Gamer outrage prompts Xbox rowback

CATCH-UP::After Sony announced it would not restrict used-game sales or require Internet connections for game play, Microsoft had little choice but to follow suit

AFP, SAN FRANCISCO

Fri, Jun 21, 2013 - Page 15

Microsoft Corp handed gamers a victory on Wednesday by backing off plans for new-generation Xbox One consoles to require Internet connections and put restrictions on playing second-hand game disks.

Microsoft interactive entertainment business president Don Mattrick announced in a blog post that the US technology titan was surrendering in the face of outrage by gamers in the wake of last week’s premier Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).

“The ability to lend, share and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you,” Mattrick said in a message to gamers. “Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world.”

He promised that Xbox One will now let people “play, share, lend and resell” game disks the same way they can on current-generation Xbox 360 consoles.

Xbox One consoles will only need to connect to the Internet once, to set up systems, and users will then be free to play games offline.

“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,” Mattrick said.

Sony Corp’s new-generation PlayStation 4 console scored an opening skirmish triumph over Microsoft’s Xbox One last week at E3.

Sony and Microsoft each hosted distinct private events to spotlight their new champions in long-running console wars.

Both titans showcased blockbuster games, but Sony triggered unbridled cheers with assurances it would not interfere with sales of used titles or require Internet connections for play.

This was in sharp contrast to Microsoft, which said at E3 that Xbox One consoles would need to check in online once every 24 hours for games to work, and set conditions on used games.

Sony also priced the PS4 at US$399, compared with the US$499 Microsoft said it will charge for Xbox One consoles when they are released in the US and Europe in November.

Sony and Microsoft both plan to release their new video game consoles in time for the year-end holiday shopping season.

Microsoft has sold about 77 million Xbox 360 consoles since they hit the market in late 2005. Console rival Sony has sold about the same number of PlayStation 3 consoles, which was introduced a year later.