The Xbox One And Sharing Games: Why We Can't Deal With It

It's a strange situation isn't it? It's difficult to parse. Using Steam, PC Gamers have been used to the idea that they cannot 'lend' games to their friends for years now. If PC gamers can deal with it, why can't console owners?

It's an argument I've been hearing a lot this morning and it holds weight. Steam essentially operates with a higher level of DRM compared to the way Microsoft intents to sell and regulate its products with the Xbox One. We should get over it, the argument states. This is the Brave New Digital World. We must get with the program.

And there is a certain irony in comments on forums and social media: 'I'm going to skip this generation, stick to my PC'. Yes, by all means, stick to the medium that invented the draconian DRM that's about to be inflicted upon us, stick to the service that's more rigid and locked than the one we're supposed to be boycotting.

But it doesn't feel right, does it? It feels wrong. It feels wrong to be restricted in this way. As though something console gamers have taken for granted — the ability to swap games, share with our friends — is being stolen from us or, at the very least, limited dramatically.

While it has its flaws, the analogy I've been using is the car: if you are correctly insured anyone can drive your car. There is no fingerprint detection, Kinect isn't hovering above your rear-view mirror measuring heart rates, shutting the engine off when it senses a stranger is driving the car. The same goes for any physical product you own: clothes, shoes, sporting equipment, houses. If tennis rackets had the technology to implement fingerprint recognition, would we be charged for lending our equipment to friends on the court? I don't know. Part of me thinks companies will charge whatever they think they can get away with.

At its root the issue is one of perception, and what consumers expect, what they are used to. Will consumers endure this reality check?

Because the fact is we've never really owned video games in the way we thought we did. All we ever really purchased was a license to consume them. The only reason we could swap, share and trade games in the past is because the technology to stop these transactions didn't exist. Now it exists, and here we are. The cold hard reality of what we actually own when we buy a video game has come crumbling around us. And it hurts. It makes us very angry indeed.

The issue is one of perception.

For years now we've been buying products digitally, for years we've subscribed to the idea that we don't really own the media we paid money for. We bought music on iTunes, then we streamed it for a subscription on Spotify. We watch TV with Netflix. We buy video games on our iPhones.

I've never heard anyone complain they couldn't lend their digital copy of Braid on XBLA to a friend. I've never heard that complaint. Because when we buy a physical product the belief of the consumer, right or wrong, is that we own the product we paid money for — it's ours to share if we see fit. That belief may be incorrect, but that's what we believe; that's what decades of buying physical product at retail has taught us and there's not a single piece of PR or marketing buzz word that will change that. In this case the customer is always right, especially if the customers — en masse — decide to not buy the Xbox One because of it.

It's a strange, complicated grey area; it's reflective of an industry in transition. Microsoft is attempting one hell of a juggling act but there are one too many balls in the air. There's retailers, who Microsoft needs to help put its box in the living room it so sorely craves. There's the publishers, who are hurting in a marketplace that demands a high level of product but wants to pay less for it. Then, more importantly, there are the consumers who don't want their perceived rights stripped from them.

Someone has to lose. Retailers want a guarantee that physical product has a future, and they want to protect those sweet, sweet trade-in margins. Publishers want a cut of that deal, and a way to mitigate losses. Consumers want to share games with friends. What we've ultimately been given is a halfway house solution for an industry that's neither here nor there.

Retailers get their trade-in margins... kinda.

Publishers protect their IP... kinda.

Consumers get to share games like they used to... kinda.


If the console was a digital only device this wouldn't be a problem. But the industry isn't quite ready for that. Retailers won't sell a digital only console at dead zero margins if they can't sell games to offset that risk. And are consumers really ready for a digital only console yet? In five years time, probably. But Microsoft needs to sell this thing sooner rather than later and high level broadband penetration isn't quite at that tipping point yet. Not quite. I have no doubt that Microsoft expects to slowly eke away from the retail model over the course of this new generation, but the mainstream market isn't quite there yet.

What we're left with is a compromise that pleases no-one. And that's dangerous. For everyone involved.


    Stop using the car analogy it is fundamentally flawed.

      No I agree with you. I think I sort of address that. We don't really 'own' the game in the same way.

        Honestly, you should probably be making the analogy with DVD's rather than a car. There's no system out there which can tell that you didn't pay for the movie you're watching, but if there was then there would be a simillar outrage I imagine.

          Actually Blu Ray players could possibly do this. Kinda. They can prevent you from watching blu ray discs, based on various things.

          Several times I have had my blu ray player not let me play anything unless I was hooked up to the net.

        it's not a comment on you per se more the masses, even DVD's we can't really compare(the reason for this is films have a long life after they are released (decades) where as games they have a shelf life usually of 3-5 months in most cases ).
        ultimately to its credit and detriment the video game industry is entirely unique in many aspects.

      Added a line, but it fits into a broader argument I'm trying to make :)

        I really enjoyed this paragraph,

        "Because the fact is we’ve never really owned video games in the way we thought we did. All we ever really purchased was a license to consume them. The only reason we could swap, share and trade games in the past is because the technology to stop these transactions didn’t exist. Now it exists, and here we are. The cold hard reality of what we actually own when we buy a video game has come crumbling around us. And it hurts. It makes us very angry indeed."

        Also for an industry where people love change for "good" or "bad", why are people so scared when it happens?
        I guess at the end of the day people will always hate change, even if its for the better of the industry long term.

      No, Goruk, it fits perfectly.

      While gaming is not a necessity it still exhibits other attributes of a car. As time goes on, the components wear down in both the car and the game disk or console device.

      One also takes out insurance in the event of theft on both devices.

