Microsoft could bring some Xbox One digital sharing features back

Earlier this week, an online petition on Change.org asking Microsoft to bring back the original Xbox One DRM policies generated a bunch of sign ups (over 22,000 as of this writing) as well as a lot of media attention. Now, a Microsoft executive claims, the company could return some of those original digital sharing features to the console.

You may remember there was a massive backlash to a lot of the originally announced DRM policies for the Xbox One, particularly the limits for sharing or trading physical Xbox One disc games and the requirement for signing onto the Internet at least once every 24 hours to play games on the console. Microsoft decided to eliminate those restrictions a few weeks after they were revealed.  However, Microsoft also choose to remove previously announced plans to let up to 10 family members share in playing a user's Xbox One games, as well as killing a way to have all of an Xbox One owner's games linked to their Xbox Live account.

In an interview with IGN, Xbox One chief product officer Marc Whitten says that the petition this week proves that Microsoft still needs to do a better job in communicating to gamers Microsoft's vision for the Xbox One. He stated:

The thing that’s really gratifying is that people are excited about the types of features that are possible, and it’s sort of shame on us that we haven’t done as good of a job as we can to make people feel like that’s where we’re headed.

In terms of the family sharing game feature, Whitten said, "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." He added that the reason the family sharing feature was removed was "just from a pure engineering perspective" in order to put back the features that gamers said they wanted in the Xbox One.

Finally, Whitten says that Microsoft has learned a lot in the past couple of months since the Xbox One was first announced and that they will be trying to interact more with the game community from now on, saying, "I think it’s the number one thing I’d want to do if I went back, was have the conversation more open and more complete.

Source: IGN | Image via Microsoft

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Petition wants Microsoft to continue TechNet

Next Story

Microsoft pays first IE11 preview bounty bug prize to Google employee

59 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Of COURSE they can bring it back, it's not rocket science. All they have to do is ask the gamer if they want to run the game from disc or HD. If it's disc, they can't share it or anything else and it has to be in the drive for validation; if it's HD, all the DRM'd features become active and the game disc is no longer any use.

FloatingFatMan said,
Of COURSE they can bring it back, it's not rocket science. All they have to do is ask the gamer if they want to run the game from disc or HD. If it's disc, they can't share it or anything else and it has to be in the drive for validation; if it's HD, all the DRM'd features become active and the game disc is no longer any use.

Nope. There is no way to burn a code on the disc that would make it no longer usable. That's why they had to make a complete reverse. But they can give the DRM features (sharing library, etc) to those who download the game, assuming it doesn't **** off their retail partners (which is why their original plan was friendly for their retail partners).

Its nice to hear that they seem to get it now. I know you guys like to argue the drm stuff, but what was glad to hear was that MS is aware that it screwed up the messaging and that they want to engage the gaming community again. They want to reach out and from now on start a dialog with the community over what they want to see and what MS wants to offer.

I hope that's true and that they continue on the positive path leading up to release. Its not hard to get the gaming community back on your side. They have already made the situation better, so just continue that.

1) Keep the originally announced system for games bought digitally.

2) Give users the option when they put in a game disc to convert it to a digital copy.

That way if you want to buy a new game, play through it, and sell it, you can just opt out of the digital management features.

Your option 2 wont work, not unless it's a writable Blu-ray disc.
But then people will make a program that can change the bits to tell it the game
was never converted to digital.

It'll only work with digital downloads, which is the way it should be.

JaredFrost said,
Your option 2 wont work, not unless it's a writable Blu-ray disc.
But then people will make a program that can change the bits to tell it the game
was never converted to digital.

It'll only work with digital downloads, which is the way it should be.

It does seem tricky but didn't they talk about each disc having a code that was entered at the time you installed the game? Otherwise as originally thought out what stopped you from buying the disc, installing the game and then just passing your disc on to the next guy? There had to be some sort of disc based code/key or w/e that matched it to your install/account for the original idea behind the system to have worked.

