The Xbox One Just Had A Very Bad Day

In two weeks' time, we may look on this as one of the smartest PR moves of all time. But for now? It's been a bad day for Microsoft.

Seeking perhaps to head off criticisms that it had been vague (at best) and incompetent (at worst) in its messaging of core Xbox One services at the console's reveal last month, Microsoft today unleashed a flood of news, detailing the specifics of how the machine handles things like internet connectivity and used game sales.

The news was almost all bad.

Here's a recap:

  • The console must connect to the internet once every 24 hours in order for you to play games. For many people, from military personnel to students, that's an inconvenience, maybe even an impossibility. Never mind what happens to everybody's console if Microsoft's servers ever come down.
  • The Xbox One will allow the sale of used games, at "participating retailers", but only if the publisher allows it. Publishers being the very people opposed most fiercely to used video game sales.
  • There are restrictions on how you can "give" and "loan" your games away. What's more, lending won't be available at launch, with Microsoft still "exploring the possibilities with our partners".

Even some of the "good" news is really just "not as bad news". Or "an avoidance of bad news".

  • Responding to fears over privacy issues surrounding the "always on" Kinect, Microsoft says you can turn the Kinect off.

Leaving the sole piece of "oh, OK, that's pretty cool news" to be:

  • You can have up to 10 people in your Xbox One "family", and can share all your content among them, regardless of which console they're using.

Response to the bulk of the news, which challenges a lot of long-held norms like the lending of game discs and the ability to play a games console whenever you want, has been predictably damning, the Xbox One being labelled everything from anti-consumer to dead on arrival across gaming forums and Twitter.

Making matters worse is that while some of the information provided is vague and confusing, the company is refusing to clarify, saying the news details "everything we can share today", and that "We look forward to sharing more details in the months ahead". If Microsoft can't answer now, it creates the impression it doesn't know now.

While it's hard to fathom why Microsoft would walk into the fire like this, only a few days out from the biggest video game trade show of the year (E3), the timing and nature of the info dump may actually be the very reason.

Could Microsoft be taking its lumps now, among the video gaming hardcore and away from the international spotlight of E3? Leaving their presentations next week to be about the things that might actually sell the console, like games? Let those have the last marketing laugh?

You'd have to hope so. Otherwise the Xbox One is going to have a very steep hill to climb to win over a market growing increasingly dismayed at its core services and "features".


    fuck it...

    I'm out

      Where are you going?

      ps4 is going to be the exact same.
      you already can't swap, or return games on Steam or Origin.
      there's no used game market on smartphones.

      so, where are you going?

        Wii U?

        2003. Or 1997.

        Last edited 07/06/13 11:23 am

        I'll just leave this here, NSFW by the way.

        Last edited 07/06/13 11:26 am

          That was fantastic. Best thing I've seen on the topic.

          Saw this yesterday, nothing like a good old Yahtzee rant!

          I watched that the other day.
          Kudos on leaving it here my friend!

          Yes NSFW indeed people.

        I'm still hoping that the PS4 won't have the same restrictions, but if it does, I'll be going PC. At least on Steam we pay prices consistent with the fact that your basically leasing the game.

          This is key - sure, Steam has DRM, but it's pretty much the only publisher with sane game pricing.

          Except when you want those games day one like on a console?

          I have Steam, this whole "But it's cheap" is actually horseshit of the highest order. If you want thee newest games day one, you pay just as much if not MORE than you would on a console in store.

          So leaving console gaming to go to PC would be just as stupid. While Microsoft and Sony don't have digital sales to the level Steam does (although Microsoft did recently), they still have sales, and you would hope that they will enhance that more since the push is so digital this time around.

          But claiming how great PC is because of price is bullshit. Steam prices are only good on OLD or "recent" games. Not new ones. No different for disc based games on consoles. I waited only 2 months and got God of War Ascension $50 off it's original releasee price.

            This is a load of BS. Its arguably true for some publishers (predominantly activision), but only if you stop at the Steam store front and don't shop around at other resellers like Green Man Gaming and Oz Game Shop. This is one of the key reasons I don't think that account based access is good on consoles: there's a walled garden, so they can set whatever price they wish. Even in a worst case scenario a Steam title is at least 10 bucks less than the PS3 or Xbox version.

        to a little place called PC island

        you should come..weve got free drinks and strippers (of both genders..equality for all)

          you already can't swap, or return games on Steam or Origin


            Yes. But when you can buy a game during a Steam sale for about 20% of the price of a new Xbox game, it's not really an issue.

