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RUMOR: Next Xbox to Ban Used Games

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Posted on January 25, 2012 AT 01:34pm

THE BUZZ: More delicious rumors about the next Xbox console have surfaced—and there’s one crazy yet believable piece of interest.

EGM’s TAKE: Rumors about the next batch of consoles have been flying around for a while now, and as we get closer to E3, we’re going to no doubt be hearing more and more of them. At this point, it’s still hard to know which ones to believe and which to dismiss—but this latest batch of scuttlebutt brings up some very interesting new possibilities.

Kotaku today gives a rundown of some of the rumors they’ve had come their way from various sources. The first is that the next Xbox will be relying on Blu-ray for playing disc-based games. Really, no surprise there—no way could Microsoft go with DVD again, and it would be illogical for them to try to put into practice some new, non-standardized format. (Also, no, Blu-ray is not a Sony-specific format, and even if it was, companies who are rivals in one way often work together in others.)

Next up is that the company’s next console will be bundled with a new version of the Kinect sensor, one which includes an on-board processor. I absolutely expect Microsoft to make Kinect standard with every next-generation Xbox console sold, and giving the camera its own brain would be a logical step to advancing the whole concept of motion-controlled gaming. Doing so will make this new Kinect sensor more accurate and effective at tracking player movements; the current Kinect sensor was originally going to have its own on-board CPU, but Micrsoft decided the accuracy gains wouldn’t justify the additional cost at that point.

Kotaku also claims that their sources are saying that the next Xbox will be 8x more powerful than the current Xbox 360. That, for now, is anybody’s guess—and numbers like “6x” or “8x” in terms of power gains will mean nothing until we actually see real-life games built and running.

Finally—here’s where things really get interesting. Kotaku says that they’ve been told by “one reliable industry source” that Microsoft is working on some sort of feature in the new Xbox that will work to disallow playback of used games.

How would this work? There’s a few possibilities. Currently, games are starting to come with one-use codes which download a key file to your console and unlock a certain portion of the game (online multiplayer, key segments, etc.). Something like this could now be standard for every game, but it wouldn’t be the most elegant solution. Another idea is that Microsoft could encode a unique code key in every disc that’s pressed. The first time that game is run, that code it tied to your Xbox Live account, and the game will then not function when run under another account on another console.

We start to run into HUGE problems here. Will this system let people in the same household play the game under different accounts? (Of course—it’d have to.) But what about different consoles in the same house? Many households now have multiple Xbox 360s—how would this idea work for them?

Or what about taking a game to a friend’s house? How would that work under this program? Because, in theory, if you have to register the game on your home console, a friend’s console would then see it as “used”. And what about games that are no longer on sale new? There are plenty of games that come out, have limited runs, and then simply aren’t available as new copies. What do I do if I’ve missed the window in which a game could be purchased new?

The problem with this rumor is that as crazy as it may sound, it absolutely is believable. While there are logical arguments on both sides of the used games topic, one thing is clear: The industry wants to kill the idea dead, even if it means treading on consumers to some degree to do so.

I’d love to think that this is just some crazy rumor that Kotaku has made up, but unfortunately I won’t be surprised one bit if this ends up being 100% true. However, if it is true, we still don’t know the full details—so I won’t completely flip out until we do.

Post a comment below and let me know what you think about all of this—and if such a system would impact your decision to get the next generation of Xbox consoles.

Source: Kotaku

Eric L. Patterson, Executive Editor
Eric L. Patterson got his start via self-publishing game-related fanzines in junior high, and now has one goal in life: making sure EGM has as much coverage of niche Japanese games as he can convince them to fit in. Eric’s also active in the gaming community on a personal level, being an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming and consumer rights. Stalk him on Twitter: @pikoeri. Meet the rest of the crew.

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