Update: Microsoft has released an official statement pertaining to used games as a result of the many rumors going around since the Xbox One's announcement (via Major Nelson's blog):
"The ability to trade in and resell games is important to gamers and to Xbox. Xbox One is designed to support the trade in and resale of games. Reports about our policies for trade in and resale are inaccurate and incomplete. We will disclose more information in the near future."
Retail sources have released new details on Xbox One's upcoming plans for the sale of used games. While most of the rumors up until now have focused on the perspective of the gamer, this new look from the views of a retailer should provide more details on the complex system that Microsoft is implementing. To quickly summarize -- yes, Microsoft will allow for the sale of used games, but they're now installing themselves as the middleman in every transaction.
Here's how it works. Every game purchased by a gamer will be attached to a gamer's Xbox One account. Current Xbox 360s use a similar system for digital games, though technically current digital games are associated with both an account and a console. Anyway, this allows gamers to still go over to a friends house and play there, so long as they set up their account. PC gamers will also be familiar with this, as games on Steam, Origin and other services use account-based systems for game ownership.
Naturally, with games being tied to Xbox accounts, it would be impossible to trade or sell a game without Microsoft being involved in the process... and so, they will be. Microsoft will require all retailers wishing to sell used games for the Xbox One to sign their Terms & Conditions, after which they will have to integrate Microsoft's "cloud-based Azure pre-owned system" into their own. This system will disassociate the game from a player's account, allowing to be purchased by another player.
Using this system retailers will still be able to buy and sell used games at whatever price they choose. However, a percentage of each sale will go back to the game's publishers. A percentage will also go back to Microsoft.
What does this mean for the typical gamer? In terms of selling games, anyone can still walk into a store, hand their game to cashier and recieve back a handful of dollar bills quick and easy. Simple, right? The real frustration goes deeper. Basically, Microsoft now has to verify whether you own your games now. Remember that "always-online" rumor? This is the reason.
Phil Harrison, Microsoft VP, has since confirmed that the console won't have to be constantly connected to play a single player game. It will still have to check in online from time to time, however. How often? "I believe it's 24 hours." And likely upon initial installation of a game, too.
There you have it. Microsoft's new used-game policy for the Xbox One. Retailers have to sign a contract, share profits with publishers and Microsoft. Gamers have games associated with their account, can still sell and buy used games, but also have to constantly keep their console's online. I bet a few more zany details will also pop up in time.
Lots of questions remain, like: Will this mean used games will be more expensive? Will I get less money for selling a used game? How much is Microsoft taking for publishers and more importantly, for themselves? Will Microsoft give better deals to specific retailers, essentially monopolizing the used game market? Personally, I'm curious if the percentage will be variable, meaning Microsoft could potentially inflate the cost of certain games until they decide its lifespan has ended. Some questions may be answered in time, others not at all. Welcome to the Xbox One!
I'll repeat this one more time: these details, for now, are entirely rumor despite the reliability of the source. Even if they were 100% true, things could change between now and the Xbox One's release.