      And above all, second hand sales or lending has not harmed either industry what so ever.

      I'm happy to hear your counter claim as to why it is fundamentally flawed but everyone I have heard so far has been unconvincing and flies in the face of common sense.

        I don't thing it matters if its a car, a power drill, a mower - whatever, the fact of the matter is that any of those items you can lend to a friend or a neighbour or relative. Now as we (inevitably) approach a completely digital age, we won't ever be able to lend video games to our friends.

        I am still in two minds about it. On 1 hand I do a lot of gaming on my PC through Steam, and I never even bat an eyelid at the fact I can't lend people games. On the other hand, I have plenty of friends - especially work friends who are mid 30's and up with kids etc - who own PS3's and Xbox 360's and I've lent quite a few of them games.

        These type of gamers only buy a few games per year purely because they don't have the time to play. They don't have the disposable income to spend on games because most of that money goes to their kids well being/education/activities etc. These are the people that will miss out the most.

        There is obviously an argument that these people can just wait and save up and buy their own copies of the game, but the reality is they most likely won't. At least if they can borrow a game from a friend they get to experience it and maybe in the future they choose to use one of their limited game purchases to buy a sequel to that game.

        Anyway, that was very long winded. My idea to solve all this would be a 2 tier pricing scheme. 1. Sell the game at retail. It's full RRP, physical product that you can lend to your mates. 2. Sell the game digitally through XBL at a reduced cost. This digital version is tied to your account and cannot be lent/traded. That way, those who have no interest in lending to their friends can get the game at a reduced cost and the publisher/MS gets all the money with no retail middle man. Those who buy at retail pay a higher price for that privilege but they can lend/trade the game.

          They did come out and say you could lend games to people on your friends list but only once (ie once they give it back they cant borrow it again). Seems like a fine compromise to me, if they want to play it after giving it back then they can just pay to unlock the game, kinda like an XBLA trial but with full access to the game to start with.

        you have seen the state of the car industry right? seriously? go to Detroit and tell someone the industry is fine.
        if you seriously think the auto industry is fine you need to do some research and come back with a plausible argument.

        also how can you compare a device that has a shelf live of decades to a device that has a shelf life of 4 years years before it is obsolete ( months for games).

        research do it, it helps

        When you lend or sell someone a mower or car, you are trading to them physical property. However, when you lend or sell someone a game, you are transferring the license to use the software, in addition to the physical copy of that game. Think of a user license as a drivers license. The law states that you can lend your car to anyone you like as long as they have paid for a drivers license. That license entitles them to use the vehicle on the state-owned roads, and entitles you to the protection of the law from wrongful use of other vehicles by other people. However, when you lend/sell a game, you are giving the physical copy of the game to someone who has not paid for the license to use it. That person now has access to the publisher-run servers, the customer support that comes with the license, etc, all without the publisher/developer having received financial payment for that access. That access still belongs to you, and you have allowed someone else to use your access. You can't trade a drivers license, you can't use someone else's drivers license, so why would you expect someone else to be able to use your software license?

      It's flawed in the same way that telling people that it's flawed is... flawed.

      There doesn't even need to be an analogy. Analogies are used by writers or speakers that think their smarter than their audience. This is just how Kotaku works, they think their smarter than everyone else.

    It's not hard to stick with PC gaming, because we get trade-offs on PC. Games go on sale all the time, indie games are bundled at ridiculous prices weekly, there are free weekends, Steam is even building in an infratructure right now with the trading cards to let gamers get extra value just by playing the games they already own. Microsoft hasn't seemed like they're going to do any of this, so it makes no sense to go with them when XBONE games are basically PC games with lower resolution. Don't hate PC gaming because its ahead of the curve.

      No hate -- I agree. I think Microsoft really needs to add some sort of incentive here. Steam sales, lower prices, that's a big part of why people are so willing to accept Steam's system.

        I misread you then. I sensed vitriol when you were talking about the DRM and how PC Gaming invented it. Probably just the Pre E3 atmosphere on the Internets.

        Yeah - Steam DRM wasn't popular initially. I have a mate that still complains about the release of HL2. However, Steam gets too things right:

        - Its the easiest way to buy, install and play PC games.
        - The prices are consistent with your rights of access.

        MS could address these issues and win out, but they won't. Once your in their ecosystem, they will gouge, because that's what MS does.

          You just have to look at the current price of mainstream titles on Live/PSN - higher than retail discs in most cases. This is why people are annoyed, because they will get all of the problems associated with Steam (which honestly aren't that many) with none of the benefits (love those sweet, sweet bundles!)

          Last edited 07/06/13 3:08 pm

            While Xbox has a long way to go to be competitive with Steam in terms of prices (games in AUS are $70-$80 on shelves but $100+ digitally), I'm given hope by some of their recent sales. There's been a number of games for $5-$10 dollars, Assassin's Creed, gears of War, Halo, Allan wake. It's a step in the right direction, but just a step. There needs to be more sales and cheaper games but who knows how it will really pan out.

            And I want to point out that it sounds like the Xbone will have some advantages over Steam. You can't trade in Steam games, nor can you give them away to a friend once you\re done, nor can you let multiple accounts use them. My wife plays Age of Empires through Steam but if I wanna play it I gotta buy it too. On XBL we can currently play the game through both our gamertags, even on separate xboxes simultaneously.

            Last edited 07/06/13 3:42 pm

              However, Steam also has a history of stealing cool ideas that work, so...

              Yeah I picked up Max Payne 3 from games on demand for AU$4.95 during the awesome sales month. Also got Alan Wake for AU$4.95. If they keep doing sales like this, I'll keep buying.

              Id be interested to see the sales figures for the cheap sales.

