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Updated at 4:24 p.m. Pacific with Major Nelson’s comment.
Microsoft is contradicting itself about how used games will work on the newly announced Xbox One console. A company executive is saying one thing and the official Xbox Support account on Twitter is claiming the exact opposite. Things are messy right now.
We asked Microsoft directly what it plans for used games on Xbox One. A company spokesperson parroted an answer that is currently available on the Xbox One frequently asked questions page on Xbox.com.
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“We are designing the Xbox One to enable customers to trade in and resell games,” a Microsoft spokesperson told GamesBeat. “We’ll have more details to share later.”
Following the Xbox One presentation, tech website Wired posted a story in which a Microsoft representative claims gamers have to pay a fee to activate used games on a second account.
Now, the Xbox Support account on Twitter is telling gamers that “there is no fee to install” games.
The support team specifically cited an example where a friend borrows a hard copy of a game. That friend will not have to pay a fee, according to Microsoft.
A fee of some sort is still in the cards, according to Microsoft corporate vice president Phil Harrison.
“You can purchase a game in two ways,” Harrison told Eurogamer. “You can purchase it from a retail store or you can download it. So the act of putting the bits on the hard drive — the Xbox One doesn’t really know or care what method the bits got into the machine. If it was from a disc or downloaded from Xbox Live, but obviously the users will then have to purchase that content.”
This suggests that every user will have to purchase a license to play any game, which is then installed on the Xbox One’s hard drive.
“What I think people are now confusing is the purchasing of content in the first instance with the ability to trade and resell the previously played games,” said Harrison. “We have a solution for that and we will be announcing exactly how that works in due course.”
The aforementioned Xbox Support account on Twitter said that Harrison is wrong in his characterization of the “fee.”
If you’re confused now, don’t feel bad — we all are.
Microsoft spokesperson Major Nelson later tried to clarify the situation on his blog:
We know there is some confusion around used games on Xbox One, and [we] wanted to provide a bit of clarification on exactly what we’ve confirmed today. While there have been many potential scenarios discussed, today we have only confirmed that we designed Xbox One to enable our customers to trade in and resell games at retail.
Beyond that, we have not confirmed any specific scenarios.
Another piece of clarification around playing games at a friend’s house — should you choose to play your game at your friend’s house, there is no fee to play that game while you are signed in to your profile.
Major Nelson is apparently walking back just about everything Harrison and Xbox Support said today. He wouldn’t confirm that you could avoid paying a few if you borrow a game from a friend.
The issue here is that the license for each game is seemingly tied to a single Xbox Live account. How that license will transfer beyond that is still up in the air, and it’s something that Microsoft needs to reveal in detail.
Electronic Arts recently ended its Online Pass program, which charged gamers $10 to activate certain features in used games. It’s possible that move relates to whatever designs Microsoft has in store for the second-hand market.
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