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Jimquisition: Xbox One and the Death of Ownership photo
Jimquisition: Xbox One and the Death of Ownership
by Jim Sterling

Well, Microsoft went and did it. It took the step publishers have fantasized over for years, and destroyed the concept of videogame ownership.

The Xbox One will sell you games, but it keeps what it sells, while controlling and overseeing your actions. You're bagged, tagged, and possessed. You're owned and you're observed. Meanwhile, the false target of its actions will laugh it up with Microsoft, and the end user gets what it always gets -- shafted.

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Xbox One kills game ownership, here's what Xbox fans say photo
Xbox One kills game ownership, here's what Xbox fans say
by Jim Sterling

Microsoft finally clarified much of its policy on used games and online restrictions with the Xbox One, and the news is grim for those who actually believe in consumer rights. With its new system, Microsoft will take the final step in stripping gamers of their property ownership, and control every moment of their experience. 

Making you check in every 24 hours like a groveling lapdog, restricting your ability to lend and rent games, and effectively pursuing the industry dream of keeping goods long after they've been sold, the Xbox One is a corporation's fantasy machine that flips off the common end user. 

The Xbox brand's most vocal fans, those posting on Major Nelson's blog, were among the first to react to the news, and even among such die-hards, the reactions weren't pleasant. Gamers from all sides seem furious at Microsoft's publisher-friendly, consumer-kicking policies, with only a scant few gathering the nerve to defend them. 

Here's what folks have been saying. 

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Xbox One games require online verification every 24 hours photo
Xbox One games require online verification every 24 hours
by Jordan Devore

Spread across multiple blog posts, Microsoft has finally clarified some of its policies regarding online connection requirements and trading in used games. Describing the system as being "designed from the ground up to be ready and connected," the company confirms that users will need to check in to "verify if system, application or game updates are needed and to see if you have acquired new games, or resold, traded in, or given your game to a friend":

"With Xbox One you can game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your library. Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection, but you can still watch live TV and enjoy Blu-ray and DVD movies," reads the official explanation.

Another post describes licensing: "After signing in and installing, you can play any of your games from any Xbox One because a digital copy of your game is stored on your console and in the cloud. So, for example, while you are logged in at your friend’s house, you can play your games." Up to ten family members "can log in and play from your shared games library."

On the used games front, Microsoft says it's up to publishers. (Great...) "Xbox One is designed so game publishers can enable you to give your disc-based games to your friends. There are no fees charged as part of these transfers. There are two requirements: you can only give them to people who have been on your friends list for at least 30 days and each game can only be given once."

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Using SCIENCE to learn the effects of killing used games photo
Using SCIENCE to learn the effects of killing used games
by Tony Ponce

With all this hubbub over used games and whether eliminating them would be good or bad for the overall industry, it was only a matter of time before SCIENCE was brought in to drop some truth bombs. Professors Masakazu Ishihara (New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business) and Andrew Ching (University of Toronto Rotman School of Management) have closely studied the Japanese gaming market, where pre-owned business is much more significant than it is in the US, and shared their findings in a paper published on December 15, 2012.

Their verdict? Not quite what you'd expect.

Ishihara and Ching found that, all else remaining equal, eliminating the used market would result in a 10% drop in publishers' profits per game. However, if average retail prices for software were to drop by a third across the board -- $40 down from $60 -- publishers could actually see a 19% rise in profits. Of course, the profit increase scenario would only work if publishers agree to a reduced MSRP, the likelihood of which is up for debate.

Ishihara and Ching's study demonstrates that there are many factors involved in used game sales and purchases. Consumers assign value to their individual software purchases, and some of that value is derived from their ability to resell it down the road. Reduced retail prices could feasibly counterbalance the loss of resales.

No matter how you look at it, this is a far more complex situation than anyone could have imagined.

Dynamic Demand for New and Used Durable Goods without Physical Depreciation: The Case of Japanese Video Games [Social Science Research Network via Wired] (Thanks, M Gross!)

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8:30 AM on 05.31.2013

Take-Two: 'Tablets are going to be as good as PCs'

Take-Two's CEO Strauss Zelnick is a man that sees the same future I do. A future where tablets will be on par with next-generation consoles. Strauss gave a talk at the Cowen and Company Technology, Media and Telecom Conferenc...

