Rumor: next Xbox to block used games with one-time activation codes

By on February 6, 2013, 12:19 PM

As Sony prepares to show us the future of PlayStation in a couple of weeks, rumors about its next-generation Xbox counterpart are beginning to fly left and right as well. The latest comes courtesy of Edge magazine, which cites sources with "first-hand experience" claiming that games for Microsoft's upcoming console will come with a one-time use activation code, as a measure to block the second-hand game market.

The site mentions the console will "require an Internet connection in order to function," though it's not clear whether that's for activating games against Microsoft's servers or if a persistent connection will be required as long as you're playing. Such restrictive schemes have been tried before and ultimately backfired on game publishers so it'd be surprising -- to say the least -- if Microsoft followed that route.

In any case, online functionality and a new iteration of Xbox Live will be an integral part of Microsoft's next console, as you'd expect, while games will still be offered in physical form on 50GB Blu-ray discs. Edge also says the new Xbox will ship with an improved version of Kinect, and backs up previous rumors that it will be powered by an eight core AMD processor running at 1.6GHz alongside 8GB of DDR3 RAM.

Early last year Kotaku heard from their own sources that the so-called Xbox 720 would use some sort of anti-used game protection, but could only speculate as to what exactly this would entail. For its part, Sony has applied for a patent on a hardware-based DRM technology that would let them block second-hand games.

It's no secret how most video game publishers vendors feel about the used games market, and if reports like these are any indication it would seem like Sony and Microsoft are playing along. But aside from the obvious consumer backlash heding their way if something as restrictive goes through, there'd likely be other legal hurdles to clear too, as the European Union last year declared it's legal for someone to sell their licenses for physical or digital software to another person, as long as they uninstall or otherwise deactivate their copy first.




User Comments: 55

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1 person liked this | TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Seems like the powers-at-be are hell bent on getting rid of the used game market.

3 people like this | captainawesome captainawesome said:

Make games cheaper for F sakes. Then we wouldn't have to wait till they are second hand to buy them!

2 people like this | TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I don't have a problem with game pricing, especially considering the years involved and the cost of development of the big titles - we're talking as much money to produce as any big-budget movie title.

If you can just hold on to your shorts, most games are 1/2 price six months after release and in the $15 range 9 months after release. For example I just picked up Max Payne 3 for $15.

However, I'm not really happy about not being able to sell used games. I can resell anything else I purchase - clothing, cars, furniture, etc. Why isn't that allowed with media?

1 person liked this | davislane1 davislane1 said:

Advantage Sony. Barring anything of equal stupidity, they should be able to suck up some of Microsoft's market share. That is, of course, if they can establish a respectable library this time around.

David Andrews David Andrews said:

If the game is locked to the console, that shafts multi-console owning families. Presently, we have 2 xbox360s, one in the kids room, one in the family room.

2 people like this | Guest said:

More incentive to jailbreak the next gen consoles...

Guest said:

10-to-1 it'll use an account based solution. You'll simply register your subscriptions to a user account, and you'll only be limited to how many systems you can simultaneously be logged into (like Netflix). Otherwise...that'd be a BIG oversight!

1 person liked this | theSon said:

"Advantage Sony. Barring anything of equal stupidity, they should be able to suck up some of Microsoft's market share. That is, of course, if they can establish a respectable library this time around."

Yes if SOny allows used games they will beat MIcrosoft by a landslide, forcing Microsoft to dump this action. Unless of course both companies are in cohoots together and will implement this to gain power and control.

Not being able to play a game on a second xbox in the house is a HUGE.

SUCH assholes eh?

The more these corporations leash us up as dogs to suck our money from our pockets the more the people will get angry at the domination and control.

The more the genius freedom fighters will fight back.

This is why there are cyber attacks. This is why there is piracy. the more you rip us off, the more you charge for your games, the more greedy you get trying to control the market, the more we will say WTF.

They are taking away our freedoms and forcing us to their insane price and control structure. Only the very rich can afford to play all the games they really want to play. money is hard enough to get in this world.

1 person liked this | Aggravatorx Aggravatorx said:

Well then if this happens game stop is going to be going out real soon most there income is from buying and selling used games.

davislane1 davislane1 said:

Yes if SOny allows used games they will beat MIcrosoft by a landslide, forcing Microsoft to dump this action. Unless of course both companies are in cohoots together and will implement this to gain power and control.

