Xbox One And Used Games: The Real Reason Everyone's So Mad

It's much easier to assign a bogeyman to explain away why you can't own something than it is to simply say you can't afford it. And this natural human tendency might explain why the backlash against Microsoft's reported treatment of Xbox One used games has become a moral imperative, instead of one about how goddamn expensive the platonic ideal of an Xbox One experience will be.

While it remains unclear exactly how the Xbox One will handle used and borrowed games — there are conflicting details coming out of Redmond every other day — they will likely involve licensing a game to your account. That means when you buy an activate a game, your account is the only one that can play it. And that has made people angry.

Rumours initially suggested that used games would either not exist, or that they would be sold at near-full-price by Microsoft, exclusively. Those have been disproven or denied, but the vitriol surrounding the situation — while easily to read as overreaction to the fairly unlikely outcome of No More Cheap Used Games — has remained. It goes deeper than just used games, though. Everything the Xbox One promises requires a heavy financial investment. And the same truth that's hit virtually every other medium has finally hit gaming: Everything is too damn expensive now, and that can be really depressing.

Cost of Doing Business

Yeah, you know everything is expensive. Sort of. But the slide we’ve been on for the past several years, ever pioneered Apple created the premium-at-a-cost the standard for a variety of products, never quite made it to gaming. It’s been seven years since the last time we stared down gigantic price tags for new console hardware. That means it's time to pay up.

It's not just the box, either. While in the past we were always able to just casually sidestep the always-inept DRM, more and more of the central features of core games are being based on online, where they can be monitored more closely and effectively. Which introduces the threat of actually paying the sticker price.

So when we talk (yell) about the Xbox One’s restrictions on used and borrowed games — even though a very similar digital model has been in place on Steam and iTunes for years — what we’re really lashing out at is not the idea of digital licensing (though some folks do take umbrage with it). It’s the sense that all this new content, which will be made available solely and specifically through official, possibly full-priced menus, will simply cost too much to enjoy, and that begging, borrowing, or even pirating is being slowly stamped out by new centralised systems.

That threat to piracy in other media, or even a more benign borrowing of games here, is no small thing. The amount of content and services being produced for these systems has exploded in recent years. What used to be a manageable stream of new games and entertainment is now a firehose that, if you’re paying full price for everything, will leave the average member of the audience — still fairly young, typically — on the outside looking in for a lot of content. And if you know you can't afford the blades, you'll be hard-pressed to buy the razor.

This is true of everything, not just gaming, but the gamers might have the freshest set of eyeballs right now to call it like they see it. Why are people mad? Because the Xbox One and all of its associated content and services might just be too expensive for you to enjoy it.

A History of Wealth

And it doesn't stop there. On top of possibly spending more than you used to on games, already spending god-knows-what on the Xbox One in the first place, and likely slipping in a subscription to Xbox Live for the hell of it? To really get the most out of your new Xbox, you might have to load up your home with other things it can talk to. Your wallet's already ducking for cover.

The Xbox One’s central conceit — that the console can, should and will become the motor powering smart appliances in modern homes — is almost a presumption. Of course everyone who owns an Xbox will also have and buy modern appliances that can be routed through the console. Is that really true, though? Microsoft might be building the centrepiece of the home of the future, but where does that leave the rest of us whose homes live in the present or recent past? As a piece of consumer electronic lust machine, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a console evolving into the centrepiece of a modernised home. That’s just how new technologies build on each other. But in merging audiences — gamers and the people who spend $US1500 on a new laptop every two years — it’s possible Microsoft overestimated how technologically advanced many of its users want to be.

Also remember, unlike the Xbox 360 and PS3 launches, the new generation arrives amidst an economic slump. When the PlayStation 3 was announced in early 2005, the world was still in the throes of the pre-housing-bubble economy, more than two years away from the global recession. In the intervening eight years, though, technology has become more opulent and we keep paying for it. Thrift, meanwhile, has ruled almost everywhere else. Like games.

It’s possible that this is a moment — a new console not just announcing its own expensive presence, but presuming that you will enter into and exist in its wider and more expensive universe — when everyone says, Man, that’s so much. And that's enough to make you yell.

Republished from Gizmodo.


