Xbox 720: The pre-owned games debate

Reaction to the rumour that Microsoft could lock down and eliminate the pre-owned market next year
Darren Allan

February 9, 2012

We’ve heard plenty about the next Xbox, which many are calling the Xbox 720 for the time being.

The console, which should be out in the autumn of 2013, is alleged to have six times the graphical firepower of the Xbox 360, it’ll play Blu-ray discs, and you won’t be able to use pre-owned games with it.

Yes, the latter point is one of the most controversial issues to have emerged regarding the Xbox 720 in the past couple of weeks.

Forget the current introduction of multiplayer online passes which are designed to gouge more money out of second-hand buyers for the publisher, who otherwise wouldn’t get anything on the sale.

Microsoft is rumoured to be considering a system for the next-generation Xbox whereby a game is linked via a serial code to the original buyer’s Live account. Once that code is used, that’s it – nobody else will be able to play the game on their console, therefore pre-owned sales will be completely eliminated.

It’s a system PC owners are quite familiar with, but a heavy-handed introduction for consoles, which have a much wider user base who could well feel less tolerant about such a concept.

Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of the reaction has been hugely negative, and it’s worth reiterating at this stage that this is just a rumour. Could Microsoft really believe they could push this through – and give Sony and Nintendo the opportunity to go against it, and underline the fact that their consoles don’t do this.

Which would certainly drive a lot of Xbox gamers out of the fold, we would think.

Developers have been posting reactions to this news, which varies from support for the idea, to the shaking of heads.

A designer at Volition (of Red Faction and Saints Row fame) called it a fantastic change, and said he believed there would be a public outcry at first, but gamers would grow to understand the financial necessity of the move.

On the other hand, CD Projekt Red, developer of the Witcher series of RPGs – the second outing of which is set to launch on the Xbox in April – has come out firmly against the idea.

In an interview with Eurogamer, MD Adam Badowski said it “can be a bad thing”.

He added: “We are losing money not because of pirates; we are losing money because people decided not to buy our game.”

“We should invest more power to upgrade and polish our products and convince players to keep our products, to be with us, to understand our needs – because we are an independent developer, we have to prevent lay-offs, we need to grow up and have the power to create new games.”

Which has led to quite a few pre-orders of the Xbox version of The Witcher 2, we’d imagine.

We find it difficult to believe MS would really try to push this through. At any rate, surely the current shift towards online passes for games is enough for publishers seeking extra revenue from pre-owned.

And those who don’t try to extract that extra cash, like CD Projekt Red, will hopefully build up a very loyal fan base and considerable extra sales for their mature stance on the whole matter.


Comments in chronological order (2 comments)

  1. John says:

    If this is true it’ll be the deal breaker for me, no way I’ll be buying one if they’re going to try and force no pre owned games. I don’t buy that many pre-owned games and I like having a collection so I rarely sell/trade them in but the principal that they’d take away that option is just plain wrong.

  2. Nick Medina says:

    I was looking for something like this…I found it I am bookmarking this and sharing with my friends on facebook, twitter and my space.

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