You know you’ve really buggered up a console reveal when, less than a week after the event, you still have rumours cropping up about the myriad unanswered questions. In this case, we’re all still waiting for Microsoft to give a final answer regarding trading games and the second-hand games market. You know the rumours, we know the rumours, and you can bet you sweet ass that Microsoft knows the rumours. So why haven’t they said anything other than their normal PR schlock?
MCVUK has learnt from retail sources that Microsoft has essentially flattened the second-hand games market. They’ve done this by making sure that the benefit to retail stores like Gamestop and our own BT Games is minimal. If the financial benefit is minimal to the retailer, then why should they bother?
Don’t forget that this is still rumour as it’s based off MCVUK’s own sources. Nothing from Microsoft has been confirmed. That being said, this sounds like an entirely feasible model for Microsoft and publishers; it’s also incredibly clever.
Only retailers who have signed up with Microsoft’s terms and conditions regarding game trade-ins will be allowed to be part of the Xbox One second-hand market. They’ll need to align their in-store systems with Microsoft’s pre-owned Azure system for trade-ins. When a gamer trades in a game to the retailer, the game is logged on Microsoft’s systems and that game is then wiped from the original owner’s Xbox LIVE account. This adds credence to the rumour that the Xbox One will need to “check-in” to Microsoft’s servers every 24 hours.
The retail store can then resell the second-hand game for whatever they choose, however a percentage of the sale goes to Microsoft, another percentage to the game’s publisher and the final percentage goes to the retail store. It is believed that the retail’s cut is as low as 10% of the resale price. That’s the same percentage cut as retail stores get for first-hand copies of the game, so why should they bother selling games second-hand any longer?
What does this mean if you lend a copy of your game to a friend? According to the same rumour sources, the cost for online activation could be as high as £35.00 or just over R500.00 at the current exchange rate. That pretty much rules out borrowing and lending games between friends.
If this is true then it’s a massive blow for gamers who are used to picking up their games a few months after launch and second-hand. It’s also a massive financial blow to retail stores that have traditionally made a ton of money on the second-hand games market. Don’t forget that until Microsoft confirms anything, this is still rumour. However, it seems entirely feasible based on the fact that all Xbox One games require mandatory installations and are tied to your Xbox LIVE account. For the record, this is still Microsoft’s official stance on the second-hand market and Xbox One titles:
“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. 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.”
It’s also worth noting at this point that Xbox One titles are also tied to the first Xbox One console they install to, which means anyone who has an account on that console will be able to play the game. That’s good news for families. All of this DRM stuff, however, relies on Internet connections to Microsoft’s servers, which means that once-off activations are probably going to be the norm for Xbox One. How often the console will need to “check-in” with Microsoft’s servers is still unknown.