Xbox One Will Soon Let You Play Pirated Movies And TV Shows

Xbox One Will Soon Let You Play Pirated Movies & TV Shows

It's not the kind of news that makes the headlines during a press conference, but it is the kind of news that can help sell systems: the Xbox One is getting native, official support for .mkv, one of the world's most popular video formats (well, containers).

Let's get real: while they have many technical benefits, mkv files are popular because they're the format of choice for anyone who is, ahem, downloading a movie or TV show from a place where they may or may not be paying for it.

So Microsoft deciding to support the format with the Xbox One is a big deal! If you've got a digital video library full of mkv files, and you don't already have a dedicated and simple means of watching them, the Xbox One is literally going to let you drop an mkv on a USB stick, plug it into the console (or stream the file over your network) and watch it.

The PS3 kinda let you do this, with a few workarounds (mainly from services like PS3 Media Server), and that capability helped sell consoles. The PS4 isn't as multimedia-friendly as its predecessor (yet), so it sure seems like Microsoft is stepping in where Sony left a gap in the market.

The means to do this will be coming later this year when a new media player app is released for the Xbox One. Which, for those inclined, will also let the console play animated gif files. Below is the full announcement from Microsoft:

Media Player — A new app will be available soon that enables users to play media files from either an attached USB device or from a network connected home media server that supports DLNA protocols. The preview version of the Media Player app will initially only support USB devices, with DLNA support coming soon. Xbox One will support more formats than Xbox 360, including support for dozens of new file formats like mpeg 2 TS, animated gifs and mkv which will be added by the end of the year. See below for additional file formKats.

Xbox One to get far better at playing pirated TV shows [Ars Technica]


    I stopped using my consoles as media players the day after I got a smart TV

      Because smart tv's suck at it?

        No its very convenient for me. I plug my portable HDD into my TV and at it plays pretty much whatever I throw at it. This is way more convenient for my GF to use then navigating an xbone or ps3 menu.

          I've never found navigating videos to be a pain but even if it was, I don't see how that outweighs the positives of being able to snap video while doing other things, not having to switch inputs and getting notifications.

            switch inputs, you're talking about pressing 1 button on a remote. How is that a pain?

              It's not that much of a pain on it's own, but it was only 1 reason. It is overall less hassle though, I rarely ever need my TV remote because the Xbox will handle volume and input, which I can do with my voice or the controller which is in my hand.

              But I find it odd that you think navigating is a pain compared to plugging in an HDD, despite the other benefits of the Xbox that I've mentioned, but you think extra buttons and switching remotes is not an inconvenience?

              Last edited 15/08/14 12:04 pm

                Well full disclosure it is my roommates Xbox in the living room not mine. But its still turning on an additional device to watch a movie or tv show off a HDD. I did state that it was more convenient for my GF to navigate rather then showing her how to navigate an Xbox menu, something she has no interest in knowing. I'm not sure how often or how you use your own Xbox. My roommate purely uses it for gaming no media apps, no HDMI in, no kinect, no watching TV through the Xbox stuff.

                Last edited 15/08/14 2:05 pm

          My smart TV is rather dumb. It has decoding issues (usually around the 1.5 hour mark) and doesn't take some formats. Serves me right for getting a Hisense (was cheap for a 100Hz 55in TV). I called support and they can't offer any software updates to fix it.

          Almost gives me a good excuse to get one. Though I'm a PC snob and it's a bit expensive to get just for a media player when I'm sure there are heaps of cheaper alternatives around (which I'm too busy/lazy to investigate).

            I got a Sony, the apps are rubbish, but the picture quality it's great and the input lag is half the Samsung and LG.

            My TV has trouble playing vids from a USB as well, the sound gets out of whack, it jitters after an hour or so, and it won't read files from my 2TB drive, only my USB. My 360 was a dream when it came to playing media though.

            Almost gives me a good excuse to get one. Though I'm a PC snob and it's a bit expensive to get just for a media player when I'm sure there are heaps of cheaper alternatives around (which I'm too busy/lazy to investigate).

            Look up the XBOX One/Windows 'Play To' feature. It's pretty sweet. The XBOX One is still a shitty media player, although this update should improve on that, but that and Kinect voice commands seperate it from the other alternatives. You wouldn't think voice commands would be that great, but for basic stuff media control like 'XBOX go to YouTube' or 'XBOX pause/play' it's actually pretty handy. No looking for remotes or accidentally pressing LT/RT when putting the controller down and skipping half the movie.


