Xbox One Answers: Always On, Game Trades, Kinect Privacy

Got Xbox One questions?

Of course you do.  Microsoft's messaging since its console unveiling has been a confusing mess.  Does Xbox One require an internet connection to play offline?  Does it block used games?  Can the all-seeing eye of the Kinect be turned off?

Last week, Microsoft assured us that it was listening to our concerns and today has released a FAQ addressing some of the more pressing issues.  Let's paw through it and see if it gives us the warm and fuzzies towards purchasing the console when it launches this fall.

Always On?

Do you have broadband internet access?  You damn well better because "while a persistent connection is not required," you are going to need one if you expect to play beyond day 1.

"With Xbox One you can game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your library. Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection, but you can still watch live TV and enjoy Blu-ray and DVD movies."

But that's not a problem, is it?  After all, as Microsoft says at the top of the FAQ, "every Xbox One owner has a broadband connection" and surely, nothing like the hacker attack that took the PSN down for over three weeks could ever happen to Microsoft, right?

Three decades later, I can still play games on my Atari 7800.  How long will Microsoft allow us to play Xbox One games?

Used Games?

Yes.  Maybe.  I think…

"We designed Xbox One so game publishers can enable you to trade in your games at participating retailers."

Does that mean game publishers can disable your ability to trade in games?  Why yes.  Yes it does.

"Third party publishers may opt in or out of supporting game resale and may set up business terms or transfer fees with retailers."

And what about the "participating retailers" part?  Will we be able to sell our old games in a garage sale or only at "participating retailers"?  What about services like Ebay or Craigslist?

Used Games Fee?

"Microsoft does not charge a platform fee to retailers, publishers, or consumers for enabling transfer of these games."

But, as mentioned above, "third party publishers may… set up business terms or transfer fees with retailers."

Any bets on what EA is going to do?

Game Rentals?

"Loaning or renting games won’t be available at launch, but we are exploring the possibilities with our partners."

Sorry Gamefly.  Sorry Redbox.  Sorry friends I might otherwise loan one of my games to.

Giving Games to Friends?

"Third party publishers can enable you to give games to friends."

So yes, if the publisher allows it, you can give your game to a friend.

BUT… "you can only give them to people who have been on your friends list for at least 30 days and each game can only be given once."

Does this mean your friend can't give it to someone else?  Can he/she give it back? What if I want to donate some of my old games to charity?

Can Kinect Be Turned Off?


"When the system is off, it’s only listening for the single voice command — “Xbox On,” and you can even turn that feature off too."

Additionally, Microsoft stresses the importance of privacy and guarantees that games that "use data, such as videos, photos, facial expressions, heart rate and more… this data will not leave your Xbox One without your explicit permission… When Xbox One is on and you’re simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded."

So, there you go.  Those are the highlights but a lot more details can be found right here.  I suppose the biggest question of all is…

Do you want One?

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Contributing Editor Andrew Eisen


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  1. NyuRena says:

    I've been a PC gamer since my first 486 and consoles STILL have nothing to offer me after all these years. They are somehow LESS enticing than ever before too!  Keep up the good work! 😉

  2. Neeneko says:

    Maybe, maybe not.  While the 'gamer community' is upset, it remains to be seen what average consumers (who make up a much larger market then the core gamers) think about this or if they even care.

    We tend to care about concepts and abstracts, they often only care what actually impacts their use cases.

  3. IanC says:

    Yep. Its starting look like this, especially when MS hyped up EA at the unveiling.

    No Xbox One for me then. Not going near that thing.

  4. Algus says:

    Night Trap would have a much smaller audience if we all had to check in every time we wanted to play it.   

  5. Neeneko says:

    Well, this could mean some good market differentiation.  The consoles have generally been getting more and more similar, with the practical differences being pretty much 'did publisher X release a copy for console Y?'

    Maybe splitting the market and targeting the whole product to different groups might not be a bad thing…

  6. Zen says:

    Most of the concern about Sony in regards to this is from their PS4 "unveiling" where they stated the system will not block used games…but then they stated in interviews that publishers had the tools and could choose to block them if they wanted.  It seemed more like they were trying to deflect the backlash off onto the developers/publishers while trying to stay where they can state "we don't block used games".  