            The other thing I haven't seen mentioned yet is that on PC you get options. You can pay say $10 for a game on steam or $15 for a game without DRM on gog or even from the publisher directly. Good luck doing that when your only option is the Xbox one store.

        Not only this, but the Steam DRM is NOT as horrible as xbone's. Steam DRM only requires you to activate once. Sometimes more, in the rare case of certain specific titles as requested by the publisher. For the most part? Activate once, play offline indefinitely.

          You'd think Microsoft were smart they would offer the same offline play indefinitely by having the disc in the tray, like the current system. If the only reason to be online every 24 hours is validation of the license, surely a game disc be adequate validation.

            Probably because in order to dovetail with their anti-used-games strategy, they need to ensure that game discs are basically worthless.

              Which means a game is only worth $90 if you are a die hard fan and will take the hit.

            There's a disc in the tray, but how do you tell if it's valid? How can you tell you didn't pass your license for it to a friend and not the disc itself? Imagine this scenario: you put your Xbone in offline mode, take the disc to your friend's place. Log into your account and access your games. Transfer your game to his account. Log out. He now owns the game license. Take the disc back home, put it in your old system. Disc check works. Both you and your friend are now playing the same game using the same license. So MS has to make sure the box connects online and verifies your license is still valid.

            Basically the online check requirements is entirely because there's this used games / trading / gifting system baked into the design. Without that it'd probably not need online checks at all beyond the initial activation.

              That would allow a maximum of 2 people to play from a single game disc at the same time as long as one person is offline. But with their allowing 10 people to access your family library you could have that happen also. So it's still pretty reasonable. But you're right that it probably won't happen.

        "And there is a certain irony in comments on forums and social media: ‘I’m going to skip this generation, stick to my PC’. Yes, by all means, stick to the medium that invented the draconian DRM that’s about to be inflicted upon us, stick to the service that’s more rigid and locked than the one we’re supposed to be boycotting. "

        I keep seeing this argument, and while it's true, I believe the counter argument is as follows.

        It's true, skipping Xbone and sticking to PC does lock you into more, if not just as rigidly DRM.
        However, they are exactly the same now. Which is why it's now just better to stick with Steam and PC. Now that they are identical in the context of DRM, Steam is a hands down winner because it has other benefits.

        It's only partly an issue of perception. Now that DRM is identical across both, a PC is more worthwhile because it has other benefits which the Xbox doesn't.

      so it makes no sense to go with them when XBONE games are basically PC games with lower resolution. Don't hate PC gaming because its ahead of the curve.

      But the Xbox One supports 4k resolution. This is an off-the-cuff unfounded comment, yes, current gen console games display at 720P and can upscale to 1080P, but we don't know what resolutions will be available for Xbox One games... yet. Given that it supports 4K resolution and should be able to process and display 4k video, you can logically expect higher than 1080P resolutions.

      Given that the Xbox One also makes use of cloud processing power, I'd say it is the other way around. It is architecturally and technogically ahead of the curve.

      Edit: "Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of marketing and strategy for Microsoft, has stated that there is no hardware restriction that would prevent games from running at 4K resolution."

      Last edited 07/06/13 3:27 pm

        They can say that because they didn't specify a Frame Rate.

        I will eat my hat if there is a 3D game that runs at 4K. Also there is nothing the magical cloud can do to help your graphics. From what I have gathered it is more for storing large persistant worlds.

          Regarding the cloud, that's actually incorrect. The statement has been made that it actually (currently) makes the Xbox 4 times more powerful than it is - there was a slashdot article that discussed this. Given that Microsoft have labelled it "future proof" by using the cloud, you can expect in the future that each Xbox will have more processing power available to it. It should, in theory, scale.

          They said in their reveal that developers can delegate processing jobs to the cloud, but did not specify what jobs could be delegated. It actually sounds like it will be used to do exactly that, perform extra complex high intensive processing tasks in the background. That would leave the local resources and processing cycles free for graphical processing.

          So it's NOT just cloud storage.

          Last edited 07/06/13 4:30 pm

            It can only ever scale as much as your internet, I read that slashdot article and I do believe the conclusion was that if Devs are limited by how many gigabytes of bandwidth they can get between the components inside the machine I am quite sure it wont help having an extra 4mbits of bandwidth bringing in processing from the cloud.

            The very best you can hope for is them rendering the entire game on their servers and just feeding the video through to you similar to OnLive or Gakai or whoever is left from those guys.

            Internet is still not really fast enough for it to be viable and I believe it is only there to provide devs with a Sim City style excuse for always on DRM. "But it needs our servers to run for processing power, not just for us to keep an eye on you"

            Last edited 07/06/13 10:28 pm

            Wow, you bought the cloud bullshit hook, line and sinker. Why don't you read an article written by people who actually understand the technical limitations of such a claim, and don't just regurgitate the magical fantasy land stories written by Microsoft ( And like PiratePete said - there is no way Xbox One could run games at a 4K resolution. Top of the line graphics cards in tri or quad configurations would be hard pressed to do that at a playable frame rate, let alone a machine that is already confirmed to have LESS power than just one of said component.

    I honestly have never traded a game, and very rarely lend games to people. The only thing I'll really miss out on with this is being able to take the gamble on games I'm not sure about second hand, because I'm not paying $90 for Duke Nukem Forever, but for $10 I'll buy it for sure.

    The real test of all of this will be if the digital versions actually end up cheaper than the physical versions like they should be, unlike the current generation where you pay the same or more to have a digital version instead of physical.

