When Microsoft announced the Xbox One back in May 2013, the console’s structure and focus drew ire from all sides. Some were angry that it lacked a ‘pure’ focus on gaming, with gameplay instead being held in the same regard as multimedia content (such as the Xbox One’s TV and movie features), while others were absolutely outraged at Microsoft’s plans for an ‘always online’ console.
What this persistently online feature meant is that the Xbox One had to connect to the Internet once every 24 hours, or players could be faced with a console that simply wouldn’t function. A form of DRM (digital rights management), it was intended to limit piracy, yet many concerns over Wi-Fi outages or a simple lack of Internet access took the attention away from what Microsoft had planned.
Microsoft nixed the plan altogether as a result of the backlash, but that meant that several of the more intriguing or promising features were left by the wayside as well. Of these, ‘Family Sharing’ was one of the most popular, with Microsoft using the DRM policy to allow families of up to 10 people to play games held by just one Xbox Live account. Now, the Xbox One maker has confirmed that Family Sharing is set to make a return.
The announcement comes after Microsoft previously stated that Family Sharing could make a return “when the time was right,” implying that their digital policies were simply too forward-thinking for current audiences. Xbox boss Phil Spencer has confirmed the commitment to Family Sharing to GamertagRadio, claiming it remains part of the Xbox One’s “roadmap”:
“We looked at the digital features that we had talked about last year and as a gamer, there were a lot of those features that I think really resonated and were smart features for people who really have a lot of games and maybe play on a couple consoles or have bunch of people in the house or want to share with friends. As I look at our monthly update roadmap, those kind of features are in our roadmap. There is a little bit of a challenge now that you’ve got DRM on a disc.”
The DRM he’s referring to is the system that is put on many a disc to ensure it’s used lawfully, included on the physical medium as the digital log-in alternative was axed. The shift in DRM formats led to its own set of problems (some users able to swap out discs as they are being played), but there are more complicated problems that Spencer’s team will need to address. According to a previously investigation into the Family Sharing policies, it was discovered that rather than 10 other family members having full, uninhibited access to a game, their play would function more like a timed demo before being greeted by a ‘Buy Now’ prompt after 45 minutes of play.
The resale of digital games was also something that Microsoft was forced to put on hold in the face of always-online backlash, but it’s unclear if a new strategy is in the works as well. Microsoft corporate vice president Marc Whitten maintains that “taking Family Sharing out of the launch window was not about ‘we’re going to take our toys and go home,'” and that the logistics of fitting the old policies in with the new strucutre is something that they are considering.
Maybe there’s hope for Family Sharing yet. What do you think of the program’s possible return? Were you disappointed to see it abandoned when Microsoft took the Xbox One offline, or do you have your own concerns?
Source: Gamertag Radio