If that's the case then there should still be a way to have you opt-in and make your copy a digital one but I guess now that they went back to having discs play like the 360 does that any disc side security code/key check etc is being removed.

JaredFrost said,
Your option 2 wont work, not unless it's a writable Blu-ray disc.
But then people will make a program that can change the bits to tell it the game
was never converted to digital.

It'll only work with digital downloads, which is the way it should be.

I don't see how they couldn't make that work. Its not rocket science to encode a unique ID into the data on each Blu-ray. If the user chose to convert to digital, that ID would be rendered invalid on all accounts other than the owner. While that wouldn't prevent that disc being used on a totally offline console as there could be no online check, but there aren't that many of those these days.

JaredFrost said,
Your option 2 wont work, not unless it's a writable Blu-ray disc.
But then people will make a program that can change the bits to tell it the game
was never converted to digital.

It'll only work with digital downloads, which is the way it should be.

Sony has already patented something like this...

TCLN Ryster said,

I don't see how they couldn't make that work. Its not rocket science to encode a unique ID into the data on each Blu-ray. If the user chose to convert to digital, that ID would be rendered invalid on all accounts other than the owner. While that wouldn't prevent that disc being used on a totally offline console as there could be no online check, but there aren't that many of those these days.

Right, but how could an offline xbox know if that disc was converted for online use? It can't. Discs being discs and downloaded copies having all the extra features is the best solution to make the most people happy.

You could have a second kind of disc that is just an install disc and includes an activation code if you want to not have to download the game yet still have it in your digital collection. But this may confuse users.

Number 2 will never happen with the new system, unless a publisher chooses to use the installation with a license key like It was previously. Physical copies of games will have their license tied to the optical medium just like they are on the Xbox 360 now. So if you want family sharing in the future, your games are going to need to be purchased digitally.

What people don't understand is that you NEED to have a DRM check every so many hours to make sure you are still licensed to own the game that is installed on your hard drive. I don't understand why people freak out about this. Maybe Microsoft should make this a requirement ONLY if you have digital downloads? Would that shut people up then?

still_rookie said,
Actually you don't.

Actually you do. LOL

It's one thing to argue that the disc can be an alternative authentication means, and I agree. But when you are allowing people to play games from an install only, you absolutely need a check in.

still_rookie said,
Actually you don't.
Yeah, yeah you do... That was the kind of uninformed thinking that got all these cool features butchered... Not ALL DRM is bad...

M_Lyons10 said,

Actually you do. LOL

It's one thing to argue that the disc can be an alternative authentication means, and I agree. But when you are allowing people to play games from an install only, you absolutely need a check in.

Problem is, pirates will just create a dummy activation server, and the only people that lose out are genuine consumers.

Steam just allows you to do the checkout for a longer period of time. That means if you want to use it on another system, and you don't have access to the one that holds it, you won't be able to use it. 24 hours is short enough to allow overlap so it just go ahead and grant it to the second system even if the first hasn't released it. That's how the sharing stuff works.

Thank god the vast majority saw this for what it was and forced a change. Now even when M$ states "the right way", you still have some arguing how great it was. YOUR MACHINE WAS A PAPERWEIGHT if M$ chose to make it so or you lost connectivity. 99% don't want this "feature". Jesus it's unbelievable this can't be understood. MOST DON'T TRUST M$ as far as they can throw them...it's great that you do.

still_rookie said,
Steam doesn't require me to login everyday to play offline, so why does Microsoft?

are you going to be able to play gta iv on steam? nhl 14? wwe2k14? NO? then no one cares what steam does or doesn't.

I play Football Manager, which is one of the biggest games in the world. Sorry to **** on your bonfire, but hourly or daily check-ins aren't required. Sony doesn't require it either for the games you are able to download off the psn store.

evacc44 said,
What people don't understand is that you NEED to have a DRM check every so many hours to make sure you are still licensed to own the game that is installed on your hard drive. I don't understand why people freak out about this. Maybe Microsoft should make this a requirement ONLY if you have digital downloads? Would that shut people up then?

