‘XBox to kill used game market’ rumors return


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A year after the rumor first surfaced, a major games magazine is insisting the next generation XBox won’t allow for used game sales.

Edge magazine reports “sources with first-hand experience” as saying that although the new Xbox will support physical media, Microsoft wants downloadable games to be the priority.

As a result, the new Xbox will supposedly require a permanent Internet connection. Any games on disc (which will be Blu-ray rather than the defeated HD-DVD format) will carry a one-off activation code and won’t work on another machine.

We first heard these claims in January last year when Microsoft dismissed them as “rumor and speculation.” This time round its used the same description in refusing to comment.

Back then I speculated that the rumors might have been “leaked” by Microsoft to see what response the idea got, but allowing plausible deniability. If that was the case and the Edge story is correct, Microsoft clearly didn’t take much notice of the public’s response.

The Edge report was enough for Gamestop’s stock to take a small hit. A spokesman for the company said its surveys showed such a move would reduce the chances of customers buying a new console: ” We know the desire to purchase a next-generation console would be significantly diminished if new consoles were to prohibit playing pre-owned games, limit portability or not play new physical games.”

Even if you leave aside the issue of potential buyers shunning the console if it doesn’t support used games, the rumor does have a major limitation: if true, it would mean Microsoft would be effectively be giving up markets where broadband access is unaffordable, unreliable or unavailable.

One theory is that the Edge report is partially correct. It may be that the activation system does exist, but this would be used for making additional content available free of charge to new buyers. Used game buyers would be able to play the game but would have to pay an extra fee to get the additional content, a system that already exists with some titles.

[Picture Source: Dreefire (CC)]





13 Responses to ‘XBox to kill used game market’ rumors return

  1. I have several reasons why I do not think this will happen for a long long time. First is permanent internet connection….the percentage of americans without access to or the ability to afford high speed internet is still way to high. They would be alienating way to much of their customer base to make it worthwhile. Also being one who works in the industry I feel safe in saying that a alot of customers will not buy it simply because you cannot use a preowned or even a buddy's copy…with people only able to buy one system or another and if Sony doesnt do something like this and Microsoft does Sony will see sales like they never have before

    • Work in the industry? Like at gamestop? LoL. I can tell you that publishers don't care if you want to pack up and leave if you aren't buying new copies. They make zero money off used copies. The system manufacturer makes zero money of used games or borrowing. More realistically people will pout for a year or two and then buy the new system anyways. There are protests in the PC market all the time, but everyone eventually buys games that have to call home on steam or another similar service.

  2. If this is true then the Xbox 360 and PS3 will be my last systems. This doesn't even seem legal to me…. imagine buying any other product that wouldn't allow you to resell it….borderline CRIMINAL!!!!!!

  3. So, if the physical copies only have the one use activation code, what happens when the new console dies as easily as the first 360s.. wouldn't you have to replace the console AND buy all the games again? 0.o

    • More than likely it'll be tied to your login as well as your console just like now. If you're logged in your can play where-ever. If you're not logged in, or as another player you have to be on the original console. Plus you can transfer the console a game is tied to every couple of months (IIRC 3mo.)

  4. Do they really think the hackers and pirates won't find some way around this?

    How stupid to alienate your consumer base out of fear.

    • They always do. However its not about stopping them. Its about slowing them down and making it inconvenient. I forget the exact stats, but every week you can stop piracy from happening the first month or two of a products life means quite a few sales. Yah, lifetime piracy the conversion rate is low, but a lot of folks get tired of waiting right out of the gate. In any case Piracy is just a sideline. The real motivator is digital distribution. That opens up a whole lot of really awesome options for devs. For MS or Sony too as they'll get a big cut of the sale instead of giving it to gamestop or best buy.

  5. Cory Doctorow writes about a system that's basically this in his book "Little Brother".
    The marketing campaign gives the console away for free, and then charges the ever loving crap out of the games. With an online only model, the games could be dramatically lowered in price and still make money for all the players (whilst destroying a large section of the physical retail economy base) and people will fall for it.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Brother_%28Co

  6. I've stopped gaming pretty much already. With the rumors of the new systems being so crappy I don't care about consoles anymore. Like on 360 they are stopping the XNA service. Thats aggravating. On top of that I worry my 360 games (and arcade ones) won't work with the new system. Last time they promised everything would carry over… but it didn't and they gave up on it.

    Not wasting anymore money. I'll stick to my computer or mobile device for more casual games.

  7. well sony have already suggested that thay are doing the same thing….. intresting how it only complains about the next box and not the ps4