Microsoft to allow for limited sharing of digital games and apps for Xbox One [Update]

While Microsoft has already announced that anyone can share physical discs made for the Xbox One with anyone else with no restrictions, the company decided to discontinue earlier plans to have up to 10 family members share games from one Xbox One user. Now it appears Microsoft has had a partial change of heart and will allow Xbox One owners to share their digital games and apps with others.

In a post on the Xbox Wire site, Microsoft Xbox exec Marc Whitten wrote that anyone can start playing digital games loaded on an Xbox One console by signing in with their Xbox Live gamertag, even if the owner of that console is not signed in with his own Xbox Live account. He added:

Because your digital games go with you, you can also use and share digital games when you sign in to another console. And, if you happen to buy a digital game when you are signed in on your friend’s console, your game will also be available on your Home Xbox One console for anyone to use.

People who have a paid Xbox Live Gold account will also be able to share features made just for those subscribers, such as multiplayer online gaming and access to streaming video apps, with anyone who uses the console. Microsoft is calling the program Home Gold. Whitten writes:

If you’re an Xbox Live Gold member, an unlimited number of people can enjoy many benefits of Xbox Live Gold while they are using your Home Xbox One console. Friends and family will simply create their own account and gamertag and be able to enjoy Xbox Live online multiplayer gaming and access to entertainment apps.

Those benefits continue even if the Xbox One owner with the Xbox Live Gold account is not signed in. Also, those same Xbox Live Gold members can head to a friend's house and play co-op multiplayer on their friend's console even if that person is not an Xbox Live Gold member.

Finally, if you already are an Xbox Live Gold member on your Xbox 360, you can use that same account on the Xbox One. In fact, that account can be used to sign onto both consoles at the same time. In March, Microsoft decided to discontinue the Xbox Live Family Pack plan for the Xbox 360, which offered four Xbox Live Gold 12 month subscriptions for the price that was less than two single Xbox Live Gold accounts. In an interview with Polygon today, Whitten said there are still no plans to bring the Family Plan back nor are there plans to offer something similar to Home Gold on the Xbox One to the many Xbox 360 owners.

Update: Just for clarification, the "Family Share" plans for the Xbox One that was announced in June that would have let up to 10 family members share one person's Xbox One game library on any Xbox One console is still not coming back, but Microsoft's previous policy that claimed, "Downloaded titles cannot be shared", would seem to be at least partially restored with this new announcement.

Update 2: According to what a Microsoft spokesperson told Kotaku, "Gold features will stay active on your home Xbox One console even if you roam and login to use your Gold features elsewhere." That means if you are at a friend's house and log into a Gold account to play a game, other family members back at home can still use the Xbox Live Gold features enabled on the home Xbox One console.

Source: Microsoft | Image via Microsoft

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That is dumb they're not back porting it to 360 though. I have/had a Family Gold.

I have 3 Xbox 360s in my house and will have one Xbox One. The 360s will still be used for Netflix, Hulu and things like that. My daughter will then either need my password to watch Netflix or I'll have to buy a Gold for her. This whole "need gold to do anything" is starting to get on my nerves.

I'm not particularly fond of their attitude this time around as well. It seems like they are following Sony w/ the PS3 release.

I justified the cost of Gold w/ all the OS upgrades throughout the years to the 360. The dashboard is an entirely different product from when the 360 launched. I can say from how MS has designed this one, that updates should be even easier.

That being said, if Sony stays lazy and never updates the PS4 interface from launch (PS3 main interface never changed, they just added menus under sub-menus, etc), then the cost of Gold is still justified for me. But if Sony has learned from it's mistakes and innovates the PS4 w/ a rich app ecosystem, etc...then Gold just keeps seeing like a big money grab.

One other point that should be made, is that it does seem MS is serious about their Azure Cloud and adding 300k servers. Sony kinda made a point saying they can do it too, but never materialized plans of them actually going to do it.

That being said, cloud gaming could be Xbox Live's advantage this time around. Not saying that graphics could be improved w/ it, but things such as persistent online worlds benefiting from a powerful infrastructure would clearly benefit. If it turns out such is the case, then I think the price of Gold will be worth it.

People should not be expecting the sharing to come back because it's algorithmically impossible without the online requirement. Otherwise you could "loan" you game to thousands of people and they could play it forever as long as they didn't log back in. You'd end up with off shore web sites selling these licenses.

Depends what you mean by online requirement. If you mean the 24h/1h check-in then there are ways to bypass it. For example you could check out the game from a digital locker, which would tie the game to your console. You would be able to play it (without online check), but everyone else with access to the digital locker wouldn't. Only when you check the game back in would someone else be able to play it.

This would only work with games that are downloaded from the store (the whole disk story is in fact not possible without an online connection).

I expect true sharing to come back, at least for full digital downloads of games, but not now, maybe this time next year though? It's not hard to actually do, you can activate and deactivate a "lent" digital game to a friend through your system or Xbox.com. They can limit it as well, if you lend it out then you can't play it, and it can only be to one friend at a time etc. Like with a physical disc but digital.

