Microsoft has dropped a bombshell: The Xbox One will not be region-locked. The news is a complete backflip on company policies outlined at E3 - but MS isn't done yet. The new console will no longer require an always-on internet connection, and there will be no limitations to using and sharing games.
In an official statement released today by Microsoft, Don Mattrick (President of Interactive Business at MS) explains that he and his team have "heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback".
We appreciate your passion, support and willingness to challenge the assumptions of digital licensing and connectivity. While we believe that the majority of people will play games online and access the cloud for both games and entertainment, we will give consumers the choice of both physical and digital content. We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds.
Gamers wanted "flexibility", they wanted the "freedom to play offline", and they wanted the ability to play, lend, resell and share their games pretty much like they can today.
All of those responses have added up to Mattrick today announcing a "reshape" of the future of Xbox One.
Xbox One games will be playable on any Xbox One console -- there will be no regional restrictions.
Don't let this distract you from the other - huge - key points Mattrick makes:
An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.
(You'll still be able to download games from Xbox Live on the same day as they hit retail - but once they're downloaded, you will not need to re-connect to the internet to play.)
Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.
With the good comes the bad, however:
Playing disc-based games will require the disc to be in the console tray - to share your games, you will need to physically hand over the disc. You will be unable to share or resell games that you have downloaded.
This means the previously announced Family Sharing option has been removed.
The news now brings the Xbox One policies inline with Sony's PlayStation 4 - no always-on internet connection required, no region-lock, and no arbitrary used-games restrictions. We just had to wait an extra week to hear about it.
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Jimmy the Geek