11 Xbox One myths debunked - Kinect, online checks, game prices and more

Clearing the waters muddied by Microsoft messaging

Some have called the internet the single greatest contribution to human knowledge, effectively doing away with the need for organic memory banks in puny, carbon-based lifeforms such as you and (for the record) I. Others, however, style it history's grandest and most protracted round of Chinese Whispers.

The potential for ambiguity is vast, as Microsoft discovered last month when a handful of vague statements on Xbox One's game licensing policies triggered a landslide of speculation pieces and partial headlines. In what follows, we address some of the more excitable, lingering claims about the console's capabilities, game licensing and Kinect. We can't answer all the questions, but we can put a few of the rumours to rest.

UPDATE: Microsoft has now cancelled Xbox One's controversial game licensing policies, thus rendering much of the information below obsolete. Still, the stuff about Kinect and games focus is worth a read.


1. Microsoft charges for/blocks the resale of Xbox One games
No, it doesn't, but you can only sell back your games to "participating retailers". Hopefully, these won't be limited to the bigger chains and supermarkets. Publishers have the ability to impose additional charges for and restrictions on the resale of Xbox One games via Xbox Live, however, so you might want to send your friendly neighbourhood corporate juggernaut a sternly worded letter on the benefits of free and unregulated transfer of property.

EA, Activision and co have yet to make clear their plans for this aspect of Xbox One, though there's possibly something to deduce from EA's decision to retire the unpopular Online Pass scheme.

2. The Xbox One blocks game loans and gifting
You can only give the disc itself to one Xbox Live friend, currently, and he or she'll need to have been your friend for 30 days. You'll also need the publisher's consent, which sounds ominous. You can, however, share your entire digital games library (which includes games you've bought on disc) with up to 10 other Xbox Live friends (they need to be "family members", technically, but Microsoft doesn't mind you bending the rules). The aforesaid friends can access the content from their own consoles, though it's not clear whether Microsoft will allow two people to play the same digital copy of a game simultaneously.

Additionally, Microsoft's Phil Spencer has suggested that Xbox One's lending schemes aren't set in stone. "We understand lending and the benefits of lending, so, funny videos aside, we get it," he told Kotaku in a recent interview. "We want to make sure we land on the right solution that fits a digital ecosystem moving forward." Later in the chat, Spencer put it a little more boldly: "we don't have a lending solution today." More to come, hopefully.


3. Xbox One's always-on Kinect is spying on me
No, it isn't. For starters, you can set Kinect to be entirely unaware and unresponsive if you choose, though it'll still need to be plugged in for Xbox One to run. Some apps and games may require Kinect functionality to operate, of course, so you'll need to turn the sensor back on for these. You can also set it to remain active even when the console is switched off, but it won't gather data about you while in this state - the machine listens out for a single activation phrase, "Xbox On". Finally, Kinect features can be "paused" during gameplay or movie playback.

  1 2 3