Here is a solution

Any Xbox hard drive can contain any game but that doesn't mean it will run them.

The Xbox will run the game if one of the following is true:
1) your profile is authorized to run the game (and you're connected to the internet)
2) the xbox is authorized to run the game (doesn't matter if you're connected to the internet)
3) the game disc is in the optical drive (doesn't matter if you're connected to the internet)

1) covers your profile on any xbox
3) covers people who purchased the disc

2 is where it's not as straight forward. Currently on 360 when you purchase an item it authorized your profile and the xbox it was purchased on to run the item. Make this work the same on XB1. Now you are able to play the game offline just fine. You're also able to transfer offline capability to a new 360 but it is limited (once every so much time)

Ahh but what about digital trades and family sharing you say? Simple! Make THOSE require an internet connection. So if you want to trade one of your digital license then turn your Xbox on and connect it to the internet. Now press transfer license button. It will simultaneously de-license your xbox and account and license the new owner's account and xbox. This makes it so you can't disconnect your xbox from the internet, trade your game yet continue playing the game.

Family sharing? Simple! As long as your XB1 is on the internet (and you aren't running the game) then your family can play your game collection. Your XB1 is offline? Well then family sharing won't work.

Didn't realize that steam lets you install the game you registered with it on your 10 of your friends computer since that is the only scenario in which your comment has any relevance to this conversation.

still_rookie said,
I play Football Manager, which is one of the biggest games in the world. Sorry to **** on your bonfire, but hourly or daily check-ins aren't required. Sony doesn't require it either for the games you are able to download off the psn store.

listen,my point isn't that its steam.its that it isn't steam. If it was all digital distribution then I would agree with you,but look at this scenario. I install a game on my hard drive then never connect until the monthly check ,I have access to the game for the whole month,meanwhile so do my 20 friends. We can all play the game at the exact same time for the whole month. This is different than game sharing,since only one of my friends is able to play the game at any given time.

MS are happy for you to give your installation media (disc, USB stick, ISO, whatever), because you have to have a license key to activate it (unless you pirate). They WANT more people to have it, cos then they have to pay for a license to use it. Xbox games (etc) dont have this, if you have the idsc, you can use it.

still_rookie said,
Steam doesn't require me to login everyday to play offline, so why does Microsoft?

Actually Steam has quite a vigorous licence check system, even if you go offline it will still check to see if it can check the licences on the games on your library. MS were just being more open about their methods and due to the nature of family share and other features, this licence check was needed every 24 hours.

where MS failed was not finding a simple fall back method for when users were offline but i have a sneaky suspicion this probably had to do with the game publishers and red tape, i also have a feeling this is what is being worked out now.

Hahaiah said,
Thank god the vast majority saw this for what it was and forced a change. Now even when M$ states "the right way", you still have some arguing how great it was. YOUR MACHINE WAS A PAPERWEIGHT if M$ chose to make it so or you lost connectivity. 99% don't want this "feature". Jesus it's unbelievable this can't be understood. MOST DON'T TRUST M$ as far as they can throw them...it's great that you do.

Ahhh... 'M$', the calling card of the stupid/jealous/angry/12

singularity87 said,
Then why doesn't Windows 8 re-activate itself every few hours? (this is a serious question, maybe I'm missing something)

Windows is licensed to the hardware. You cannot bring it up on another system or share it with someone.

ILikeTobacco said,
Didn't realize that steam lets you install the game you registered with it on your 10 of your friends computer since that is the only scenario in which your comment has any relevance to this conversation.
And of course Microsoft won't allow 10 of your friends to play a whole game you've bought. I'm surprised people believe this.

fobban said,
And of course Microsoft won't allow 10 of your friends to play a whole game you've bought. I'm surprised people believe this.

its true and has been confirmed by Microsoft executives,and an xbox developer recently came out and said it was full games as well. hopefully they bring it back,because its such a great feature its got some of you guys still in disbelief.

vcfan said,

are you going to be able to play gta iv on steam? nhl 14? wwe2k14? NO? then no one cares what steam does or doesn't.

