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Xbox One: The unanswered questions

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(Credit: Microsoft)

There were a lot of fancy features showcased in Tuesday's unveiling of the Xbox One, but there were plenty of unanswered questions as well.

That was to be expected, of course. With E3 looming and months left before the system releases, Microsoft had to keep some of its powder dry. But the company also dodged some pressing questions and gave conflicting answers on others -- and that's infuriating some gamers.

The instant backlash against the Xbox One, in fact, has been rather astonishing. To help understand it, here's a list of some of the things we don't know that we probably should, as well as areas where Microsoft just made things more confusing by constantly flip-flopping.

Will it play used games?
On the one hand, the company tried to clear, saying "We are designing Xbox One to enable customers to trade in and resell games." That seemed pretty straightforward until Wired issued a report indicating games would be tied to user accounts. Then Kotaku reported that games would require one-time activation codes; if you want to play that game using a friend's account on another Xbox One, you'd have to pay again.

But later, the company said you could access your account through the cloud and play for free on other machines. So many different officials were saying so many different things that the public face of Xbox -- Xbox Live programming director Major Nelson -- eventually had to issue a statement that reset the debate to a big question mark:

"We know there is some confusion around used games on Xbox One and wanted to provide a bit of clarification on exactly what we’ve confirmed today," he wrote. "While there have been many potential scenarios discussed, today we have only confirmed that we designed Xbox One to enable our customers to trade in and resell games at retail. Beyond that, we have not confirmed any specific scenarios."

Almost always on?
Whether the Xbox One would require a constant internet connection also kept people wondering. Microsoft didn't clear the matter up much with its answer on the system's official FAQ page, saying "No, it does not have to be always connected, but Xbox One does require a connection to the Internet."

Officials, though, smoothed that a little, saying the system wouldn't stop playing if your connection is interrupted. Just as people were calming down a little though, Kotaku quoted Microsoft VP Phil Harrison as saying the system would need to be connected once every 24 hours to ensure it's running correctly.

Again, later in the day, a Microsoft rep backtracked from that, telling Polygon "While Phil [Harrison] discussed many potential scenarios around games on Xbox One, today we have only confirmed that we designed Xbox One to enable our customers to trade in and resell games at retail. There have been reports of a specific time period — those were discussions of potential scenarios, but we have not confirmed any details today, nor will we be."

Where are the games?
Microsoft labeled the Xbox One as an entertainment system, but gamers were dismayed that only a handful of games were shown. The EA Sports lineup looked good. Call of Duty: Ghosts was about what we expected -- with motion-captured dogs -- and Forza was shiny. And Remedy's Quantum Break piqued people's interest.

Otherwise? Nothing but a lot of talk from executives.

While this led many to believe Microsoft was shifting its focus away from games, that's likely a misconception. With E3 just a few weeks away, the company was playing its cards close to its vest. Expect to see a very full slate of Xbox One games at the show.

What will it cost?
C'mon. You didn't really expect to get this answered so early, did you?

Microsoft described Xbox One as a "premium" console, which has led to some pricing fears, but most analysts are expecting a $399 price tag, the same amount the company charged for the Xbox 360. Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter says a subsidized box is still a possibility, whether through a cable partner or through prepaid Xbox Live Gold subscriptions, as it has done with the Xbox 360.

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