Early yesterday afternoon Microsoft pulled a complete 180 on their Xbox One DRM plans, and in the process tossed their game-sharing feature by the wayside. It was a decision that was met with much fanfare, but some disappointment regarding the sharing of games.
Now that a full 24 hours has passed since that announcement, one Microsoft employee has come out (anonymously) to voice his displeasure over Microsoft’s DRM reversal. Additionally, he has provided some clarification on the game-sharing plan — clarification that actually makes the feature sound less appealing.
According to the unverifiable employee – who wrote a lengthy post on Pastebin – the game-sharing plan would have allowed gamers to highlight specific Xbox Live members as “family,” and share any of their uploaded games with them. It didn’t matter if that family member lived in the same house, across the street, or across the country, they would have access to any titles in the shared game library.
The one caveat — and a very big caveat it is — is that the family member could only play said shared game for less than an hour. In other words, it was more of a timed demo than a digital game-lending program. The Microsoft employee says that family members would have had access to the full game, or whatever they could get through in 15-45 minutes. After time expired, they would then be prompted with a “Buy Now” option.
The premise is simple and elegant, when you buy your games for Xbox One, you can set any of them to be part of your shared library. Anyone who you deem to be family had access to these games regardless of where they are in the world. There was never any catch to that, they didn’t have to share the same billing address or physical address it could be anyone. When your family member accesses any of your games, they’re placed into a special demo mode. This demo mode in most cases would be the full game with a 15-45 minute timer and in some cases an hour. This allowed the person to play the game, get familiar with it then make a purchase if they wanted to. When the time limit was up they would automatically be prompted to the Marketplace so that they may order it if liked the game.
It’s ironic that in a post about Microsoft’s inability to adequately communicate the utility of the Xbox One‘s feature set, that this individual reveals a feature we thought we understood was totally different. And, in the process, makes the loss of “game sharing” feel less like an actual loss.
The idea of sharing a game as a demo is all well and good, but that’s not the idea gamers were being sold on. It’s unclear whether this idea was the full scope of Microsoft’s game sharing plan, which was said to support up to 9 family members, so we won’t fully judge a feature that might be a small part of a bigger plan. Either way, though, we’d venture to guess gamers that were pro-game sharing are less disappointed about the DRM reversal now then they were before. In fact, some gamers are more interested in the Xbox One now.
The employee also outlined a new social initiative with the Xbox One that would have seen the console replace Twitter, Facebook, and any other social network. In essence, the Xbox One and Xbox Live would become the social network.
Another feature that we didn’t speak out about was the fact we were building a natural social network with Xbox One in itself that didn’t require gamers to open their laptops/tablets to post to their other friends nor did they need to wrestle with keyboard add-ons. Each Xbox Live account would have a full “home space” in which they could post their highest scores, show off their best Game DVR moments, what they’ve watched via Xbox TV and leave messages for others to read and respond to. Kinect 2.0 and Xbox One work together and has robust voice to text capabilities. The entire notion of communicating with friends you met online would have been natural and seamless. No reliance on Facebook, or Twitter (though those are optional for those who want them). Everything is perfectly crafted for the Xbox One controller and Kinect 2.0 and given that shine that only Microsoft can provide.
Apparently, these social features will still come to Xbox One; they just might not reflect Microsoft’s original vision. And as far as game sharing goes, we may still see a shared library feature in the future, perhaps when games go all digital, but not at launch.
How do you feel about the loss of game sharing after finding out it was more a timed-demo plan? Will you take advantage of the Xbox One’s social features?
The Xbox One is set to hit store shelves this November.