Quite amazingly, Microsoft have just completely removed their restrictions on used games, trading and online activation, leaving the Xbox One to function essentially the same as the Xbox 360 does right now.

The news was first reported by Giantbomb, who published a rumour they’d sourced and boiled down the status change to the following points:

•No more always online requirement
•The console no longer has to check in every 24 hours
•All game discs will work on Xbox One as they do on Xbox 360
•An Internet connection is only required when initially setting up the console
•All downloaded games will function the same when online or offline
•No additional restrictions on trading games or loaning discs
•Region locks have been dropped

Microsoft’s Don Mattrick has since put out a lengthy press release confirming all of the above, reproduced below.

“Last week at E3, the excitement, creativity and future of our industry was on display for a global audience.

For us, the future comes in the form of Xbox One, a system designed to be the best place to play games this year and for many years to come. As is our heritage with Xbox, we designed a system that could take full advantage of advances in technology in order to deliver a breakthrough in game play and entertainment. We imagined a new set of benefits such as easier roaming, family sharing, and new ways to try and buy games. We believe in the benefits of a connected, digital future.

Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback. I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One.

You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc. The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world.

So, today I am announcing the following changes to Xbox One and how you can play, share, lend, and resell your games exactly as you do today on Xbox 360. Here is what that means:

An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.

Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.

In addition to buying a disc from a retailer, you can also download games from Xbox Live on day of release. If you choose to download your games, you will be able to play them offline just like you do today. Xbox One games will be playable on any Xbox One console — there will be no regional restrictions.

These changes will impact some of the scenarios we previously announced for Xbox One. The sharing of games will work as it does today, you will simply share the disc. Downloaded titles cannot be shared or resold. Also, similar to today, playing disc based games will require that the disc be in the tray.

We appreciate your passion, support and willingness to challenge the assumptions of digital licensing and connectivity. While we believe that the majority of people will play games online and access the cloud for both games and entertainment, we will give consumers the choice of both physical and digital content. We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds.

Thank you again for your candid feedback. Our team remains committed to listening, taking feedback and delivering a great product for you later this year.”

So there you have it. I had expected some things to change between now and launch, but I never suspected that the turnaround would come so quickly and be so complete. Unfortunately, this seems to mean that you can no longer install all games to and run them from the hard drive without discs (the disc will need to be in the drive, as is now the case with the Xbox 360), and the much-discussed family sharing plan (which allowed you to nominate ten people to share your game library with) has also been excised. These were two features that were actually quite attractive to me, and while it’s understandable that they’ve had to be removed, it’s a little disappointing to see them go.

Still, this is excellent news, though it remains to be seen if consumers’ stance on the console will be as quick to change as Microsoft’s policies.

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