This is my worry. I doubt MS would introduce price controls if there isn't an adequate risk control (either in how it's implemented or competitor response). Sony having a similar plan would be such a mitigator.

They are taking away our freedoms and forcing us to their insane price and control structure.

Games are expensive because of production costs. Pricing schemes such as activation fees exist to compensate for developers' inability to cope with market demands. No freedom has been alienated; no one's forcing anyone to purchase over-priced products.

Only the very rich can afford to play all the games they really want to play. money is hard enough to get in this world.

Games are a luxury good. If they want to charge $1,000 per unit for new releases, they are well within any ethical boundaries in doing so. They just won't be making any sales.

2 people like this | tonylukac said:

Dislike.

1 person liked this | tonylukac said:

It only encourages pc games and then piracy, except for the honest guy. I wonder how it effects the xbox 360 simulation on windows 8. Anyone get into that? Probably no effect. Microsoft always seemed to clobber the honest guy (90% of the people of China run pirated windows), yet I must alway pay the piper.

1 person liked this | David Andrews David Andrews said:

Locking the game to a single account is also crappy in a multi-console and multi-user household as it still means that only one person's account will be able to play. Sucks balls, in fact.

4 people like this | Tygerstrike said:

IF Microsoft does this, they will alienate a great chunk of their own customer base. They are attempting to control the purchasing of their own product AGAINST their own customer base. Used games have been a staple since the first Nintendo. Yes Atari had a few games but the market wasnt there for used games. The overall price point for Atari games being as low as it was.

Microsoft will be back pedelaing very quickly when they see that their own customers wont be buying the new system. Then MS will panic. They will understand that you either give your customers what they demand or they just dont buy your product. Im guessing that both MS and Sony are sitting there waiting to see who has the balls to release their restrictive system first. Because whomever does release it first and it has a used games restriction on it will loose sales very quickly.

1 person liked this | seefizzle said:

Locking down software or hardware is the quickest way to lose me as a customer. I think I'll keep my gaming rig and look into that ouya android system.

I think it's funny that the next generation consoles are really just in a rush to become more PC like. In fact, all the current technologies are simply trying to mimic what has already been done on the PC for years. Internet, movies, music, etc... I have a tablet and a touch based phone and and xbox 360... but you know what gets the job done the best? My fuckin computer. It still rules all the devices. Anything I can do on my phone tablet or xbox, I can more easily do on a PC.

I might be a dying breed here because of the current technology trends... but I'm not impressed Microsoft.

1 person liked this | Littleczr Littleczr said:

Hi I'm Microsoft, ill just shoot my self on the foot because of my greed.

2 people like this | spencer spencer said:

Ouya and pc

1 person liked this | Lurker101 said:

Microsoft is pretty much saying, "Right, I've got two feet. Let's shoot myself in *that* one". Don't forget though, Sony are also working on a form of DRM that prevents game resales. You'll find the article on that somewhere on Techspot.

This is turning out to be a great console cycle for Nintendo and the Ouya. Also, considering the vast majority of Nintendo games can be prefixed with "Another bloody" such as Mario, Zelda and Metroid, the Ouya could have a seriously good cycle.

2 people like this | Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

One thing to consider is that this type of locking DRM is not just Microsoft's idea. Yes, it means that Microsoft should theoretically get more licensing fee income. But, there is quite a bit of pressure from the game developer and publisher segment. Implementing a protection scheme like the one in this article is often a move to woo publishers by trying to guarantee they will get more return on their game development.

It's big business at work, and the only ones who benefit from a second-hand game market are the companies who have based their entire existence on those used sales... Oh, and us lowly consumers, but we are usually one of the later considerations in the planning and marketing strategy routine.

cmbjive said:

I didn't buy that many used games this generation. THAT being said if true I think this is a boneheaded decision on the part of Microsoft because the majority of games sold are used. I hope that Microsoft seriously reconsiders this.

If not, well, there will be software that can be developed to break the anti-used game coding.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

I hope Gamestop goes under ASAP

1 person liked this | Guest said:

How will this affect Gamefly.com rentals? Theoretically these would be the same as used games.

Guest said:

What about rentals like gamefly? Would this move destroy that market as-well?

Most guys I know that buy second hand games do so only because they think the price is not worth it for the new version. But this would not make them go out and buy it because now they have to.

1 person liked this | CMyers CMyers said:

Is this a deal-breaker for anyone else? I currently game on PC and Xbox 360, and the PC experience is vastly better. The only reason I play 360 is for the multiplayer.

