The Xbox One, used games, and so on…
The reveal of the Xbox One has been decidedly mixed. Many gamers felt as if the shift towards entertainment, and the lack of games on display was a mistake on Microsofts part. But the real controversy began brewing after the event, when executives began answering more questions about the console. This proved to be a huge mistep for Microsoft, since their plan for used games and ‘always on’ technology has been in the rumor mill for some time. It was not addressed, so now we must deal with vague answers, and non specifics. From what we can gather, as of right now the Xbox One will not play used games, and a game once purchased and installed will be locked to that one console/account. Others on the console will be able to play the game, but playing that same copy on another console is impossible unless the original owner of the game is logged into their account, or if the new owner pays a fee.
I’ve been hesitant to really have a strong opinion at all regarding this news. I haven’t purchased a used game in years, I find new games on Amazon to be almost the same price (and sometimes even cheaper) then the local Gamestop. I also hate my experience at most Gamestop’s,but that’s a separate issue. My friend and I do trade games occassionally, as far as actual purchases of used titles. I also never sell back my games, because I did it once with my entire PS2 library and I was able to purchase 1 new Xbox 360 game, and 1 used one. My persona experience aside, I do see the frustration. But upon thinking about it, I have now come to the conclusion that this is necessary. Yes, right now very anti consumer, and on its surface it just seems greedy, but I will explain why I’m okay with it, and why it’s going to be an inevitability sooner or later.
Xbox One games are all going to live on the hard drive. Whether you download it digitally or purchase a disc, you will be installing the entire game on your hard drive. The used game issue is something that will only effect disc buyers. But for those using a disc you will install the entire game and after that you will have no need for the disc. But see, that’s the problem! If you have the entire game installed on your hard drive, what’s to stop you from selling the disc and still playing that game? If there is no restriction, that means you have access to the entire game, and whoever you sell it to has access to the entire game.
The solution Microsoft had for installations on the Xbox 360, was that you installed the game, but you had to have the game in your disc drive, still. I actually knew a lot of people who didn’t know that, and they asked to borrow my game so they could install it, then they would give it back. Whenever I explained that they needed the disc in the drive, they were bummed. Now Microsoft has no need for the disc, but they need to keep multiple people from accessing the same game. That’s why multiple accounts can still play the game as long as they are on the same console, and it’s why you have to pay full retail price if you didn’t follow the proper instructions for resale (more on that later). Think of it like this, you buy a CD, rip the songs and sell that CD. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have the disc anymore, you have the content. And whoever buys the CD from you is buying it from you, and that money isn’t’ going back to the content creator/distributor.
Whether you like it or not, Microsoft and other companies need to make money. Games are only getting more expensive to develop and at the end of the day it’s a product they are selling. When a game like Tomb Raider sells 3.4 million units in the month of its release, and their publisher, Square Enix, calls it a disappointment, you get a sense at how cash strapped a lot of these publishers and studios are. Game publishers make no money on used games sales, that’s why Gamestops stock plunged when the Xbox One’s stance on used games was announced. Gamestop makes most of their money from used games sales. But they’re the only ones who benefit…well, besides you.
To be honest, I think the restriction on used game sales came from pressure of game studios. They have the most to gain from such a restriction. If you have noticed, several studios have been trying to put in their own incentives to keep gamers from reselling their games, take for instance EA’s now discontinued online pass, feature. An example is if you bought Mass Effect 3 used, you couldn’t access the games multiplayer, unless you paid a 15 dollar fee. At that price you might as well buy the full game right? Well, that’s what EA want’s you to do, so they can make some money of the used game sale. To put it bluntly, a used game sale isn’t doing a game studio any favors, and they hate it.
To be honest, I think this argument will even be dead within another 4-5 years, just because of where we are heading with technology. Gamer’s who have a solid internet connection (if they are not doing so already) will begin to download their games digitally. Digital games load faster and run better, than if they are being read off of a disc, so of course Microsoft would choose that. PC gamers have already embraced digital distribution through Steam and other platforms. And as games get more advanced, I think the restrictions of game discs suddenly become more apparent.
Another thing I find curious is the assumption that this is a Microsoft trend only, but keep in mind that we don’t know for sure if Sony will have restrictions on used game sales as well. They have said that the console will be able to play used games, but technically so can the Xbox One. Technically. Sony got off easy because they had their reveal back in February, and there was virtually no access to top execs about specifics. In that regard it was smart on Sony to focus on games, because now they can set the pace for these kind of details, and they can even change plans based on how everyone reacts to the news coming from Microsoft.
Microsoft did say that they would have a way to sell used games, which makes me think that the reason this policy is in place is because of the reasons I listed above. Actually it was announced today that there will be a way to sell used games, and buy them. This information comes from a leak so keep that in mind:
The system will reportedly work as such: consumers can trade in physical Xbox One game discs only at retailers that have agreed to Microsoft’s terms and conditions and have integrated the company’s cloud-enabled Azure preowned technology into their own.
The traded in title is then registered on Microsoft’s systems as having been re-sold and the data files will be cleared from their Xbox One account. Such a system would explain Microsoft’s position that the Xbox One must “check in” with its servers once every 24 hours.
Retailers are then able to re-sell the used game at whatever price point they see fit. As part of this initiative, the publisher of the game will automatically receive a cut of the sale, along with Microsoft. The rest is revenue for the retailer.
That is what I assumed they would do, but it seems this plan doesn’t allow gamers to sell their games to others through Amazon, Craigslist or Ebay. It will only work through retailers who have access to this, Azure. But this is all from a leak, and details are of course subject to change.
I know I definitely have the unpopular opinion regarding used games. But I think this entire debate will become irrelevant as we move towards digital only entertainment. I think right now it’s just such a jarring and immediate shift from what we already know. I know this only adds into the narrative that Microsoft doesn’t care about the core gamers, and while it might seem that way, I’m still holding out hope that we get more details that give us a better sense of the Xbox One’s capabilities.
If you have a different solution for used games, please let me know! Please feel free to share your frustrations disagreement,rebuttals or just additional thoughts on this whole controversy.