Microsoft’s stance on pre-owned games and game ownership with Xbox One has been more than a little confusing, however it appears that pre-owned games are not dead, but there are some catches involved.
Microsoft’s Phil Harrison tried to explain away the confusion. Basically when you buy a game and install it to your hard drive it will be locked to your account, so as long as you’re signed in to your account you can play the game without restriction and anyone in your house can also play the game as long as they’re signed into your account.
“So, think about how you use a disc that you own of an Xbox 360 game,” he told Eurogamer. “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.”
However, when you leave the house that’s when things get tricky. If you take your game round a friends you can play it as much as you want without a fee as long as you’re signed into your profile. If you want to play on your friends profile or leave the game with him then your friend will have to pay the list price of the game on Xbox Live to unlock the content.
“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,” Harrison explained. “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.”
This doesn’t mean that pre-owned games are dead though, Harrison also mentioned to Eurogamer that Microsoft has a system in place to allow users to trade in digital content at a retail store. Quite what this system entails is unknown at this time.
“We will have a system where you can take that digital content and trade a previously played game at a retail store,” he said. “We’re not announcing the details of that today, but we will have announced in due course.”
How do you feel about fees for friends and trading in digital content? Share your thoughts below.