Comments

    Ummm is this a repost?
    This story was run earlier this week

    EDIT: My bad, was on Gizmodo yesterday, its been a long week, everything is blurring together :o)

    Last edited 30/05/13 1:07 pm

    Didn't read it. Skimmed to "Apple..." And yeah lost me there I hate apple simply because they are supported by the people they are ripping off.

      That's not a cool story man, why would you tell people that?

      Basically saying "I don't hold with all this 'reading' business! I'm just gonna yell about stuff that isn't slightly relevant!" makes you look like an ignorant tool, and reminds me of people who say "Oh man, you read BOOKS?! I haven't read since high school! Keepin' it REAL man!"

    Nice points about the economy. I think something most news ignores is the context of gaming's current average user base. Aged in their early 30s, gamers are moving from young workers with disposable income into family situations. The "recession proof" idea of the gaming world isn't ironclad. We are just in a sweet spot for spending. The question then is if the next generation will spend as much on average as 30 somethings do.

    Thanks for also pointing out the"firehose" of entertainment. Wii, xbox, ps4.. They seen to think disposable income if the only factor, when time is crucial now.

    We're all packed to the teeth with games. Raise your hand if you have a huge steam backlog? Combine that with mmos and even interested early adopters might succumb to common sense and close their wallets.

    It's not even the expense. I like sharing and swapping games with my friends. It's a social thing that im mad is being taken away from me.

      yeh that's what annoys me the most about this too.. I just had an idea that may satisfy both parties.. what if there was a "Share" function in Xbox Live, where you can nominate anyone in your Xbox Live friend list to be able to play your game. This will activate it on their profile for a specified period of time, but they will need the disc to play also. Most games I've borrowed from friends, if I really like it, I will end up buying myself a copy.

        I suspect after the furore of the past two weeks, your idea is likely to get up

    If I am paying for a licence for my account. If that account gets closed down when the xbox 4 comes out then I am renting not purchasing.

      Don't you mean the "Xbox Too".

      I hear it has "Too much entertainment for one box to handle".

    Why is this article not equally about sony + PS4 and MS + XboxOne.

    Last I checked Sony hasn't exactly stated that used games will be freely transferable no strings attached either.

    stand to be corrected if someone can link where they have said that.

      We simply don't know what Sony's stance is, whereas we have a huge bunch of information (albeit conflicting information) on what Microsoft plans to do. And everyone is holding out hope that Sony will actually care about it's customers instead of its publishers.

      Because Sony hasn't tipped their hand yet, and if they've got half an ounce of sense, they'll see which way the wind is blowing and scupper any plans they might have had.

      But until they announce that they also want to ream their customers, there's no reason to jump on them.

        Do you really think that steam is reaming its customers?

          Steam? No? I was referring to the XBox.

          If you're referring to the ownership/licence aspect of Steam, then to me, that's one of the more negative aspects of PC gaming, which traditionally has been one of the benefit of consoles. If MS changes their console to work like Steam in that regards, then they make virtually no case for having an Xbox over a PC.

    I feel the next generation (the One and PS4) will destroy console gaming if they are priced at a premium (A$800 - 1000), especially if DRM is a real thing with the One; then I'd really have to think about it. A price that I'd pay, with a little less trepidation, is around A$499. This price, I feel, is reasonable, but I would still have to justify the purchase.

    My personal preference would be A$399. This will never happen anytime soon. But it's the value which I personally attach to these devices. It's a price which I would happily pay without even thinking about it. Even with DRM. It would be a no-brainer. And, I feel this is still a premium price.

    I understand this technology is not cheap. But that's their problem to sort out. Negotiate better. Improve the research process. Find other channels of revenue to help subsidize a lower price, without compromising the core experience. I dunno.

      "That's their problem to sort out"? Yeah I'd love to see them rustle up a console on the cheap and have you and everyone else whinge and moan because it doesn't perform anywhere near what a "next gen" console should. I'd happily pay $700 for the new xbox, anything above that and I would hesitate but still most likely buy it. People upgrade their pc's yearly for more money than your $399. It's been 10 years since you've had to upgrade your xbox360 (sorry if you got unlucky with RROD though). But with that said I have a feeling it will be between 700-1000 dollars for either of the new consoles.

