After both the Xbox One and the PS4 were announced earlier this year, many were left with some major questions. Microsoft in particular came under a lot of fire for not answering many of the biggest concerns of their current user base.
Subsequent interview quotes have also been confusing at best, and more often than not unnecessarily evasive. In a surprise move today though, Microsoft has issued a lengthy press release which answered most of those lingering questions. Unfortunately, they are answers that some are not going to like.
Microsoft specifically says it expects every Xbox One owner to have a broadband connection of 1.5Mbps or more. The machine is always on in a "low-powered, connected state" and sports two 802.11n 5Ghz wireless band antennas along with a gigabit Ethernet port.
Rumors of a mandatory daily online check-up are true. You can game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your library. Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection. However, they do advise "you can still watch live TV and enjoy Blu-ray and DVD movies." So if your internet connection is down for a few days, you'll have to wait.
Here's where things get interesting - and complicated.
Say you buy a copy "Watch Dogs" for XBox One. The game requires a mandatory install, but once it is on you will have a digital copy of your game both on your console and in the cloud.
Anyone can also play that game on your console regardless of whether you are logged in or not, or their relationship to you.
You and up to ten members of your family can also log in, download and install the game (or any other game from your shared games library) from the cloud, and play it on any other Xbox One. That assumes though that whomever owns that other console doesn't mind you chewing up their bandwidth (tentpole games are around 10-18Gb each).
You can also give your disc copy to one friend - but there are two requirements - they have to be someone who has been on your friends list for at least a month, and the game can only be given once.
Disc-based games CAN be traded in and resold for cash and credit, but only at their "participating retailers". The good news is that Microsoft will NOT charge a platform fee for enabling transfer of these games.
However, they say third party publishers may opt in or out of supporting game resale and may set up business terms or transfer fees with retailers. This essentially means that an extra activation fee could be included, but if so it will be the decision of the games publisher and not Microsoft.
Also, loaning or renting games will not be available at launch, but the "are exploring the possibilities with our partners".
Microsoft has essentially put the responsibility of Kinect's level of privacy on you. During setup, privacy options will be offered such as things like automatic or manual sign in and clear notifications about how data is used.
You can turn off or pause Kinect if you don’t want the Kinect sensor on while playing games or enjoying your entertainment. However, some apps and games require Kinect functionality to operate so you'll need to turn it back on for these experiences. Microsoft stresses that your personal data will never be available to anyone outside of your console and will not leave your Xbox One "without your explicit permission."
In short: You need a constant and relatively fast online connection. Used game functionality and/or activation fees will be left up to publishers to decide on a game-by-game basis. You only need to buy one game for an entire family, but you can only lend out that game to one friend.