Xbox One Used Games, Always-On Internet & DRM Explained
Microsoft has revealed its digital strategy for the Xbox One, and the next-gen Xbox looks set to keep tabs on the games you own.
If you’re looking to make an informed decision on whether or not the Xbox One is for you, we’ve summarised each of the points Microsoft made and what that means for you:
Xbox One’s Always-On Internet & The Cloud
A new generation of games with power from the cloud: Because every Xbox One owner has a broadband connection, developers can create massive, persistent worlds that evolve even when you’re not playing.
- Microsoft will use Cloud technology to enable a number of services server-side for the Xbox One. As such an internet connection will be required to make use of these games and features.
Your Xbox One is always ready: Xbox One is designed to run in a low-powered, connected state. This means your system, games and apps are always current and ready to play—no more waiting for updates.
- The Xbox One will be quick to boot up, with three operating systems powering the console to enable quick-swapping of apps and games. It also means that the Xbox One – providing you have an internet connection – will keep your games and system software up-to-date.
Stay connected to your friends: Never miss an opportunity to play games with your friends or to catch up with family on Skype. Use Skype in Snap mode to chat while you play games or watch TV. Or enjoy group video Skype calls with people around the world, all from the comfort of your living room.
- Xbox One will have Skype built into the system, meaning you can make voice and video calls with anyone around the world.
Access your entire games library from any Xbox One—no discs required: After signing in and installing, you can play any of your games from any Xbox One because a digital copy of your game is stored on your console and in the cloud. So, for example, while you are logged in at your friend’s house, you can play your games.
- Buying an Xbox One game, even from a disc, will attach that game to your account. Additionally, every game will need to be installed to your Xbox One before playing the game. This means you’ll be able to access the game you buy while signed into any other Xbox One.
- Bear in mind that this is a form of DRM, however, and will keep track of the game licenses you own.
Superior wireless performance and coverage throughout the home: Xbox One is equipped with a gigabit Ethernet port and 802.11n wireless. With 802.11n, Xbox One can use the 5GHz wireless band which eliminates considerable interference from other devices in the home, such as cordless phones, Bluetooth devices and microwaves. Xbox One uses two wireless antennas, versus one in Xbox 360. This provides dramatically better coverage and sustained performance, which means faster internet speeds in more areas of your home.
- Xbox One can be connected to the internet either through wire or wireless. The wireless hardware has been improved to be more stable, reach signals further away and improve speed over the Xbox 360.
Faster connection to a world of smart devices: With Wi-Fi Direct, Xbox One can speak directly to smart wireless devices and connect to them through the cloud. This means your smartphone or tablet will interact with Xbox One seamlessly.
- Microsoft is enabling SmartGlass technology to be more prominent with the Xbox One. It also means you’ll be able to connect to your Xbox One with your phone so it knows you have an internet connection.
Future proofed with power from the cloud: Microsoft has created a global network of more than 300,000 Xbox Live and Windows Azure servers, to help creators realize their visions of what is possible with a connected system.
- Microsoft is enabling Cloud technology to assist in the computation of many of the Xbox One’s games. This will require a connection to the internet and, as yet, is an unproven method of compute. Poor or slow internet connections could affect games reliant on this technology.
- Tying into this, the need to attach a videogame license to your Xbox Live account could mean games that rely on Cloud compute technology will act as a form of DRM.
Xbox One Internet Connection Requirements
For an optimal experience, we recommend a broadband connection of 1.5Mbps. (For reference, the average global internet connection speed as measured recently by Akamai was 2.9 Mbps). In areas where an Ethernet connection is not available, you can connect using mobile broadband.
- UK standard broadband speeds puts the average connection at 5.2 MB/s at its lowest, however this is the average with many receiving much lower. Rural areas of the country will likely be affected by this need for a stable and solid internet connection.
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.
- Though Microsoft hasn’t stated here, an internet connection to the Xbox One is needed to enable this system of checking every 24 hours. This means for all intents and purposes a persistent connection is required in a bid to keep track of all of your game purchases.