      I've often sat at my dashboard shaking my head at the prices of games on demand. Here I am in a party with my friends and we all get the idea to try out some multiplayer game that came out a few years ago so we head to games on demand. We find it and it's $70!!! And it's like, I wanna buy this game new and support the content creators but I'm not paying $70 for something when I coud jump in the car and drive 10 minutes to EB and get it for $20. If they decided to really start undercutting EB Games'used game prices I'd much prefer to stay in my house and download a game. But unfortunately they've missed quite a number of sales from me that went straight to EB Games's used profit margin.

      I would have spent LOADS of money on games on demand if it was more like hunting through a virtual bargain bin.

      Last edited 07/06/13 3:50 pm

        I managed to pick up Alan Wake and Just Cause 2 on 360 for under $5 through online store sales, they do happen sometimes, but not enough.

          dunno about alan wake but the few buck you spent on just cause 2 was amazing value. awesome awesome game.

            Walking Dead is the deal of the week this week, FREE!


              Part One is free. Parts two to four are 400 points each.

    My main concern is that once you buy a game, while you don't own the game, you've owned the license to play it forever.

    I rarely borrow games from friends, but as a reviewer for a website, occasionally that game will be lended out to get a second opinion (especially if your perception goes against the grain), how that will work in the future doesn't look good.

    My main point of concern, however, is what happens when the Xbox One servers shut down when the Xbox 720-Two comes out? They won't be there forever, if my kids can't grow up and buy an old Xbox One, like I could go and buy that NES my parents wouldn't get for me, that's a concern as a collector.

    While not everyone is a collector, this whole DRM issue kinda excludes them a bit, don't you think?

      If the system has to be online always anyway, its reasonable to think that when the next generation of consoles comes around and they eventually shut down the xbone's servers, they could push out an operating system update that makes it stop checking in in order to play games. If this doesn't happen, I reckon the internet will crack the system before Microsoft can sneeze.

      I think the bigger issue is we aren't going to be buying the game itself anymore, but a license of indeterminate length, and it looks like prices aren't going to change to reflect that. If I am buying a physical product, I want the rights to play it to be attached to that object, not an account I associate with it. But we can't always get what we want.

        Microsoft would be stupid not to incorporate an update that allowed constant access before they drop support, but then again, what happens to those games that need cloud power if there's no cloud to power them?

        Also, I am from the Central Coast, and in the suburb I live in, I'm pretty confident I'd be one of the only people in that suburb with 200GB to burn a month (not much by my standards, but unfortunately my only option as Telstra is the only Telco I have access to here). These cloud games don't cater to those who only have say, 8GB to spend on a mobile internet plan (even then, if you're with Optus or Virgin mobile sim internet, good luck in general).

        I await to see what Sony has in store as per their online policies.

        Until then, I'm sticking with my Wii U.

      I'm sorry if you are a real reviewer for a website your review games would be digitally distributed or given to you free by the publisher...

    What this article didn't touch on is that the monetary value of digital items is generally considered to be lower than that of physical items. (Edit: want to clarify this isn't a criticism of the article! :))

    Whether this is for reasons of collectability, portability (sharing), perceived permanence, or perhaps even the trade-in value hard-wired into the physical product, (probably all of the above), it's a generally accepted thing, I think.

    (For my part, I won't buy a game unless I'm reasonably confident that I could recoup all/most of my money in a trade situation if it doesn't quite mesh with my tastes. So the trade-in value is the primary component of the monetary value I ascribe to a game.)

    Steam understands this business model, and mitigate it by offering games at drastically reduced prices. They recognise that after purchase, a digital product's monetary value is entirely sentimental, not practical or redeemable.

    And yet, somehow, I don't think Microsoft see things in the same way.

    Last edited 07/06/13 2:48 pm

      I wanted to go into that. It was really hard to tie everything in. Such a crazy complex issue.

        Totally. And made even worse by the fact that every person you talk to will have an entirely different issue with what we've heard so far. Not too many folks I know value games in the way I outline above, for example, so will approach the whole issue differently! :)

      I wonder how EB's seven day guarantee will go with the Xbox one? Since if you bring the game back to them it's pretty much useless.

        I think it'll be the same as EB's PC game 7 day guarantee.

        (They don't have one.)

          They do, but based on the way the Xbone operates it wouldn't work for the console. PC games can be returned unless they have a mandatory online registration component (Steam, Origin, even registering a key online), which is now a part of every Xbone game.

          They do if your a level 3 EB world member i think...

          They do have one. I bought a game from them, activated it on steam, then took it back. Easy done. I wonder what ever happened to that copy.....

      "For my part, I won't buy a game unless I'm reasonably confident that I could recoup all/most of my money in a trade situation if it doesn't quite mesh with my tastes"

      That's why they have released Demo versions, so if you don't know whether you're going to like it or not, you can try it for free...

      I realise that it's normally an unfinished product and the controls and mechanics can change between the demo and final release, but you can't tell from a FREE demo and the thousands of reviews for games that you can find online days before the games released that'll it'll mesh with your tastes... Especially if it's a game you are taking a gamble on in the first place because you're unsure if you'll like it.

      Seeing as you're commenting on a video game website, I assume you have a vested interest in video game news... and should know whether a game is going to be good or not without spending a cent.

      Just seems like you're nitpicking for the sake of it.

      Last edited 07/06/13 3:23 pm

        Not every game has a demo. And I haven't actually found a single reviewer online that I can consistently agree with, because taste is so subjective. And, in my particular circumstances, telecommunications infrastructure shortcomings preclude downloading demos anyway.

        Just because they're non-issues for you doesn't make it the case for everyone.

        I'm not an early adopter of games technology, but I'm genuinely starting to think that I can quite happily let next-gen sail on by completely.

