Xbox One Is Not Always Online, But It Seems To Block Used Games

Xbox One Is Not Always Online, But It Seems To Block Used Games

The next Xbox won’t require an internet connection to function, but it could very well block used games. Wired got a look at Xbox One before today’s big reveal, and it says that games will require installation to use. “On the new Xbox, all game discs are installed to the HDD to play,” Microsoft said.

But games will be tied to an Xbox Live account, Wired concludes — or else you’d just be able to pass games around to everyone you know:

What follows naturally from this is that each disc would have to be tied to a unique Xbox Live account, else you could take a single disc and pass it between everyone you know and copy the game over and over. Since this is clearly not going to happen, each disc must then only install for a single owner.

Microsoft did say that if a disc was used with a second account, that owner would be given the option to pay a fee and install the game from the disc, which would then mean that the new account would also own the game and could play it without the disc.

But what if a second person simply wanted to put the disc in and play the game without installing — and without paying extra? In other words, what happens to our traditional concept of a “used game”? This is a question for which Microsoft did not yet have an answer, and is surely something that game buyers (as well as renters and lenders) will want to know.

Wired also asked what we’ve all been wondering: will the console be online-only? The answer: it depends.

And what of the persistent rumours that Xbox One games will be “always online” — that is, that single-player games would require a constant online connection to function? As it turns out, those rumours were not unfounded, but the reality is not so draconian. Xbox One will give game developers the ability to create games that use Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service, which means that they might be able to offload certain computing tasks to the cloud rather than process them on the Xbox One hardware itself. This would necessitate the game requiring a connection.

Are developers forced to create games that have these online features, and are thus not playable offline? They are not, Xbox exec Whitten said to Wired — but “I hope they do.” So the always-online future may come in incremental steps.

So it’s up to the developer. Some games may require an internet connection; some may not. The future of always-online remains hazy.


  • So it blocks used games and is “kinda, sorta, maybe” online only? If this is true, that could dissuade a large amount of potential owners from even considering picking up the XBox One.

    Combined with my concerns of how a lot of the multimedia features may be problematic or not present at launch in Australia (honestly, I think it’s very up in the air for our region at the moment) due to our crummy Internet or any number of other contributing factors, I know which way I’m leaning more towards in the coming console generation.

    • I think you’re right. As someone who doesn’t play online, the more I read about this console the more I think that I’d only consider buying one if I don’t have to _ever_ hook it up to my wi-fi. Add in a mandatory camera/audio that only has drawbacks for me (ever tried to play a game with Kinect running and music on?), and I’m not seeing a lot of positives here.

    • ie. Me

      Had an Xbox, had and still own a 360, but in regards to the next gen consoles it looks like this is NOT going to be the One for me.

      I like my game consoles to be game consoles and NOT be full of Draconian BS.

  • What about me? I’m a husband and father of 2 and our family of four plays games. Will I have to buy a copy of the next lego game and pay a fee so each member of our house can use it?

    • According to what Wired has found out about it, that’s exactly the case. Games aren’t cheap in Australia either, it’s like they’re trying to draw blood from a stone.

    • Possibly, but I doubt it.

      Look at the way DLC currently works on the 360 — one person can buy it, but anyone else with an account tied to the same console can play it.

      • This seems like the more plausible scenario.

        I’m also guessing if the game is ever installed elsewhere, the console revokes the rights from the last console it was installed on, so it won’t necessarily block used games either.

          • DLC is tied to an account too, but works for all accounts on the console that account is tied to. Semantics. They won’t make us pay for content two, three, four times. That would be suicide.

          • Yes, but if you have two consoles in the house, say one for you and one for your child/missus/flatmate etc then you will have to buy two copies of the game.

          • No, at most you’ll have to pay a fee to license the game to the second console, which admittedly kind of sucks.

          • My mistake, but it’s going to be interesting to see just how much this “fee” wil be. My guess is that it will probably only be $10-$20 cheaper than RRP.

            There’ll be no more taking your games around to friends houses, unless you bring your console as well.

          • @evilmonkey Technically you can migrate your account and they can play the game on your account, but that’s hardly ideal.

            Granted, I also hardly ever do this. Sometimes friends borrow games from me.


            Frankly I think this is a measured step towards all-digital distribution. Once we’re only able to download our games, we wouldn’t be able to borrow/lend/trade/buy used, so I’m not really sure why this is such a big deal. Tell me about how Steam lets you share Skyrim across multiple PCs.

          • The fee will be the full price of the new game otherwise only one person will buy the game then pass it around to their friends to give everyone the discount.

            Imagine if when locking a game to your steam account it checked for a physical disc on your drive before giving you a discount. Its just not going to happen.

          • The difference between Steam and this is that Steam provides a lot of benefit for a small concession on the part of the consumer. This is going to provide little benefit in return for a raft of concessions from the consumer.

