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Microsoft Confirms Xbox One's Phone Home Requirement, Game Resale Rules 581

Following the confusion surrounding Microsoft's announcement of the Xbox One, the company has now clarified many of the hot-button issues in a set of posts on their official site. First, they confirmed that the console will need to phone home in order to continue playing games. On your primary console, you'd need to connect to the internet and check in once every 24 hours. They also announced that you'll be able to access and play any of your games by logging in on somebody else's console, but the internet connection will be required every hour to keep playing that way. Other media don't require the connection. Microsoft also explained how game licensing will work. On the upside, anyone using your console will be able to play your games, and you can share your games with up to 10 members of your family for free. The downside is the news about used games; Microsoft says they've "designed Xbox One so game publishers can enable you to trade in your games at participating retailers." The key word there is can, which implies that you can't without the publisher's express permission. Finally, the company made a set of statements about how Kinect's audio and video sensors will collect and share your data. "When Xbox One is on and you're simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded." They also say data gathered during normal use won't leave the console without your explicit permission.
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Microsoft Confirms Xbox One's Phone Home Requirement, Game Resale Rules

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 07, 2013 @08:53AM (#43934933)

    What? They cleared it all up. The always on requirements and the used game resale options are in the hands of the game developers giveing MS all the plausible deniability that they need.

    The fact you can only "give away" a game once sucks, and I'm sure this is going to be used as a model for the "we allow used game sales"* claims from the developers.

    * it can be sold once ... with limited functionality.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday June 07, 2013 @08:54AM (#43934943) Homepage

    Seriously, the need to phone home once/day is a deal breaker. Not being able to take a game over to a friends place without signing into my account is a deal breaker. Telling me how I can sell or giveaway my used games is a deal breaker.

    There's nothing about this that I'm interested in. I don't play games online, my XBox isn't connected to a network because they started putting ads into the games, and I refuse to give them a channel for it.

    So, my single purchase (or non-purchase) is insignificant, and Microsoft won't care. But of the people I know who own an XBox, pretty much all of them have said they don't want this either.

    There's nothing about this new platform that sounds good for the consumer, and it certainly doesn't leave them much choice.

    So whatever the first next-generation console is which can be ran entirely offline without any network connection over its lifetime stands a pretty good chance of getting bought. But Microsoft can eat shit if they think I'll pay them for the privilege of owning one of these (which I'm sure the EULA says we don't own anyway).

    Either I and people like myself will pretty much be irrelevant, which is fine, or there's going to be a huge consumer backlash against this, and Microsoft is going to find themselves holding the bag on a gaming platform nobody wants.

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Friday June 07, 2013 @09:00AM (#43935005)

    The WiiU is already less invasive. Odds are Sony will use this as a club to beat MS with. If they have a console that offers customers the ability to own games that will be huge.

  • The last straw (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Aerokii ( 1001189 ) on Friday June 07, 2013 @09:16AM (#43935157)
    It's been fun, Xbox, but this is where we part ways. None of these things are technically even huge issues for me- I have a stable internet connection and wouldn't want to bring the console to a cabin or anything. I never sell my games, since I like collecting them- and hell, I'm sure that in 15 years when they take the servers down they'll probably just gut the DRM or lock the games to a specific console and remove the online requirement or do SOMETHING to make sure our games don't become fancy, expensive coasters.

    But it's a matter of principle. I don't want a console that treats me like I'm a thief, needing to check up on me once a day to make sure I'm not smoking pot or something. If I fall on hard times and need to sell somethings to get by, I want to know that for the 60 dollar game I bought that there's an option to do so and potentially feed myself for a week. I don't want to worry what will happen to my favorite titles in fifteen years, if I'll be able to play them- that's nothing someone SHOULD have to worry about (And honestly I still prefer Halo 2 to any of the later games anyway...)

    I hope the generation that follows this learns from the mistakes being made here. Until then, I'll see you on the PC/Wii U.
  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Friday June 07, 2013 @09:20AM (#43935195)

    I think Nintendo will just become king of the hill again in that case. They can promote the WiiU being the only console that has this and stores will push it hard.

  • by hammyhew ( 2729501 ) on Friday June 07, 2013 @09:21AM (#43935203)

    What if I get banned from Xbox Live? Does this 24-hour check-in fail? Am I no longer allowed to play my single player games?

  • Uh huh... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Friday June 07, 2013 @09:24AM (#43935237)

    "When Xbox One is on and you're simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded."

    Considering the stories about the NSA datamining in both the telecom and computing services industries, I have two words to say:

    "Likely story."

