Bet you thought you knew what was going on with the Xbox One with regard to used games. Well, you don’t—at least, not as far as we can tell. In fact, no one seems to know what’s going to happen with second-hand games when the Xbox One is released later this year. .
Phil Harrison, corporate vice president of Microsoft, talked to Eurogamer some more yesterday to try and offer up the official line on what’s going to happen with regard to letting others play your games. In short, it sure does sound like Microsoft doesn’t want you to share your games without having them, like, buy it. Here’s a long monologue from Harrison:
“So, think about how you use a disc that you own of an Xbox 360 game. If I buy the disc from a store, I use that disc in my machine, I can give that disc to my son and he can play it on his 360 in his room. We both can’t play at the same time, but the disc is the key to playing. I can go round to your house and give you that disc and you can play on that game as well.
What we’re doing with the digital permissions that we have for Xbox One is no different to that. If I am playing on that disc, which is installed to the hard drive on my Xbox One, everybody in my household who has permission to use my Xbox One can use that piece of content. [So] I can give that piece of content to my son and he can play it on the same system. […]
I can come to your house and I can put the disc into your machine and I can sign in as me and we can play the game. The bits are on your hard drive. At the end of the play session, when I take my disc home—or even if I leave it with you—if you want to continue to play that game [on your profile] then you have to pay for it. The bits are already on your hard drive, so it’s just a question of going to our [online] store and buying the game, and then it’s instantly available to play.
The bits that are on the disc, I can give to anybody else, but if we both want to play it at the same time, we both have to own it. That’s no different to how discs operate today.”
That’s not quite true. I can borrow an Xbox 360 game from a friend—even one who’s installed it on his hard drive—and just play it. I don’t have to buy it to borrow it. But anyway, I bet you have questions about used games—trading them in, buying them, all that jazz. Unfortunately, that’s still a mystery:
“We will have a system where you can take that digital content and trade a previously played game at a retail store. We’re not announcing the details of that today, but we will have announced in due course. […] Our goal is to make it really customer-centric, really simple and really understandable and we will announce those details in due course.”
It’s possible that the used game thing won’t be quite as onerous as we fear it’ll be. As for the lending and borrowing of games discussed above, it sounds pretty lousy, but at the very least, it isn’t too far from the situation we’ve got today in terms of digitally downloading games. If I download Super Meat Boy to my Xbox 360, it’s not like I can lend that to a friend. Furthermore, I can’t buy Microsoft Office, install it on my computer, and then give that to a friend either.
So why, Microsoft must think, should I be able to lend a disc-based game that I bought in a store to a friend? It’s a valid enough question, especially when it takes money out of the pockets of publishers and developers—in so far that a borrowed game isn’t a bought game.
But in the end, it just feels crappy, and it’s certainly not the kind of thing that will endear gamers and consumers to Microsoft. And at this point, we don’t know what scheme, if any, Sony will implement with the PlayStation 4 along these sorts of lines. It’s possible they’re doing the same thing—or doing nothing.
How important is this fee-based lend-borrow plan to you in terms of considering the Xbox One?