If there's anything that can be said to sum up the Xbox One reveal, it's that the whole ordeal was a bit of a bloody mess. Microsoft representatives were giving out conflicting answers when asked questions about the company's new used game and always-online policies, which have subsequently led to a lot of rumor mongering.
Using its newly launched Xbox Wire news service, Microsoft has finally done some PR damage control and elucidated its policies. As was already previously made clear, the Xbox One will not be an always-online console. However, it will require an Internet connection (opens in new tab) because the Xbox One must go online every 24 hours in order to "verify if system, application or game updates are needed and to see if you have acquired new games, or resold, traded in, or given your game to a friend." After the 24 hour period of being offline, users will no longer be able to play their games, but will continue to be able to use their Blu-Ray player and watch TV. Unfortunately, Microsoft may be alienating some of their customers by making the assumption that "every Xbox One owner has a broadband connection" and has the ability to log on every 24 hours.
Microsoft also confirmed that Xbox One games are operating on a licensing system (opens in new tab). This means that while Xbox customers will continue to be able to buy game discs, they'll now serve the same function that discs do (for the most part) for PC games today: once you pop in the CD tray they'll be immediately installed and accessible via the Internet. Any games installed on a console can be accessed by anyone who logs onto a specific console and up to ten family members can be given access to an account member's games to be accessed at any time. Loaning out games to friends becomes a little more complicated, however. Games can only be loaned out to those on your friends list and only once for thirty days.
The Xbox One also leaves the used game market at the mercy of the publishers. "We designed Xbox One so game publishers can enable you to trade in your games at participating retailers. Microsoft does not charge a platform fee to retailers, publishers, or consumers for enabling transfer of these games." Of course, this means that publishers have the option to not allow their customers to trade in their games at all.
Essentially, with the new connection and licensing policies, Microsoft is trying to adapt to digital in favor of retail. While the model is similar to Valve's policies with Steam, Microsoft is catching a lot of extra flak for changing up the way the gaming market works on console and for having the rather unreasonable assumption that their customers will always have access to reliable Internet.