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xboxoneSure, Microsoft may have backed out from some of its original Xbox One online policies after backlash from customers. But that doesn’t mean that the company has stopped thinking about how to become more digital.

Speaking at last week’s Citi Global Technology Conference, Xbox chief marketing officer Yusef Mehdi said that his team is “definitely a big believer in digital.”

“I think we’re a pioneer in thinking about digital,” Mehdi said. “There are a lot of benefits to the digital system.”

Unfortunately for Microsoft, many of its gamers did not think very highly of its decision to require the Xbox One to be connected to the Internet all the time. There were also restrictions in place for sharing, trading or renting games.

This angered many Xbox 360 owners and even gave Sony firepower to poke fun at its rival. Just weeks after announcing the new policies at the big E3 video game conference, Microsoft ditched the always-on Internet rules, as well as the game-sharing policy for the Xbox One.

Yusuf Mehdi
Yusuf Mehdi

Still, Mehdi made it clear that Microsoft is focusing on digital for the Xbox One. Advantages of this approach include the ability to play games via the cloud, for example when logging into your Xbox Live account at a friend’s house.

“Our view is what’s happening in movies, music and to casual games on phones and tablets is going to happen to full games,” he said of the movement toward digital. “Five years ago, you would drive to Blockbuster, rent a DVD, stick it in and watch a movie. Now, you turn on the TV to check a digital library and stream a movie. That’s the vision we have for Xbox One for full games.”

Mehdi said that “we are delivering a big chunk of that on Day 1,” with the ability to buy digital version of games and logging into a friends’ console with your Xbox account to access your games library.

“Our digital vision has never changed or wavered from E3,” he said.

Mehdi also touched on cloud gaming, but said he was a bit weary it because of technical issues.

“Cloud gaming is very exciting but there are challenges with latency and bandwidth,” he said. “Long term I’m bullish on it, but short term it needs work.”

xboxonemsftstoreAnother benefit of the cloud for Xbox One, as reported last week, could be the ability to play Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One. As of now, Xbox One games will not be backwards compatible, meaning you can’t play your 360 games on the new console. Sony’s PlayStation 4 games will also not have backwards compatibility.

“The architecture of the Xbox One is so different,” Mehdi said. “It was really impossible to make a simple way to have all those games work in a backward compatible way.”

Still, Microsoft Senior Director Albert Penello told GameSpot last week that the Azure cloud could be used to change that, much like Sony plans to do with its Gaikai cloud.

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