There is an awful lot of excitement to go around in the game industry today, as Microsoft has finally (finally!) shown off its next-generation console, the Xbox One. From images and videos of the device, it appears to be good-looking, should deliver high-quality gameplay, and will integrate a host of entertainment features I’ll be excited to try out.
But there is one huge, glaring, worrisome issue that might prove to be the biggest flaw in the system and the reason customers like me might be turned away: its handling of used games.
Admittedly, we don’t know a whole lot about how the Xbox One will handle used games, so it’s possible that you’re reading this in the future and about to tell me how wrong I am. Sorry about that.
But at this point, this is what we know: the Xbox One requires that game discs be downloaded to the console, to ensure better functionality when gamers want to quickly start playing. What we also know at this point is that there is going to be some sort of unlock fee that allows a used game to be played on a console.
And that is where I, and many other gamers, start to get awfully upset.
Based on what Microsoft has said so far – and this by no means the last we’ve heard of the policy – a person who buys a game disc new will install it on their console to play it. From there, they can bring it to a friend’s house to play it on his or her device. On that console, in order to play the game, the friend would need to buy the right to play the game. And in a recent interview with Kotaku, Xbox’s Phil Harrison said they’ll be paying full price.
Annoyed yet? Good. But Microsoft has come out and said it has a solution: if you login to your own Xbox credentials on your friend’s console, you can play the game without your friend having to pay full price to buy the new title.
What that doesn’t address, however, is the current used games market, which relies on people selling physical discs to companies like GameStop to recoup some of their investment. By the sound of things, Microsoft is all but trying to kill the way used games are currently handled.
If that’s the case, the Xbox One might be in trouble. The fact is, the used games market is a huge opportunity for today’s consumers, and having to pay full price on titles instead of a used fee just isn’t practical for some people. If the Xbox One makes it difficult to buy cheaper games and recoup some cash in titles, it could have trouble getting off the ground.
Of course, Microsoft might just have a solution: it’s hinting that there will be a way to sell the rights to a game you bought through the console. Could that be enough to save the Xbox One and make it a more feasible purchase? Will it annoy customers? Will Microsoft take down the used game market?
I have more questions than answers at this point, but I’m at least a little concerned about what the future holds.