        Last edited 07/06/13 3:43 pm

      "For my part, I won't buy a game unless I'm reasonably confident that I could recoup all/most of my money in a trade situation if it doesn't quite mesh with my tastes. So the trade-in value is the primary component of the monetary value I ascribe to a game."

      I don't see how this is possible in Australia. No single games retailer will give you anywhere close to the amount you paid for a game. Except for a limited time returns policy.

        There are other avenues for selling games. eBay, gumtree, other forums, selling to mates. Etc.

    "Because the fact is we’ve never really owned video games in the way we thought we did. All we ever really purchased was a license to consume them. The only reason we could swap, share and trade games in the past is because the technology to stop these transactions didn’t exist. Now it exists, and here we are. The cold hard reality of what we actually own when we buy a video game has come crumbling around us. And it hurts. It makes us very angry indeed."

    Bingo. It's the reason they tell you you can't play your game for public display, because it's licenced to you as an individual.

    Good write up Mark.

    Personally, I'm not that fussed. I wanted discless gaming (that isn't digital only) and I got it. I knew there had to be DRM involved. The onyl people that SHOULD be pissed off right now are those who don't care about discless gaming.

    But you can't have one without the other.

      "Because the fact is we’ve never really owned video games in the way we thought we did. All we ever really purchased was a license to consume them." In my opinion, ownership is a set of rights. Exclusive use, exclusive right to sell, exclusive right to modify, for (a non-exhaustive) example. Until recently, console gamers had all of those (even if access to services might be limited by modification, it was still possible). Steam gamers have forgone the right to sell. But what I fear most about this new arrangement is not the loss of the right to sell, but the loss of the right to use in any way they see fit. One day, your games will -vanish-. Forever. With no appeal. At the discretion of an unknowable third party (publisher/platform owner).

        Don't get me wrong, as a collector, I'm with you on that one. It sucks that videogame collecting will basically end with the current generation, but as Mark said, we've technically never owned our videogames.

        The publishers and manufacturers now have the means to enforce this.

        To all those talking about "I'll go to my PC", well no. If you're actually legitimately serious about this issue and not just some idiot ranting fanboy, then you'll go out and buy a WiiU.

          I already have a Wii U.
          Still waiting for games.

      Discless gaming doesn't bother me, multi disc gaming is freaking annoying and the reason I hate the Xbox 360's DVD drive.

    "If the console was a digital only device this wouldn’t be a problem."

    It would be for me. I still believe that including a physical element, even if it is to download a code has to at least keep M$ honest to a degree and ensure there is some level of competition. It's still a slight step back from a full on download only market and I welcome that at least.

    And as others have said, a download of 20+GB per game isn't what I want to be doing every time.

    But agree, that whe you are trying to please everyone you run the risk of upsetting them all through compromises. It will be an interesting transition. But I welcome M$'s approach about being open and transparent about it all. I know everyone says that PS4 doesn't have to say anything and it will 'WIN' this war, but if i'm a publisher and I am offered this deal from M$, I would demand it from PS4 also... so perhaps this move will have broader implications... we'll see.. YAY E3 next week !

    It's funny really. It feels to me like all those warnings at the starts of VHS/DVD etc that we are merely licensing the content are finally being cashed in. It's like getting a loan, being told you wont have to pay anything for 20 years. BAM. That 20 years goes quick, doesnt it.

    Does steam allow you to sell used games? Does iTunes allow you sell a digital movie or song you download? Do Xbox Live TV shows allow you to sell or swap with your friends? Do your smartphone games/apps allow you to sell them or trade with friends?

    This is just the industry trying to evolve with the digital landscape. When you purchase a movie it does not come with rights to publicly display that movie to 10,000 viewers so expect the industry to evolve as the digital age has. The music industry has been going through this and now it's the games industry's turn.

    Sure it could use some better support for playing offline games you own but overall it's not the end of the world gamers knee-jerk reaction they make it out to be.

    We're quick to empathise with closing studios or staff cutbacks but we won't actually support game developers/publishers financially in the new/used games markets?

    How about the blatant rip off prices or restrictions that Apple iTunes or App Store have for the Australian market? How about the country restrictions on YouTube? It's an evolving landscape and expect many changes in future. Further I doubt in the next 5-10 years gamers will even be discussing such trivial things as it will iterate to a workable solution for all, companies and consumers alike.

    Last edited 07/06/13 2:50 pm

      Couldn't there be a system where you've registered your game onto the Xbox One as you would your copy of Microsoft Office, and not have it check every day to see if you have the internets?

      I don't understand fully why it needs to check this constantly.

        I would think having the actual disc in the system would be a reasonable alternative to checking every 24 hours. it could be like "hey, you can have all your games available digitally without discs and accessed by your 10 family members from any console but if you're without internet you miss out on all of that and need to get your disc into the system to validate it."

          If you did that single player games might be even less viable then that are now.
          One person would buy it, validate it and then give the disc to all their friends to play as long as they stay offline when they do.

          If the system could do an offline check that the console was the original one which that copy was registered to then it might work to let people play without a connection, but even then you'd need to be online in the first place to make sure the disc hadn't been registered on other Xbones.

            Yeah, good point. But the friends would all have to play offline like you said.

              That would allow a maximum 2 people to play the game at the same time. But if they're letting several people share a title through the family system that's no different. Disc based offline play could be a possibility.

                They've said that the internet is required once every 24 hours for the primary registered system but once every hour for other systems.
                I'd imagine this is because it wants to make sure 2 people aren't using the same game at he same time.

                While it let's games be shared, I'd bet if it finds the same game being used at concurrently then it shuts one out.