            Nobody is arguing that Steam isn’t DRM. People need to stop bringing up this argument. We all know what Steam is. The difference is that the benefits outweigh the costs. If Microsoft were to implement this system, but then stop charging $60 for a game from 2006, charging for basic functionality and then bombarding us with advertising AFTER payment, people might be a little more receptive to the idea.

        • Yeah, you’re probably right. It’ll probably copy the existing model of being tied to a single account plus the entire console. Depending on the cost of unlocking it on another console it could make things better or worse for me. Currently if I buy a disc, anyone can play it on either of our home consoles which is handy cause the wife and I both have one. So if it’s a single player game like Skyrim we could be getting shafted by only being able to use it on one console/account.

          But sometimes I buy a game twice like multiplayer games so we can play on both consoles so in this case it could be great for us cause we could buy the disc once and pay an unlock fee for the second console instead of buying two discs.

      • We have 3 consoles in our family – with a family live account – SO if we have to change to the Xbox one as time goes on I need to pay for two extra licences each time we want to play a game on a new console within the family

  • ” What follows naturally from this is that each disc would have to be tied to a unique Xbox Live account, else you could take a single disc and pass it between everyone you know and copy the game over and over. Since this is clearly not going to happen, each disc must then only install for a single owner.
    Microsoft did say that if a disc was used with a second account, that owner would be given the option to pay a fee and install the game from the disc, which would then mean that the new account would also own the game and could play it without the disc.”

    Tied to a unique Xbox Live Account = Online

    Option to pay a fee = Online, which would then install the game while your online.

    So how is it going to check if the game has been used without the console being online, when you install the game on your console does it write something onto the Bluray disc to disable future installs?

    The only way they can check if the game has been installed is if there is an online database that tracks what game has been installed to each account, hence the blocking of pre-owned games, the console has to be online to check the game which means you have to be online to install games as well, because the console has to ask for permission from the server to install, it has to be online so you can send the fee to install the game on multiple machines.

    So where does the offline fit in?

    • Well hopefully once it’s installed, you can play Steam in offline mode.

      Not that any of this matters ATM – all the good games this year are coming out on my 360, I ain’t buying a box for EA sports!

    • Where does offline fit into this?? From the statements Microsoft…they have just gone around in circles.

      I’m one of these “always-offline” users (my 360 has never connected to my internet) – what will happen then when your xbox is offline because you chose to keep it offline

      So it appears gone are the days where I can borrow a game from a mate (for example Black Ops 2) because he/she doesn’t play it anymore or has finished the game and rather it gathering dust, I can play it and enjoy it as well.

    • The Xbox One must connect to the internet once every 24 hours in order to maintain basic functionality.

  • “Don’t worry, it’s not Always Online! We just took the bits that you really feared and hated about Always Online and incorporated them semi-offline!”

    Analogy time:

    “No, Joker! Don’t set my house on fire, my children are inside and they could die!”
    “Hohoho. Oh, don’t worry, I won’t set your house on fire.” *drags children out of their beds and shoots them in the mouths*
    “What the HELL?”
    “Jesus, what’re you complaining about? I didn’t set your house on fire!”

    • For some reason I imagined The Joker being the perpetrator in that analogy and that’s what makes it absolutely brilliant.

    • You need to be connected to the internet to Install games in the first place, so if you havent got internet, then you cant install the game, and cant play it.
      You will be surprised by how many people have no internet.

  • If this is the case, you’ll find that EB/Gamestop will be bankrupt within the next few years unless they change their business model. Suprising that they’re allowed to do something so anti-competitive.

  • “or else you’d just be able to pass games around to everyone you know”

    Uhhh…. hasn’t this line actually been used in satire.. you know in a context where it’s clearly sarcasm because that’s exactly how real life entertainment works? I actually stopped there to work out if the source was like… the Onion or something.

    I just… don’t know how to respond to that… I mean I never intended on buying an xbox, but if Sony did/do pull this crap I won’t even consider a PS4.

    The best I’ve got as a response is,
    I just picked up my copy of Lost Kingdoms 2 from a mate’s place, he’s borrowed it about 4 times now, it’s one of our niche classics favourites from the Gamecube era, and it’s basically impossible to find a copy now, especially so without resorting to something like Ebay. While there I dropped off Timesplitters 2 as well and nabbed his copy of Golden Sun: The Lost Age, which I did own but lost somewhere while moving. It’s great that we can still expose ourselves to these classics not just without pirating but also without needing to use emulators so we can enjoy them in their original format, it’s great because games can be classics that are just as enjoyable to play a decade or more after they initially released and while they can be hard to find and purchase as new they’re universally compatiable with their respective systems.

    Oh yeah and something about that book I didn’t really like but my partner read after me and liked enough to buy the rest of the series thereby making sales for the publishers they wouldn’t have otherwise gotten because she would never have paid money to buy the first one to try.