        I think the point is that people might accept this sort of DRM if the console is cheap. Personally, I don't think it will be cheap enough.

    This article has nothing to do with why I'm against it. If you cant SELL it, you dont OWN it. The implication that I'm paying full price for essentially rented content is why it bothers me.
    Also, despite what I have read on this site and others, I still feel likes its a normal part of production of a product that others might resell it, ie, books / cars/ houses. You cant winge about other people selling their own property, without implying that its not theirs to do with as they see fit.

    Something that occurred to me while reading this article, The XBone requires us to install all games to a hard drive correct? does it still require the disc to play afterwards? If it doesn't then wouldn't it also hold true that, were there no DRM, I can buy 6 XBone games, distribute them among friends to install once on their machines, get them back and have effectively allow 3 friends access to 6 free games negating the cost of $1800 in potential sales.

    As far as avoiding this issue, DRM is not an awful idea as much as we can all agree that the implementation is frustrating. The cause of this issue appears to be that we can both have physical and digital copies of the games.

    If it was just digital then we could link an XBone to someones account and prevent access to games on that account unless it is on the XBone it was originally installed on. If it was just physical discs then it would be less of an issue, even with an install due to only one disc existing per purchase. We cannot prevent one without stepping on the toes of the other and the take MS seems to go with is "tread on everyone's toes so everyone is equally upset"

    I have a thought...

    If you hate so much about these new systems, whether it's the Xbone, the PS4 or the Wii U...then...don't buy them.

    Crazy, I know.

    Seriously, if you're really pissed off about used games or DRM or their always online policy or their hardware capabilities or whatever it is, then don't buy them. It makes no sense to own something you don't like. Nobody is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to buy them. "But if I don't buy them I'll miss out on all the latest games/won't have an online social gaming network/insert other reason here" - well then it still becomes your perogative to buy them. It's a choice and at the end of the day owning a gaming console is a luxury, not a requirement (for most of us anyway).

    Don't like them? Stop bitching on the internet and "vote" with your wallet. Don't buy them.

    Last edited 30/05/13 2:31 pm

      That's my plan. But right now IS the time to bitch and moan. There is a real possibility that if we bitch and moan enough, Sony will see an opportunity to capture market share and abandon any DRM plans they may or may not have. That, to my mind, is preferable to not bitching, and then not buying the console.

      It's a nice sentiment, and I'd love to see it actually work, for once. Hell, with an investment as significant as a console, it just might. But remember Diablo 3? Everyone knew it'd have problems. Everyone complained about the RMAH, the always-online solution to secure said RMAH, the lag. Blizz said that they wouldn't fix it cos it ain't broke. We all threatened to boycott. And it became the highest selling PC game in years, almost overnight, despite the fact that no-one could actually play it.

      I know, there's a big difference between a $60 game and a $600 console... but does that matter? People fold. I'd love to be proven wrong. I'd love to have an excuse to be optimistic here. But Microsoft will show 7 existing IPs that will be Xbox One exclusives, Halo and Crackdown likely among them, along with 8 new exclusive IPs. Will the extra expense of the console be enough to help them resist the call of their beloved franchises? I hope so, but I'm not holding my breath.

      And, as thom said: I'll be voting with my wallet when the time comes. Until then, and while their policies are still in flux (as the confusion seems to indicate), complaining seems like the only course of action.

    I'm going to post the same reply to the article on Gizmodo (beware wall of text)

    The problem is all the conflicting reports, they range from:

    New games will come with a single serial key which needs to be entered when the game is first run, second hand users will need to purchase a key at some fee.

    to

    The discs will be encoded with a code of some kind which will be read by the system and apply the license to your account.

    The first option has been done on PC for ages (maybe not the buying a new key part as most of the time the key just lets the installer continue. although for games with optional online registration the key can only be used once) and more recently has shown up on console with the dreaded "online pass". If this was to be the standard on the Xbone then it may be a little inconvenient (having to buy a code at 10 bucks like the current online pass systems) to downright bullshit (charging full retail price for the code). Either way the used game market won't die, and retail costs of new games may (probably wont) come down as a result (i know its a bit of wishful thinking)

    The second option I read in an article on Polygon, and the way I understand it, there isn't as much to get all angry mob over, if the license is embedded in the disc and you need to be online every now and then to authenticate (which again has been happening on PC for years, not the embedded part but similar disc checks). All this means is that when you sell your copy of the game and the license is applied to someone elses account, it will be removed from yours (stores may even have a reader type device that invalidates the license as soon as you trade it back to them?). Lending to friends would also work with this system as when a friend installs your game on their account, it will invalidate your license until you run it on your system again to re-acquire the license after you get the disc back.

