A new unconfirmed report has revealed that Microsoft’s plan for used Xbox One games will result in a shockingly anti-consumer approach, that kills off all private transactions, leaving Microsoft and their retail chain in complete control over the next-generation console’s pre-owned market.
Citing talks with UK-based retail sources, MCV is reporting that Microsoft’s Xbox One used game system will work in the following, extremely restrictive, manor:
Players who wish to sell or trade-in Xbox One games will only be able to do so at retail locations that have agreed to Microsoft’s terms and conditions, and that have integrated Microsoft’s “cloud-based Azure pre-owned system” with their own internal systems.
During the transaction, the retailer will register that particular game as having been traded-in with Microsoft’s system. This will, in turn, remove the respective license to play the game from the customer’s account. According to the sources, the removal of the license will be pushed to the user’s Xbox One console when the machine preforms its mandatory periodic (potentially once every 24 hours) “check in” with Microsoft’s servers.
Microsoft’s retail partners would then be able to resell the game at whatever price they like, however, once that happens both Microsoft and the title’s publisher would get a cut of the sale. The sources were unsure of the exact price and percentage, but stated that a likely used game purchase from the consumers standpoint would cost £35 ($52 USD), with the retailer getting as little as 10% and the rest going to Microsoft and the publisher.
When contacted to confirm the details of the report Microsoft would only say the following:
“We know there is some confusion around used games on Xbox One and wanted to provide a bit of clarification on exactly what we’ve confirmed.”
“While there have been many potential scenarios discussed, we have only confirmed that we designed Xbox One to enable our customers to trade in and resell games at retail. Beyond that, we have not confirmed any specific scenarios.”
It is important to note that Microsoft’s own statement seems to confirm that customers will be restricted to reselling Xbox One games only “at retail,” as nothing is said of private transactions.
If this report is correct, Microsoft’s Xbox One pre-owned system represents a complete lack of respect for consumers, a direct assault against the first-sale doctrine, and gives them and their retail partners a complete monopoly over the the used game market as it relates to Xbox One. Under this type of a system, private reselling between individuals would not exist and small retailers who do not agree to Microsoft’s terms and conditions would be cut out of the process.
Electronic Arts recent, and surprising, decision to drop their controversial Online Pass program suddenly makes a lot more sense. After all, why bother with an Online Pass when the platform holder is going to basically do it one better, and give you a cut?
To be clear, anti-consumer tactics like this is exactly where Microsoft will cross a line with me. If their pre-owned plans for the Xbox One include anything even remotely similar to the plan outlined above, I will vote with my wallet — regardless of whatever amazing game announcement they bring to E3. The same goes for Sony’s PlayStation 4, if they decided to walk down the same path.
I’m not in the habit of buying used games (as I prefer new when given the choice) but if this is the future for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, I will be content to work through my existing current-gen backlog and pick up a Wii U for all my new game needs.
[Update] Microsoft has since issued a “clarifying” statement about the Xbox One and used games, however, none of the questions surrounding their plans have been answered.