              I've been thinking heaps about that, but my home wifi/net is terrible. I know because I tried the sony ps3 media server and it kept pausing for buffering.

                I've had issues with PS3 Media Server, switched to UMS and it worked fine. How bad is your WiFi? My Chromecast works flawlessly and it does beam a decent distance (one side of the floor to another, 10 metres? maybe more, through walls).

        no quite the opposite they are really good my Samsung smart telly plays any format I've thrown at it and is a breeze to navigate and stream media to it. well that's what I've found anyway whatever works for people I guess. but being able to snap a movie to the side on X1 will be good

        yeahhhh I never use my TVs USB ports playing off the TV USB isn't nearly as good as using a dedicated player, also Smart TV sucks ass... worst idea ever if I wanted to use YouTube or Facebook I already have a phone or a computer haha

        Clearly misunderstood the comment. I have a 1tb hard drive hooked up to my Panasonic smart tv. Plays every format going

      Same. I just use my TV's usb port or my surround sound/ bluray player. Plays more formats than the PS3/360 did together.

      Also there must be not a lot of clued in people on here, no offense but playing off TV USB slows the frame rate of playback compared to running off a dedicated device uhhh say your Blu ray player or PS3
      Albeit barely noticeable to the uninitiated... but we are initiated ;)

    Why the hell would you title the article like that? Way to push the stupid mentality that anything in the mkv container has to be pirated, and now MS fully support it.

    It's really useful that the Xbox (like pretty much all media players and new TV's) can play all the current movie formats, but it has nothing to do with piracy.

      Agreed. Its good news for Xbox one owners but this is a shit article. DLNA and MKV != piracy.

      This... oh hey an MKV file. You must be a pirate. how long till big media see headlines like this and use it as fuel in the current and freakin massive piracy war happening here right now. we don't need this sort of reputation. especially from what many consider to be a reputable source such as Kotaku.

      Or, what about the fact that this feature is a REALLY important feature that a lot of people have been asking for from both Sony and Microsoft, a feature that's absence has been largely noted and mourned. And finally it's getting added and the first article is "oh hey xbox gonna do pirate vidz!"

      To be honest though, when I think of MKV, I think of ripped dvds and bluray.

      I don't think, "Oh yeah, MKV, every working family with a video camera uses that format"

      By yeah, that title is misleading.

      When I first saw it I didn't think of MKV, I thought, "Oh goodie, now we can play region-free bluray ISOs on Xbox One!"

    I have my little baby mac mini attached the the back of my TV for this already (MKV not pirating) :) haha i Love the xbox but i will always prefer a desktop interface for media.

    Last edited 15/08/14 8:53 am

    Yeah the title is deliberately inflammatory, although it does have a vein of truth in it, obviously.

    Anyway, listen, I know there are a number of ways to get media content to my TV. I know I can walk my laptop over to it and plug it in. I know I could buy a specific device to stream content. But you know what? It's inconvenient. The Xbone is always plugged in, and I used to primarily use my 360 for running media. That's right- even though I game a lot, the 360 still spent most of its time running media. Because I watch a lot of media. My wife watches a lot of media. I was shocked when the xbone shipped without the ability to play these files- with less ability than the 360 had.

    This is huge news for me- probably the best news since the xbone arrived. Voice-controlled media player? That's something I don't have at the moment. This honestly puts the xbone head and shoulders above the ps4, for me.

      Agree completely - everyone complained when it didn't have it and are now ambivalent when it does.

      Also - why did it take a few days to write this article - Major Nelson posted this before their Gamescom conference?

    Open source containers are only for piracy you guys.

    This is good news, I'm actually way happier about this than I should be, but the problem has never been a lack of MKV compatibility it's been that the XBOX 360, PS3, XBOX One and PS4 have zero flexibility when it comes to what they play and a rather limited capacity for pretty much anything that isn't extremely basic. Simply adding another format to the list doesn't address that core issue.
    I understand that part of the convience of consoles is sarcrificing that ultra level of customisation but they need to find a better balance.

    Last edited 15/08/14 10:20 am

    Awesome and huge move. I have the media player app right now (I"m in the September preview) and it plays everything BAR MKVs right now. MKV support is coming later on .

    Can't wait to retire my Western Digital.

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