Xbox One family sharing on the roadmap, says Spencer

June 27, 2014 | 10:33

Tags: #digital-restrictions-management #digital-rights-management #drm #phil-spencer #xbox-one

Companies: #microsoft

Microsoft's Phil Spencer has claimed the company is still investigating the possibility of adding family sharing of games on its Xbox One platform, despite the company having removed it when it revised the console's digital rights management (DRM) system.

In the months leading up to the launch of the Xbox One last year, Microsoft talked up numerous features and facilities of the system. Perhaps the most interesting was a family sharing feature, which would allow a games library to be shared between multiple consoles in discrete geographic locations: if someone in your family group bought a game, you could download and play the game as long as only one console was playing the title at any given time.

It was a neat feature, but backlash against Microsoft's plans to ban disc-sharing between friends and put onerous restrictions on the sale of second-hand titles led to its demise. Microsoft changed how the DRM system of the Xbox One worked in order to remove restrictions on what users could do with physical discs, but in doing so removed the ability to install the contents of a disc to the Xbox One's hard drive and play without the physical media - which also killed off family sharing.

Speaking to Gamertag Radio, Microsoft's new Xbox head Phil Spencer has claimed that family sharing is still on the company's roadmap. 'I haven't give up on those ideas,' he explained on the site's podcast. 'There's some complexity now that you've got these discs that have DRM that you've got to figure out, but it's definitely part of our [roadmap] with the overall product.'

With the Xbox One now featuring a more Xbox 360-like DRM system, the chances of Microsoft introducing family sharing for physical titles is minimal: discs are no longer locked to individual consoles, meaning it would be too easy for players to share their discs and build up a library of locally-installed but not purchased games. Spencer did suggest the possibility of a hybrid system that would see downloaded titles - a method of distribution Microsoft and others are pushing thanks to its prevention of profit-draining second-hand sales and lowered costs - gain family sharing functionality while physical discs would not.

Spencer's claims come shortly after Valve upgraded its Steam digital distribution service to offer in-home streaming to less powerful devices and family sharing for games libraries.
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