‘XBox to kill used game market’ rumors return


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)]

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