The only way I can see this working out OK is if used games were blocked, but one copy of a new game allowed 4 person LAN multiplayer (multiple consoles, of course.) I would actually consider getting a 720 and buying new games for that. Otherwise, screw consoles, I'm sticking with PC and looking into the Oculus Rift.

1 person liked this | Prosercunus said:

I will be buying a PS4 unless Sony also partakes in this tactic as well (even if as of now it is a rumor).

I will always have my PC which is my primary gaming platform of choice.

3 people like this | Guest said:

This is a surefire way to guarantee that I do NOT purchase one of these consoles.

I almost never buy used games. The majority of used games I own are older games that are out of print where new copies are prohibitively expensive or just too hard to find. However, I do sell old games when I decide I won't play them again (which I decide a lot to decide than for something like movies, which don't require as large a time investment to enjoy). If they go this route without adjusting retail prices accordingly, I'm back to PC gaming full time where Steam sales are such good deals that it offsets the inability to dispose of old games in my library.

Also, I like sharing games with friends and family, and they like sharing back as well. I can't take my new game over to show it to my brother on his Xbox? I can't gift a game I'm done with to a friend who hasn't played the game yet? Another deal breaker. I'll just grab my laptop and take it with me instead of unhooking a console from my TV and dealing with the hassle.

Also, are they going to implement a system that accounts for game rentals? I pretty much doubt that as well. Your game looks OK, but I wasn't wild about your previous effort? I want to rent it and give it a shot before I commit $60 to a purchase of your new title. You want me to blind-buy it instead? Sorry, you'd better have a damn good demo available, or I'm spending my money elsewhere.

This is nothing but collusion between console makers and the big corporate publishers meant to entrench this warped licensing worldview where you never actually own a physical product, you only own the right to use it on their terms so they can milk you for more money.

CMyers CMyers said:

On another note, as of Jan. 26th it's now against the DMCA to jailbreak/unlock consoles... which means if you unlock your 720 to get around the used game block, and MS detects your unlocked 720 on Live, you are instantly liable for copyright infringement.

Guest said:

The only way I see this working is if MS would offer activation codes for a fee that could be used to play the "used" game on a second console. I am not sure legally they can prevent you from playing the game on multiple consoles. This is equivalent to movie DVD makers allowing their product to be viewed on one DVD player. Sure copyright laws prevent you from copying it, but they can't prevent you from using the product you purchased on mutiple devices.

1 person liked this | m4a4 m4a4 said:

It's not happening. They know too many people will ignore the console(s) and it will be a bust...

Renrew Renrew said:

M$ stepping on their **** yet again.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

"Advantage Sony. Barring anything of equal stupidity, they should be able to suck up some of Microsoft's market share.

You must have missed this sentence in the article:

"For its part, Sony has applied for a patent on a hardware-based DRM technology that would let them block second-hand games."

1 person liked this | davislane1 davislane1 said:

You must have missed this sentence in the article:

"For its part, Sony has applied for a patent on a hardware-based DRM technology that would let them block second-hand games."

Actually, I allude to that point in my response to theSon. Sony hasn't yet made an announcement on if it will actually be in the upcoming system, so I'm reserving a definite conclusion until their event later this month. At the moment, Sony has the ball it their court. Whether or not they keep it there is another story entirely.

RenGood08 RenGood08 said:

Well then if this happens game stop is going to be going out real soon most there income is from buying and selling used games.

well. That is something a colleage and have been discussing. Game Stop is becoming wildly popular, but with this change, they might go bankrupt for sure. It'll be a sad day to see that.

Guest said:

Well if its true then good luck sony and ms as the pc gaming is coming to tvs and ouya is a great little console for what it is come on steam boxes etc..... beat them to it ;)

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Actually, I allude to that point in my response to theSon. Sony hasn't yet made an announcement on if it will actually be in the upcoming system, so I'm reserving a definite conclusion until their event later this month. At the moment, Sony has the ball it their court. Whether or not they keep it there is another story entirely.

You must of missed the headline:

RUMOR: next Xbox to block used games with one-time activation codes

So you don't believe Sony will do it, even though they have actually filed for the patent, but you believe Microsoft will do it based on a rumor?

PS, stay off the crack.

psycros psycros said:

Actually, I allude to that point in my response to theSon. Sony hasn't yet made an announcement on if it will actually be in the upcoming system, so I'm reserving a definite conclusion until their event later this month. At the moment, Sony has the ball it their court. Whether or not they keep it there is another story entirely.

