How Microsoft Plans to Control Xbox One Used Game Sales

While the new system was only announced days ago, Microsoft has apparently wasted no time in getting retailers on board with its new system to regulate and control used game sales.

The scenario Microsoft is briefing retailers on, from MCV:

A gamer walks into a retailer and hands over the game they wish to sell. This will only be possible at retailers who have agreed to Microsoft’s T&Cs and more importantly integrated Microsoft’s cloud-based Azure pre-owned system into its own.

The game is then registered as having been traded-in on Microsoft’s system. The consumer who handed it over will subsequently see the game wiped from their account – hence the until now ambiguous claim from Phil Harrison that the Xbox One would have to ‘check in’ to Microsoft’s servers every 24 hours.

The retailer can then sell the pre-owned game at whatever price they like, although as part of the system the publisher of the title in question will automatically receive a percentage cut of the sale. As will Microsoft. The retailer will pocket the rest.

This further lends itself to the theory that games will be individually numbered somehow, most likely through a digital key included in the game code. Otherwise, how would retailers like GameStop be able to de-license games that are missing a physical code?

The idea that Microsoft is securing a portion of the sale for both itself and the publisher is similarly interesting. What happens if a mom-and-pop store starts taking in used games without Microsoft’s blessing? Are we entering a world of underground, black market used game sales? Maybe nothing quite as extreme, but the regulation proposed here definitely points to retailers becoming the submissive member of the publisher/retailer relationship. In the past, console developers and game publishers relied on retailers to carry their games and make them available to the public. Now, they’re being handed heavy stipulations and caveats just for the privilege of carrying said product.

Egotistical, or insanely brilliant? We won’t know for sure until sales numbers start leaking out in the months following the Xbox One’s release.