            Returning is hard, but you can trade games on Steam.

            I don't really care since 90% of my Steam library cost <$5 per title. I don't think that's going to happen on Xbone. They'll still cling to full RRP.

            mabye not but I don't have any of the disadvantages of a console, and whats the point if consoles are losing whatever advantages they had over a PC?

        ps4 is going to be the exact same.

        [citation needed]

          Indeed. Let's not assume just yet, I really hope Sony have someone in PR and Marketing giving feedback to the devs and board of directors so Sony use it as a step up for console gamers sake.

        i think you can trade games on steam
        not sure of the details as i have never tried to trade a game on steam or even sell one of my console games either.

          you can only trade steam games if you haven them in your inventory (as in you haven't played it yet and you bought it as a gift)

            really? i never traded any games on steam so wasnt sure on the T&Cs

        so you shouldn't be able to sell your dvds because they're available digitally? Or your CDs? the point is games should be treated the same as other media. And there's nothing to say ps4 will be the same.
        Besides, maybe starchild was just going to the shops for milk

        This comment deserves more upvotes. All these complaints about not being able to trade-in games or return games. I very much doubt that the so well informed community of Kotaku purchases a game without knowing whether they will like it.

        Games don't cost much on steam. Even the Psn is starting to charge low prices. So i can handle no trade ins etc. It's not the same for $100 games

        PS4 won't be the same.
        Won't have a 24 hour phone home (and PCs certainly don't).

        Ok so there is no trading on steam, but there are STEAM SALES! and many many cheap titles to pickup weeks after release. I dont think consoles will be taking this sales model up anytime soon

        Funny, Sony explicitly denied blocking second-hand games, and from the sounds of it EA was one of the major forces behind this sort of restriction. Sony made one but was dragging their feet above implementing it, which is why EA made a big show about providing exclusives to Xbox One.

        He's going to go back to older console generations :D

        Can you confirm with certainty about the PS4? Cause i'm sure we are all interested in these words of wisdom that you so strongly can announce

        He means "out completely, fuck these console shit, going to PC" i'm guessing

        The thing is, Origin Steam usually have sales at stupidly low prices, we still don't know if the Xbox on or ps4 will have those kinds of sales.

      Of the closet?

      Last edited 07/06/13 1:35 pm

    Ok, I never leave my xbox/tv/anything left turned on at the powerpoint when I'm not there (it's just what I do don't judge me). So, I go away for the weekend, leave Friday night, come back Sunday. Then what the hell happens? My game's don't work? They've said a lot of how the console MUST connect to the server once every 24 hours, but I haven't seen any information on what the ramifications are if it doesn't connect.

    I expect Microsoft reps in black vans would just pull in to my drive way and kick my door down.

      Are you serious?

      The ramifications are you can't play your games ... until you reconnect.

      You'll reconnect on Sunday and be able to play your games on Sunday. You didn't connect on Saturday so you can't play on Saturday (you know - when the console was off).

      Last edited 07/06/13 11:11 am

        Ok, re-read it, thought about it, realised how stupid my comment was.
        Clearly I need more coffee today.

          best ever reply. I love this site because people sometimes, me included realise what we've done and just say fuck it, fair point and move on :)

      The whole 24 hour thing is confusing in that it doesn't actually mean the console must connect to the Internet once a day. The way Microsoft's statement was worded, if the console is disconnected from the Internet, the user can play games offline for up to 24 hours. After this time, games will not be playable until the console is connected to the Internet again.

      What this means is that if you unplug your console on Friday and use it again on Sunday, you'll need to connect it online before you can play anything. Just because it didn't connect on the Saturday, it doesn't mean your games will no longer work.

        If that's the case that's utterly ridiculous!

        I've had ADSL dropouts that have lasted for over a week! Whilst I predominantly play online multiplayer, it would be nice to still be able to crunch out a campaign in the absence of online connectivity. In fact when multiplayer servers go down or my internet crashes the first thing I do is play some campaign.

        I've been an Xbox man since the original Xbox was released, primarily because I don't like the PS controllers, however this time I will be taking a serious look at PS4 before buying my next gen console. If need be I'll buy an Xbox shaped controller to suit the PS.

      A set of legs will extend from beneath the console and it will run back to Microsoft HQ.

        Now I just want a custom paint job to make the XBone look like the AT-5000 Auto-dialer, then I can change my account name to 'Happy Dude'

    I will usually get the limited edition of a game and I hate lending my disks to friends/family. The ability to 'loan' a digital copy of a game will be perfect.

