This was supposed to be a good summer for Microsoft. Last month they introduced the Xbox One, their next-generation console. It should have been a publicity win for the company. Unfortunately, the Xbox One came with some curious design specifications: A required always-on internet connection, the inability to sell or trade or indeed even technically own your videogames, the possibility that the Kinect would be always on watching you and gathering information on you for our robot overlords. Turns out that gamers don’t actually want a weird Orwellian surveillance device in their living room — especially not one that costs $499, $100 more than Sony’s Playstation 4.
So, after a brutal and bloody E3, Microsoft has just walked back some of the more bizarre aspects of the Xbox One. In a blog post, Microsoft’s Don Mattrick explains that the Xbox One was designed with the best intentions. “We imagined a new set of benefits such as easier roaming, family sharing, and new ways to try and buy games,” he notes, continuing “We believe in the benefits of a connected, digital future.” After noting that the vast majority of Xbox fans are apparently backwards luddites who enjoy the “flexibility” of games delivered on disc, Mattrick notes two key changes in Xbox One’s policy: An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games, and you can still trade in or lend disc based games — which, in a nutshell, basically means: “Well, we tried to radically alter the definition of ownership in the digital economy, and you kids were too smart for us.”
The blog post notes that “downloaded titles cannot be shared or resold,” and also features one hilariously passive-aggressive one-liner: “Similar to today, playing disc based games will require that the disc be in the tray.” The price hasn’t changed, and Microsoft is still apparently trying real hard to make the Kinect happen, but the Xbox One is now a slightly-less-Orwellian surveillance device. Which is nice.
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