With each subsequent console generation there's an undercurrent of fear, a concern that this will be the cycle that finally kills off something many hold near and dear: the used game. Though these scratched-up disks and carts are often overprized and come with incomplete or unfortunately creased manuals, they're still better value than the shrink-wrapped titles.
With the announcement of the current next-generation of consoles the discontent raised again. Is the axe about to drop on the used video game market? Is this the iteration that will prevent you from borrowing something from a friend? Not if Microsoft has anything to say about it. The Xbox One does support used games and it does support game sharing -- but the details are in some cases a bit murky. Join us after the break for an exploration of what we know.
#1 - Buying and selling of used games is supported
Yes, you can play used games. Yes, you can buy used games and, therefore, it's reasonable to conclude that you can sell them too. It was postulated that you would have to pay some sort of activation fee to Microsoft to re-enable those used games, but Microsoft seems to be trying to dispel that thought. Exactly how it works still remains to be seen. "It's going to be different than the way we currently do it," Albert Penello, senior director of product planning at Microsoft told us. "We'll get into more specifics later."
#2 - Games are installed in the background while you play
Just pop the disc in and start playing and the game will start installing while you play. No need to hit the Y button and go through any other theatrics.
#3 - You can play installed games without the disc
Sick of sitting through the full game install on the Xbox 360, only to still have to get up and put the disc in every time you want to play it? So was everyone at Microsoft, as it turns out. "That feature, the ability to play games off the hard drive, was one of the first things we wrote down when we started to talk about next-gen," said Penello. So, yes, once you install the game, you can put the disc on the shelf and forget about it. But, presumably, you can't just sell the disc and still keep playing the game.
So, how does that work? At a minimum, each game disc must have some sort of unique ID associated to your account. "Your Xbox account will tie you to your game," said Penello. That ID must, therefore, be somehow disassociated from your account before you can sell the thing. Unfortunately, this is where things start getting murky. "We'll get into more specifics later," Penello told us again, a common chant that hopefully will change when we get to E3 in a few weeks time.
#4 - You can download games that were purchased on disc
Here's an interesting situation. What happens if you want to play a game you own on a friends console? You will, Penello says, have "the ability to go over to your friends house, download your save game, or even download your game to his Xbox and pick up where you left off." So, not only will your game saves be stored in the cloud, your entire game library will be and you'll be able to download it from anywhere.
#5 - Offline gameplay is supported
That all your game saves are in the cloud is a nice step forward, but what if you're offline? Can you still access those game saves? Can you still play your games? Yes, you can. Games will work offline without an issue and game saves will sync transparently when you reconnect, Penello told us. However, some games that make use of Microsoft's online services may not be playable offline. That will be up to developers.
#6 - You can share games with those in your "household"
Another use-case we threw Penello's way: what if your spouse or child signs in to the family's Xbox One and wants to play a game that is associated with your account? Will they have to buy it themselves? "Certainly we've accounted for family members in the household being able to play games." Exactly how? That, again, remains to be seen. Only 19 days until E3...