    It will be turned on to record, to find "terrorists."

    This gets a big "nope." []


  • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Friday June 07, 2013 @09:27AM (#43935253) Homepage
    for the longest time xbox live was hands above the playstation network and wiichannel. that has changed over they years but for under 50 bucks a year (coupon codes are or were easy to get) i didnt find it to be unreasonable. The new stuff with this new console is a total deal breaker however.
  • Re:Steam Vs XBox One (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ravenshrike ( 808508 ) on Friday June 07, 2013 @09:28AM (#43935267)

    Steam DRM is ridiculously EASY to crack given that with their authentication setup they could make it nearly bulletproof if they chose(and they are well aware of this but have done nothing much to fix it as it's a feature and not a bug) and more importantly, they have PLENTY of competition on their platform which forces them to price their fare accordingly.

  • by Somebody Is Using My ( 985418 ) on Friday June 07, 2013 @09:28AM (#43935271) Homepage

    What exactly does the always-on (okay, "on at least once every 24 hours") requirement serve?

    I doubt it's for checking game licensing issues. That is better done when the game is actually launched (and probably will be anyway). It's stupid otherwise; you slot in a CD for a game your buddy owns and a day later it informs you that there is a licensing issue (or alternately, if the default is "always deny", you buy a game and you aren't allowed to play until the next 24 hour check-in)? So it's not about the games.

    Anti-hack checks to ensure you haven't rooted your own hardware. It could compare the OS signature to some secure key on its servers. But that hardly seems workable; after all, if (when) the XBoxOne is hacked, that will be surely the first thing that is disabled.

    Advertising perhaps; after all, the recent Dashboard upgrades have focused on putting more and more advertisements on your screen. Microsoft is surely going to continue in this direction with its newest console. But does that really require an always-on connection?

    Maybe it's for uploading game or network metrics (or NSA monitoring, for the paranoid). But surely this is not such a necessary thing as to upset their customers to such a degree.

    So, honestly, what makes this "always on" requirement so important that Microsoft is willing to risk sales over its inclusion? Why (aside from the boneheaded stubbornness that prevents them from backing down on any of their dumb decisions like the Ribbon or Metro) does Microsoft feel this is something they /have/ to foist on the public? Better to make the console work like the 360; it will use a network connection if it finds one but otherwise it is not a requirement for operation (at least, not for the console; games may still require an internet connection to license, but we already see that with current games).

  • by Greg Burke ( 2944843 ) on Friday June 07, 2013 @09:29AM (#43935277)
    I guess it depends on whether you owned the game in the first place. for instance, Adobe's licensing makes it clear that you don't own the software that you bought, you just own a license to use it. If game developers use similar license agreements then the law you mention probably does not apply.
  • Re:"Family" Sharing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rude Turnip ( 49495 ) <valuation&gmail,com> on Friday June 07, 2013 @09:40AM (#43935395)

    I can currently give or sell a game to anyone with no requirements that the recipient is on a friends list. They use wording to give the appearance that they are enabling things, but it is really a matter of stating what they are allowing you to do and what you cannot do.

    Buying and selling used games is a huge market and creates liquidity for people to buy new games. This is no different than how buying and selling stocks on the stock market creates liquidity for IPOs. But now they are killing that liquidity for game customers.

    On your last point, I would argue that sharing a game among users is an irrelevant feature. In my experience, if a game is worth playing, it is worth owning. I do not want to depend upon the generosity of my friends (and vice verse) to be able to play a game. Everyone loses control in that scenario.

  • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Friday June 07, 2013 @09:52AM (#43935547)

    So, the game developers will just make their game require the Xbone's "cloud services." Sure, you can sell the *game*, but if it won't work without access to the *service* (which is independent of the game, at least conceptually), and since the service is precisely that (a service and not a product), it cannot be resold.

  • by quietwalker ( 969769 ) <> on Friday June 07, 2013 @10:45AM (#43936201)

    Calling home every 24 hours, restricting games to accounts (even sharable), etc, these all required a lot of extra work to implement. As this is a commercial product, somewhere a manager has signed off on the cost of this effort, believing that this will increase profits, customer goodwill, or some other marketable resource.

    Since these actually cripple existing functionality from a game-player perspective, make the product less attractive to game players, someone, somewhere must believe that some other 'customer' is going to pay more to make up the difference in lost sales, loyalty, and increased customer dissatisfaction.

    It's not the retail stores, which are being cut out almost entirely - gamestop, best buy, walmart, or large rental agencies like gamefly, who's entire business model is inapplicable for xbox one games. If you can play your games at a friend's house without bringing the disc that means digital distribution for everything.

