The Next Xbox Will Not Disable Used Games

The staff at Edge wrote this particularly juicy tidbit:

Sources with first-hand experience of Microsoft’s next generation console have told us that although the next Xbox will be absolutely committed to online functionality, games will still be made available to purchase in physical form. Next Xbox games will be manufactured on 50GB-capacity Blu-ray discs, Microsoft having conceded defeat to Sony following its ill-fated backing of the HD-DVD format. It is believed that games purchased on disc will ship with activation codes, and will have no value beyond the initial user.

This same tired rumor keeps coming back year after year, console generation after console generation. This particular iteration caused a lot of concern around the web (such as the post by John Biggs for TechCrunch). The story even prompted electronics retailer GameStop to make an official comment after the retailer's stock price was rocked by this supposed 'news':

“We know the desire to purchase a next-generation console would be significantly diminished if new consoles were to prohibit playing pre-owned games, limit portability or not play new physical games,” Hodges said in an e-mail.

GameStop, of course, makes quite a nice profit on its used video game sales so the stock market's investors reacted negatively to what they believed to be a significant threat to the company's business strategy. The problem is that this story doesn't pass the 'sniff test' once a person takes a moment to really think about the likelihood of its claims coming to pass.

First, we have to consider what Microsoft would gain by eliminating the used game market. Hypothetically, Microsoft could bring in more revenue by removing a source of game content that doesn't directly send money their way. Although that sounds fine on paper, in practice it is absurd to think that gamers will simply decide to funnel their cash into buying new games. It's not as if someone who would have purchased one to two used games at $20 apiece is going to purchase those games at $60 apiece; that person is just going to purchase fewer games or find alternative means of acquiring games (i.e. piracy).

Second, we have to consider what Microsoft's competitors would do in reaction to this move. The only possible way that Microsoft could escape unscathed is if Sony and Nintendo both decided to follow suit. However, this is highly unlikely to occur. What is more likely to happen is that Sony and Nintendo would take the opportunity to rake Microsoft over the coals for making such a move. The PR would be terrible for Microsoft while simultaneously being great for its competitors. This would likely drive gamers into the waiting arms of Sony and Nintendo, thereby decreasing Microsoft's revenue.

Folks, don't buy into this nonsense. This sort of story is published for the sole purpose of generating page views.