I guess they just don't have the time to rework the licensing management servers or w/e in the short time they have, with needing to rework the whole disc system to how it is on the 360. Still I do expect to see it coming, at some point. Remember this system will be around for at least another 7+ years, like the 360 has. So much can make it's way back in, specially software related changes like handling game licenses etc.

@nMIK-3
That's summarize it quite nicely

@Kaczula
The Gold works differently too, I mean a lot better.
I do doubt about Physical copy can be shared simply by registering, officially only apply to digital games.

As mentioned, this changes nothing and is very similar to how Xbox 360 currently works.

The initial sharing idea was substantially different:

1. You could share not only DIGITAL, but also PHYSICAL (bluray) games, as you had to register any "physical" game with your Live account anyway - so essentially regardless of the media, all your games were linked to your gamertag.

2. There was an option to share your games (physical, digital) to 10 'family members', living anywhere in the world. No need to have physical access to the console.

Shame this great idea got canned because of some moronic internet trolls.

There is a lot of confusion...again...

Here is what exactly Microsoft announced regarding Game Sharing in three sentences.

1. Others can play YOUR digital purchased games when they log in with THEIR Microsoft accounts to your OWN XBOX One console.
2. When you log in with your Microsoft Account to your friends XBOX One console, all your digital purchased games will be available to the other console UNTIL you LOG-OFF.
3. YOU CANNOT CURRENTLY SHARE or BORROW DIGITAL GAMES WITH OTHERS (ex. similar to kindle lends) THIS WAS THE ORIGINAL PLAN that got cancel out due to the DRM changes and hopefully this will be available as well some time in the future.

The only way to share a game with the "real meaning of sharing" today is to physically handle the Blu-Ray disc.

Edited by nMIK-3, Aug 9 2013, 7:28pm :

+1.

And to add to number 2.

If you create an xbox live gold account which is a "breed" of the primary console, and then go to your friend's house, you still will have access to your games.

To all the negative people out there, this is what it comes down to.
1. "people should decide whether to pick digital or physical game" - this solves it
2. "Paywall on Netflix etc etc" - One gold to rule them all $60 (max value) for family of 4!!
3. "Sharing games" - I prefer family sharing but this doesn't sound as bad

Here's my opinion. If I purchase 2 xbox one, I would make 1 xbox as my Home gold and my son would become live gold when sign on to it with ability to play "Battlefield 4". Meanwhile, I logged in on another console and download "Battlefield 4" (since I own it) and play multiplayer with him.

It's not as good as Family Sharing but I can live with that.

Agreed with the move.

People who liked digital and DRM features should stay digital.

Those who like lending your discs, and having them physically, go buy your disc.

Excellent move MS, +1.

This has nothing to do with the Shared Games Library feature that was available when they planned to have the console always connected online. These are the features that were announced at E3, and were never retracted from.

No, that's not what the sharing was. This is just your on-line licensing following your account just like now and only having to buy one gold subscription for your home system. I don't know if the second one is the same as the 360 as I don't have a gold account.

John,you're right in that they did a complete 360, because this news is the exact same stuff we've already known for the past few months about sharing all our games and xbl sub on our own xbox without requiring a sign in. it was said at e3.

This is nothing like what they said at E3...

There's nothing in that article about not requiring a sign-in - in fact, it's quite the opposite. You HAVE to be signed in with an account to be able to benefit, regardless of whether you've got Xbox Live or not. At least 1 person has to have Xbox Live for everyone to benefit from it, but they have to be signed in too.

Lost count of how many U turns Microsoft have made with the Xbox One! I mean, kudos to them for listening to their customers, really.. but it does sort of make you wonder what sort of market research and information gathering was done before the announced this product!

It stands to reason that they would make mistakes when releasing a next-gen console with features never-before released with a console. What market research can you do for something that's not been done before?

Sure, you can look at how the system currently works for set-top boxes e.t.c, but that isn't always the best reflection of your demographic. Somewhere along the line, people have got incredibly finicky about what they want, and no amount of market research can save you from the fickle public.

Umm thats not going a full 360 in any sense of the word. The original idea was someone else on your family members list or something could play the game youve bought. Say im in london and there in manchester, 1 person + you could play the game at the same time. the other person could d/l and could only play it if there was no one else playing at the same time or it would lock them out until another person on the family tree stops playing.

This is different it will allow people to play the game youve bought ONLY on YOUR console meaning they need to be physically with you, or if your signed into a friends console it will still be available for other ppl to play ONLY on your home console.

This isnt a 360 its a cut down version of there original plans so that you can still play your games away from home yet will still allow members in your house to play your game. If your cheering at this then you clearly dont understand what they originally had planned and what this is all about. its good in the fact you can play it away from home, but its not what they had planned. On the other hand limiting it to your house or signing in on a friends means all your friends can play online on the same game while they are with you i think, so could be a better idea

even still guess its a stepping stone theyve made to get people used to this idea then slowly moving towards there original goal so ppl dont get "scared"

Edited by psionicinversion, Aug 9 2013, 6:34pm :

I don't think this is a "360" in that it's complete sharing. It sounds like playing the game wherever YOU happen to be or sharing Xbox Live on the console you personally own. The original Xbox One features were that you could "loan" a digital copy to your friends. Nowhere does it state that they've returned that feature.