    The only one that makes sense is the large game distributors, EA and their ilk.

    I'd like to see the math that says EA & etc will make more money off this than will be lost. Seems like a risky gamble to alienate end customers in order to lock down a distribution channel.

  • Re:This'll be fun (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Friday June 07, 2013 @10:46AM (#43936207) Homepage
    Thank you for the information. I can see why backwards compatibility might be more important when it comes to handheld consoles which I simply was not thinking about when I posted. No one wants to carry around 10 devices with them. but for a home console, i personally just dont see a need or have a want for backwards compatibility. but thats just me
  • Re:Steam Vs XBox One (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Remus Shepherd ( 32833 ) <> on Friday June 07, 2013 @10:55AM (#43936333) Homepage

    Steam doesn't have a microphone or camera that's always on. Even if I have them connected to my system, I can turn them off or disconnect them and Steam won't care.

    The fact that Xbox One won't work without the Kinect system is suspicious. There's no reason for that kind of design unless surveillance is one of the top priorities of the device.

  • It is called "lying" (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 07, 2013 @11:14AM (#43936589)

    Microsoft denies working with the NSA full stop. It denies it puts backdoors into Windows for the NSA and other agencies to use, but it does. It denies providing the NSA with full data on users using its online services, but it does. It denies that the always on functions of the Kinect 2 system provided with the Xbox One allows the NSA to gather data on all users of the console, but it does.

    Obama, and previous administrations, specifically allow partners of the NSA to lie to the American public without fear of consequence. Indeed, when you provide information to the NSA, it is a legal requirement that you lie about the fact. None of this is secret if you do even a few minutes research.

    Microsoft dedicates 2 CPU cores, 3GB of RAM, a completely separate OS, a large chunk of the HDD, and multiple dedicated hardware blocks to the 'always on' feature of Kinect 2. While the console is powered, the Kinect sensors are spying on console users within the room (and the microphone array attempts to listen to sounds/speech in adjoining rooms). By default, the console identifies each person who enters the room, and records a photograph of their face, and the times of their presence, storing the information as encrypted data on the HDD, and uploading the same data at least once a day.

    NSA and others with the console 'key' can place the console in signature or snapshot mode. Snapshot mode retrieves continuous image and sound data as 'samples', limiting the daily bandwidth of captured data to a level the user still won't notice, providing the console is left connected much of the time. Signature mode allows the console to accept up to multiple thousands of 'trigger' conditions (like a given sound, or a certain person in the room) which, when met, trigger steaming capture of data from the Kinect, either immediately uploading the stream if possible, or storing it on the HDD for later upload when the console is reconnected to the Internet.

    The console will NOT function unless the Kinect system is fully powered and functional. Any attempt to externally block or defeat the sensors (by taping over the cameras or pointing kinect at a wall) causes the console to immediately pester the user to 'recalibrate' Kinect (ie., reposition it facing the full room). All games are required to begin with a Kinect calibration stage, even when the game makes no significant use of Kinect input.

    A AAA game maxing out CPU and GPU console power has ZERO effect of the functioning of the Kinect system. XBox One is specifically designed to NEVER starve the Kinect processing system of resources, so that the spying can continue under all use circumstances.

    It should disturb all of you that the Kinect is also specifically designed to identify when sexual activity is occurring in front of it. The body 'skeleton' tracking features of Kinect are vastly improved in version 2, and allow the console to easily guess the forms of physical activity of the people in the room.

    In many ways, the XBone tests the sanity of ordinary people. It is half as powerful as Sony's PS4 for high end gaming, yet is currently set to be more expensive to buy (if Microsoft can even solve current hardware problems). Microsoft's approaching 'exclusive' games are pitiful compared to Sony's line-up. A miracle has truly happened with Sony giving up all of its bad old ways, and offering customers the clean, powerful, unencumbered console people always expected to buy from Microsoft.

    Microsoft's intentions with the Xbox One are truly evil. However, no-one has to buy the NSA spy box. Then again, no German had to support Hitler, but tens of millions chose to do so of their own free will, years after the guy wrote 'Mein Kampf', and clearly laid out his beliefs and intentions. No-one can deny that the Xbox One extends the power of the NSA into your own living room. The shills that cry "tin foil hat, tin foil hat" should have no impact when everyone can read Microsoft's own statements on the workings of the XBone. You ALL know what it means to have an internet connected camera system pointing at you all the time. If you still don't care, you truly deserve your fate.

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"