On Tuesday, I talked about what I thought Microsfoft Could Have Done Better at the XBox One Launch Event, pointing out one of the biggest issues were the questions left unanswered in the official reveal.
Microsoft responded to inquiries throughout the day, through various people, getting answers to these almost universal questions every site and gamer was curious about. You can check out our formal write-up from the event for more info, but for the big questions, here we go (starting with the big one):
Does XBox One require an internet connection?
The console will have to connect to the internet occasionally (it does come with wifi for those folks where plugging in is the only issue) and it's been mentioned that for basic use it may have to connect at least once every 24 hours. If you are doing something that requires use of 'the cloud', then obviously it would need possibly constant access.
"Some bits of the system will work offline. I think the key point to make is that Xbox One requires an internet connection, but it does not need to be connected all the time. We think that most of the biggest games on Xbox One and most of the games and experiences and services you want to use will be internet-connected." - Microsoft's Phil Harrison
So technically the console will not need to be 'always connected', but for folks that live somewhere without great internet, use internet only on their phones, play on military bases, take a gaming console to a vacation spot, etc. - it may as well be.
The 'Always On' wording you hear is tricky. There is 'Always Online', which we've address, but there is also the issue of power going to the unit. Power wise, it is going to be 'Always On' as the kinect system (which is required to be hooked up to the XBox One) will be what wakes your unit up, so it is in a low power use mode when even when the XBox is off. This part of 'always on' isn't as big a deal as the online issue, unless you are thinking like blogger BigDah:
Let’s just call it what it is, an attractive fun filled device intentionally brought in your home with 4 microphones, 2 cameras, an infrared motion sensor, and a license to freely record and upload your activity….
Can I borrow/lend games with my friends?
Not unless you play on their account. Games will be tied to account profiles, so a family under one family plan might be able to play games on different accounts on the same machine, but possibly not on different machines. A friend could bring a game over, sign into his account to play, but unless he left his account signed in after he goes home, you will not be able to play the game on your account without purchasing an activation code for it.
I want to talk about two issues where I have personal experience with this potential problem:
My oldest son is an avid XBox player, I play as well, though not nearly as much. We occasionally swap games with each other to try out new games. Our problem may be somewhat unique, but it is Microsoft's fault - they have been unable to get us on a family plan.
Long story (sort of) short: Last year I bought a family plan and went to roll him onto my account and it wasn't working. Dozens of calls over days and weeks working with Microsoft Support to fix the problem and not one person could help solve the issue. So I waste money buying family plan, but the bigger issue would be, what of the XBox One?
I have paid for my console and his, his games and mine, both accounts, etc. So according to any legal issue, I own the games, but will not be able to play anything he has installed first on my personal console because Microsoft has forced us to have two seperate accounts.
We also play games with friends online, and (he much more than myself) is concerned about things like Gamerscore, so, not even counting that we might want to play on our consoles at the same time, playing on the other person's account is not an option either.
My issue might be a bit more rare than most because of whatever problem Microsoft has getting his account moved under mine, but it does tell you how much trouble borrowing and lending games might be between friends, roomates, seperate households, multiple XBox units, etc. Who knows what the solution to used games will be...
Can XBox One play used games?
Microsoft isn't saying how, but they are saying yes to this. There seems a high possibility that it will involve some sort of licensing system, but they are still working out the details according to XBox's Major Nelson:
We know there is some confusion around used games on Xbox One and wanted to provide a bit of clarification on exactly what we’ve confirmed today. While there have been many potential scenarios discussed, today we have only confirmed that we designed Xbox One to enable our customers to trade in and resell games at retail.
Beyond that, we have not confirmed any specific scenarios.
So in the end, Microsoft (and Sony) are doing everything they can to avoid people noticing they are creating a DRM system, but that is essentially what they are doing here. Games are going to be tightly controlled by tying them to specific accounts and verifying their use at least daily with an internet connection.
As to how this will affect game rentals, like Gamefly, we still don't know.
Is the system backwards compatible?
Similar to the PS4, due to a complete rebuild of the architecture (or whatever they claimed) you wlll not be able to play XBox 360 (or original XBox) games on the XBox One. Unlike PS4, at this time, Microsoft has no plan in place to offer old games digitally or streamed.
"Microsoft does, however, plan to keep selling the Xbox 360 alongside the new console for the foreseeable future. This isn't about getting rid of the Xbox 360."- VP Marc Whitten
This also applies to any digital library on your 360 as any XBox Live Arcade games you have purchased will not tranfer over.
Will anything transfer over from 360 to XBox One?
Yes, some things.
Gamerscore will carry over, plus your avatar/gamertag and XBox Live Gold account (which will still be needed going forward).
Entertainment purchases like movies will transfer over. Perhaps games were not as important, as we saw the huge focus on television and movies during the Reveal.
Will all that TV stuff they demo'd be available at launch?
Yes (if you're in the US)
At this point, Microsoft has said they are ready to roll out the entertainment package they showed off for the XBox one at launch, but only in the United States. A gradual global rollout is planned as they move forward after launch for the rest of the world.
As for those thinking service providers are getting nervous about the XBox One:
"Connect your cable or satellite box to your Xbox One and prepare for lift off."
It looks as if this XBox One is not a replacement for existing service, as you will still need a seperate supported receiver from a cable/satellite provider, of which you run the HDMI to the XBox One instead of straight to the television. But Microsoft is still working out the various agreements with providers, so doesn't have details for us yet.
Any more details on the memory?
The Hard Drive is 500GBs and is not removable. This is important to note if you buy a lot of games, since every game will require a full install to the HD. You will not have acceses to the entire 500GBs however.
"Xbox One system software uses a significant amount of storage; less internal storage will be available to users."
Microsoft made a big deal of 'the cloud' as well, so I would expect them to put their 300,000 XBox Live servers to use in additional memory and often with live use during gaming.
The Graphics processor is D3D 11.1 chip with 32MB of embedded memory (which is a nice bonus). The CPU is an 8 core CPU custom built by Microsoft.
RAM is 8GB DDR3 (which has advantages and disadvantages versus the DDR5 PS4 uses) and like the HD it is partitioned as well. 5GB of RAM will be dedicated to gaming, while the other 3GB will be used for background tasks and other machine functions and features.