Today, news came out about Microsoft’s “big plans” to kill the used game industry with the next Xbox, as EDGE reported that the console will not allow for second-hand games, and need an internet connection to function due to the extremely strict DRM that ties each purchase with the console.
It sounds so believable, doesn’t it? Well, this editor isn’t buying it. Microsoft have been selling products for decades, and they are smart enough to know what keeps them alive in the video game market. Yes, rumors have been buzzing for years about next-gen consoles trying to get around used games – and companies such as the now defunct THQ and EA have attempted to make the used industry suffer with online passes – which has done very little to change things.
First off, the video game industry need used sales. This is just an obvious statement that needs to be said to remind the now paranoid public. Gamestop make billions from revenue from used sales, and while their practices tend to be shady at times with low-ball trade in values and high mark-ups, they still offer a great service by providing games to consumers at a more affordable price point. When a customer buys a used game and enjoys it, there is a high chance they will buy the sequel new, rather than used. Pre-ordering has become a layaway plan that low income families and gamers alike can get behind, and that market puts their trust into this very system to continue to enjoy new games as they release. When they get tired of them, those new games are traded towards credit – which can be used on another used game – or a payment on an upcoming release.
I know this because I, myself use these second-hand techniques to obtain games. When I get done with a game, I usually trade it in towards a pre-order for a new game, and save a little bit of money in the process. Yes, it’s a continuing cycle, but without it I certainly wouldn’t have been able to enjoy many of this generation’s releases, and that can be said about the main target audience for Xbox, which are mostly young and working from paycheck to paycheck to pay their bills. To further comfort the wary, Gamestop have a relationship with Microsoft that spans over ten years, and even EDGE have sourced the CEO of Gamestop stating “We think it’s unlikely that there will be a next-gen console [that blocks used games] because the model simply hasn’t been proven to work”. Microsoft make their money from console sales, and while software does attribute to some profit, a good portion of their own revenue is from the advertisements and shipped machines they get out on the market. The “Next Xbox” claims just do not support the idea of common sense, as it would be a suicidal move at this point for Microsoft to execute. Now if it were ten to fifteen years from now, sure. I could believe it, as digital it growing rapidly and the large retailer is starting to feel it. As of now however, the Playstation 2 has just ended and many are still behind within this generation, opting for offline experiences due to the lack of broadband internet.
So if it’s so clear, why does this rumor exist? Well, because video games. This industry over the past generation has become a medium of it’s own, and is growing even more rapidly as time goes by. With that comes rumors and false claims. This could honestly be a “source” from Sony or Nintendo for all we know, trying to build momentum for that special “February 20th” announcement, or simply a marketing strategy to get more people attached to the idea of going for a safe choice of the Wii U for the next generation – which hasn’t yet applied many DRM measures due to Nintendo’s consumer friendly decisions. If it is indeed true, then I will eat all of these words and lose all respect for Microsoft. You see, The Xbox 360 is as popular as it is right now because Sony chose to release the Playstation 3 at that intimidating $599 price point upon launch, while Microsoft offered the Xbox 360 for $200 less. Sure, Sony have caught up, but that would not be the case if they didn’t cut the price of their own console. Those same consumers are not going to stand for something that literally stabs them in the back, as they abandoned Sony once before – and it wouldn’t be hard at all for them to jump ship again.
To sum it all up, Microsoft are not going to release an always online console that kills the used industry. Not yet. Instead of worrying about rumors like this that feed more industry bull, gamers should just do what they do best and play. If that time comes, we will be the deciding factor of the Next Xbox’s success, and Microsoft know this, which is…well…Why The Xbox Rumor is False.