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Service Members Upset About Xbox One Restrictions

June 15, 2013

Xbox One use in military

By Gilbert Falso :: 6:57 AM

Members of the United States military who enjoy playing console games during their downtime while deployed or at sea may have a problem continuing their hobby if they purchase an Xbox One system.

Service members are quickly finding out that because the new Microsoft console requires a connection to the Internet once every 24 hours, bringing it along with them to their next duty station might be a futile task. Service members stationed stateside may have an easier time getting their console hooked up to an Internet connection, but it is a dubious task for those abroad, and a near impossible feat for Navy service members at sea.

“With the Xbox One you can game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your library. Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection,” explained a Microsoft spokesperson.

Scott Metcalf, a lieutenant in the Navy told the Military Times that such a requirement was a “showstopper” for nearly any service member deployed outside of the U.S.

In addition to the once-every-24-hours Internet check-in, there is also the issue of region coding. Microsoft will only allow the Xbox One to work in certain countries around the globe. Service members in Great Britain, Italy, or Germany would be able to play on their consoles if they were able to find an Internet connection. However, service members in other areas of the world with large U.S. military presences, like Kuwait, Japan, or Afghanistan, would not be allowed to able to connect to the Xbox One network, even if they are able to secure a reliable Internet connection.

Region issues also extend to the game media itself. If a service member receives a disc in the mail from a relative as part of a care package, it cannot be activated abroad. Games purchased in the U.S. can only be activated if the console is in the U.S. It is not known if a console connected to a U.S. military Internet connection registers with Microsoft as a U.S. IP address or as a foreign IP address, and each U.S. military installation could be different around the world.

Microsoft isn’t sympathetic to the plights of U.S. service members, either. In an interview at the E3 conference in Los Angeles this week, Microsoft executive Don Mattrick suggested that users without a stable Internet connection should just use the Xbox 360.

[Photo caption: Soldiers at Camp Atterbury in Indiana play video games to relax in the camp’s USO facility. Photo courtesy U.S. Army.]