You must of missed the headline:

RUMOR: next Xbox to block used games with one-time activation codes

So you don't believe Sony will do it, even though they have actually filed for the patent, but you believe Microsoft will do it based on a rumor?

PS, stay off the crack.

Of course they applied for some incredibly vague patent, so if Microsoft starts blocking used games Sony can try to get royalties for the tech (as well as follow suit on the PSX4). Maybe <b>you</b> should put down the pipe for a while, Einstein.

1 person liked this | Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Yeah if stuff like this is what the next generation has to offer, then I'm done with consoles. I have a lot of used games in my collection. I enjoy finding a bargain around in the shops, something I would have never bought new but tried out because it was at rock-bottom used.

No matter what exclusives come along, I ain't biting if this is the future of console gaming.

Guest said:

If they go with this, they are stupid. There are games out there that gamers know from the get-go that they aren't worth the full $50-$60 pricetag. What happens? These games are never picked-up/bought AT ALL by these gamers. Their money never goes anywhere and they don't get to play it.

But with a lower price-tag, some of these games become more attractive and "worth it" to these gamers. They reach into their pockets and buy it if the price is right. They bring it home to play, and are then able to contribute to online discussions of the game.

I hope Sony does not do this either or my gaming PC is gonna be lonely.

1 person liked this | davislane1 davislane1 said:

You must of missed the headline:

RUMOR: next Xbox to block used games with one-time activation codes

So you don't believe Sony will do it, even though they have actually filed for the patent, but you believe Microsoft will do it based on a rumor?

PS, stay off the crack.

I thought I articulated my position quite clearly. But I see a restatement is in order:

Sony has filed a patent for some type of game-system linking device; this is fact. Whether or not it will show up in the PS4 is speculation. Therefore, "I am reserving a definite conclusion" until their press conference later this month, where such a conclusion can be drawn on more than a patent (which I will elaborate upon momentarily).

Do I know this 720 nonsense is a rumor? Yes. It's kinda hard not to, what with every tech and video game blog on the internet calling it a rumor. However, because rumors a few months removed from product launches tend to me more accurate predictors of what a company will do than patent filings, I'm inclined to assign greater weight to the Edge rumor. Hence my belief that the ball is in Sony's court.

Now, why is the ball in Sony's court? Because they've filed a patent making everyone think they're going to initiate some type of game-locking scheme to curtail used sales on the PS4. This could be a corporate chess move for Sony or it could be exactly what it looks like. Either way, it's a low-risk ploy if Sony's executives aren't still chugging on the blunder juice. Do I think Sony wouldn't jump at the chance to restrict used games if they felt they could? Absolutely. However, the risks they run by doing so are greater than those faced by Microsoft. Therefore, it is more probable that the 720 rumor is true than Sony's RFID device is to show up on the initial release of the PS4.

As for staying "off the crack"... How about disagreeing with me in your next post by attacking my position critically rather than by putting words in my mouth and following it up with a cliche? (And don't go for the obvious move of arguing that I've contradicted myself on account of rumor being speculation.)

Guest said:

This is a Hoax. A Scam. A Lie. It will NEVER happen. Used Games and Game Rentals are a multi billion dollar industry. This entire story should just be deleted. IT IS NOT REAL.

1 person liked this | Jfin1 Jfin1 said:

Only way this can be successful is offering games at a fraction of the cost today, Although most of the Gaming retail market is crumbling due to lack of a new console to drive the market - the second hand gaming market was responsible for allowing them to stay in the game as long as they did! Imagine all the car manufacturers banning the re-sale of used cars because they wanted you to buy a new car every time!

1 person liked this | Guest said:

But the prices you are quoting are entirely based on a market in which there are competing second-hand games they have to compete against. Take those away and the incentive for discounting will evaporate.

TheDreams TheDreams said:

So if I want to sell a game back to gamestop for the xbox 720 they won't buy it back because no one else will be able to use it am I right?

Guest said:

Why would you hope that Gamestop goes under? Do you enjoy paying full price for games?

I buy my fair share of new games but it's also nice to be able to get them at a cheaper price.

Steve Ballmer is that you...? O.O

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

I thought I articulated my position quite clearly. But I see a restatement is in order:

Sony has filed a patent for some type of game-system linking device; this is fact. Whether or not it will show up in the PS4 is speculation. Therefore, "I am reserving a definite conclusion" until their press conference later this month, where such a conclusion can be drawn on more than a patent (which I will elaborate upon momentarily).

