Pre-owned games will play on Xbox One, once you pay a fee

Even before the Xbox One was a reality there were huge concerns over whether the console would play second hand games. Rumours and various talk sparked fears that Microsoft would clamp down on digital rights and prevent us playing our friends’ games or buying games second hand. Thankfully the company has now clarified that issue, but not entirely.

Eurogamer’s Tom Bramwell hunted down Phil Harrison from Microsoft at yesterday’s launch event to discuss the issue, and after some side-stepping from the Microsoft man we finally got something of a solid answer. Here’s Phil’s explanation, using the Xbox 360 as an example;

If I buy the disc from a store, I use that disc in my machine, I can give that disc to my son and he can play it on his 360 in his room. We both can’t play at the same time, but the disc is the key to playing. I can go round to your house and give you that disc and you can play on that game as well.

What we’re doing with the digital permissions that we have for Xbox One is no different to that. If I am playing on that disc, which is installed to the hard drive on my Xbox One, everybody in my household who has permission to use my Xbox One can use that piece of content. [So] I can give that piece of content to my son and he can play it on the same system.

So it seems Microsoft will allow you to share your games with other people in your own household on the same console. This is because when you put a new game into the Xbox One, it installs the content onto the 500GB hard drive, just like the PlayStation 3 does. Once these ‘bits’ – as Microsoft calls them – are on your hard drive, anybody on that console can play the game. It’s a different story when you want to take the game to a mate’s house or lend your game to somebody, however.

“I can come to your house and I can put the disc into your machine and I can sign in as me and we can play the game,” Harrison explained.

I can come to your house and I can put the disc into your machine and I can sign in as me and we can play the game,” he explained.

“The bits are on your hard drive. At the end of the play session, when I take my disc home – or even if I leave it with you – if you want to continue to play that game [on your profile] then you have to pay for it. The bits are already on your hard drive, so it’s just a question of going to our [online] store and buying the game, and then it’s instantly available to play.”

So it appears that any Xbox One game is tied to your account, and in order to play your game on somebody else’s console you’ll need to sign in to your account. Because the game is then installed on another console, any other user will need to pay a fee to then play it using their own profile. Microsoft and Phil Harrison wouldn’t elaborate on this ‘fee’ however, but said we would find out in due time.

We will have a system where you can take that digital content and trade a previously played game at a retail store,” Harrison said. “We’re not announcing the details of that today, but we will have announced in due course.”

It’s not clear yet which path Microsoft will take when it comes to buying pre-owned games for the Xbox One. We can’t see users being very happy having to pay for a pre-owned game in a store and then paying again for a new online pass once they put the disc in their console, so hopefully Microsoft will come up with something good.