Microsoft has pulled a huge U-turn on its online policies for the new Xbox One console -- a 180, if you will -- announcing it's changed its mind and you won't need to be connected to the Internet. You'll also be able to swap, lend and sell games just as you can with the Xbox 360.
"You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with
games delivered on disc," writes Xboss Don Mattrick, in a post entitled 'Your Feedback Matters'. "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."
Mattrick goes on to spell out exactly what this means for his company's new gaming machine. "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," Mattrick promises. "There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.
"In addition to buying a disc from a retailer, you can also download games from Xbox Live on day of release. If you choose to download your games, you will be able to play them offline just like you do today. Xbox One games will be playable on any Xbox One console -- there will be no regional restrictions."
Microsoft was unquestionably caught on the hop by Sony's announcement at E3 that there would be no Internet connection required or restriction on used games for its PlayStation 4. When asked what people without reliable connections should do, Mattrick suggested they buy the Xbox 360, which frankly made him look like an idiot.
It takes some gumption for Microsoft to admit it made a mistake, but the Xbox One remains £80 more expensive than its Sony-made rival, largely because its always-on Kinect camera is not optional, unlike the PS4's camera.
The two consoles have roughly comparable exclusive game lineups, and the hardware is very similar, inside and out, so the real difference now is the price. Will Microsoft admit it's made an error there too, and ditch Kinect? It's possible.
While the news has been widely received as being a sensible and positive move on Microsoft's part, not everyone is happy. Gears of War-maker Cliff Bleszinski, who was outspoken in his criticism of the used game market and defended the Xbox One's previous system, predicted, "More studios WILL close and you'll see more PC and mobile games.
"Brace yourselves. More tacked-on multiplayer and DLC are coming," he posted on Twitter. "You're also about to see available microtransactions skyrocket. HATS FOR EVERYONE."
Bleszinski conceded that many gamers didn't want Microsoft's system and voted with their pre-orders. "At the end of the day many hardcore dislike what was attempted. You can't do well in that space with many of your core unhappy," he added. "Especially when users have a choice. The nature of capitalism encourages competition and Sony played into that."
What do you make of Microsoft's reversal? Will you change your mind and go with the Xbox One? How do you think this will affect the future of digital game sales? Lay down your judgement in the comments, or over on our always-online Facebook page.