Xbox Live Home Gold and Digital Sharing

Xbox Live Home Gold and Digital Sharing

Microsoft brings some family sharing features back to Xbox One

Microsoft this week revealed more details about its plans to extend customers’ Xbox Live Gold subscriptions to others at home and on the go. Called Home Gold, this new Xbox Live subscription benefit will incur no additional costs. But it will work only with the Xbox One.

In a new post to the Xbox Wire blog this past week, Xbox chief product officer Marc Whitten describes the new Home Gold feature that will be part of Xbox Live for Xbox One. “Home Gold will enable any Xbox Live Gold member on Xbox One to extend many Gold features to others at no additional cost, he writes. “One Xbox Live Gold account delivering great benefits to everyone in the home.”

The Home Gold feature works at home—where anyone who uses your Xbox One console can access Xbox Live Gold benefits such as multiplayer gaming, Game DVR, SmartMatch and access to entertainment apps and experiences, even when you’re not at home or signed into the console—or on the go, such as when you use someone else’s Xbox One console and sign in there with your Xbox Live credentials.

To use Home Gold at home, you will need to configure your own console to support this feature. An unlimited number of people can enjoy many Home Gold benefits on your console, though they will need to create their own account and gamertag to access online multiplayer gaming and entertainment apps.

To use Home Gold on the go, you just need to sign in to a friend’s console with your Xbox Live Gold account. And when you do, everyone using that console can access multiplayer gaming and entertainment apps for as long as you are signed in.

Whitten also briefly mentioned that the Xbox One will enable the sharing of digital games. This appears to be a reversal of an earlier policy. Please bear with me as I recap the messy history.

Microsoft briefly mentioned family sharing at the Xbox One reveal event in May. As I noted in my Xbox One Preview, “members of a household will be able to share a single Xbox Live Gold subscription, so you can create a user account on the Xbox One for each family member and everyone can access all the features. Today, each user account on the Xbox 360 requires its own Xbox LIVE account.”

In June, the firm revealed a few more details. In Xbox One Game Licensing Explained, I wrote that “up to ten members of your family can log in and play from your shared games library on any Xbox One … You can always play your games, and any one of your family members can be playing from your shared library at a given time.”

When Microsoft reversed course on some of the more controversial Xbox One policies in mid-June, the firm had to back away from family sharing but insisted that it would make a comeback. Then there was some silliness around Microsoft’s original plans for this feature. But as I wrote in Xbox One Preview: What Really Happened to Family Sharing?, the goal was always very simple: “Your family gets unlimited access to your entire games library anytime, anywhere.”

In this week’s post, Whitten writes that digital games can now be shared.

“Everyone in your home can share digital games with each other,” he says. “Your Xbox One can become your virtual game library filled with digital games that different people in the home bought. Anyone can pick any digital game on your Xbox One, sign in with their own gamertag and play – even if the owner is not signed in. Like physical media, you can also play many digitally downloaded games without being online, although experiences will be best when connected to the internet and Xbox Live. Finally, when you purchase a digital game, you can start playing even before the entire game downloads.”

You will also be able to access your digitally purchased game titles when you sign in on another Xbox One console. Furthermore, if you buy a digital game from that friend’s console, it will immediately become available on your own Xbox One back at home, so anyone there could play it there as well.

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