- Without an internet connection the Xbox One will restrict access to your games, presuming that you may have sold, traded-in or lent out a game while still trying to play the copy you ‘own’.
- If you are accessing your games from another Xbox One – i.e. logged into a friend’s Xbox One – then you must ensure you can connect to the internet at least once every hour.
- “Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection,” says Microsoft. Even single-player games will be inaccessible should you fail to ‘secure’ an internet connection.
- You can tether to your Xbox One with a smartphone, providing the necessary ‘internet requirement’ to complete this check.
- Live TV, Blu-Rays and DVD is not affected by this requirement and can be accessed at any time.
Xbox One Used Games & Licensing
Buy the way you want—disc or digital—on the same day: You’ll be able to buy disc-based games at traditional retailers or online through Xbox Live, on day of release.
- Digital versions of every game will be made available on launch. Pricing has yet to be revealed.
Share access to your games with everyone inside your home: Your friends and family, your guests and acquaintances get unlimited access to all of your games. Anyone can play your games on your console–regardless of whether you are logged in or their relationship to you.
- Other people can play your Xbox One games. It’s similar to how it works now with the Xbox 360, except that the game is installed on your Xbox One hard drive instead of being in disc form.
Give your family access to your entire games library anytime, anywhere: Xbox One will enable new forms of access for families. Up to ten members of your family can log in and play from your shared games library on any Xbox One. Just like today, a family member can play your copy of Forza Motorsport at a friend’s house. Only now, they will see not just Forza, but all of your shared games. You can always play your games, and any one of your family members can be playing from your shared library at a given time.
- You can share your game licenses with your family members, though how Microsoft will ensure someone is a member of your family is not yet known. This will mean anyone playing as part of your ‘shared family’ will be able to access your games from wherever they decide to play.
Trade-in and resell your disc-based games: Today, some gamers choose to sell their old disc-based games back for cash and credit. We designed Xbox One so game publishers can enable you to trade in your games at participating retailers. Microsoft does not charge a platform fee to retailers, publishers, or consumers for enabling transfer of these games.
- This means you can trade-in your games. However, since the data is installed on your hard drive and attached to your account, trading in a game will also mean you’ll need to relinquish the digital rights too.
- Microsoft states that the decision as to whether or not an activated license can be traded in is up to the game publisher, which many will deny. Most publishers disapprove of the second hand games market, so the likelihood of being able to trade-in your games is diminished.
- Additionally Microsoft itself will not enforce any fees on second hand games, however publishers will have the opportunity to charge a fee for any games bought second hand. This means you could need to pay a fee to unlock access to a game, despite having bought it second hand from a store.
Give your games to friends: 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.
- This means that it is, technically, possible to lend out your games to a friend. Simply gift the license to them and they will be able to play. After giving the license away you will be unable to use the game until the license has been returned.
- Microsoft’s wording on this is a little unclear, however, and does not clarify whether or not a game license can be returned to you once it has been given out.
- Additionally, it does not clarify that – should a license be returned to you – it can then be re-gifted to someone else.
- Microsoft also confirmed that the ability to loan or give games to a friend is up to the publisher’s discretion, meaning this feature could be denied by publishers such as EA and Activision.
Microsoft’s Closing Comment
As we move into this new generation of games and entertainment, from time to time, Microsoft may change its policies, terms, products and services to reflect modifications and improvements to our services, feedback from customers and our business partners or changes in our business priorities and business models or for other reasons. We may also cease to offer certain services or products for similar reasons.
- This is the scariest part. With all the information Microsoft has released, it is also adding that these stipulations could change at any time. It’s unlikely, of course, but in theory Microsoft could start enforcing a permenant internet requirement (rather than just 24 hours) or block all second hand games entirely.
- The opposite is also true, of course, and Microsoft could remove any such requirements with feedback from its gamers.