Was Patching-Out The Xbox One’s ‘Always-On’ Functionality Worth The Effort?

Last week we reported that the Xbox One will literally be unusable until its day-one patch is downloaded and installed. This patch will take out the system’s constant need to be online, and alter a few other features. In the end, though, was patching-out all of the always-on functionality worth it, for both Microsoft, and the consumer?

The main argument against the system’s always-on policy was that players who didn’t have access to a reliable internet connection (or an internet connection at all) would be left in the dust. While this demographic is certainly the minority, they’re still going to be left aching come the system’s launch. As I said earlier, the system will not be functional until it downloads, and installs its day-one update. Polygon recently reported that the update is said to take “15-20 minutes to complete,” and while not a big deal for the majority, it’s catastrophic for those who were surely in mind during all of the arguments against the always-online policy.

Remember the Wii U’s day-one update? Those who had an unreliable internet connection and attempted to download the update ended up with nothing but a bricked console to show for their early adoption. While the update would appear to be smaller for the Xbox One, a similar scenario could easily play-out. Additionally, those who have no broadband internet will, of course, not be able to use the system at all.

On top of that, those who have internet have only lost functionality. While there is now no DRM to prohibit the sale or trade of used games, the “Family-Sharing” feature is, for now, disabled. Some the features that just seemed convenient are gone too, namely the one that did away with the need to place disks into your system’s tray before playing.

Don’t get me wrong, the fact that there will be no DRM on the platform’s games is a huge deal, but that could have likely been altered by changing a much smaller set of ones and zeroes. When it comes to the changing of the always-on policy, I still feel like nobody really comes out ahead. Microsoft spent a lot of resources to change some of their system’s fundamental features, and it still feels like hardly anything has changed aside from the fact that some neat previously announced features are no longer present. Future shipments of Xbox Ones will likely come with the update pre-installed, but for launch, it doesn’t seem like the changes were quite worth all the resources that were surely expended on them.