Most of the gaming public and press rejoiced when Microsoft Microsoft made the startling announcement a short while after the Xbox One's chilly reception at E3 that it was reversing most the system's controversial policies. That included a once-a-day online check-in requirement and a some tricky restrictions on sharing and reselling used games.
But there were a few things lost in the shuffle as well. Microsoft said that because of these changes, innovative ideas like their family sharing plan and the ability to play disc-bought games without the disc were now kaput. Many in the press and the industry derided fans for killing what could have been inventive ideas for their need for consoles to stay rooted in the past.
Well, it turns out that at some point, we may be able to have the best of both worlds. IGN recently spoke with Xbox One Chief Product Officer Marc Whitten. Among the topics covered was a lengthy admission about how poorly Microsoft dealt with its fans during the whole original Xbox One kerfuffle, and that the system needed far better messaging when announced.
That's all rather obvious, even if it is nice to hear the company say it, but the more relevant info is that Whitten says these "lost" features could indeed make their way back to the Xbox One at some point.
"If it's something that people are really excited about and want, we're going to make sure that we find the right way to bring it back. Taking Family Sharing out of the launch window was not about 'we're going to take our toys and go home' or something like that," he said.
"It was just sort of the logistics of 'how do we get this very, very clear request that people really want, that choice, and how do we make sure we can do an excellent job of that, get to launch, and then be able to build a bunch of great features?' In the future I think you're going to see the ways that we change how you discover, how you consume, share, play."
Despite what the gaming public may believe, it does stand true that Microsoft obviously didn't remove these features out of spite, and they were somehow tied to online checkin-in and discless play. It's a smart move for the company to work hard to ensure these features are still possible even with an offline console.
The exact specifics of what the Family Plan was going to be were never made officially explicit. Many speculated that the ten or so friends and family you were allowed to share with would get a one-hour demo of the game to play, but then later, that was upgraded to unfettered access to the game. I suspect the answer has to lie somewhere in the middle, as demo idea is too restrictive, while the ability to lend games remotely online might be a little too generous. Imagine buying a copy of a game and being able to lend it to six of your friends instantly for free. There would have to be some sort of restriction about how only one person can play it at a time, or only so far after launch, or so on and so forth. But I suppose we'll have to wait until the idea is fully resurrected in order to know the details.
I think the Xbox One is in a much stronger position than it was a month ago, but it still has challenges to overcome like the $500 price tag and the public's skepticism of Kinect. But adding in features like this voluntarily would go a long way to help give them a few more points in their column.