It appears Microsoft hasn’t given up on most of the digital first features it appeared to have abandoned earlier this year. When the Xbox One launches this fall it’ll do so with a new tier of features branded Xbox LIVE Gold Home. What’s more, it’ll add the features for free to every Gold account.
According to company’s announcement, users who have an Xbox LIVE Gold account will be able to turn their account into a primary Xbox LIVE account for other family members. With that enabled, other users tied to that primary Xbox LIVE Account will have access to all the same digital video games and titles associated with that the primary account has at its disposal.
The feature won’t be tied to the Xbox that Xbox LIVE Gold account that it is first setup on either. Instead, that same Gold Home account status will travel with the user on whatever Xbox One they are logged into. In effect users will be able to go to a friend’s house and access the same benefits of Xbox LIVE Gold that they could count on at home. That includes Game DVR – the company’s way for gamers to capture video clips of their game battles – and access to all of their favorite Xbox LIVE apps. It’ll even grant everyone on the friend’s Xbox One multiplayer gaming capabilities.
Microsoft says that users who have already have an Xbox LIVE Gold subscription won’t have to do anything except pick up an Xbox One. When they log-in they’ll immediately be granted the benefits of Xbox LIVE Home Gold.
For Xbox, this is a huge public relations win in its battle with Sony and the PlayStation 4. By introducing Xbox LIVE Gold Home for free, it’s managed put one of PlayStation’s key advantages up for debate. Sony has already said that the PlayStation 4 will need users to have a PlayStation Plus account to take advantage of any multiplayer features.
Sony hasn’t announced if it will have any subscription sharing features for users. By introducing Xbox LIVE Gold Home Microsoft is attempting to show that it is committed to offering much of the same feature set that it announced when it revealed the Xbox One this past May.
Taking Xbox LIVE Gold Home functionality into account, the only thing that remains functionally different is the behavior of physical games on a disc. Instead of installing disc-based games on the Xbox One hard drive as originally planned, the Xbox One will treat them the same way the Xbox 360 does today. It won’t install the game on the hard drive, and won’t limit the user’s ability to share that game with friends.
Microsoft is expected to launch the Xbox One sometime this November.