Family Sharing on Xbox One? It's Not Dead Yet.

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

Family Sharing on Xbox One? It's Not Dead Yet.

Back in the days of the 2013 E3, when Sony landed the biggest hit against Microsoft that had been seen before—arguably, if nothing else—by having two guys pass around a disc box, Microsoft had some plans for the Xbox One. The problem, of course, was that many didn't much care for Microsoft's plans as stated, because those plans required a lot to be given up in exchange for bringing those plans to light. Now, new word has emerged to suggest that the plans may not be quite so dead after all...but with some critical modification.

Specifically, up for a bit of new life is the Family Sharing plan, by which gamers can allow family and friends, to a certain number, to digitally “borrow” purchased games for play on separate devices. It was an interesting enough idea, but it came at a very high price: the always-on digital rights management scheme that would have made such a venture possible also had a hand in destroying the used and rental video game markets. But the question remained; how could such a feature be brought into the current era but without the intrusive DRM? One idea was to allow sharing for digital games alone, but that would leave disc purchases at a disadvantage. That's something Microsoft is considering, and looking at ways to make happen.

It's not that Microsoft's ideas were bad ones. It's mostly that the ideas were poorly communicated, and in more than a few cases, bad for their time. All much of the user base saw was what was being lost, and plenty was being lost. What was coming in to replace what was lost wasn't commensurate, so in the net sense, the player base believed it was losing out. Microsoft's responses didn't help; Adam Orth and his #dealwithit responses made an already bad situation worse. But many of the facts that were true at E3 2013 are still true to this day; people want to save money with used games, people want to try full games before they buy them with rentals, and people don't want always-on DRM getting in their way. Moreover, some can't even adapt to such a system; Internet connectivity in many places won't allow for the kind of demands that such a system would impose.

Microsoft has quite the wonder in the Xbox One, but it must be careful not to advance too quickly for conditions. It needs to remember the status of the infrastructure, of the connectivity most people have access to, and the overall state of the industry before it goes ahead. The next several years for Microsoft will be significant, but the end result should be a sight to see.