The fans spoke, and Microsoft listened! Earlier today, Microsoft announced that they are doing away with all DRM-related policies on Xbox One. This means no more required internet connectivity or daily check-ins, no more activation codes, and no more restrictions on buying, selling, or lending used games. However, this change in policy comes at a cost; Microsoft has confirmed that one of the most intriguing features of Xbox One won’t be able to function on a DRM-free console.
People are wary of a system in which game ownership is tied to an Xbox Live account, but it does come with some perks. Xbox One was planned to have a ‘roaming’ feature that allowed players to access all of their games via cloud storage without having the physical disk. Essentially, you could go to a friend’s house, log into your Xbox Live account on his or her console, and access all of your games without having to pack them all up and bring them with.
Secondly, Xbox One was going to implement a ‘family library’ which allowed you to share your games digitally with family members. Up to ten people could be added to your family library, allowing them to stream the games stored on your hard drive to their console via the cloud, so long as you weren’t currently already playing the game.
Unfortunately, both of these features hinge on the idea that Xbox One games will be tied to your account and/or console, which is not the case under Microsoft’s revised policies. Without authentication checks or accounted-tied games, there would be no way of confirming from another console that you still owned the games you were attempted to stream via the roaming feature or the family library feature. You could hypothetically buy a game, put it in your family library, sell it, and continue to play it for free via cloud streaming to other consoles even though you no longer actually own it.
As such, Microsoft will be removing both the roaming feature and the family library feature. On the plus side, you’ll be able to physically share your games with anyone you please just as you can on Xbox 360, but no additional digital sharing features will be available without authentication checks. Major Nelson recently touted these planned features as the future of gaming, but it looks like Xbox fans would rather stick with the policies that they’ve grown accustomed to.