While the rent-by-mail service GameFly is keeping quiet on what Xbox One may mean to its future, the kiosk rental service Redbox has begun a modest lobbying campaign to remind gamers that game rentals, used games, even taking them to a friend's home are in serious jeopardy under the new console generation.
A barebones site called "The Future of Gaming is Now," doesn't have much beyond a few paragraphs of text, some links to next-generation coverage, and a slew of unhappy comments about restrictions the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 will place on used game sales and sharing, restrictions that threaten how Redbox currently does business. But the page is signed by the Redbox logo and was registered on Friday by an employee of their marketing operation.
"The future of video gaming is being decided this week, as amazing new game consoles are beginning to be unveiled," the page says. "Have you heard about what’s coming? Reports say that Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 might have enhanced graphics, enhanced motion control, cloud-based storage, new games and experiences. But you might not be able to play without an Internet connection, lend games freely, buy used games or rent games."
It signs off by asking for comments on "what excites you about the future of gaming … and what concerns you." Most of the 3,161 on the page right now address the latter.
Right now, Microsoft says Xbox One will not play used games unless the publisher of those games allow it — a cop out that kills used games while loading that decision onto someone else's back. The truth in lending games still hasn't been sorted out, whether they may be given only once, ever, or whether they may be given several times but have only one owner.
Sony hasn't been much more forthcoming about the PlayStation 4, giving a statement that any registration requirement (DRM) in order to play a game would be a decision left to publishers. Other rumours suggest that it too has used games restrictions that sound little better than what Microsoft has in mind.
Who knows if Redbox's grassroots page will go anywhere. Microsoft and Sony already know what their longtime customers think of this practice; another 10,000 comments against it probably won't make a difference. It is nice, however, to see a business return fire — any fire, even passive aggressive — on behalf of its customers, since we've yet to see any meaningful advocacy out of GameStop or GameFly.
Image by Getty.