You are forgetting that Microsoft at first announced a way to have up to 10 family members play games on one Xbox Live account, whether they came from dicss or were pure digital games..Microsoft later said that feature was not going to be in the console (http://www.neowin.net/news/xbo...digital-disc-library)...and now they are saying that anyone can play games loaded on an Xbox One console by signing in on their gamertag, even if the owner is not at home or is not signed in..that's a full 360

Surely that's just the same as the current 360 though? If I download a game I've already bought, to my friends 360 we can both play the game without restrictions (i.e. it's not a trial).

There's no mention of "family" sharing anywhere.

You're wrong, John. Family Sharing let you share your game library with 10 friend and family no matter where they were, where you were signed in, or even if you were signed in at all. This is tied to your "home" console (I'm not sure how they will define your home console), and will only allow sharing with people who are physically playing on your console. As far as signing in to someone else console goes, it works the same as today.

The only new thing announced to day is that previously on 360 if more than 1 person used a console, all users had to have an Xbox Live Gold membership to take advantage of the Gold features. Now as long as 1 user has Gold, everyone can enjoy the benefits from it.

Thanks for confusing the matter further for everyone. Good job on that.

JonathanMarston said,
You're wrong, John. Family Sharing let you share your game library with 10 friend and family no matter where they were, where you were signed in, or even if you were signed in at all. This is tied to your "home" console (I'm not sure how they will define your home console), and will only allow sharing with people who are physically playing on your console. As far as signing in to someone else console goes, it works the same as today.

The only new thing announced to day is that previously on 360 if more than 1 person used a console, all users had to have an Xbox Live Gold membership to take advantage of the Gold features. Now as long as 1 user has Gold, everyone can enjoy the benefits from it.

Thanks for confusing the matter further for everyone. Good job on that.

They'll know which console is home/local because it will be the one with the local/main account created on it and logged on XBL. Then on any other system you use it on it'd be like a roaming/downloaded profile and marked as such. Don't know what this means for people who have more than one system in their house though?

Nope..they announced digital sharing of games..then they said they removed that feature..and now they are putting in sharing of digital games back in....a 360

Nothing has changed from Xbox 360 to Xbox One except the Gold Family Plan (4 Gold subs for the price of 2) recently canned on 360 has become Home Gold only available on Xbox One.

I can log in on a friends or any persons Xbox 360 right now and play my catalogue of digital games, apps, play online, whatever.

They didn't really change anything.

Not a 360 - family sharing was originally designed to share games with "family members" all around the world, not just the people who have physical access to your xbox one.

WooHoo!!! said,
Nothing has changed from Xbox 360 to Xbox One except the Gold Family Plan (4 Gold subs for the price of 2) recently canned on 360 has become Home Gold only available on Xbox One.

I can log in on a friends or any persons Xbox 360 right now and play my catalogue of digital games, apps, play online, whatever.

They didn't really change anything.

You can login on your friends system, yes, but can your friend then also play online co-op with you? It sounds like on the XB1 there can be more than one person logged in, account wise, or maybe I'm just reading it wrong.

This is awesome! I hope those blogs out there put a stupidly negative spin on this. I know they're trying to come up with something.

I am just going to avoid any xbox news until it's release - at which point, hopefully, it will have a somewhat stable release feature list.

theyarecomingforyou said,
Even after release I wouldn't be surprised to see major policy / feature changes given that Microsoft is reacting entirely to public opinion.

And its that very same public who's to blame. Microsoft isn't really reacting to the 99% of gamers, they're reacting to the 1% vocal ****heads on Reddit / NeoGAF who like to complain about everything, even the god dam size of the power brick.

panacea said,
Hey, that brick IS huge everyone knows not only 1% that you refer to

If it's big or not isn't the issue, it's the fact people complain about it. to such an extent when really you're going to place it in the back, hidden. Anyways, I think it's smaller than the original 360 brick though I didn't stop the video at that part to gawk at it.

-Razorfold said,

And its that very same public who's to blame. Microsoft isn't really reacting to the 99% of gamers, they're reacting to the 1% vocal ****heads on Reddit / NeoGAF who like to complain about everything, even the god dam size of the power brick.

I wonder how much of this stuff is just launch strategy instead of reacting to a vocal crowd. For example: Bundling a headset with every console requires manufacturing headsets in equal numbers of consoles, which is far more then just pushing it as an accessory.

It might very well be that they had already decided to include a headset, but couldn't be bothered to deviate from the drip feed of information they had planned out for the coming months.

I might actually to. I could care less about discs anymore. I'm not THAT lazy, but I have a few digital games and switching games without getting up to change the disc is actually really nice. Also I'm getting back into PC gaming now and Steam just rocks. No discs ever. I can download and install games I bought 5 years ago, no problem.

Except that, it isn't up to Microsoft to decide sharing, it's the game publishers who decide the limits on sharing

This is pretty much the same policy that has always been on Xbox 360. The only difference is that apps and multiplayer are now available to everyone in the family even if they don't have Xbox Live Gold.