    I'm reading it as I can loan the game to each of my friends once - which is essentially a full-game trial.

    Having multiple Xbox Ones in the house just got easier too with the family share feature.

    Last edited 07/06/13 11:11 am

    Predictably this will be largely buried under the stuff from e3.

    This is AWESOME NEWS!!!!!!!

    For sony.

    Heeeeeelllloooo you sexy bitch PS4...

      Yeap exact same reaction.

        Are you kidding me? You can share your content with up to 10 people in your group that's awesome!! imagine downloading arcade games etc and passing it around for free it almost sounds too good to be true...

        also you people saying stuff like ooh the ps4 this and that, just you wait haha when they say the same shit about their console! it's going to break your little fanboy hearts!

        also this having to connect online occasionally, awesome theoretically it should kill console piracy once and for all!!!

        At this point honestly, all Sony needs to do is fuck all for marketing. MS is doing it all for them.

          Actually, Sony needs to make it clear that they aren't doing this. Which might be a tad difficult if they ARE planning something like this to be announced at E3 of course.

            They've already made it clear you don't need a constant internet connection, which in itself is a major selling point to a lot of people and that the playstation camera doesn't need in itself to be plugged in all the time. As far as the DRM goes, I agree with you on that.

            I stand by the point that Sony just needs to let MS go on though, right now, the PR train is barreling on in flames for MS, it's a pretty decent sized disaster at this point.

              Sony have 3 hours set aside for their E3 conference.

              As far as I'm concerned all they need to do is walk out on stage, say "PS4 has no DRM" and they can fill the rest of their 3 hours with some guy repeatedly playing Rebecca Black's "Friday" on the vuvuzela and they'll still win E3.

              If they do come out with some similar kind of nonsense to what MS are peddling then my money may well end up staying in my pocket and I'll spend another 5 years going back and trawling through the current-gen stuff that I've missed.

                Even if they have some method of DRM, if its far less intrusive than MS's they'll still 'win' at this point. DRM still sucks no doubt but like I said, if its just very very basic, they'll 'win'.

                But god I lol'd at the idea of Rebecca Black and a vuvuzella lol

                  I guess it depends what they do. They've said it'll be up to the publishers, but that's also what MS are saying. I guess the issue for me is whether it's something built into the console and its online ecosystem or whether it's something that will be left entirely up to the publishers themselves to implement and maintain. If it's the former, then that's a problem - if it's as simple as the publisher basically flicking a switch and saying "this game has DRM", then everybody is going to do it. If they actually have to build and maintain their own infrastructure to do it then hopefully most publishers would decide they don't have the resources to do that, in which case it might just be the big ones like EA, Activision, etc who can afford and can be bothered to do it.

                If they do come out with some similar kind of nonsense to what MS are peddling then my money may well end up staying in my pocket and I'll spend another 5 years going back and trawling through the current-gen stuff that I've missed.

                SO MANY GAMES, seriously I've barely scratched the surface of this gen's +A titles, so this is a very good point.

                Microsoft could announce Half Life 3 as a Xbone exclusive and it would be completely overshadowed by the announcement of ROCK BAND VUVUZELA: Rebecca Black Edition - coming exclusively to PSP.

                You could play it on the train!

    The 10 family members thing is awesome.

    Hopefully I can nominate anyone on my friends list in theory. How amny families have 10 people in the one household? This is basically MS' way of giving people traditional 'lending' back in essence.

    Seriously, when yo lend games to people, it's barely more than a few of the same people that lend games between each other. Just nominate them as "family". Problem solved. Split the cost of games.

    Rumors in the industry suggesting Sony are going with DRM in some form. To police DRM will require a constant Internet connection is some way.... Just saying

    Hmm.. I read that news and didn't think it was that bad. If that's the 'worst' we can come up with, then I'm cool with it.

      Haha agreed!

      Only viewed as bad news if you are a Sony fangirl

    I have been an Xbox fanboy since day 1 but Sony wont have to do much to sway me in the next gen war. I do think Sony's silence is telling though

    Last edited 07/06/13 11:23 am

      Sony doesn't need to say anything and they are favourite, its just MS digging themselves into a hole looking after publishers more then what makes them popular.. Gamers.. I mean, you really wanna piss off your customers?

      Sony is clever by being silent, but it in no way makes them better in this case, until a know all is given about their console and what it does.

