We've heard a ton of rumors regarding the Xbox 720 ranging from processing power, to graphical power, to tablet-based controllers. But none of them sparked more controversy then the idea that the next-gen Xbox could prevent gamers from playing used games on their console.
Last month, Kotaku claimed a "reliable industry source" told them Microsoft will incorporate "some sort of anti-used game system" as part of the Xbox 720. As ridiculous as that sounds, it's very possible that it could pass in today's gaming industry. Some developers have already voiced their support for such a feature, saying it would be "fantastic" for the gaming industry. Of course, if you were one of the publishers or developers who don't see the profits from used games you could understand the support.
But not all developers feel that way. In fact, some actually side with the gamers and recognize $60 dollars is quite a chunk of change to spend on a game – especially when you're not guaranteed of the quality you're getting.
One such developer, Matthew Karch, who's leading upcoming shooter Inversion, makes the case for gamers to be able to play used games on the Xbox 720.
The Saber Interactive CEO, writing for CVG, said this of the possibility that the Xbox 720 won't play used games.
"I don't think we should prevent people from playing used games. I understand why they would want to do it, but I think the approach should be different," he said. "As long as games are distributed on physical medium as physical goods, players should have the right to buy and sell them."
Of course, that argument has been used before. Games, right now, are the only medium that is entertaining the idea of not allowing people to take advantage of "used copies". Car companies don't get money back when you resell a car. Record labels don't get money if you resell a cd. So why should games?
Karch added: "$60 is a lot to pay for a game and if a player buys a dud and is stuck with it, then that's just not fair to force him to keep it. If people buy Inversion and it's not for them, then why should they be forced to turn it into a drink coaster?"
Karch, instead, has his own idea on how to handle the situation: a new pricing structure.
"Publishers feel that reviewers have too much control now and if games can't be traded then reviews will become gospel. This doesn't serve anyone's interest," he explained. "For me the approach is to bring the cost of games down and to sell them as digital content where they can't be bought and sold. If someone pays $15 for a game, then it's less painful if they need to keep it."
Karch then clarified his statements, which he also made earlier.
"Last time I spoke about this, some people misconstrued my comments to imply that I didn't think that games should be "full-length". This isn't the way I feel about it," he clarified. "A $60 game has about $30 of waste in it in getting the game to retail. I really believe that with digital distribution you can get that same full-length experience for $30.
He continued: "With Inversion (or games like Battlefield or Gears), for example, you could break that experience into two components – single-player and multiplayer – and sell them for $15 each or sell them combined for $30. If someone spends $15, then the trade-in value would be minimal anyway even if it were permissible."
"I think that's the way to go – lower the costs for the same access by bringing them to market digitally. Then a no-used solution is fair."
While I doubt this sort of thing will ever happen, it's still a pretty interesting idea. The fact is, games are too expensive. In today's economy $60 is a lot to ask from a consumer, especially when there are over-hyped duds on the market. It's much easier to convince someone to pay a full $15 or $30 than $60.