Microsoft has released details regarding the Xbox One and how it deals with licensing issues, specifically regarding sharing, trading or selling games. Essentially confirming details already hinted at or leaked to the public, Microsoft will implement a system where all purchased games will be tied to a users Xbox One account. In order to confirm ownership the Xbox One will have to connect to the internet once every 24 hours. Everything else, well... it's complicated.
Here are the intricacies of the system, broken into three subsections. You may just want to skip to the "Used Games" part:
- Ownership: Gamers with an Xbox one will be able to purchase any Xbox One game either through retail or online, but true ownership will be rooted in your Xbox account -- not to the disc. "Discs will continue to be a great way to install your games quickly," but otherwise they're just pieces of plastic.
The positive side of this is gamers will be able to access their games from any Xbox One console so long as they're able to log in and verify their account. Just connect, install the game, and boom you're back in business. It's sort of like a Steam account for Xbox One games. This goes for visiting a friend's house or if you purchase a new console.
- Sharing: Microsoft's response to sharing games with friends and family has also taken an interesting digital turn. Firstly, any can play your games from your console whether or not you're logged in. Exactly how this works in unclear -- is it associated with the console where you first install the game? Is it transferable to a new console if one breaks?
The second part of this is that Microsoft will allow you to grant access to your games to ten family members. These family members can access your library of games from any location. "You can always play your games, and any one of your family members can be playing from your shared library at a given time."
- Used Games: Let's start with the bad news. Microsoft has implemented a system that allows publishers to block the resale of their games. Publishers may also set up business terms or transfer fees associated with resales. However, and Microsoft wants this clear, Microsoft itself does not receive any compensation as a part of this; Microsoft simply runs the system that enables the process (likely as we've previously covered in rumors). Resale will be limited on only "participating" retailers. Again, Microsoft wants it clear that, "Microsoft does not charge a platform fee to retailers, publishers, or consumers for enabling transfer of these games."
Due to the restrictions of this system, loaning or renting games will not be available for the forseeable future. Microsoft is, "exploring the possibilities with [their] partners."
Essentially, this announcement from Microsoft is in line with everything we've heard about the Xbox One's online requirements and used game policy in recent months. Yes, potentially used games will continue in the same form they take today -- and I bet at least initially that will be the case. However, how long before a publisher decides they don't want any used game to be available, or more likely just raise the fees so high that retailers decide not to sell their games any more.
That's the Xbox One. That's that. While there's still room for Microsoft to change its mind before launch, it's doubtful they'll back off of this decision. Now the question is whether this news will effect consumers' decisions going forward. A good indicator will be after next week, when several Xbox One exclusives have been announce. Will folk still be talking about used games? We'll see.