3 ways Xbox 720 can kill the used market – with tech that already exists

xbox 720 new 150x150 3 ways Xbox 720 can kill the used market   with tech that already existsOne of the fascinating rumors circulating about the Xbox 720 — and boy are there some doozies — is that Microsoft’s next Xbox will prevent the playing of used games. While gamers and a certain behemoth retail chain may balk at the possibility, Saints Row The Third design director Jameson Durall says that online passes are “a band-aid on a larger wound” and believes that locking out pre-owned games would be a “fantastic change” for the industry. In a recent blog post, Durall goes beyond speculation and into detail on how Microsoft might accomplish this.

As Durall explains, the technology behind such a measure is firmly in place on the PC side of gaming. “Each retail disc would likely need that unique key somewhere in the code so the account would be able to link it properly.” Similar to the way PC games ship with unique activation keys, and the way EA’s Origin service can tie a particular game not only to your account, but to unique hardware identifiers present on your computer.

Believe it or not, this model already exists on console platforms. Last year, DC Universe Online for PS3 was tethered to your machine via a one-time use code. In fact, this model reaches all the way back to the Sega Dreamcast era, when a copy of Phantasy Star Online bound itself permanently to you Dreamcast console.

Another way to implement this “new game only” strategy is by circumventing existing rental outlets like Redbox and relying on an internal rental system created by Microsoft “which would maybe give them a code that activates the game for X days and they are charged a small amount. 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.”

Where have we seen this before? Cloud gaming service OnLive already does it.

What about the popular practice of simply loaning games to friends? “The license of the game could be transferred for a set time to another Gamertag and the original owner won’t be able to play during that time. Seems like it could work,” Durall explained. Where have we seen this implemented? Amazon already does this in the form of their Kindle books lending policy.

It’s clear that by using models already in place, Microsoft could effectively lock out the used game market from their next Xbox console, but they wouldn’t be gaining any friends with Best Buy, Gamestop, or online retailers like Amazon.com.

[Read more from Jameson on his blog]

About Jason Evangelho

Jason is VGW’s founder, publisher, and longtime podcaster, writer, and “solopreneur” who is driven by the classic Jello Biafra quote “Don’t hate the media. Become the media.” You can hear him ranting alongside the VGW Collective in the site’s official podcast, “Unlimited Ammo.”


  1. man this is a sick world that we are living in

    • Greed and more greed. Next they will force you to give permission to lend a paperback book or your lawn mower to a neighbor. They already make it almost impossible to return a game. If you get a lemon, you get to pay for it anyway.

  2. Maybe if the game devs would actually make a game worth $60 they wouldn’t have to worry about used games. (Skyrim, Red dead, Ect…)

  3. one thing they can do but i’m sure they won’t do is to agree to buy the game back for a fraction of the cost after people are finished playing the game.just sell the game for $60 and then offer a refund of something like $10 when the game is sent back to the company.this way rather than most people reselling their games to each other or reselling to stores like gamestop it can be taken out of the resale circulation cycle with refunds from a buy back program.

  4. I’ll be honest. I’m not really for buying used games. (Paranoid about scratches on the disks and things.) But I don’t agree with this concept. I feel like it would ultimately hurt the industry as a whole. It would affect Some people like to buy used games. It’s easier on their budget and they get the amount of entertainment they’re looking for.
    Stopping used game sales would be a lose-lose situation all around. Customers would be unhappy, GameStop and other brick-and-mortar retailers would hurt, and I think it would harm game sales over all.
    Not everyone can just shell out $60.00 for a new game every time it comes out.
    So if they want to wait to play it later, more power to them!

  5. I’d have to say that if this system of lockouts ever came about, my console would never be connected to the Internet, if I even purchased it at all. This is a sick, cruel design to make money.

    And like another poster said- lowering the price of new games from the ridiculous $60 (REALLY?) to a more reasonable $40 or so would ease the sting of buying new. I just don’t feel like I’m buying $60 worth of product with many of today’s games (especially ones that reserve most of their content for paid DLC, or ones that have a 3-hour single player campaign and expect the rest of the world to just play rehashed online multiplayer [hello fellow non-broadband users])

    This whole situation rubs me the wrong way.

  6. I’m a game dev. I like to be paid. Thousands of game devs, indie and AAA alike, deserve to be paid for their hard work.

    But, seriously, the game dev industry is not a unique and beautiful snowflake. Ford doesn’t get a cut if I sell my Ford to someone across the street. Macrame bric-a-brac dealers don’t make a percentage from flea sales. (Gotta watch Big Macrame, always trying to cut out the indie macrame creators…)

    The game dev industry is part of this same world. Attempts to curb customer behaviour along undesirable lines will be direct vectors to piracy as others create a market to exploit new inefficiencies that arise to fill what customers really want.

    Sheesh. As Extra Credits has recently pointed out, the game devs’ hostility to the used game market is misplaced.

  7. So there are street cameras everywhere. I get on the expressway with an easypass who’s movements are tracked. The cable company monitors my viewing habits for rating purposes. The electric company monitors my electricity usage. The cops can even use it to bust you for drug cultivation if your utility bill shows the characteristics. The “smart grid” can determine what TV shows you are watching based upon it’s electricity signature that is maturely understood for flat screen TVs. I badge in at work so that they know exactly when I am there and when I am not. And now they will know exactly what video games I play and exactly when for exactly how long. Screw these I keep track of what you own, who you lend it too, etc technologies.

  8. Cloud gaming anyone?

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