I'm about 95% sure you can play GTA IV on Steam.

vcfan said,

its true and has been confirmed by Microsoft executives,and an xbox developer recently came out and said it was full games as well. hopefully they bring it back,because its such a great feature its got some of you guys still in disbelief.

Another developer said it was an one hour time limit. Still, I doubt very much that you would be able to share a game with 10 people who then would be able to play the whole game. How would that not kill the single-player gaming industry?

Microsoft confirmed it wasn't time gimped,what more do you need? Its also the same as physically sharing a game,only one friend can play that game at a time. Its just more convenient digitally and that was the whole point of always having to connect everyday, those are the kinds of things that could have been done.

There's absolutely no reason they cant keep all of the original features for digitally distributed games, while keeping disc based games as per the 360. Best of both worlds.

TCLN Ryster said,
There's absolutely no reason they cant keep all of the original features for digitally distributed games, while keeping disc based games as per the 360. Best of both worlds.

Which is probably what they'll do, but now they have to rework the system so it can handle disc installs (you'll still have to install the game to the hdd from the disc) the right way, adding back in disc checks and other tweaks. While they re-add the different flags that mark a full digital download game install. Before this the system was probably coded to just treat everything as a digital install, so now that's changing and adds a bit of a delay to other things.

GP007 said,

Which is probably what they'll do, but now they have to rework the system so it can handle disc installs (you'll still have to install the game to the hdd from the disc) the right way, adding back in disc checks and other tweaks. While they re-add the different flags that mark a full digital download game install. Before this the system was probably coded to just treat everything as a digital install, so now that's changing and adds a bit of a delay to other things.

I don't think thats true. Remember it comes with a BR drive so that people can play games through physical media.

Except if a publisher is faced with the cost of supporting two versions of the game, they may drop one. Having two models means two incompatible and nontransferable versions of the game. You can't buy the "disc" version and use it as hard disk installed only game. Pretty much everything knew these days uses network authorization.

TCLN Ryster said,
There's absolutely no reason they cant keep all of the original features for digitally distributed games, while keeping disc based games as per the 360. Best of both worlds.

I don't want any damn disc in the Xbox. I'm tired of that. If people like you want to continue to use disc, I see no reason you couldn't just buy an PS4. My Halo is scratched; now I have to buy another disc to play?

TCLN Ryster said,
There's absolutely no reason they cant keep all of the original features for digitally distributed games, while keeping disc based games as per the 360. Best of both worlds.

This... can't help but think the bloggers and youtubers suggesting Microsoft was just throwing a hissy fit are dead on.

GP007 said,

Which is probably what they'll do, but now they have to rework the system so it can handle disc installs (you'll still have to install the game to the hdd from the disc) the right way, adding back in disc checks and other tweaks. While they re-add the different flags that mark a full digital download game install. Before this the system was probably coded to just treat everything as a digital install, so now that's changing and adds a bit of a delay to other things.

This isn't a big change at all. Heck the process from moving from the original license model to the new one completes 99% of the work.

User wishes to start game "Halo 5"

if (licenseManager.LocalXbox.IsAuthorized("Halo 5") || licenseManager.currentProfile.IsAuthorized("Halo 5") || opticalDrive.CurrentGame == "Halo 5")
{
.....// If xbox or current user is authorized or current game in the optical drive is Halo 5
.....if (!installedGames.Contains("Halo 5"))
.....{
..........if(opticalDrive.CurrentGame == "Halo 5")
..........{
...............// Install Halo 5 from optical disc
...............opticalDrive.installGame();
..........}
..........else
..........{
...............// Halo 5 not in disc tray, install from Xbox Live
...............marketplace.InstallGame("Halo 5")
..........}
.....}
.....Start Halo5.xex; // Starts Halo 5 from hard drive
}
else
{
.....// Not authorized. Inform user.
}

Edited by mrp04, Jul 13 2013, 10:11pm :

StandingInAlley said,

I don't think thats true. Remember it comes with a BR drive so that people can play games through physical media.

