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XBox (Games) Microsoft Games

Xbox One: No Always-Online Requirement, But Needs To Phone Home 395

An anonymous reader writes "The Xbox One was revealed earlier, and Kotaku was able to get some answers about the always-online rumors that plagued the console before its announcement. Microsoft VP Phil Harrison said Xbox One doesn't need a constant connection in order to play games, and you won't be dropped from single-player games if your connection cuts out. However, it does require check-ins with Microsoft servers. This echoes the Xbox One FAQ, which cryptically says, "No, it does not have to be always connected, but Xbox One does require a connection to the Internet." The number Harrison gave was once every 24 hours, but Microsoft's PR department was quick to say that was just one potential scenario, not a certainty. Microsoft also provided half-answers about how used games and game sharing would work. Players will be able to take a game to a friend's house and play it (using their profile, at least). Players will also have some mechanism to trade and sell used games, but it's not yet clear exactly how it would work. If one player uses a disc to install a game on their Xbox One, then gives the disc to a friend, the friend will be able to install it, but needs to pay full price to play it. That scenario, however, assumes both players want to own the game — the second one would essentially be a unique copy. Microsoft said they have a plan for trading used games, which would involve deactivating the game on the original owner's console, but they aren't willing to elaborate yet." Several publications have hands-on reports with the new hardware: Engadget, Ars Technica, Gizmodo.
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Xbox One: No Always-Online Requirement, But Needs To Phone Home

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  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gmail.BOHRcom minus physicist> on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @08:26AM (#43792583) Homepage Journal
    Steam has been reported to work offline for weeks at a time. If the Xbox One really can't stay in offline mode for more than 24 hours, it just makes the Steam Box that much more likely to succeed.
  • No Sale (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MitchDev ( 2526834 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @08:27AM (#43792589)

    So if you have to install games to your Xbox ZERO or "deactivate" them to sell them, why bother with a console at all, just get a PC...

  • by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @08:29AM (#43792607) Homepage

    What's the real price going to be? You know, the one after you factor in whatever they're charging for Xbox Live this time around, in order to do what every other system on the planet lets you do for free. If they expect me to pay them for multiplayer gaming this time around, they're living in a fantasy land.

    This unveiling was so vague and missing information that it's truly impressive. It's like Microsoft knows their answers are going to piss people off, so they're just avoiding giving details at all.

    TBH the entire presentation was highly unimpressive. The people listening were core gamers, and Microsoft totally ignored them in favor of "hey look at Kinect moving the TV window around and bringing up a browser!"

  • Re:Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @08:29AM (#43792611)

    you can make more money by being evil and doing stuff like this?

  • by TWiTfan ( 2887093 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @08:35AM (#43792649)

    Anyone remember that EA bullshit about SimCity needed to "offload" some of it's processing (which was proven false [] by a hacker later)? Well, one of the things they mentioned specifically at the announcement yesterday was that the Xbox One would feature this capability (they bragged as if it was a good thing). And with them highlighting EA as a partner, you can bet you'll see plenty of One games that require always-online connections, to connect to EA servers for "processing."

  • by The MAZZTer ( 911996 ) <<megazzt> <at> <>> on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @08:36AM (#43792663) Homepage

    Steam still needs to be online to activate new purchases, even if you buy them in a brick and mortar store AFAIK.

    Of course there's nothing saying Valve can't change this if they want to make Steambox more attractive to the internet-less.

  • by TWiTfan ( 2887093 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @08:40AM (#43792701)

    I tell you what I don't want: an Xbox One.

  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @08:47AM (#43792741)

    Why can't you just buy it, and own it, and use it how you like? Or... not buy the damn thing. It's supposed to be entertainment, not work, not some sort of interactive customer experience with Microsoft.

  • by blueg3 ( 192743 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @08:50AM (#43792773)

    Presumably, you can turn it off from the console. But you, of course, have to take MS's word that it's really off.

    Unless you, you know, unplug it.

  • DRM wins (Score:5, Insightful)

    by witherstaff ( 713820 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @08:56AM (#43792829) Homepage

    I think Microsoft is starting a trend that Sony and Nintendo will continue as the market is ready for this. As consumers we've been programmed to accept that you can't trade anything digital. Buying anything on itunes, google play, or steam is a one time purchase, can't trade or even give away. Kindle lets you loan books - if the publisher allows - for a single short period. Get a book loaned to you but something comes up and can't read it in that window? Oh well out of luck!

  • Re:Insight (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @08:58AM (#43792845)

    You're thinking too small, man. If CISPA goes through, the government can then legally compel MS to secretly hand over surveillance in the interest of "National Security". Just so happens they have a camera and mic in living room / bedrooms, bought and paid for by the consumer. Must be online regularly if you want to use it even for single player games.

    I've never made a tinfoil hat before, but I do believe I'm adding a large roll of aluminum to the shopping list.