    But what happens if you are not online and the game needs to do the online check you ask? well the answer to that is I don't know what the plan is, but my simple logical solution to that problem is that if you cant get a connection to check for the license, then require the disc to be inserted so that you can validate the license off the disc, this would also address a lot of the fears people have with online authentication, and even if the authentication system is turned off, then the consoles can still check the discs for the license and play it offline.

    Until we actually get some straight information however, its just going to be the same old internet rumor mill, and the same old community reaction to something that they really don't have the information about yet.

    Not that I plan on getting an xbox at all, but one thing I am wondering is, if the games activation, and therefore ability to play it, are tied to an x-box live account, what happens when the Xbox Two comes out in 5 years?
    Does your old x-box one live account still work?
    Actually can anyone tell me if xbox 1 (you know, the first X box) can they still log in just fine, or has that been closed down in the last few years, only allowing xbox 360's to connect to live?
    I guess my concern for those getting this device is that when the new Xbox comes out (xbox Two, fuck me its tricky talking about different xbox's with this naming... but i digress), if they disable the online services for xbox one, surely that would stop anyone from playing any of their xbox one games? But surely they wouldn't do that.
    And if Xbox One is anything to go by, Xbox Two would not be backwards compatible, so you would lose access to all your xbox one games, since you wouldn't be able to play them even on an xbox one if it can't log into your live account?
    Having never had any xbox i am just curious. Is your xbox 360 online login the same as your xbox 1 online login? Is it all just one account, doesn't matter which device? Is an xbox 1 still able to login to online services (not counting servers for games themselves, just the overall xbox live online whatever it was called)?
    (also, xbox 1, xbox One, xbox 360, xbox two, just coz i don't think i typed the word xbox enough there...)

      XBL accounts carry over with you over each console, therefore if you created an XBL account on the original Xbox, it will be transferable to the 360 and now the One. If memory serves me right.. I think they closed all servers for the original Xbox which means you can only play the games locally.

      Regarding your idea surrounding the loss of ability to play games once the predecessor of the XBone comes out. If the games are saved to the XBL account, I don't see any reason why the cannot then use this as a means to re-download a digital copy onto the next console? Perhaps even using the 'ability of the cloud' they can store these games on the cloud, and only those accounts associated will have access to play? Alternatively, they can just do what they have done with the Xbox -> 360 transition.

      As for the whole idea involving DRM etc, it is definitely not desirable, however the Xbox as a console is so complete in terms of the peripherals and now even the addition of BluRay, it is too tempting to pass on what could be the ultimate gaming console.

        True, but support won't continue indefinitely. MS shut down support for Halo multiplayer not long ago. Will they still be supporting the 360 in another twenty years? Tying a game into an online account means the game will no longer work when the platform owner decides to cut off support - this will likely be tied to when cutting support makes economic sense.

        If I buy a game I have the moral right to play it in perpetuity. (I don't sell my games so I don't really care about the resale process.) With Steam I have some confidence in Valve that, if they go bust, they will modify the DRM to no longer require remaining online - if for no other reason than the lawsuits that would result from shutting down peoples' game collections. I don't really trust Microsoft to do the same.

        The thing that worries me more is the effect on back-catalogue availability. If all trades must be brokered through a retail store, that means that when the retail stores stop dealing with the platform then getting old games for that platform will be impossible. If the alleged payback to publishers is as high as is rumoured there will be no real incentive for retailers to deal with second hand games at all. With the used market shut down, there will be no effective way to buy a title that is no longer available new at retail.

    Xbox One And Used Games: The Real Reason Everyone’s So Mad:

    Gamers have owned the games they bought on consoles for a very long time. Many have collections. They have shared these gaming experiences with friends when they see a good game.

    Nothing seems to be broken with this process.

    Simcity is what happens when you try to fix things that aren't broken.

