The always-on controversy surrounding what we now know as the Xbox One
has quickly taken a backseat to a semi-related topic: Used games. Specifically, how is Microsoft
planning to approach the used games market since titles will be installed directly to the hard drive, and just as important, will a used game market even exist? The answer to that latter question is "yes," though GameStop and other used games retailers may not like the details.
First, a refresher. In an emailed statement to Wired earlier this week
, Microsoft said that all game discs are installed to the Xbox One's hard drive to play. Each disc would be tied to a unique Xbox Live account, and while gamers would be free to bring it to a friend's house to play, they'd need to use their existing profile to do so. Otherwise, the friend in question would have to pay a fee to play the game.
As for the used games market, Microsoft's Larry Hryb, Director of Programming for Xbox Live, clarified things just a tad.
"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," Hryb explained. "Beyond that, we have not confirmed any specific scenarios. Another piece of clarification around playing games at a friend’s house – should you choose to play your game at your friend’s house, there is no fee to play that game while you are signed in to your profile."
Since then, more details have come to light. MCV claims to have heard from various sources within the retail chain that Microsoft is briefing key partners on how it intends to handle the pre-owned games market. Short and sweet, Microsoft and publishers will receive a percentage of each used game sale, in theory creating a win-win-win-win situation among consumers, used game retailers, publishers, and of course Microsoft. You trade your game in to GameStop or wherever, it gets wiped from your Live account, and then it's resold, only now with multiple hands dipping into the used games cookie jar.
Unfortunately, there's only so many crumbs to go around, and unconfirmed reports have suggested that used games retailers could end up with as little as 10 percent of the sale. That would decimate the used games market, which undoubtedly would make publishers happy, but could potentially put GameStop out of business and spark a backlash among gamers.
That's getting ahead of ourselves. We'll have to hope that Microsoft did its research and came up with a financially feasible plan that works out for all involved, lest it shoot itself in the foot.