      Maybe they're just letting MS do their talking for them?

        At some point they will have to speak.

    PS4 Here I Come. Xbox One You Are DONE!

      I think Sony will equally disappoint you

    I am PlayStation 4 all the way..... I am a gamer... The PlayStation (and Wii U is allllll about games). XBone is a high powered TV service that needs an 'add on' to take advantage of it's fabulous TV services...

    Yeah, I wanna buy a new PC now.

    If i can turn the Kinect off then why can't i unplug the fucking thing, "You can turn it off" means absolutely nothing if its still plugged in.

    I 'really' do not want to be swayed from an Xbox as I am almost always biased. But damn @weresmurf, the ps4 does sound like a second girlfriend right now :)

      Well, you play with it by touching and rubbing it now to 'turn it on' lol so... draw your own conclusions LOL

        Although right now it's just kind of sitting there in sullen silence rather than actually telling you what it wants.

    If 10 family members can play the game on any console, any time, how does this work? In other words, could a friend be nominated as a family member, and just play the game at his place whenever he wants?

    And, no disrespect to them, but why the heck are military personnel always considered in articles about 24-hour internet checks. Are they a big part of the gaming population?

      I think you'll find a lot of people in various services posted overseas actually do a lot of gaming in their spare time, I mean it's not like they can just go out for dinner or go meet friends when they're in Afghanistan, for example.

      I've known a few military personnel in MMO's and services like PSN/XBL that play while deployed overseas somewhere, and they do so quite frequently.

      If we can't play video games, we can always go do something else. Their options are a lot more limited.

      I believe video game consoles are often brought over to war areas. It let's the soldiers relax a little bit. If they can not get an internet connection, then they can't play the new games.

      Because lots of people on Military bases play 360/PS3 games but there is usually no access to internet (not for gaming anyway).

      Also it seems to be a regular talking point amongst the American media, if you do anything that even mildly inconveniences troops it means you don't fully support them which means you're probably a terrorist

    There's some bad stuff in there but most of it doesn't affect me. I'm still not getting one of these things at release because they're sticking with the "pay to play online" thing.

    Sharing your game library with family is a cool feature, I look forward to seeing how that's implemented.

    They need to release a lot more information about the "giving games to friends" thing, it's pretty ambiguous as is.

    Just focus on the games. It'll take a year or so before Microsoft realise that only gamers are buying the Xbone and not people wanting to plug their cable TV box into the Xbone to watch cable TV and then they'll pull the focus back on games again. Sony realised that the 'entertainment centre' thing didn't really work with the PS3. People watch blu-rays and put music on there, sure, but not much else, and it seems like the features Microsoft want to introduce simply won't be used.

    Where will this leave developers though. I've no doubt the Xbone will sell well, but will the PS4 take off a lot quicker and will that leave people wanting to sign up for exclusives with Sony? All there has been is bad press for Microsoft (warranted or not), and people on the internet aren't quick to forget and this might play on the minds of where people take their exclusives

    I don't buy used games, don't lend games to friends and I am lucky enough to have a decent internet connection. I barely use Xbox Live as it is, this 24 hour need to connect would probably make me play online more often, as in online multiplayer and such. The exclusives are what define a gaming console in my opinion. I think people should wait for Sony to let out all their details.

    Responding to fears over privacy issues surrounding the “always on” Kinect, Microsoft says you can turn the Kinect off. From what I understand, it's not turning it off but rather limiting the commands that it listens to. Or that's what they're telling us anyway... /conspiracytheory

      That's how I interpreted it, which would make sense as to why you still have to have the Kinect plugged in.

      But if it's listening for "Xbox On" isn't it processing everything that is being said anyway? How the hell is that off?

      YO GAME JOURNOS DO YA JOB and get it clarified :D

    Xbox bent over so badly for publishers. Who actually built the device? Microsoft or the game developers?

    I can't believe Microsoft are so ignorant that they actually defend their DRM and no used games. Does Microsoft even know that there are places where internet is almost non-existent, but might want to play some video games? Are Microsoft even trying to sound like a console people want to buy? Wii U and PS4 aren't a whole lot better with their respective reasons, but they both sound a whole lot better than the XBone.

    "You can have up to 10 people in your Xbox One “family”, and can share ALL your content among them, regardless of which console they’re using." I don't think this is correct, emphasis on "ALL". Microsoft uses the term "just like today" in their press release. Today, avatar items can't be shared on the 360. Are they going to change this?

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