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Xbox One is only 'always-on' sometimes — used games are free to play after all

Update: Larry Hryb, aka "Major Nelson," has provided insight into the confusing issue of used games on Xbox One.

"While there have been many potential scenarios discussed, today we have only confirmed that we designed Xbox One to enable our customers to trade in and resell games at retail," he wrote. "Beyond that, we have not confirmed any specific scenarios."

"Another piece of clarification around playing games at a friend’s house — should you choose to play your game at your friend’s house, there is no fee to play that game while you are signed in to your profile" [emphasis ours].

So it doesn't sound like Microsoft is giving a straight answer one way or another, but the key words there are "your profile," not your friend's. That could mean there's a price involved for your friend if he wants to play your copy on his own.

Original story: Microsoft has answered some of the top questions about the Xbox One on its new webpage, Xbox Wire. Two of the biggest concerns now are whether the console has an always-on requirement and can play used games.

"No, it does not have to be always connected, but Xbox One does require a connection to the Internet," reads the Q&A. "We’re designing Xbox One to be your all-in-one entertainment system that is connected to the cloud and always ready. We are also designing it so you can play games and watch Blu-ray movies and live TV if you lose your connection."

So you can use the console without an Internet connection, but you'll lose a lot of capabilities. For one, the cloud is important. It's responsible for handling automatic updates and downloads, storing and saving games and entertainment, enabling online multiplayer (no surprise there), logging players in, and providing games with "more power available to create new gameplay, persistent worlds, and deeper experiences," which covers a lot of possibilities.

What's important to note is that if you lose your connection, you can still access your content. Sony's PlayStation 4 will not impose an always-on requirement, either.

The Xbox One will import Gamertags, Gamerscore, and Achievements, and gamers can keep their existing Xbox Live Gold memberships. What's more uncertain, though, is how used games will work on the system.

"We are designing Xbox One to enable customers to trade in and resell games," reads the post. "We’ll have more details to share later."

There are conflicting reports circulating about whether it will cost a fee to play preowned games, as only one install is allowed per disc. However, Microsoft representatives are saying that there will not be a fee despite contradictory information presented in a Wired article, according to Polygon.

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Stephanie Carmichael Twitter: @wita
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