Microsoft has seemingly confirmed that the Xbox One will not work if imported or taken to a country where the system isn't supported.
The Xbox One is launching in 21 countries.
Although the company hasn't clarified exactly what aspects of the console will be region-locked, the company has all but confirmed that usage of the console in different countries will be very restricted.
In a statement to The Verge
, Microsoft said:
"At this time, we have announced Xbox One will be available in 21 markets in November this year and additional markets later in 2014. Similar to the movie and music industry, games and other content must meet country-specific regulatory guidelines before they are cleared for sale - which means that games will work in the broad geographic regions for which they have been cleared, much as today with Xbox 360. While the console itself is not geographically restricted, a user's Xbox Live account, content, apps and experiences are all tied to the country of billing and residence."
This statement followed a number of official Xbox Twitter responses that outlined a number of scenarios where the console won't work.
Responding to Twitter user Gregor Ivezic's (@gi4ouR) question "Xbox One will block activation of games if outside of the IP range of a supported country? What if i travel a lot?"
, the @XboxSupport2 account replied "You'll be able to play when you return home. I travel with an Xbox 360 for road gaming."
Another question came fro Robert Hallahan (@ill_cattivo): "But say someone from Poland, not listed, imports it from the UK. Will they be able to play disc-based games?"
In reply the account said "They would want to wait until the console is available in their region. "
Although it's not unprecedented for a console to be region-locked, it has previously been possible to get round these restrictions by importing compatible games. However, the nature of the way games are tied to users' Xbox Live accounts on the Xbox One could mean that even if users buy a console in a supported country, register an account there and buy games from there, IP restrictions could still prevent them from playing those games.
In contrast, the PlayStation 4 is region-free.
It's almost a case of 'what else is there to say?' with regard the Xbox One vs PS4. Microsoft clearly has a catalogue of issues it will need to deal with if it's to convince anyone but die-hard Xbox fans to buy its console over the PS4, at least for the first few months of its launch. The question is, will Microsoft respond?