      I see your point but what i don't understand is why people (like yourself) cant understand that this is what sets console gaming apart?

      I have a room full of hundreds of games that i have paid for over 20 years. That is the way i like it, I dont buy phones games (lame) and the only PC games i get are cheap crappy steam games. which are very fun but you would NEVER resell them. A PC is totally different to a console, and it should stay that way, It's what sets them apart. If there is nothing to set a PC and a console apart i will plug my PC into a tv and its game over. It does everything a console does and its WAY cheaper.

      The difference as far as I'm concerned is that those services all add value in other ways to mitigate the loss of resale. They offer value and convenience. Microsoft has shown no desire to add value and they are significantly reducing convenience; there's no incentive to meet them half way.

    I am totally uncomfortable with this.

      I grew up poor, without being able to hire games from the video shop I doubt I'd be the fan I am now.

      I used to save up any money I got at birthdays and christmas or whatever and get the game I knew was worth the investment because I had played the game enough to know it was.

      This future that corporations are forcing on us will destroy that power. People will end up purchasing games that they don't like that much and missing out on the ones they'd fall in love with because of it.

        I guess the counterpoint to your statement is 'how is that fair to the developers/publishers'? I mean, they make one sale and 20 people rent that copy of the game. they're not really making a return on their investment, then.

          That means the good shit will rise to the top and the bad shit will dissapear.

          Now, with everyone buying blind any idiot with a big enough marketing campaign will always be the winner.

          This, again, will make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

          If rental market works anything like the library system for books, the publishers/developers will see a percentage of each hire, or are compensated with a lump sum for each copy of the game that is bought by a video hire place. It certainly works that way for books, because it is recognised that there may be a negative impact upon sales.

          I don't know if it works that way, but why couldn't it?

            speaking to a video shop owner a while ago now, they told me that they paid a premium per DVD (say, something like 300 bucks a DVD) which included the license to hire it out unlimited times until they saw no value in it and sell it as an ex-rental.

            This would be the same for games, I'd imagine, there'd be some sort of license in place for it.

              I'm not 100% sure how it worked at a Video Ezy I used to work at, but I knew the premium prices were about $40 per DVD if they were new. I never knew of any 'per hire' amount spent, but I wasn't in management. It would make sense.

              Last edited 04/10/13 6:04 pm

              Not sure who you have been talking to, most of my stores game stock came from my personal collection, and i pick up second hand DVDs all the time and chuck em in the store.. I don't recall being sold a license but we do pay the full $30 per DVD if we get them via the distributor, other wise i pick them up on special via kmart if i need more new releases

        You clearly grew up in the days of cartridges, hiring a game on a disc is freaking awful, they're always scratched and crap out at some point of play. Kid's these days don't hire, they buy second hand games, which this will also kill.

          I hired games right up until the PS2/XBox days.
          I was generally hiring new releases so the quality is usually better.

          The only reason I still don't is because I don't have the spare time to get a good play anymore and I have bought a few clunkers.

        Im glad im not the only one who grew up in the same way, i remember as a kid once every couple of months i could get my parents to hire a mastersystem or snes from the local video store so i could have a weekend of gaming, its what started me down the road to the person i am now.

        And one i started working i was able to buy them new to support the developers, its Sad to see the companies that we helped build trying there hardest to fleece people.

        Last edited 07/06/13 3:56 pm

    Truth be told I feel better about it now we have some clarity around some of these issues. My main issue though is my roughly 35 XBLA games which are apparently unplayable on the new machine - without some sort of continuity there I have very little motivation to get interested in Xbone.

    Now if they were to implement a scheme (like Nintendo with the VC) where you can buy the HD version for $1 if you already own the original then that may be something.

      Wait for E3.

      Strong rumour that they will announce an Xbox Mini which is essentially a DD only 360, that will connect to the One in that side USB port and allow the One to play 360 games. Both DD and Disc based.

      Megaton if it happens.

        Because I'll want to buy another XBox to play games I already own.

          Um...could you not sell your standard 360 and buy the mini so the One can do both?

          I know I will.

    I think what they've announced almost works - I *have* lamented the ability to loan XBLA games to friends, maybe just not to you!

    If I can forfeit my right to play a game and let a friend install it digitally and play instead, we've arrived at a solution that is better in some ways that they current option. I quite like it. We can swap stuff in the middle of the night without having to drive around. We have a record of who has what and (presumably) the ability to recall them at will.

    The bit that concerns me still is the "it's up to the publishers" part that I've seen in other stories this morning. If one publisher decide on rules that say I can only borrow a game from my brother for a week, and once only, then we've ended up with a far worse system. I borrowed Assassin's Creed III from my brother and have taken a month to nearly complete it!

    There's definite pros and cons to this brave new world. I just hope that the cons are not too crushing.

    Here's the problem:
    PC: Most expensive is 60USD. Can always get it cheaper. Steam can be installed and played on any pc.

    XB1: Games will be at least 100AUD. Region locking makes it difficult to get cheaper. XB1 games will only be able to played on other XB1s. Need a physical product to install and maintain a digital product.

    And the even more pressing issue, which Shane discussed above: this is one of the few advantages that consoles have over PCs. Why would you take it away? If you want console gaming to succeed, recognition of the strengths is the way to do it, not hamstringing yourself by removing one of their biggest ones.

    The only thing that consoles like the XB1 still have over PC would be the smaller size of the box, which in itself isn't even a huge issue, with steam box coming. Why would I have an XB1 when I can do everything and more, with less online requirements on a SFF PC or a steambox?

      XB1 games will only be able to played on other XB1s.

      Well yeah that's a given isn't it? Tried playing a PC game on a 360? Or a PS3 game on PC?

