Xbox One (Credit: Microsoft)Always-on? Not so fast.
In a stunning turnaround, Microsoft on Wednesday announced plans to change some of the controversial features and policies built into their upcoming Xbox One game console.
The news was first reported by Giant Bomb and later confirmed by Xbox head Don Mattrick, who posted a statement on the Xbox One website detailing changes coming to the two biggest thorns in the company’s side: required internet access for the system to work and their somewhat draconian approach to used game sales.
"Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback," he wrote. "I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One. You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc. The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world."
[Related: Microsoft boss defends Xbox One price]
And you'll be able to do exactly that. From the site:
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.
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.
To call the change in policy ‘surprising’ is an understatement. The Xbox One wasn’t just dreamed up yesterday -- this is a system the company has been working on for years. A company of Microsoft’s size isn’t often nimble enough to reverse course when things go south. Typically, that sort of response takes months. And to do so a week after a conference as big as E3? That’s shocking.
On the other hand, it couldn’t have been going worse for Microsoft. Gamers have been livid with Microsoft over what they believe to be unnecessary, anti-consumer tactics built into the Xbox One -- and Mattrick’s response to this outcry hasn't been particularly smooth, to put it mildly.
Sony, meanwhile, undercut the Xbox One’s price by $100 and took Microsoft to task over the policies, detailing for gamers how the PlayStation 4 wouldn’t require an internet connection and how used games could be sold freely. We all knew Microsoft was listening, but no one believed they’d actually follow through.
While this is undoubtedly great news for gamers, it’s doubly great news for GameStop. The video game retail giant’s stock jumped 6% in after-hours trading, which makes sense since GameStop derives a significant portion of its earnings through used game sales. Investors are clearly happy with the news.
The question, however, is whether gamers will be as quick to forgive.