    But your right that hopefully something will become clear by E3.  🙂

  7. E. Zachary Knight says:

    At the moment, our fears over Sony's potential used game blocks and always online "features" are just conjecture. There has been ZERO information from Sony about this. We might know more after its E3 event, but till they say one way or another, the PS4 is the better option. Not the best option mind you. The Wii U and the PC are still far and above, but better than the XBone.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  8. jedidethfreak says:

    They didn't hand this gen to Sony, most likely, since the PS4 will likely have similar issues.

  9. hellfire7885 says:

    Giving EA's apparent refusal to work for Nintendo, can't help but think they held their titles over Microsoft's head demanding this.

    Nintendo refuses to let EA control their shop, EA refuses to make more games for the Wii U and even lies about their game engines not working on Nintendo's console, going so far as to openly badmouth the Wii U.

    And now Microsoft is essentially doing everything Nintendo refused to do.

    I know I more or less said this below, but, it doesn't feel like a coincidence.

  10. E. Zachary Knight says:

    I am seeing a troubling connection between the people's reactions to the XBox One's new online requirements and DRM and the people's reaction to the Federal Government's spying. For years, both game companies and the Government have been slowing eroding our rights. Slowly taking away our rights and convincing us that it is for our own good. 

    At this point, our game consoles are no longer really ours. Our games are no longer really ours. At the same time, our DNA, phone and email records, and homes are no longer really ours. Yet, too many people have been carefully and craftily blinded by those in power to accept these violations of basic human and constitutional rights.

    People have been convinced by Companies like Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA and Ubisoft that their word is law and you have to get their permission to exercise your fair use and first sale rights. The Republican and Democratic parties have convinced the masses that they are the only options and that the spying by the NSA, the IRS and the DHS is for our own good. That treating all people like criminals if they want to fly will keep us safe.

    I am sorry. I am not falling for it. My rights are not up for sale. I will not sit idly by and let them be taken. I do not vote Republican or Democrat. I will not support consoles and companies that deny me fair use and first sale rights. May the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  11. Sam-LibrarIan Witt says:

    I am super glad I bought a Wii U now. I don't have to worry about any of these problems.

  12. Zen says:

    Here's a random yet sadly true thought.

    A day will come when the Virtual Boy will have a more vibrant used market and larger playable game collection than the Xbox One if they keep the check in requirement.  


  13. Zen says:

    That's no console…it's a Death Star (for TV).  And Microsoft just handed the Rebels their own blueprints stating how lucky we are to have them as our overlords.

    This is horrible..I don't think I have ever seen this much BS or odd requirements in order to play a game.  I honestly believe people will have an easier time getting all of the parts, cables, connections, etc to play a damn game that requires the Genesis, 32X, and Sega CD.  And that is annoying as HELL to keep up with those parts to play a single freaking game.  

    But at least I can play it without "checking in" to make sure it is ok.  

  14. MechaCrash says:

    This isn't a technical document. It's a suicide note.

    gg, MS. You just handed this generation to Sony on a silver platter. The only way for the PS4 to not crush everybody is for them to do something monumentally stupid, and/or Nintendo to stop being so horrible at marketing the Wii U that people think it's a peripheral for the Wii.

  15. sqlrob says:

    Count me among those that are saying screw this. Absolutely no need for a One here.


  16. GrimCW says:

    may wanna get an update. A fair chunk of STEAM's current library is able to be traded/sold off to other steam accounts for whatever reason.

    they added it not to long ago, maybe you missed the update.

  17. GrimCW says:

    Longer than that, my laptop always goes right to offline mode on steam and its only used maybe once every couple months to even touch steam. I usually have it left turned on over on my desktop and only ever turn it to online mode to update games on my laptop.

  18. Conster says:

    Googled a bit, and apparently Steam's offline mode lasts 2 weeks before you have to connect again, and is easily fooled by a date change. So if you count "like a vastly inferior version of Steam" as "like Steam", then sure.

  19. Zen says:

    Because the stores that bought the games from the publishers can use their own "First Sale Doctrine" and cut their profits down to encourage sales and other things.  If there is no other market to help boost those numbers up, then the sales will be much more limited.  And if the publishers can call the shots on all of these things or just completely block used sales or even simply borrowing from a friend..why drop the price.  You get it from them or you just don't get it.  

