originals\ May 24, 2013 at 4:40 pm

GameStop is at the mercy of Microsoft and the Xbox One

Xbox One vs GameStop

In an attempt to learn the truth of Microsoft's used game policy regarding the Xbox One and retailers I learned something much scarier: retailers, particularly GameStop, are at the console-maker's mercy. What Microsoft says goes, and there's really not a damn thing anyone can do about it -- well, unless you're a consumer, because then you can choose to speak up with your wallet.

The fact is, when it comes to used games, Microsoft is going to do what it wants. If it wants to charge retailers a fee to activate trade-ins, what can a retailer do? Choose not to carry Xbox One games? Ha, fat chance! In all likelihood, the retailer -- GameStop in this case -- is going to have to accept it and play by Microsoft's rules.

And how do I know this? Because when faced with my question about the supposed "activation fee" for pre-owned Xbox One games, I was told that any news on this front would have to come directly from Microsoft. And with Microsoft refusing to offer any solid information on the subject, it seems none of us will really know how the used game market operate for quite a while. 

My big question, which probably won't be answered, is why? Why can't GameStop comment on it? What is this hold that Microsoft has over them? Okay, in all probability, there is some agreement between the two companies in regards to how the future used game market will operate, but I really want to know how much of a say GameStop had in all of it. What benefit does GameStop possibly have in this "agreement" -- this seemingly forced arrangement.

Sure, on the outside GameStop president Tony Bartel may appear calm and cool. Used games make new games more affordable. "All three new platforms understand that," he says. But is it true? Does Microsoft really understand that? More importantly, do they even care? 

The truth is, with any sort of activation fee, even if retailers accept it, Microsoft will have control in molding the used game market. By setting that fee they are essentially forcing retailers to raise the cost of the trade-in game's price. As a result, we, the consumers, are no longer getting games as cheap. 

It's a scary future, ladies and gents, when one single company can shape an entire market to their liking. If there's one thing we can learn from the past it's that corporations are never on the side of the consumer. So until Microsoft lays out some definite guidelines on its used games stance, I will remain skeptical. And sadly, retailers are not on our side.

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