    These afflications, though prevelent in PC has not effected a majority gamers, and if they do the same here, they will loose their last refuge.

    How many blockbuster AAA games have these franchises that support these anti-used ecosystem, created?

    Apple? Simcity? Diablo 3? anyone? Speak up!

    Were they successful?

    Did the gamers that played these games resent their purchase?

    Somehow with steam still being limited, buying through their store or sourced elsewhere, I pay a butt-tonne less for my games vs console equivalents. And just quietly, if sony want more than $600 for a ps4, I'll pass and get a new graphics card.

    Second had games, trade-ins and lending, do you really think that Microsoft or Sony care that you are upset and can't do these anymore?
    The noise from the minority who bother to complain will not matter to them either. With most platforms heading down a similar path you have little alternative.
    And to the gamers crying poor, I hate to break it to you but gaming is a hobby and therefore a luxury.
    If you cannot afford it then find another way to fill your spare time.

    Every 3rd console by a company fails to a degree,

    Atari- 5200 no backwards compatability,bad controller,released on the eve of the great game crash

    Sega-Saturn,outclassed by Playstation,no EA support,last in a string of failed Megadrive add-ons

    Nintendo-Nintendo 64 No Cd rom,poor 3rd party support,fragile controllers

    Sony-PS3 High Price,little software for first 2 years,PSN outage, not a clear leader like PS1&2

    Micro-Soft-Xbone Invasive DRM, tech less than PS4,Kinnect shoved down your throat,looks like a VCR,Silly name,TV!

    All these were released by companies that either had the best or near best selling console in the previous generation but got arrogant and conplacent in their position.
    Infact most of their 4th consoles Atari 7800,Dreamcast and Gamecube did even worse, but seeing as there is a lack of fresh blood in the industry I see a revitalised lean and hungry Sony coming back to market dominance.

    Well with the average age of gamers being 35 or so, the cost argument isn't really valid.
    I personally don't know anyone without a console with at least 10 or so games. Man even my Dad has a 360 with Kinect. I don't even have a Kinect.
    Gaming is one of the great mediums that very rarely is ruined by spoilers being released. So it actually doesn't matter if you play the game the day it was released or a year later. Just wait 3 months after the game is released it will be half price. Wait 6-12 month and you can buy it new for a quarter of the price.
    I hate the idea of restricting my 2nd hand game purchases (have about 500 from the last 5 years)
    but Microsoft haven't even announced anything yet. so how about you all wait until they announce what will happen with 2nd games.

    I personally don't share or borrow games. But I'm thinking, partners or people who play on the same Xbox who live together now have to buy two copies of one game for one Xbox. It just doesn't make sense to me. They're fucking a lot of people over here.

    I don't quite get this hullaballoo.

    - 360 and PS3 are still expensive, today. $399 for a PS3. Sure, with an extra controller and a few games, but still. What happened to the PS1/N64 drop to $199 mid cycle. $799 for an Xbox One seems totally fair enough compared to the current price of current gen consoles. For all we know, there will be subscription model options that will allow us to pick up the new consoles for a low initial cost. That would be far too tempting, and because of that perhaps likely to happen.

    - Games are expensive on release date, but fall dramatically shortly thereafter. Especially if you buy from UK importers. I should receive Spec Ops over the next few days, that cost $17, delivered. I don't mind paying that. In fact i'm very happy to pay that because I'm confident that as soon as I finish it I'll put it up on ebay and most likely sell it for the same cost to me or possibly even higher. I bought Lollipop Chainsaw for $17 brand new, played it, sold it for $32. Don't ask me how.

    If the next gen will also have games, physical copies or downloadable, for $20 or less, as they currently do, and have done for every previous generation, then we shouldn't need to worry about the cost of the blades (games). We don't need to buy day 1. If you feel the need to, and can't afford it, then rest assured the world has more pressing issues that it will bestow upon you.

    Remember, PSN and PSN+ are awesome. A few months back people were complaining about the latest games being $99 on PSN - sure, that's expensive, but now we're getting older games (Rainbow Six Las Vegas 2) for under $10. That's awesome. And then PSN+ keeps giving us free games - 3 titles this month. How they manage to do that is beyond me.

