After enduring a pretty scathing backlash from gamers, Microsoft has reversed course and announced that the Xbox One will not require an Internet connection to play games.
Microsoft will also not impose any limitations on using and sharing games; "it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360."
"After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again," Xbox chief Don Mattrick said in a statement. "There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360."
Initially, Microsoft said that gamers would have to connect to the Internet at least every 24 hours in order to play games on its next-gen console. The move irked gamers who lived in areas with inadequate broadband service, while others questioned what that meant if Internet service went out after a storm or other natural disaster. The answer (at least until today)? No Internet, no games.
Amidst the uproar, Mattrick suggested that those who were worried about broadband access simply purchase the revamped Xbox 360, but that did not satisfy the Xbox masses. Microsoft also likely felt pressure after Sony announced that its PlayStation 4 would not require an online connection - and is £100 cheaper than the Xbox One.
"For us, the future comes in the form of Xbox One... Pre-Order Yours Now, a system designed to be the best place to play games this year and for many years to come. As is our heritage with Xbox, we designed a system that could take full advantage of advances in technology in order to deliver a breakthrough in game play and entertainment," Mattrick said. "We imagined a new set of benefits such as easier roaming, family sharing, and new ways to try and buy games. We believe in the benefits of a connected, digital future."
For now, however, the connected part of that future will be optional. Microsoft said that downloaded games will be playable offline and accessible on any Xbox One console; "there will be no regional restrictions." Physical game discs can be shared, but downloaded ones cannot, Microsoft added.
"While we believe that the majority of people will play games online and access the cloud for both games and entertainment, we will give consumers the choice of both physical and digital content," Mattrick said. "We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds."