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Xbox One's now defunct 'Family Share' plan sounds more like a glorified demo

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Posted by: Matt Liebl

There was a bit of an outcry among Microsoft loyalists when the company announced it would be removing many of the restrictions placed upon the Xbox One, effectively eliminating some of the system's most talked about features -- primarily, the family sharing plan that Microsoft had been touting up until now. Although the details were always vague to begin with, it was one of the bright spots for a system laden with controversy.

But now, supposed details about the Family Share feature have emerged, and it seems like there was never much substance with it to begin with. In an anonymous Pastebin post on Thursday, a self-dubbed "heartbroken MS employee" lamenting of the Xbox One's lost features, attempted to explain what consumers would be missing out on with the new policies in place. In his post, he allegedly explains the functionality of the would-be Family Share plan. After reading his description -- which has yet to be verified by Microsoft -- it sounds like the plan was just a glorified demo.

"The premise is simple and elegant, when you buy your games for Xbox One, you can set any of them to be part of your shared library," the post reads. "Anyone who you deem to be family had access to these games regardless of where they are in the world.  There was never any catch to that, they didn't have to share the same billing address or physical address it could be anyone."

And here's where things start to fall apart for me. The poster says that family members who access any of your games are placed into a "special demo mode" that "in most cases would be the full game with a 15-45 minute timer and in some cases an hour."

"This allowed the person to play the game, get familiar with it then make a purchase if they wanted to.  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 mystery person explained.

"We were toying around with a limit on the number of times members could access the shared game (as to discourage gamers from simply beating the game by doing multiple playthroughs). but we had not settled on an appropriate way of handling it.  One thing we knew is that we wanted the experience to be seamless for both the person sharing and the family member benefiting.  There weren't many models of this system already in the wild other than Sony's horrendous game sharing implementation, but it was clear their approach (if one could call it that) was not the way to go. 

"Developers complained about the lost sales and gamers complained about overbearing DRM that punished those who didn't share that implemented by publishers to quell gamers from taking advantage of a poorly thought out system.  We wanted our family sharing plan to be something that was talked about and genuinely enjoyed by the masses as a way of inciting gamers to try new games."

The main difference between the family plan and a typical store demo is that your progress would be saved "as if it was the full game." Despite the changes made, the alleged employee says that the idea of a family plan is "not completely off the table. It is still possible to implement this with the digital downloaded versions of games, and in fact that's the plan still as far as I'm aware."

After reading this description -- if it does turn out to be true -- I can safely say that I'm quite okay with Microsoft removing the mandatory connection and giving me the ability to trade-in/play used games without any sort of restrction. Microsoft can keep it's glorified demo plan. The amount of progress I'd have made in 15-45 minutes could easily be replicated if I had chosen to purchase the game.

Do you support Microsoft's decision to remove the Xbox One's Family Share plan? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and follow @Matt_GZ on Twitter to talk next-gen consoles and any other gaming news.

Tags: Xbox One

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