Latest leaks suggest Xbox 720 won’t play used games, or be backwards compatible

Rumors about anti-used game tech in the next Xbox — popularly referred to as Xbox 720, but codenamed Durango — have swirled for a while now. But yesterday's leaks, courtesy of VGLeaks, suggest those rumors may have some truth to them. A number of screenshots displaying information contained in the Durango Xbox Development Kit (XDK), indicate not only will the next Xbox be unable to play pre-owned games, but that the system won't be backwards compatible either.

Among the features mentioned in the Hardware Overview was a mandatory "Always On, Always Connected" design. Although this is said to allow users to "quickly and easily enjoy their connected entertainment experiences, with no waiting for the console to restart or install updates." While Microsoft could use this always-on functionality as a means of DRM, it's actually the next bit of information that's most troubling.

"All games will be installed on the hard drive. Play from the optical disc will not be supported." The documentation continues, "Durango consoles will have a Blu-ray Disc drive. Disc media will be used for distribution, but during gampelay, games will not use content from the optical disc."

That last line seems to suggest that Xbox 720 games will work similar to that of the PC: you install the game, some sort of product key will be registered to your machine, and the game is linked to your system, unable to be played on another Xbox account. This could also signify that the Xbox 720 will not be backwards compatible either. If discs are used purely as a means to install, and will not be read during gameplay, then it's safe to assume Xbox 360 games will not be supported.

If either of these leaks turn out to be true, it could spell doom for game retail giant GameStop who makes the majority of its profit from second-hand sales. The retailer said last year that they think it's unlikely Microsoft's next-gen console will block used games. Still, the possibility remains — and that's the scary part. Welcome to the next generation, folks.

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