Xbox One’s Cancelled Family Sharing Was a One Hour Demo
While Microsoft eliminating the DRM on the Xbox One can only be seen as a good thing, it wasn’t all positives to come from that. The elimination of the online check-ins and mandatory installation of games resulted in the elimination of the family share program which was considered one of the bright spots of the upcoming console.
However, the might have been for the best. Reports indicate that the Family Share program wasn’t actually going to allow you to share full games with your 10 family members on Xbox Live. It was going to let you play the game in hour-long chunks rather than the whole game.
Initially, it was believed that the Family Sharing Program would allow you to share your games with up to ten of your Xbox Live friends. The only restriction was believed to be that only one of the designated ten friends could play the game at any time. Basically, it was a long-distance equivalent to giving a friend your game disc.
Now, two sources say that the sharing plan wasn’t as good as people originally thought or hoped. An alleged Microsoft engineer took to Pastebin to champion some of the “poorly explained” benefits of DRM, including the family share plan.
In this post, the engineer explains that the shared game would effectively only be a demo. You could play the actual game but a timer limited your play time from between 15 minutes and an hour at which point you’d be redirected to the Xbox Marketplace to buy the game. The engineer also revealed that Microsoft was planning to limit the number of demo playthroughs a player got before access was cutoff.
Apparently, a couple of devs denied this to Kotaku over Twitter but there hasn’t been any sort of official confirmation or denial by Microsoft. Not that I would expect anyone to confirm this.
While I’m sure that Microsoft could have kept family sharing available on the Xbox One should they have chosen to. However, when word would have gotten out that the family share program isn’t actually sharing games but a marketing tool, there would have been massive backlash on top of all the other DRM backlash. In other words, Microsoft saved themselves from more backlash by removing a likely controversial program under the guise of listening to customers. That’s a bit underhanded, isn’t it?