Xbox One: Figuring Out Microsoft’s Used Game Plan

3 min


We’re still fresh on the heels of the outcome of Microsoft’s Xbox One reveal. We’ve had an article detailing an impression of the event, but this article is looking to key in on one very important aspect of the new Xbox One and gaming in general: Used Games. Used games are still important in this day and age because it covers a wide spectrum. The obvious case being someone reselling their bought game to a private buyer or a retailer. There are other scenarios however that are impacted by the used games dilemma. Rental agencies will have problems with their gaming business and consumers will have problems sharing their game experience with friends and family.

While some may argue that used games will be a thing of the past, so we should embrace a banning on them, I’d argue the console developers are doing it in a much more restricting way. Sure, there isn’t a massive market for used movies or music CDs, but movies and music can be freely played on any appropriate device. Used games however, can only be played on specific consoles. Restricting them is much more suffocating. In the PC gaming world, used games are mostly a thing of the past, but the PC world makes up for that by providing cheaper game prices, the ability to play on practically any decent PC you want (PCs are more readily available than consoles) and the ability to play your games indefinitely. As we see with the Xbox One, by not being backwards compatible, you have to keep your Xbox 360 in order to play 360 games. PC gaming is a different beast, and the lack of ability to play used games doesn’t really hamper it (though it could benefit from it tremendously).

Microsoft have been cagey on their used games plan. One minute there’ll be a fee, the next there won’t be. Through all of the various PR speak we’ve heard over the past few days, I’ve come up with some ways Microsoft may handle the used game market for the Xbox One. Here they are:

Xbox Live Used Games Marketplace

Microsoft have announced that they understand the importance of the used games industry, and are thus trying to plan how best to handle a used games market. One answer seems to be that Microsoft will utilise Xbox Live as a Used Games Marketplace. When buying a new game, gamers will be required to download that game (whether from the internet of from blu-ray) and link an activation key with their Gamertag. It’s feasible then for Microsoft to allow gamers to relinquish that activation code when they want to sell the game, allowing them to sell directly to Microsoft and thus Microsoft can control their own used games market.

Licensing Xbox One Games Like MS Office

Microsoft is no stranger to used software issues. Like many other computer software programs, Microsoft could start to treat Xbox One games the way they do with MS Office. They can provide different licensing structures for different people. Those that only need one copy of Xbox One games can buy the typical copy at retail price while those that need extra licenses, say 3 licenses for family and friends, that will cost extra compared to the typical copy. This way Microsoft can somewhat appease those that know they want to share their games and experiences with family and friends, although at an extra cost (but cheaper if divided between each individual).

Trial Periods

Microsoft can also provide trial periods of their games for those who gain access to used games. Therefore the gamers who have access to used games can get a taste of the game before properly deciding if they want to pay a fee to experience the full game. This can also work in favour of some rental companies (who may purchase special Xbox One games’ licenses with an extended trial period). While not allowing for the typical rental methods, it at least still allows a gamer to experience a game before putting down cash for it. This could also replace the traditional demo system for games, as demos are never a true representation of the final product.

Partnering With Gamestop (And Similar Companies) To Resell Games

Something else Microsoft could do, as Gamestop is an important partner for Microsoft, is to allow Gamestop (and other similar companies)  to resell hardcopies of games. Activation codes that come from blu-ray discs can be re-linked to the blu-ray disc, enabling Gamestop to buy and sell used games. Of course, this will come at a fee to Gamestop, but at least it still allows Gamestop to make a profit from the used games sector and remain a partner with Microsoft.

So, those are some ways that Microsoft could still incorporate a used games system if they choose to do so. Do you guys know of any other possible methods Microsoft (and indeed, Sony) may incorporate?

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