I think some sort of mandatory install will still apply because the BR drives read speed might not be enough. The PS3 had partial installs specifically for this reason alone. Either way, we'll either have to do some % of an install like with the PS3 or a full install or have the option for a full install.

GP007 said,

Which is probably what they'll do, but now they have to rework the system so it can handle disc installs (you'll still have to install the game to the hdd from the disc) the right way, adding back in disc checks and other tweaks. While they re-add the different flags that mark a full digital download game install. Before this the system was probably coded to just treat everything as a digital install, so now that's changing and adds a bit of a delay to other things.

An installed game didn't mean anything other than files stored locally. It still had to check your license no matter where you got it from. It should be simple to say check license OR if game is in drive (since discs no longer transfer into digital licenses). They could also have "play discs" which can install and play a game, or "install discs" which can only install a game and include a code to digitally activate the game using simple flags.

mrp04 said,

if (licenseManager.LocalXbox.IsAuthorized("Halo 5") || licenseManager.currentProfile.IsAuthorized("Halo 5") || opticalDrive.CurrentGame == "Halo 5")
{
.....// If xbox or current user is authorized or current game in the optical drive is Halo 5
.....if (!installedGames.Contains("Halo 5"))
.....{
..........if(opticalDrive.CurrentGame == "Halo 5")
..........{
...............// Install Halo 5 from optical disc
...............opticalDrive.installGame();
..........}
..........else
..........{
...............// Halo 5 not in disc tray, install from Xbox Live
...............marketplace.InstallGame("Halo 5")
..........}
.....}
.....Start Halo5.xex; // Starts Halo 5 from hard drive
}
else
{
.....// Not authorized. Inform user.
}

SYNTAX ERROR

StandingInAlley said,

I don't think thats true. Remember it comes with a BR drive so that people can play games through physical media.

It's already been established both the Xbox One and the PS4 don't quite work in that way.......from the moment the disc is inserted, the game begins installing to the HDD. The game always runs off the HDD, not the disc.

Edited by SikSlayer, Jul 14 2013, 9:51am :

AWilliams87 said,

I don't want any damn disc in the Xbox. I'm tired of that. If people like you want to continue to use disc, I see no reason you couldn't just buy an PS4. My Halo is scratched; now I have to buy another disc to play?
Who's fault is it that it's scratched? if you don't want to use disc anymore just obtain your games from the online store Day 1. For disc scratching issues Microsoft is using Blu-Ray for the Xbox One, the disc are spun with a special coating to prevent scratching.

TCLN Ryster said,
There's absolutely no reason they cant keep all of the original features for digitally distributed games, while keeping disc based games as per the 360. Best of both worlds.

Glad to see someone didn't drink the Microsoft kool-aid and lose their mind, unlike most of the other comments here. I don't get why people argue about the DRM saying that the 24-hour checkin was something necessary. It's like the internet collectively lost their damn minds. The ironic part is that a pretty good solution to this whole thing already exists and Microsoft is the one that implemented it.

All they need to do is use the model from XBLA games. When they are downloaded they are tied to the console ID that downloaded them. This console can play them online or offline without issue. This is effectively the home console. If you go to a friends house you can sign in and download the game, but only while you are online because this is a guest console. The only downside currently is that not every game is released for download, so you are stuck with a physical disc and it's inherent limitations. With the Xbox One, all games should be available in both download and disc forms, which leaves the choice up to the gamer.

The mistake the Microsoft made initially was trying to merge disc and downloads to have the same features and limitations. This alienated a lot of people and eliminated the possibility of choosing between convenience and trade/resale capability. When they split them up they opted to remove several advertised features in the hopes that people would blindly agree and beg them to go back to the over-controlling DRM model. Allowing disc based games to be tradable (as they always have) should have exactly ZERO impact on the capabilities and features of direct download content.