  20. Infophile says:

    If you live in the EU, you may still have some rights in this regard. I believe there have been some court cases there that sided with consumers having the right to sell any game they own, even ones downloaded through services like Steam. In the US, not so much. Microsoft has gotten away for years with only selling a "license" to Microsoft Office, which is non-transferrable. They'll most likely use the same weasel-wording with games: You won't buy Halo, you'll buy a license to play Halo. At this point, there's no legal recourse to that. It will take a change in laws or a new court case to ensure that licenses can be transferred, but with how business-friendly the US government is, don't count on it.

    All you can really do is vote with your wallet and refuse to buy an Xbox One.

  21. Truec says:

    Do we as consumers have any kind of legal recourse here?  Publishers can't legally deny us our right to do as we see fit with things we buy, I'd like to think.  Of course, given that we haven't been buying games, but just buying the right to use them for years now according to them, I don't quite know where we stand anymore.

  22. Hevach says:

    US courts upheld first sale doctrine over nontransferrability clauses in EULAs. It didn't bring back the commercial used PC games market, but it did establish the legal right of individual trade to exist.

    However, the Xbox One is crossing into different territory there. Nontransferrability is no longer a term in a contract, it's actually a feature of the games and systems – a game enabled on this system is only good for one "use" and after that it won't activate on somebody else's system. This might cross into caveat emptor territory, you purchased a product advertised to be good for a single "use" and would be hard pressed to convince a judge you're entitled to a second.

  23. Andrew Eisen says:

    "at least the Xbox One lets you trade used games"

    Yeah, so long as the publisher of that particular game allows it and you're trading it in at an authorized retailer.


    Andrew Eisen

  24. MaskedPixelante says:

    Yeah, but who wants to be the idiot who got their entire gaming news site blacklisted from covering major releases because they asked about a publisher's used game restrictions?

  25. james_fudge says:

    executives will be at E3 doing interviews so there's plenty of chances for journos.

  26. Zen says:

    Curious what they would say, or are allowed to say, since Microsoft has already canceled their E3 Q&A session.  Heaven forbid they let people ask questions about their new console and just expect us to buy it based on the "wonderful" news we have already received. 

    It's like a kid getting caught red handed doing something…and just clams up like that will make it all go away.

  27. james_fudge says:

    Microsoft has given publishers a gun and loaded it with ammo. But when customers get shot, they can say "we didn't shoot you."  I sure hope that journalists at E3 ask every single publisher making Xbox One games what they are going to do.

  28. Thipp says:

    Honestly I think that is exactly what we are seeing. Everything about the limitations directly imposed by Microsoft or created as "optional" tools for the developers screams of appealing to EA/Activision/Ubisoft in their war on their consumers. 

  29. hellfire7885 says:

    Yeah, I'm passing.

    Jeez, it feels like EA had a say in this thing's development.

  30. Truec says:

    Ticking a box that says you don't want your information shared with other companies wouldn't protect you from having it shared with the government even if we were talking about the most consumer-friendly company on the planet.  When the government comes calling for data like that, they tend to have either a court order or the threat of one behind them.

  31. MaskedPixelante says:

    Yeah… I'm not buying that if some government agencies went up to Microsoft and said "we want so-and-so's entire Kinect feed", Microsoft wouldn't be able to just hand it over because "they clicked the box that says they don't want their stuff shared".

  32. Longjocks says:

    Well, now that's out of the way I guess I can move on and not have to worry about any more Xbox One news. Not that I'll be able to resist the occasional urge to make a stab at it/MS from time to time.

  33. Binarygeek says:

    I'm passing on this one. Every year consumers lose rights to products they own. When I buy a game, I own it, I'm not paying 60 bucks for a lease or rental. That includes being able to sell my games to who I want, not who the publisher wants. I'll stick to my PC and wait for PS4 details. It's clear that microsoft and I no longer see things the same way anymore and this makes it clearer that it's time for us to part ways. It's been fun Xbox but it's not you it's me. I just want more freedom with my gaming console. We'll always be friends though.

  34. Truec says:

    I for one blame Microsoft for my inability to competently post GP comments where I mean to.

  35. Kincyr says:

    it's funny since Gabe Newell said Windows 8 is bad for developers, then Microsoft makes the Xbox One like Steam.

    at least the Xbox One lets you trade used games

  36. DorthLous says:

    Never in a hundred years… Man do I love my PC. Now if WiiU could get games or if could actually get some real details on PS4…

Comments are closed.