How about that Xbox One reveal? It’s been a rollercoaster week for Microsoft since they pulled the curtain back on their next-gen console, but public opinion only grows more sour with every new detail.
Much of the company’s messaging has felt anti-consumer, and Microsoft seems interested only in lining its own coffers, us commoners be damned. No one at the company can give anything more than a vague non-answer as to whether or not an alleged fee on playing secondhand games equalling the full price of a new game exists, and their continued allowance of rumors to swirl is unhelpful at best. Sony isn’t doing much better, as they’re also sidestepping questions about used games on PS4.
Some see this whole thing as a novel way to put money into the developers’ pockets, and they certainly deserve to see a return on their work. However, killing the used games market would do irreparable harm to others, which is supposedly what companies like Microsoft are trying to prevent. Don’t believe us? Here are the five groups that would be affected by eliminating the used game market.
Military Deployed Overseas
Many in the Armed Forces do it because they feel a sense of duty, but make no mistake — it can be a shit gig, and that’s before you’ve even left the country. Once you do, you can be shipped out to bases and outposts in any number of places around the world, but the thing that they all have in common is that internet access is nonexistant. If you send them used games, they don’t even get the option to pay the exorbitant fee to play them.
There are also organizations that gather new games from publishers to send troops in care packages — Operation Supply Drop chief among them — but they also accept used games from you and me. Meanwhile, new Xbox One games could potentially be tied to a single console since there’s no way to access Microsoft’s cloud and log into a different machine to play it when there’s no internet access. Absurd.
Organizations sending games to soldiers stationed at remote locations around the world wouldn’t be the only ones affected. Games are popular with kids as well, of course, and there are nonprofits that accept donations of used games and use them for their benefit.
The Get-Well Gamers Foundation takes the games you’re willing to donate and give them to kids at hospitals, for both entertainment and pain management. DonateGames accepts game donations to resell, using the proceeds to fund medical research. Those donations would be worth less than nothing if they had to account for used game DRM on the games that they took in.
There’s a report going around that Microsoft figured out a way for major retailers like GameStop to continue selling used games while developers (and Microsoft, of course) still get a cut of the sale. The idea is that an elaborate tracking database will scan a game when it’s traded in, and the game is wiped from your account. Retailers would have to be connected to Xbox Live’s cloud for this to work.
This seems like a reasonable best-case scenario at a glance, but it still undercuts smaller independent games shops that sell used games. When the Wii U launched, retailers that weren’t monolithic chains were left hanging by Nintendo when it came to supplying them with hardware to sell. If that’s how smaller shops are treated when they’re trying to help a console manufacturer, what can they expect when they want to join a draconian network for permission to continue doing business?