      I genuinely don't understand that sentence. As for the physical product, the disc only needs to be around if you delete the game from your HDD correct? Unless you're able to download them using your license.

        He more means, I can buy a Sony Vaio and go play my Steam games on my friend's Toshiba desktop, my other friend's Samsung Windows 7 Slate, even Mac in some occasions.

          chunky has it. While it's limited to a platform, it's a lot broader than the XB1 is. I can play it on a laptop, on a tablet, on a PC. It's still a lot more portable than the XB1's library.

      Did you seriously compare PC and Xbox One prices in different currencies to try and support your wrong argument?

      What the fuck.

        That was a mistake, but seeing as we're roughly parity the point remains.

        And how is the argument wrong?

      "Region locking makes it difficult to get cheaper."

      The Xbox One isn't really region locked. The Xbox One is said to have the same region locking as the current Xbox which is that it's up to the publishers if they wanna lock games to a region. I had a US xbox and an Aus xbox in my house along with many games from England, US and Aus and I've never had a problem because most publishers don't bother region locking games. I buy overseas games all the time without even worrying about region locking.

    Well considering I've been buying games legitimately, pirating it to remove DRM and use the legitimate keys I bought on the PC, hm. I know the pirated stuff works, and I've had experience where the DRM screws me over to the point where I can't get the game I paid for [hello Mass Effect, Assassin's Creed!].

    This just means I'm not going to buy the console purely because I can't share my games like I can with all the gaming platforms I've used before. Even if that's just sharing between multiple Xboxes or PCs or Playstations that I own, then have to abandon and get a new one to replace it. I've almost never had Xbox Live Gold [because I can't afford the $15 a month] or have a big Internet cap [50GB] so having forced-online, single player games sounds like a pile of don't on top of the "I can't take my game discs or my flash drive to a friend's place in another part of the country and can't play it with them in a shared fashion."

    Most gamers never accepted one-computer only [that I know of] and I doubt they're going to start with consoles either.

      A 12 month XBOX Live subscription can be had for $4 per month (

      Online gaming uses only a small amount of your data cap. Not sure of the exact figures but something like a few Mb per hour. Admittedly, the issue with the XBOX One automatically doenloading updates and DLC in the background could be a problem on a low cap, but there may be a way to manually intervene - too many unanswere questions abou tthe detail of how this wors just yet.

      Last edited 07/06/13 3:36 pm

    You're right, perception has to change. Just like PC games have been for some time, buying a physical copy isn't buying anything more than an alternative way to download the game. That's it.

    I think this is just one of those difficult teething phases. It is a change from the previous generation, but then again I was not happy with the previous generation for the simple fact that everytime I bought a 2nd hand game, I wasn't supporting anyone but a retailer. That is not who I want to support with my money.

    I want to support developers. I can't really do that (in a mainstream way) without supporting said developer's publisher, but that is a preferable situation than my money stopping at the doorstep of JB/EB/GameStop, etc. I don't care of have any passion for those places, I do have a passion for games, the people who make them, and supporting that passion is easier in the next gen of console games. Just as STEAM and other retail sources like it, are supporting developers (yes, and the hated publisher) more directly. Everytime I buy one of the discounted games, I know at least some of my money, maybe not as much as they or I want, but SOME is going to the right people.

    Besides, as TotalBiscuit pointed out in this video:

    The next gen of consoles aren't doing anything that the PC as a platform hasn't been doing for years. Plus, if that sale earlier this year is any indication, games are gonna get mad cheap sales every now and then on the console digital stores.

      Except Microsoft has shown that overwhelmingly often they don't care to price things reasonably.

        They've never had the right opportunity/environment to do so, something they were trying to create with XbOne before the mob went batshit.
        Plus, they have priced things down, very reasonably. There have been a few (very few) massive sales. Max Payne 3 was under $10 on Live, I think it was even closer to $5. that is Steam level sales. At the same time the latest Soul Calibur and Tekken (I think) were priced down massively.

        (not directed to anyone in particular, the following is an aside to this)

        There is this stink in the air of guilty until proven innocent when it comes to Microsoft. They quite literally never get given the benefit of the doubt. Since Xbox first came out, they have had shit flung at them from the gaming public, and media.
        They aren't the sole shit receiver, but when compared to Sony's venture into consoles, which was met with rousing support and applause (probably because the internet was less of a thing) , Microsoft have had an uphill struggle since the original Xbox. Which was the console that MADE online console play a thing. Think about that, they created the online console community exist. That's fantastic!
        Even though 90% of us play PC games, on a Microsoft system. Which works well most of the time for most people, everyone loves to hate Microsoft.

          Have you MET the online console community?

    You're right, it's about expectations.

    When we purchase a Steam/PSN/XBLA game, we expect that we cannot share it with others.
    When we purchase a physical copy, we expect that we can lend/sell that copy we have.

    If you start to play with those expectations, to the detriment of the consumer, expect hostility.

    PSN occupies a fairly unique position. A regular PSN game can be played on the same console by any user. Or on a couple of other consoles, if downloaded through your PSN account. A PSN+ game can not, or can only be played by others as a demo. We accept this because we got into it knowing the situation. Not so with physical copies.

    You know, that could probably explain why there's been such a big push to make games a digital download. Publishers know the expectation has been set there.