  • by JosKarith ( 757063 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @08:58AM (#43792847)
    In a time of global recession M$ decided to release their new platform burdened to the hilt with DRM? Wow - that's not so much shooting yourself in the foot as sticking a live grenade into your boot. Sales of this are gonna tank and they're going to be forced into a Win8 style climbdown.
    Also, what happens if the authentication servers go down? My old house the internet connection would drop to virtually useless for days at a time due to Virgin's shoddy infrastructure and the 360 was the only thing left to use. If it has to dial home every day then that's pretty damn useless.
  • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @08:58AM (#43792851)
    More accurately, it is easy to see how to make money being evil and doing stuff like this. When was the last time you saw customers actually reject an evil product? We, the consumers, make evil the low-risk option.
  • by Vanderhoth ( 1582661 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @09:00AM (#43792869)

    (just like with the PS4 and pretty much any other major console).

    FTFY, I'm pretty sure you didn't intend to lump the indi consoles like Ouya and game stick in with the big guys. I hate to make a "This is the year of" prediction, but I think some of the casual consoles will pick up a bit of steam with the crap Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are putting out.

    Of course PC still reigns supreme in any case, especially with gaming becoming more common on Linux boxes.

  • Re:Insight (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sesshomaru ( 173381 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @09:11AM (#43792983) Journal

    Sounds like someone doesn't like their Telescreen....

  • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by darkstar949 ( 697933 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @09:21AM (#43793067)
    The problem is that when I pull out my old PSOne I can put the disk in and sit down and play a game without any issues where as with the newer consoles if you have online activation the life cycle of that game is tired to the activation servers which might be turned off a year after the game came out. Since a lot of people that grew up with the NES, SNES, and similar systems are now having children of their own, they can sit down with their kids and introduce them to a game that they enjoyed as a child. Will the children that grew up with the Xbox One be able to do the same thing? For that matter, a year or two after you played a game would you even still be able to play it if you wanted to?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @09:27AM (#43793117)

    If you buy the game on day one for 60 Euros, do you really think you'll get 70% off it three months later when you can pick it up 10?

    It's not about making money by killing gamestop, it's about vendor lock-in.

    That's the whole Microsoft business model. That's how they keep corporate clients, that's how they've built Windows 8 and the the whole Office suite. Etc etc etc.

    The reason they're not releasing any details, is because they're testing the water, looking to see how people react.

  • Re:Get over it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by darkstar949 ( 697933 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @09:35AM (#43793187)

    First, one of the prized features of the Xbox platform is the Xbox Live services. You know, those services that match you up in games with friends and offers social and multimedia feature. YOU KNOW, the service that requires an internet connection.

    This might be a fair point if we had a better idea of how many Xbox 360 owners never connect to the internet or are connected but only have the Silver accounts. There are a lot of people out there that only play single player games which means that most of the features that a Gold subscription account offers are completely useless.

    Second, pick up ANY smartphone or tablet and realize these devices are constantly online. You may not need to be online to play, but the online services are there in the background making sure your Tweets and Facebook followers are aware of what you are up to and you are kept informed of the world.

    True in the case of the smart phone but not so much in the case of the tablet even though the use case might be much smaller for those tablets that aren't online. However, not everyone has Twitter or Facebook running in the background all of the time or even wants people to know what they are doing. A lot of people don't care what their friends "Angry Birds" score is nor do they want to go out there and tell people about theirs. Also, there is a big jump from a smart phone or tablet that is online to a camera and microphone in your living room that is always online. There are major security implications that bear consideration. You can't put an attractive target like that in someones living room without hackers and other such folks wanting to crack it.

    I know that in that RARE circumstance where there might be an internet outage or you take your Xbox One to the cottage and want to play some games on a rainy day might be a bummer if the game won't let you on because it can't phone home, but I doubt that will be an issue for most people out there.

    Rare for some people, not so rare for others. But what's the point in buying an entertainment device if it can't entertain you when you actually want to be entertained. This is the whole reason that DVRs and time shifting shows became popular - the consumer of the entertainment wants to dictate when, where, and how they are entertained. The device itself should not be the one driving that decision.

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @09:41AM (#43793251) Journal

    There is a demand for a connected experience.

    There is also a demand for an isolated experience. Any console that doesn't provide it will not get my money.

  • Re:Get over it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @09:45AM (#43793301) Journal

    First, one of the prized features of the Xbox platform is the Xbox Live services.

    One of the prized features of the Xbox platform is playing games. Anything that gets in the way of this feature is a bad thing.

    a feature that, guess what, you have been supporting for the lat 8 years anyways everytime you turn on the Xbox360 and its signs you into the Live cloud.

    Has never happened, will never happen.

  • by chihowa ( 366380 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @09:47AM (#43793311)

    I just really hate to go back to chasing that upgrade dragon.

    As someone who just got back into PC gaming about five years ago, I can say that that doesn't seem to be as much of an issue any more. My rig was pretty awesome when I first put it together (though not that expensive), and I can still play any new games with all of the settings maxed out. If that trend continues for another couple of years, it's easily in the realm of console lifetimes.

