ArsTechnica reports: As of today, you can no longer “Get the complete program.” In about a year, you won’t be able to use that complete program even if you bought it previously.
Xbox users who purchased training videos through the Xbox Fitness app probably thought they were buying a workout program they’d be able to use regularly for the life of the Xbox One, at the very least. Instead, those videos will soon be completely unavailable to those who paid for them up front, according to a “sunset” plan announced by Microsoft yesterday evening.
Xbox Fitness launched alongside the console in late 2013 as a unique, Kinect-powered health app, using the 3D camera to evaluate users’ form as they followed along with on-screen streaming video trainers. The app provided 30 basic routines for free with an Xbox Live Gold account, but that subscriber benefit will end on December 15.
Xbox Fitness also included numerous branded training programs that cost real money up front, from $60/£40 P90X routines to Jillian Michaels videos that could run $12 each. That paid content is no longer available for purchase as of yesterday. Those who purchased it previously will be able to use it for just over one more year before the app becomes completely unavailable for download or use on July 1, 2017.
Microsoft hasn’t announced any plans to compensate paying users for the phase-out of their purchased content or to provide downloadable versions of paid routines to be used after that phase-out date. That state of affairs has led to hundreds of angry comments on the sunset announcement post andelsewhere on the Internet.
“I bought 140$+ worth of content just this year… I don’t want a refund, I want to be able to continue to use what I PAID for !!!!!!!!!!!” Xbox Live user QuickSilver wrote.
“My worst fears about buying into digital or cloud-dependent content are realized,” user chH4MMER added. “Basically the message is: if you buy something on the cloud, plan on having it taken away from you before you’re done with it, and don’t expect a refund.”
Microsoft was initially quite bullish on Xbox Fitness, trumpeting news of over 1.5 million workouts in the first two months of Xbox One availability and mulling plans to expand to more platforms. But interest in the app seems to have waned since Microsoft removed the Kinect from the standard Xbox One bundlein 2014. Though Xbox Fitness dropped the Kinect requirement late last year, that change apparently hasn’t been enough to make the app sustainable from Microsoft’s point of view.
“Given the service relies on providing you with new and exciting content regularly, Microsoft has given much consideration to the reality updating the service regularly in order to sustain it,” Microsoft’s Erica Bell wrote in yesterday’s announcement. “Therefore, the decision has been made to scale back our support for Xbox Fitness over the next year… While our team is saddened by this news, we couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve accomplished in the past two and a half years.”
Gamers are by now used to game publishers shutting downonline gameplay servers for titles that no longer have significant player support. The shutdown of Xbox Fitness is a bit more severe, though, effectively blocking single-player content that was purchased up front (rather than on a subscription basis) just because it happens to be streamed from a remote server. As always, when it comes to buying content that lives in a form you can’t physically hold in your hands (or download in a form you have full control over), the buyer should beware.
An Xbox Feedback campaign to convince Microsoft to keep the service going has 366 votes as of this writing. Other Feedback campaigns are seeking to convince Microsoft to convert the app into a standalone version that doesn’t require continued server support on Microsoft’s part.