Volition dev says next Xbox’s pre-owned block would be “fantastic”

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Rumour and speculation say that the next Xbox will feature some sort of system to lock new games to a single account – effectively shutting the doors on pre-owned game sales. It’s a rumour that’s easy to believe, because publishers are already trying to curb 2nd hand game sales through the use of online passes.

At least one developer thinks it’s a wonderful idea, saying that gamers don’t understand how much the pre-owned market hurts developers.

"There’s another big rumor about the next Xbox console that could really start to shake things up… it won’t play used games at all," Volition designer Jameson Durall wrote in a rant on AltDevBlog. "Personally I think this would be a fantastic change for our business and even though the consumers would be up in arms about it at first… they will grow to understand why and that it won’t kill them."

"The system,” he added “is already there for Microsoft, all they’d have to do is use the DLC and codes model they have to tie a game to your Xbox live account. Each retail disc would likely need that unique key somewhere in the code so the account would be able to link it properly. Ideally it would tie a full version to the console it is registered on so family members can play even if the main account isn’t signed in, but this is exactly how their model works now anyway."

Durall admits that the proposed system could lead to problems when it comes to loaning out games to friends – but believes even that can be monetised, similar to how Amazon deals with Kindle books.

"I could see Microsoft implementing their own rental service which would maybe give them a code that activates the game for X days and they are charged a small amount," he said. “This could work when you borrow the disc from someone or even with digital download of the full version. It would also send a percentage of the rental to the Developer with each rental… likely improving the overall revenue we would receive from it."

"People often don’t understand the cost that goes into creating these huge experiences that we put on the shelves for only $60. They also don’t seem to realize how much they are hurting us when they buy a used game and how pirating a copy is just plain stealing." 

“I know that some will say I’m not considering the retail games stores and the impact something like this would have on them…but remember they were doing fine well before the Used Games market became such a staple of their business. The truth is, they aren’t concerned with how this business is affecting us so why should I care how these changes will affect them?"

I don’t think these people realise that most people who sell their used games use that money to fund new game purchases – and this sort of system, if implemented, could actually lead to fewer games being bought new. People don’t have $60 to fork out for every single new game, and gamers will end up being far, far more selective about what they buy. How much harm would the industry suffer if people are only buying  certified AAA titles?

Last Updated: February 7, 2012

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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