    The point is that there is massive value to be had in gaming. Yes, the upfront cost of buying the console and accessories will be expensive, and the premium prices of hardware will hold for the first 2 to 3 years, but the games themselves will drop in price significantly after just a few months of release, and within 2 years there will be a wealth of outstanding games that could be purchased for around $20 - whether or not you're able to on-sell them.

    - Most current gen games are massive, and awesome, with unlimited online play. And things will only get better - well, that's what typically happens. So instead of buying AC1,2,3,4 and Saints Row 2,3 and GTA IV and V and every other game under the sun - those that are budget conscious can just buy a smaller amount of games, some of which will likely offer 100s of hours worth of gameplay. We don't have to have every game. We don't have to have almost every game. In previous gens i've been guilty of pirating and as such have been used to having massive quantities of games. This gen I've been legit and have bought around 200 PS3 games. That's massive and extremely foolish. So many of the games I've not played after owning them for several years. I'm happier to spend my time with those games, at least to some extent, before moving on to a new console.

    I'm still buying new games, but only when they're $25 or under, and I'm no longer treating myself to bargain $40 games that I must have because they're relatively new. They DO play EXACTLY the same when they're bought at the lower price.

    - Manufacturers and developers are right to protect themselves against piracy, and are right to protect themselves against the used game market.

    The used game market had been run with extreme effectiveness. CDs, DVDs, VHS, LPs were never sold, or swapped to the extent that games have been.

    Perhaps an EB Games staff member could comment or estimate how many people will own a single copy of a game. My guess would be that some games will be owned 20 times. Maybe 50. Perhaps those numbers are absurd, but whatever the numbers we know that the pre-owned market is massive and that that is money that the developers are losing.

    I'd be glad to see MS or Sony make billions more simply by stamping out the used game market. Why should third parties like EB have a $billion business opportunity handed to them on a silver platter.

    Personally, I would still like to be able to buy and sell used games, but if I can't, and the games have a low cost after approx 1 year after release then I'd be happy.

    You know if noone bought into xbox one or PS4 in about 4 years time Nintendo will launch another console....One that would be up around the ps4/xbox one's power level without costing a fortune...

    This is not an article....its likely a paid advertisment honestly. Microsoft has a pretty blatant history of contracting these articles.

    First it blatantly and PURPOSEFULLY misses the issue, then pitches the product...."its not ANY of the issues people are actually upset about, but merely that you cant afford it! By the way have we mentioned it's a PREMIUM product like apple? You like nice things right?"

    People are not pissed about money they are pissed about OWNERSHIP RIGHTS! If we purchase something it is OURS! You don not keep right to it...the transaction has been made...no ifs, no ands, no buts and no comprimise!

    If I buy a car I OWN THAT CAR DOWN TO THE LAST BOLT! I can let my friend borrow it any time. I may customise it any time. I may do however i please as it is mine. And yes I can sell it at any time to any one for whatever price i choose. The only thing i may not do is make a copy and sell it for profit. The same goes for my tv, music player, refridgerator, toilet, clothing, ect. And if this subject came up in ANY other item or product people would be even more angry and upset.

    And when i buy electronics or software I also own them right down to the last line of code! No difference! I may do as i please with it. I may customise it (although you dont need to warranty my alterations) I may alter it any way i see fit i may allow someone to borrow it and YES I MAY EVEN SELL IT! It is mine and like the car mentioned above i may do with it as i see fit to do so! Also as the car mentioned above what i may not do is copy your hard work for either my own profit or to hurt your profit on what youve created, so i cant re-distrubute copies of your work...AND THATS IT, that is where your rights end.

    I may let my friend borrow a good book i bought. Or a great film i purchased. SO WHY IS THIS DIFFERENT? It isn't plain and simple!

    When i purchase this product however....I OWN NOTHING! The system is designed completely to transfer my rights to someone else and is is unnacceptable! THIS IS THE ISSUE! And attempting to sidestep this issue is a blatant lack of journalistic integrity on your part.

    When we buy a camry or prius it belongs to us! when we buy an xbox one it belongs to microsoft and its affiliates.THAT IS THE ISSUE AND ITS PERFECTLY VALID! DO NOT DOWNPLAY IT. DO NOT SIDESTEP IT! DO NOT IGNORE IT!

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