Do I know this 720 nonsense is a rumor? Yes. It's kinda hard not to, what with every tech and video game blog on the internet calling it a rumor. However, because rumors a few months removed from product launches tend to me more accurate predictors of what a company will do than patent filings, I'm inclined to assign greater weight to the Edge rumor. Hence my belief that the ball is in Sony's court.

Now, why is the ball in Sony's court? Because they've filed a patent making everyone think they're going to initiate some type of game-locking scheme to curtail used sales on the PS4. This could be a corporate chess move for Sony or it could be exactly what it looks like. Either way, it's a low-risk ploy if Sony's executives aren't still chugging on the blunder juice. Do I think Sony wouldn't jump at the chance to restrict used games if they felt they could? Absolutely. However, the risks they run by doing so are greater than those faced by Microsoft. Therefore, it is more probable that the 720 rumor is true than Sony's RFID device is to show up on the initial release of the PS4.

As for staying "off the crack"... How about disagreeing with me in your next post by attacking my position critically rather than by putting words in my mouth and following it up with a cliche? (And don't go for the obvious move of arguing that I've contradicted myself on account of rumor being speculation.)

So you're a psychic? Gotcha.

1 person liked this | davislane1 davislane1 said:

So you're a psychic? Gotcha.

Nope. Just experienced arguing with forum trolls.

Guest said:

This means, RROD = Purchase all your games all over again. EFF-That! Games should not be activated by hardware, hardware fails ALL the time.

1 person liked this | Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I'm confused, why is everyone making such a big deal out of this?

When you buy a PC game on Steam, you don't moan you can't sell it?

Hell most shops I can find in the UK do not take any PC games to sell second hand due to the fact almost all modern games require some form of activation.

How is this any different? This is just manufacturers Computerfying consoles.

And it will work if they can keep the prices down, I know if you wait a few months they normally go down (except for CoD, I saw a shop the other day selling MW3 for £40 still!) but they should be released at £30 max, then go down to say £20 after a few months then hover at £15 for a year or so then drop further. If the games can be just as cheap on PC, they sure as hell can be just as cheap on consoles.

I'm still really confused why everyone is making such a fuss? Only a year ago people were screaming "I only want to download games on the next gen console, I don't want all this inserting discs malarkey" Yet here we are people whining they can't re-sell their games? how on earth did you plan on doing that when you thought downloading was a good idea?!

I'm kind of ranting away at myself btw, so don't take this as a personal argument against you.

1 person liked this | davislane1 davislane1 said:

I'm confused, why is everyone making such a big deal out of this?

When you buy a PC game on Steam, you don't moan you can't sell it?

Hell most shops I can find in the UK do not take any PC games to sell second hand due to the fact almost all modern games require some form of activation.

How is this any different? This is just manufacturers Computerfying consoles.

And it will work if they can keep the prices down, I know if you wait a few months they normally go down (except for CoD, I saw a shop the other day selling MW3 for £40 still!) but they should be released at £30 max, then go down to say £20 after a few months then hover at £15 for a year or so then drop further. If the games can be just as cheap on PC, they sure as hell can be just as cheap on consoles.

I'm still really confused why everyone is making such a fuss? Only a year ago people were screaming "I only want to download games on the next gen console, I don't want all this inserting discs malarkey" Yet here we are people whining they can't re-sell their games? how on earth did you plan on doing that when you thought downloading was a good idea?!

I'm kind of ranting away at myself btw, so don't take this as a personal argument against you.

Well, it's two things really. First, most of the console crowd is somehow under the impression that they own all of the software on a disc when they purchase a game (and therefore the right to resell and distribute it). The licensing practices that have been a part of the software industry since its inception escape most console gamers, so they fuss when companys start exercising the legal disclaimers that precede every title screen.

Second, the ability to resell/distribute games is a major perk of consoles. When you eliminate that from the equation you create a lot of problems: people can no longer share games with friends, you can no longer buy at wholesale, rentals become complicated, and so on. More importantly, when your console bricks you get hit with a one-two punch if you have a large library. In essence, it's a big issue because restricting used games eliminates most of the advantages of console gaming. It creates red tape and door charges where currently there aren't any.

TypeR181 TypeR181 said:

I will be buying a PS4 unless Sony also partakes in this tactic as well (even if as of now it is a rumor).

I will always have my PC which is my primary gaming platform of choice.

Sony are going to do the same thing drm patent story on here > PC"S RULE !!

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