  • by Comen ( 321331 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @09:52AM (#43793377)

    Agreed, I read the article about required internet connection and people post things at the bottom saying that's if you can read the article then you can surely connect your XBOX every 24 hours, and let the nerd tears flow! These people have obviously never lost a internet connection before, I have had my cable connection down for over a week once, and the cable company could not figure it out for that long, I also go on vacation to a beach house that has no Internet and also other remote places, and I bring my console to keep me sane. These people either do not think of these issue because they are to young and spoiled, or are just trolling. I also worry about the constantly connected camera, and even thou you can throw something over the lens, the mic would always be on, even if Microsoft did not abuse this, it does not mean some hacker wont. I will not let a camera sit in my living room constantly on, connected to the internet, period!

    This mentality is not just about the Xbox, I was just arguing the other day that I was upset that allot of the new Android tablets had no SD card slot, and also everyone responded that you can use the cloud to stream all your audio and video! so why would you need more local storage, WTF? I even have a unlimited 4G wifi puck that I carry around and I can not stream video in all places I might want to watch it, and imagine if everyone wanted to stream HD video via the cell phone network all the time. I was also just arguing with the other day because I accidently 1-clicked a digital video and bought it, even thou I have 1-click turned off in my settings, the guy at Amazon told me that 1-click was always on for digital purchases, because its digital, and is bought right away (like that makes any sense) and then when I explained that I was just trying to get to a screen that explained if I could download a copy of the video, he asked my why I would ever need a local copy, when you can just stream it!
    This cloud mentality is scary, if you ever lose your internet (cable) connection you will have nothing to do at all I guess, no games, no movies, nothing.

  • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by darkstar949 ( 697933 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @10:11AM (#43793573)

    Once you add the need to stay connected, you have to control copying (Otherwise people could just burn DVDs or Torrent the game and apply a patch to unlock DLC content). You have to enforce updates (so everyone is on the same page with patches and content updates). You have to protect the console, otherwise why would a company like EA spend bazillions creating the best games for a platform that doesn't stop hacking or copying?

    For games that are inherently multilayer that's all well and good but they already solved for that problem years ago with the install keys. Each game gets a unique key and you keep a database of the ones that have been issued already. If an unknown key shows up you ban it and if the same key connects from two different IP addresses you ban it as well. Diablo II and Starcraft used that system for years without much problem.

    Also, the number of people that are running around and pirating the AAA games likely isn't enough to for amount of hassle that your customers are going through to just play a game. If I spend $60 for a game I should be able to just sit down, install it, and start playing with a minimal of fuss. If it's a single player game I should be able to pull out a laptop on an airplane and play the game. If the game is muli-player I either know what I'm getting into ahead of time when I buy the game or I just don't buy it.

  • by Megane ( 129182 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @10:22AM (#43793689) Homepage

    And what about the secondhand market ten years later, after the Xbox Too is released? Will they decide at some point to drop whatever authorization server is needed to play the game disc you have? Will it even become impossible at some point to register new-old-stock shrink-wrapped games? Will there come a time when you can't even take it down out of the attic, dust it off, and play the games you bought 20 years earlier? What, you think still having an Xbox account will help? Just try to see what you can do online with the original Xbox now, and imagine what it would be like if DRM activation was a requirement.

    So the hell with the regular secondhand market, what about the retro secondhand market? After all, old consoles and their enormous library of games (even if you don't consider emulation) have to be a major competitor to newer game systems. Oh sure, they won't have this year's NFL roster for the people who do nothing but play the annual sports games, but those games are worth zilch two years later anyhow. It's the games people grew up on and want to play again and again that can hurt the market for new games, so let's nip that in the bud while we (MS, Sony, etc.) still can.

    So just throw away that N64 already. If we think you deserve to get some Goldeneye nostalgia, we'll see about letting you rent it for a few years on our newest hardware.

  • Re: No Sale (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LordNimon ( 85072 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @10:38AM (#43793907)

    There's little incentive to do this because Steam games are often much cheaper than Xbox games, and there are more of them. I frequently buy new games, but I justify the $60 cost knowing that I can sell it for about half that when I'm done with the game. If I only pay $20 for a game, I'm not worried about selling it.

    If Microsoft wants to adopt the Steam model, they also have to adopt the Steam prices. This means that games need to sell for at most $50, and then they need to quickly go on sale.

  • by Jiro ( 131519 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @10:44AM (#43793983)

    If they want to use automated tools to find all people in the city with Star Wars posters on the wall since a recent serial killer is known to be a Star Wars fan, they certainly do want to see your boring living room. Alternatively, if they want to get you for some other reason, they can watch your living room as part of a fishing expedition.

    It's certainly true that there are so many boring living rooms that they can't watch them all, but the danger is not so much that they can watch you constantly, as it is that they can watch you whenever they choose.

  • by DarthVain ( 724186 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @12:02PM (#43794745)
  • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @12:42PM (#43795121) Journal

    When has the average consumer ever cared about DRM? People have gotten upset about an "always on" requirement, but DRM without that has proven marketable.

    I suspect there will be a lot of variation between individual games in what the requirements are - just like Steam.

  • Re:Insight (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Scarletdown ( 886459 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @04:03PM (#43797027) Journal

    This makes me wonder what you guys do in your living room to be concerned about the slim possibility YOUR Xbox camera may be hacked.

    I believe the correct answer to that is, " No matter what they are doing in their own private space, it is none of your fucking business."

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.