(Source: Sodahead)
Company also nixes backwards compatibility, suggests used games may come with an extra fee

The Xbox One, Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) game console that will launch in a few months, appears impressive from a user interface, controls, and hardware perspective.  The lone fly in the ointment lies in the software.

I. No Backward Compatibility; Fees for Used Games?

Microsoft has confirmed that Xbox 360 titles will not play on the Xbox One, a reversal of its policy with the Xbox 360, which played a library of so-called "backwards compatible" (BC) (original) Xbox discs.  Microsoft claims "major architecture changes" made it impossible to allow backwards compatibility.

One piece of good news is that Microsoft appears to have backed off slightly from the rumored plan to ban used game sales.  The bad news is that Microsoft requires all games to be installed on the hard drive of your console before being played and that onboard digital rights management may allow Microsoft assess an extra fee on used games in exchange for unlocking the digital rights management (DRM).

Xbox One

Wired reports in its post-launch event coverage:

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.

In a blog post, Lawrence "Larry" Hyrb, Director of Programming for the Microsoft gaming network Xbox Live and better known by his Live gamertag "Major Nelson" would not confirm or deny the possibility of a fee, "We have only confirmed that we designed Xbox One to enable our customers to trade in and resell games at retail."

II. Microsoft Pushed Developers to Ditch Offline Play

The situation is equally confusing about offline play.

The Verge reports that while the console can be played offline, it requires periodic internet "refreshes" (ostensibly to confirm DRM rights, etc.).  The report makes it clear that the timing of these refreshes is unknown at this point.

Further, Wired reports that some games may not be playable offline.  While the Xbox will not be locked to being "always online", as rumored, in all titles, developers have the ability to improve their games' performance by offloading certain task (say AI computations) to Microsoft's Azure cloud resources.

Ethernet Cables
Some Xbox One titles will be unplayable offline. [Image Source: Boot Click]

No internet connection in such titles means fundamental gameplay code is unable to be executed, which means you can't play these titles offline.  Marc Whitten, when asked by Wired whether many developers would make their titles cloud-enabled (and hence unplayable offline) comments, "I hope they do."

In other words, Microsoft is dropping the hammer slowly, offering up softened version of the draconian provisions rumored for its upcoming console.  But at the same time the net effect is the same in many cases -- gamers will find it harder to buy used games (in this stage more expensive) and will be unable to play many titles offline.

Sources: Wired, The Verge

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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