    Eh, least the Indie scene is pretty amazing at the moment I guess.

  • And in other news, Microsoft has set a Guiness World Record for the shortest console market life by creating a console that has no viable market value before its actual release date.

  • So microsoft sold me on getting a ps4 or wiiU, unless sony screw up too, we can only hope that modders can work fast so i done need to pay for games twice

  • This news (combined with the boring games announced) makes the choice more obvious in my opinion. It’s a shame because I hoped Microsoft would have listened to the criticism of the consumers after rumours about game blocking had surfaced. It seems that greed has prevailed.
    I don’t like buying games online, I still prefer owning the physical copies of the games I love. If our game stores go under because of this direction, it will truly be the end of an era.

    • Many would say the era ended when dlc and microtransactions were introduced. I would say it ended after the ps1.

  • One of the things I’ve always liked about the console is knowing it will just work out of the box. I bought an original ps3 when living in Japan on release and it didn’t go online till this year. This clearly won’t be the case for xbox one. Which essentially means mandatory downloads on installation, mandatory patching and bugged games on retail shelves. Not games closely cheeked before sale because at the moment there’s no guarantee the buyer has online

  • “which means that they might be able to offload certain computing tasks to the cloud rather than process them on the Xbox One hardware itself”

    Who actually believes this shit after D3 and Sim City?
    (off-topic, but I really hate the term ‘cloud’ like its some mystical, magical non-coporeal CPU in the sky, just name it what it is, running shit on someone elses computers)

  • @silverskull_86 Now I’m re-reading it in Mark Hamill’s voice and yes, that is awesome. I should edit slightly.

  • What happened to buying a game and taking it to a friend’s house for a night to play it with others??
    Or what if you have two Xbox One consoles in your house?

    • thats what i would like to know, i live in a house were we have multiple consoles since all of us are gamers and it got annoying to share the same console all the time, so we brought more and share the games around, if i cant do that, then MS can forget about my money

      • Oh, you can still play used games… you’re just going to be charged a fee on the console for playing a (used) game you already own :/

        That’s what I’m hearing, anyway.

  • This is the issue that took me from “shut up and take my money” to holding out until this all gets cleared up.

    How many times have I bought a used game and loved it so much I paid retail for the whole series? Plenty.

    How many times have I paid full price for a game, traded it in and paid up again for another new game?

    The used game market gets us in the stores and gets us looking at the new full priced games. Its an asset to the games industry. I can see myself buying less new games if there is no option to trade them in.

  • Couldn’t care less about used games. Unless you’re privately trading they’re a ripoff. However I would appreciate being able to take Street Fighter over to a friends place every now and then.

  • Not that game rentals are exactly booming anymore, but you can say goodbye to them completely with this.

  • There is nothing here that confirms that used games won’t be available to play. Do you people not take the time to read an article? Or do you just read the headline and assume you know what it is all about?

    Also, I’d like you to take a moment to consider just how much gaming developers lose out to pre-owned titles. It’s like Ebay winning the lawsuit over Ticketmaster to resell tickets. A bold move if Microsoft decide to make the owners of the games the only people able to play them but last I checked, if developers create and release a title then they should be the only people allowed to sell them at a profit. Not retail stores who found a loop hole in the system years ago and now sell used games with absolutely NO profit going to developers.

    Learn your shit, people.

    • Soo… I guess Authors are the only ones who should be able to sell books at a profit too? And only ONE person may read any particular book.
      Want to play music at a party? You can forget about it, there would be heaps of ears listening without having bought the music themselves
      Movies? Say goodbye to renting, movie nights with friends or paying for it at a cinema..

      Because the only people who should profit from entertainment media are the ones who created it, right? Retail stores shouldnt be allowed to sell at a profit, and say goodbye to publishers too – they didn’t make the media, why should they make money?

      At the end of the day, I can be as sarcastic as I like – but the truth is, games are not even close to the cost of books, movies or music. And they can all be shared around.. We’re already paying $80+ a pop for a video game, to restrict us further is ludicrous, they make enough money as it is. And if the developers dont feel that theyre getting enough, it’s the greedy filthy rich publishers who need to give them more – not the consumers.

      • This of course applies if Microsoft confirms that sharing games is off the books. Which they haven’t. People also seem to forget that you can transfer your user between consoles. So even if the game registers to one user and they want to play with friends, they can transfer their user to their friends console.

  • The requirement for an internet connection to play single player games is utter crap, i know some people who just play games offline because they don’t have access to a decent internet connection to support online gaming (me being one of them). while America might have a good internet infrastructure for that, but Australia doesn’t not by a long shot.

  • Sounds pretty shitty to me. I guess if you want to borrow a game from a friend you need to also trade account details too.

  • Blegh. I’m pretty much only buying used games for my 360 these days. Pass.

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