Hamza CTZ Aziz

7:00 AM on 05.31.2013

MMOs don't work in the US, Take-Two CEO says

Did you know Take-Two was investing in the MMO genre? They sure are, but don't be surprised by your lack of knowledge on their projects as these MMOs are targeted just for Asia. "We're actively investing in online MMOs, we're...

Hamza CTZ Aziz





3:00 AM on 05.31.2013

Take-Two: Delight consumers, don't punish them

Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick gave a talk at the Cowen Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference, where he had a number of things to say about his company and the industry as a whole. Strauss brought up the used games fee that...

Hamza CTZ Aziz



Jimquisition: When The Starscreams Kill Used Games photo
Jimquisition: When The Starscreams Kill Used Games
by Jim Sterling

The Xbox One will kill used games and control second-hand sales, and some people think that's great. Jim Sterling is not among them.

While members of the gaming media attempt to see the positive side of murdering the used game market and snubbing retailers, all Jimquisition can see are greedy, cowardly Starscreams, waiting to sieze power and do terrible things with it.

Because that's what they do, and we have no reason to believe otherwise.

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8:30 AM on 05.27.2013

Gamers make it clear to Sony they want a DRM-free PS4

While Microsoft continues to flop around following the revelation of its Xbox One user restrictions, gamers have sensed an opportunity to suggest Sony steal some free PR points, campaigning for a DRM-free PlayStation 4. ...

Jim Sterling

9:00 AM on 05.25.2013

Microsoft: Xbox One reports 'inaccurate and incomplete'

Microsoft, by way of mouthpiece Major Nelson, has criticized reports on its Xbox One used game policy as "inaccurate and incomplete," seeming to miss the fact they're based entirely on Microsoft's own statements -- which have...

Jim Sterling

2:00 AM on 05.25.2013

GameStop stock drops following Xbox One reveal

As if the fallout from the Xbox One reveal on Tuesday couldn't get any weirder, along comes news that GameStop stock ended the trading week down 19%. The company's share price had been dropping steadily throughout the week, a...

Tony Ponce

9:30 PM on 05.24.2013

Destiny, Ryse, Mirror's Edge 2 & Jonathan Blow

Hey boys and girls, here's today's energetic and stupid Destructoid Show. It's the Friday of a very busy week, so excuse us if our brains are visibly leaking out of our ears. I'm really excited about Destiny, based on this t...

Max Scoville

7:00 AM on 05.24.2013

Report: Microsoft and publishers get a cut of used sales

The unveiling of the Xbox One left us with more questions than answers. Specifically, gamers huddled around the issue of used games, wondering if they'll still be able to pick up titles at a cheaper rate, like they've done si...

Chris Carter

6:00 PM on 05.23.2013

PC gamers don't have used games, and we're just fine

With the recent lack of clarification of the used game market for the new Xbox One, some gamers are complaining about the possible death of physical used games, and the need to tie all of our games to an account. Microsoft wi...

Joshua Derocher



EA will be killing off the Online Pass photo
EA will be killing off the Online Pass
by Jim Sterling

Electronic Arts has today declared that it will be discontinuing use of its controversial (read: shitty) online pass system, no longer requiring an access code to unlock features. The scheme, put in place to make money off used sales, will no longer appear in any future EA title. 

"Yes, we’re discontinuing Online Pass," EA's John Reseburg told GamesBeat. "None of our new EA titles will include that feature.

"Initially launched as an effort to package a full menu of online content and services, many players didn't respond to the format. We've listened to the feedback and decided to do away with it moving forward."

I've been a long-standing and vocal opponent of online passes ever since their inception, so this is one of the most personally satisfying articles I've written. Whether other companies -- like Warner and Sony -- follow EA remains to be seen, but it's delightful to see one of the scheme's most eager adopters backing away from a nasty little idea that devalued the important used market and inconvenienced those buying the titles brand new. 

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10:00 PM on 04.30.2013

Want a used console? Buy directly from the manufacturer

The biggest argument against pre-owned game and hardware sales is that the publisher or manufacturer doesn't see a single cent of that revenue. One solution is for the original companies to start selling used goods themselves...

Tony Ponce