UPDATE: Microsoft officials have denied all reports that the Family Sharing plan included any time limit, adding that they are still investigating more digital features “over time.”
Microsoft’s much-touted “Family Sharing” plan set to debut on Xbox One would have allowed friends and family to only “demo” games rather than grant unlimited-access gameplay, according to a recent forum post by a Microsoft employee and quoted by CNET News.
Introduced prior to last week’s E3 and featured during the Microsoft’s E3 press conference, the Family Sharing plan would have allowed as many as 10 people on a user’s friends list to “share” from the user’s library of games. The company characterized it as a way for families and extended groups of friends to share games, pointing out that “family” didn’t have to be in the same household or even the same state of residence.
On Wednesday, Microsoft scaled back many of the Xbox One’s features — including the Family Sharing plan — in response to less than overwhelming preorders and outrage about the console’s internet-connection requirements and limitations on used games.
Since then Microsoft employees have taken to the internet to lament the decision, saying that many of the most powerful innovations had been stifled.
One reported employee went so far as to outline the sharing plan’s details more thoroughly, and in doing so, may have revealed that it would have allowed only time-limited access and would have eventually required a person sharing the game to purchase it.
CNET quotes an anonymous Pastebin post issued Thursday from a “heartbroken MS employee” who explained:
“This allowed the person to play the game, get familiar with it, then make a purchase if they wanted to,” the poster said. “When the time limit was up they would automatically be prompted to the Marketplace so that they may order it if liked the game. The difference between the family sharing and the typical store demo is that your progress is saved as if it was the full game, and the data that was installed for that shared game doesn’t need to be erased when they purchase the full game.”
If correct, these details would have been a significant difference from what Microsoft explained about the plan at E3. In a June 6 statement, the company wrote:
“Just like today, a family member can play your copy of Forza Motorsport at a friend’s house. Only now, they will see not just Forza, but all of your shared games. You can always play your games, and any one of your family members can be playing from your shared library at a given time.”
In a departure from previous years, Microsoft cancelled its annual E3 media roundtable traditionally after its press event. The roundtable typically allows selected members of the press to ask questions of Microsoft executives about the polices and features like the Family Sharing plan. Without the event, the public was left without full details.
The employee post may be the first such explanation of the nuts-and-bolts of how the Family Sharing plan would have worked.