Xbox One Chief Product Officer Marc Whitten Discusses Microsoft's Reversal

by Mike Futter on Jun 19, 2013 at 01:15 PM

Following today's big announcement that Microsoft has changed its mind on used game restrictions and online check-ins to refresh licenses, we spoke with Xbox chief product officer Marc Whitten. We discussed pricing, changes to digital titles, and how Microsoft is positioned following E3 last week.

We started off by clarifying a comment made in an earlier interview with Kotaku. According to that story, the Xbox One needs an always online patch to enable offline play. This isn't entirely accurate, Whitten explained.

"There's always been a plan to have a day one update for Xbox One," Whitten told us "It's just the difference between the hardware schedules and the software schedules. We're just being clear that it still exists." In other words, you'll need to connect the Xbox One once in order to get it up and running. 

One of the biggest negative changes in the DRM and online connection shift is that users will no longer be able to share their digitally-purchased games with nine family members. Whitten explained that the original plan was to apply policies to games regardless of purchase mechanism, hence the sweeping change. 

We spoke with Microsoft about the mood after the Sony press conference at E3. Whitten told us that despite Sony's clear jabs at Microsoft and the $100 price difference the team "had a really great day." Whitten continued, "I knew we were going to get a ton of feedback. What we heard is that people love our games, but there were a couple of areas where they want more choice."

When we asked about the two remaining differentials, price and the mandatory use of Kinect, Whitten was clear: "[$499] is our price for Xbox One." 

"We believe in the value that we're delivering, not just for day one, but for the system to grow and evolve," Whitten explained. "To us, things like Kinect are part of that. It's a toolset for game creators that has never existed before. Users are just going to have a better experience."

As for pre-orders following a week of feedback that was often inhospitable, Whitten told us simply, "We're excited." We asked if the same sentiment was shared by publishing partners. 

Whitten chuckled. "I've been on the phone all day and haven't had a chance to see how it's landing online yet," he said.