    Maybe it's also about the perception of where the game exists. It's always been that the game exists on the physical media it comes on. You put the game in, you play it. You can take the physical media to other consoles and you can still play it, because the game exists on the disc.
    The Xbox One changes that though. The physical media is no longer where the game exists. The console is. The disc is just like the packaging the game comes in. Once the game's installed the disc has no worth to the user, they don't need it. If you think about the disc being the packaging, it makes sense that you don't have the same freedom. If you had (for example) a Lego set, you took the lego out and then sent the box to a friend, who then pulled out the same Lego pieces that magically reappeared in the box, and then they sent it on to another friend, and so on, Lego would lose quite a bit of money.
    The question is why do we need or want to move to discs being just packaging. That's rather simple to answer though. Discs are slow to read from. Hard drives are way faster. If we stayed with reading games from discs, it'd hold back technological progress. Why not just require the disc to be in the drive for checking if you own the game? Because that's inconvenient. Why should we have to get up and a put a disc in the drive if the game exists in the console already? Why should we have to get the Lego packaging every time we want to play with a set?
    I'm just glad the Xbox One isn't handling this transition by becoming super restrictive like PC gaming has been for years.

      If this was how consoles had always been, we wouldn't have a problem with it. But Microsoft are coming in and changing the status quo of what a game disc represents very suddenly, without consumers asking for it. Your packaging argument makes sense, but forcing that perception shift just isn't an easy thing to happen.
      I put up with having to stick a disc in my system in order to be able to take my disc with me and play it in other consoles. I like that. I don't want both worlds, just this one. But MS say I have to switch those conveniences in order to play games on their system. MS are going to have to provide an incentive for me to accept their new status quo or I'm simply going to find another system that does provide what I want (most likely Steam, who do the same thing but the games are really cheap as incentive).

    I think the ability for developers to make use of microsoft's servers for processing will result with many single player games becoming reliant on an internet connection anyway. At least MS is creating a console that will be able to adapt to future developments that would otherwise be restricted in a console that is not powerful enough 5-10 years from now. Running applications through the cloud is becoming more popular as it becomes more reliant. Most likely the PS4 will have some sort of DRM restrictions(or maybe it wont), but will not have the added benefits that the Xbone gives in the form of cloud processing. I find PS4's ability to watch other players and play games for them is nothing more than a gimmick that I would certainly never use. I couldnt think of anything more boring that turning on a console just to watch someone else play a game.

    Good stuff Mark, as usual this is by far the best piece written on this subject today.

    I think that as long as Microsoft can keep the servers up (this means no little shits hacking into it out of spite) then people will adjust pretty quickly to a DRM “enhanced” console environment.

    Think about the level of HD-TV penetration when the 360/ PS3 generation started. I bought a 36” 720p LCD TV specifically for the 360 launch and it set me back $2,700. HD TV was by no means common at that point, many 360 games were very difficult to play on a low-res screen (the fonts were impossible to read) and the outlay to jump to HD was HUGE.

    While people are pissed now, the idea that they’ll all boycott the Xbone once it’s released and has games people want to play is ridiculous. The console will still succeed, the people who buy these things at launch still will and once people see that it’s not the end of the world everyone will forget how things used to be.

    ….unless the servers go down. If people get locked out for a month PS3 style that will be seriously detremental to the machine.

      You know what? I've been complaining about the ramifications of a major server outage on the ability to register/checkin games, but completely forgot about the PSN month-long outage. Imagine how screwed the consumers would be if that did happen to Xbone? The scale of the PSN welcome back gifts wouldn't even be close to sufficient.

      And given the vitriol towards MS at the moment, you can be damn certain that people in the dim, dark corners of the Internet will be plotting this exact scenario. I hope these 300K servers are using a very very VERY heavily distributed authentication architecture!

    I think the bigger question is can it support new 4x HD monitors

    I see it as it's the same with music CD's. While I understand you have paid a license for it and maybe own the plastic it's on, you don't own the content. But there has never been anything to stop me from taking my CD to a friends place to show them or enjoy it with them or leave it with them and get it later. Granted, its living in the past but i don't expect to lend downloaded games, it is the physical media im refering to.

    For the PC, it is a one person machine so I can't compare it to a console - I know there are some split screen games but the platform is not designed for two or more people (no 2 keyboard ports etc). Consoles have that over the PC.

    I goto a friends place weekly for a gaming night and if one of us picks up something new during the week (360/ps4), we all check it out. Some times we do this at one of the other guys places to mix things up. I feel if the Xbone goes its way, its good bye to that sharing and exposure.

      You can still do that just fine, all you need to do is be logged into their console and bam, everything is good. In fact, if your friend likes the game and they want to buy it then all they have to do is pay to unlock it and they have it too because all the data is on the console.

    I think the answer to your own question is in the article you just wrote. The retailer will, eventually, lose. Their days are numbered, that is as clear as day. They are already beginning to fail. Digital purchasing and ownership will be the future, there is no way around this- these glitches are just the dying spasms of the old way of doing things. It's retailers who cause the pricing problem, retailers who are now causing the DRM problem. The new xbox does not need physical media. Physical media are, if anything, a hindrance to both MS and game developers.

    We have been sharing or console games for the past 30+ years, from the first consoles released right up to this latest generation.

    For 30+ years we have been able to lend games to friends and family, swap cartridges, rent from the video store, sell unwanted games, and buy used games. 30+ years.

    Now all of a sudden we are told, no we cant partake in this practice anymore. Thats why we are angry. 30+ years of sharing games, and now we cant.

    And we should be angry. And we should not accept this. There is no analogy i can come up with that could even come close to what they are trying to do

    30+ years!!!

      Damn straight we should be angry!

      These are console, not PCs and that is it. I hate when a console try's to be a pc. I love consoles and the way games work on consoles. That's what sets them apart!!
      If games work the same way across all platforms I will stick to a PC because they are more powerful and ALOT cheaper. I honestly think console developers are dumb for trying to be more like a PC.


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