persistent connection is not required, Xbox One is designed to verify if system, application or game updates are needed and to see if you have acquired new games, or resold, traded in, or given your game to a friend. Games that are designed to take advantage of the cloud may require a connection,” the platform holder said.
“With Xbox One you can game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your library. Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection, but you can still watch live TV and enjoy Blu-ray and DVD movies.”
Microsoft recommends a minimum broadband Internet speed of 1.5Mbps, which it rates well below Akami’s estimated average global Internet speed of 2.9 Mbps, and says is possible on mobile broadband.
Licensing, DRM and trade-ins
You’ll notice that one of the things the Xbox One does during its daily Internet check-ins is determine whether you’ve traded a game in; the console does indeed employ a licensing system for games.
“In our role as a game publisher, Microsoft Studios will enable you to give your games to friends or trade in your Xbox One games at participating retailers. Third party publishers may opt in or out of supporting game resale and may set up business terms or transfer fees with retailers,” Microsoft confirmed.
“Microsoft does not receive any compensation as part of this. In addition, third party publishers can enable you to give games to friends. Loaning or renting games won’t be available at launch, but we are exploring the possibilities with our partners.”
The licensing system has benefits; anybody using your console can access anything you’ve purchased for it, whether you or they are logged in, and you can also access any of your content on other Xbox One consoles – say, at a friend’s house – just by logging into your online profile.
Another interesting point of the licensing system is that it will allow you to give your games away to friends – but with some tight restrictions, assuming publishers allow it.
“Xbox One is designed so game publishers can enable you to give your disc-based games to your friends. There are no fees charged as part of these transfers. There are two requirements: you can only give them to people who have been on your friends list for at least 30 days and each game can only be given once.”
You’ll be able to buy disc-based games at traditional retailers or online through Xbox Live, on day of release. Discs will ensure your games are installed quickly, though.
Kinect – always on, but not watching
Finally, Microsoft addressed concerns over Kinect’s erie always-on listening, and the fact that it is theoretically capable of reporting whether you are watching a commercial, for example.
“You are in control of what Kinect can see and hear: By design, you will determine how responsive and personalized your Xbox One is to you and your family during setup,” Microsoft said.
“When Xbox One is on and you’re simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded.
“You are in control of when Kinect sensing is On, Off or Paused: If you don’t want the Kinect sensor on while playing games or enjoying your entertainment, you can pause Kinect. To turn off your Xbox One, just say ‘Xbox Off.’ When the system is off, it’s only listening for the single voice command – ‘Xbox On,’ and you can even turn that feature off too.
“You are in control of your personal data: You can play games or enjoy applications that use data, such as videos, photos, facial expressions, heart rate and more, but this data will not leave your Xbox One without your explicit permission.”
Microsoft gave a few examples of where that data might be used in games, and made no mention of advertising or similar exploitation of the data.
Xbox One will launch before the end of the year. We’re hoping for a release date and pricing details at E3 next week.