WisdomWolf said,

Glad to see someone didn't drink the Microsoft kool-aid and lose their mind, unlike most of the other comments here. I don't get why people argue about the DRM saying that the 24-hour checkin was something necessary. It's like the internet collectively lost their damn minds. The ironic part is that a pretty good solution to this whole thing already exists and Microsoft is the one that implemented it.

All they need to do is use the model from XBLA games. When they are downloaded they are tied to the console ID that downloaded them. This console can play them online or offline without issue. This is effectively the home console. If you go to a friends house you can sign in and download the game, but only while you are online because this is a guest console. The only downside currently is that not every game is released for download, so you are stuck with a physical disc and it's inherent limitations. With the Xbox One, all games should be available in both download and disc forms, which leaves the choice up to the gamer.

The mistake the Microsoft made initially was trying to merge disc and downloads to have the same features and limitations. This alienated a lot of people and eliminated the possibility of choosing between convenience and trade/resale capability. When they split them up they opted to remove several advertised features in the hopes that people would blindly agree and beg them to go back to the over-controlling DRM model. Allowing disc based games to be tradable (as they always have) should have exactly ZERO impact on the capabilities and features of direct download content.

It's exactly the reason they wanted to treat disc copies the same as downloaded copies that they had the 24hr check. It's not hard to understand the why of it, the disc was just a install and nothing more. Allowing you to share everything with others also meant that a check-in was required. You can debate how frequent that should be or if 24hrs is too much and that it should be something else, that's fine, but to say a security check of some sorta didn't have to be done is not the case.

Digital versions by nature so far are DRMd up, you can't share them, not like a disc copy, they're tied to your account. What if I want to sell my digital copy of some AAA game like I can with my disc copy? Well, can't seem to do that at this point. Having to be online all the time when over a friends house? That's not worse than a 24hr check-in?

The key point in the DRM was the ability to share and not need a disc at all. There was no distinction between disc and digital download.

AWilliams87 said,

I don't want any damn disc in the Xbox. I'm tired of that. If people like you want to continue to use disc, I see no reason you couldn't just buy an PS4. My Halo is scratched; now I have to buy another disc to play?

People like me? At what point did the delusion form in your mind that I was against the digital aspects of the platform and preferred the disc? If you step down from your soap box for a moment, you'd realise I was one of those trying to defend Microsoft's original plans for the Xbox One.

I have a friend working at the Window Azure server farm in Amsterdam who isn't happy with the change that has been done to the new Xbox Live and it requires a bit of work (even on their end) to get those features working under the new license structure. Family Sharing will be there though, but not directly at launch. Definitely before the year end as they are working really hard on it. My advice will be to buy your games digitally if you want that feature across all your games (disc games will not be supported he said to me as the license for physical games will now be tied to the physical medium instead of the user's account, unless the publisher chooses the previous installation method and license key, which is still available). This time you also won't be able to take advantage of the system like you did with the 24 hour license check (and go offline after) though, your internet connection will be required if you want to play someone else's game. So your scenario is coming, but it will require quite a lot of work before it is finished. People now have a choice to go all digital with benefits or stick to the old physical copy routine and they will just need to be patient as they got their wish and the mandatory check is now gone.

Edited by Thief000, Jul 15 2013, 12:54pm :

Aaron Olive said,
Who's fault is it that it's scratched? if you don't want to use disc anymore just obtain your games from the online store Day 1. For disc scratching issues Microsoft is using Blu-Ray for the Xbox One, the disc are spun with a special coating to prevent scratching.

I've had my 360 scratch a ring into a disc the same day I bought it, and then had the guy at the store lecture me about moving my xbox with discs in it, then refuse to replace the disc. I didn't move my dang xbox, it just decided to spin off-track, or the disc had a manufacturing imbalance and did not spin right. I have also had a bad game disc explode in my 360 before, that required purchasing a new xbox.

Then you factor in the fact that 90% of the disc handling is done not by me the responsible adult, but by my children... yes digital downloads only please. I will NEVER by another disc again.