Microsoft had its butt handed to it at last week's E3 video game trade show. While it had a very healthy variety of Xbox One games on show, nobody seemed to care much because the console had restrictive "anti-consumer" restrictions in place. Gamers everywhere lashed at Microsoft on social media for implementing policies that wouldn't allow game discs to be shared with friends once installed to a person's consoles. Xbox One game discs also wouldn't be resellable to places like GameStop. Also, the console would need to connect to the Internet once every 24 hours to stay "updated." It didn't help that Xbox's top exec Don Mattrick told people who wanted those features to just stick to the Xbox 360.
All of those "mistakes" culminated together perfectly for Sony to announce the complete opposite for the PlayStation 4 at its E3 press conference and "win" the show, and the Internet. To give you an idea of how serious gamers are about sharing used games, consider Sony's humorous "used game instructional" video, which has already amassed over 13 million views on YouTube.
An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.
Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.
So, no Internet requirement, except after an initial set-up, for a "Day 1" patch. That's really great news for people who still don't care for gaming online gaming or people in places that don't have access to Internet all the time; servicemen and servicewomen come to mind.
However, while all seems right again in Xbox-land, Mattrick also notes that downloaded games "cannot be shared or resold" and "playing disc based games will require the disc be in the tray" (same as on Xbox 360).
The ability to register 10 Xbox Ones into a "10-person family sharing plan" for lending digital games was one of the few ideas I supported on the console, but alas, that policy has now been tossed out the window now. As for selling used games, the original plan with Xbox One was to allow digitally purchased games to be resold via Microsoft's "authorized" partners; allowing Microsoft, game publishers, and used game retailers to each get a cut of the secondhand sales, instead of just the latter. The option to sell digital games is also gone.
Additionally, Xbox One will be region-free (the console, not its discs), just like the PS4. What that means is you'll be able to bring your Xbox One to any country and it'll still work. Not sure why Microsoft ever thought this was a good idea, but we're happy its been reversed.
We win some; we lose some. At the end of the day, I think Microsoft's change of heart puts the Xbox One back on the competitive edge with the PS4. Xbox One still requires a Kinect and game installs are still mandatory, but Sony can't boast about used games and offline policies anymore. That said, Sony's decision to not require or include the PlayStation Camera in the box still gives the PS4 a $100 price advantage; $399 vs. $499 for the Xbox One.
Now that Microsoft has taken a few steps back, we ask you guys once more: Xbox One or PS4? The field is now pretty level, again, unless you're talking about sheer power under the hood. In that case, Sony's crazy 8GB of GDDR5 RAM easily beat the Xbox One's 8GB of DDR3 RAM. But who's looking at specs alone, anyway?