So what in the world is going on with the Xbox One and its used game policy? We’ve been following the story across multiple websites and with replies and counter-replies from multiple Microsoft sources. Who’s telling the truth? Who’s mistaken? Who’s just hoping this whole thing blows over?
We give it our best shot, but honestly, this might require a statement from Bill Gates to really sort it out…
According to an article on Wired posted during Microsoft’s console reveal, the publisher plans to require Xbox One users to install each disc-based game they purchase to the system’s 500 GB hard drive. From there, each game will be tied to an Xbox Live account and you won’t be required to have the disc in the drive. And if you re-sell that game to a friend or your local GameStop, the person who uses it next will have to pay a “used game fee” to unlock.
STATUS AT THIS POINT: Xbox One games must be installed to hard drive, used games require fee to unlock.
This sent the Internet into an apocalyptic frenzy and Microsoft’s Xbox Support Twitter account was the first to spring into action. Doing a little damage control, they flat out call Wired’s Chris Kohler a liar:
@paulmitchell80 We can confirm that the article stating Xbox One will charge fees to play used games is NOT correct. ^PJ
— Xbox Support 3 (@XboxSupport3) May 21, 2013
STATUS AT THIS POINT: Xbox One games must be installed to hard drive, used games do not require fee to unlock.
This message was followed by an official Xbox One FAQ posted at Microsoft’s Xbox Wire newsblog. Cryptically, the FAQ stated: “We are designing Xbox One to enable customers to trade in and resell games. We’ll have more details to share later.” Admittedly, I got confused. Aren’t all consoles “designed” to enable customers to trade in and resell games? By saying that the Xbox One is being “designed” for used games, Microsoft is implying that the system will include some kind of used game lockout, in contradiction to the Xbox Support Twitter feed.
STATUS AT THIS POINT: Xbox One games must be installed to hard drive, used games require some kind of intervention from Microsoft to unlock.
Major Nelson got in on the act and further slammed Xbox Support’s answer by claiming that everything reported so far (which, at the time only included Wired’s report) was one of “many potential scenarios discussed” for the Xbox One’s used game policy. He then reiterated the FAQ’s line by stating the Xbox One is “designed to enable our customers to trade in and resell games at retail.”
He also added that there would be no fee to play Xbox One games tied to your account on a friend’s system, provided your logged in to your account on your friend’s Xbox One.
STATUS AT THIS POINT: Xbox One games must be installed to hard drive, used games will be supported in some way, but lending/renting games is not allowed.
After all this, Kotaku spoke to Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, who told a different tale. He said that each Xbox One game would come with a one-time activation code that must be registered online before the game will work. This links the game to your Gamertag, installs it to your hard drive, and effectively makes the disc a coaster. Other Xbox Live accounts signed in on this console will also be able to play the game. Harrison also reiterated Major Nelson’s “no lending” statement, saying, “The bits that are on that disc, you can give it to your friend and they can install it on an Xbox One. They would then have to purchase the right to play that game through Xbox Live.” The cost to purchase the right to play? Full price.
Harrison added the interesting wrinkle that Xbox One owners will be able to trade in their downloaded games, erase the activation code from their system, and receive some kind of compensation. Interesting, but unlikely to help the average gamer save any money in the long run like today.
STATUS AT THIS POINT: Xbox One games must be installed to hard drive while connected to the Internet. Used games will be supported, but you must purchase a full price activation code to play it. Lending/renting games is not allowed.
Finally, Polygon contacted an unnamed Microsoft spokesperson by email to get the final word. This spokesperson contradicted Harrison and said that everything he said was, again, just a scenario Microsoft is considering.
“There have been reports of a specific time period — those were discussions of potential scenarios, but we have not confirmed any details today, nor will we be,” the spokesperson said.
STATUS AT THIS POINT: Xbox One games must be installed to hard drive while connected to the Internet. Used games will be supported in some way. Lending/renting games is not allowed.
Is everybody clear? Even with all this back and forth, a few things remained consistent. Games must be installed. The Xbox One will use some kind of re-activation system. And lending and/or renting games won’t be allowed without a re-activation fee.
Basically, Microsoft has declared war on used games. And they’ve ceded the next generation to Sony and Nintendo.