Now that the furore of the Xbox One announcement has peaked, Microsoft vice president Phil Harrison has attempted to explain how second-hand gaming will work in the next-generation.
It’s a surprisingly complicated issue, and one that is being struggled with all over the shop – do we own our iTunes purchases, or do we simply rent tunes indefinitely? If I purchase a ferret at a pet store am I instantly single, or do I have to take it for a walk first? These things are more complex than you’d first guess.
In an interview with Eurogamer, Harrison clarifies some of the doubts surrounding Microsoft’s future policies towards second-hand games.
“So, think about how you use a disc that you own of an Xbox 360 game,” he says. “If I buy the disc from a store, I use that disc in my machine, I can give that disc to my son and he can play it on his 360 in his room. We both can’t play at the same time, but the disc is the key to playing. I can go round to your house and give you that disc and you can play on that game as well.”
This old-as-time-itself formula (read: old-as-the-1970s formula) is how gaming has always worked, the difference being you could bring your N64 games around to your mates place and they’d still work on his machine.
“I can come to your house and I can put the disc into your machine and I can sign in as me and we can play the game,” says Harrison. “The bits are on your hard drive. At the end of the play session, when I take my disc home – or even if I leave it with you – if you want to continue to play that game [on your profile] then you have to pay for it. The bits are already on your hard drive, so it’s just a question of going to our [online] store and buying the game, and then it’s instantly available to play.”
So, once a game is installed, it’s forever linked to your Xbox account and thus logically second-hand gaming becomes much more difficult.
But, apparently, Microsoft has a system prepared for second-hand gaming to still exist but exactly what that is remains unannounced and mysterious.
“We will have a system where you can take that digital content and trade a previously played game at a retail store. We’re not announced the details of that today, but we will have announced in due course.”
If you’ve got some thoughts as to what Microsoft’s second-hand games strategy will be, let us know what they are because we have absolutely no clue. Best comment wins the digital download for a toaster.