The rumor mill is spinning at full speed about whether users will be permitted to play used games on the new Xbox 720 console. According to Edge Magazine, "Microsoft's next console will require an Internet connection in order to function, ruling out a second-hand game market for the platform." Also, it is believed that physical Xbox 720 games will ship with an activation code, which will be of no value beyond the user's intial use.
Do these moves make Microsoft a spoilsport? Or does the new console make sense in today's world of gaming. Although it is true that the used game market has caused a significant drop in profits for developers, will a one-time-use activation code undermine the motivation of the gaming community?
Game developers have long battled used gaming, often likening it to piracy and theft. "Theft" seems rather extreme, but developers don't make money off used games. In fact, the only ones generating revenue on used games are retailers. Still, for many gamers, used games are sometimes the only way to get into a title, as they're unable to afford the game at its release price. What does this mean for gamers who can't afford popular titles like Call of Duty? Perhaps the number of online participants will significantly decrease once the new console hits the market.
Ultimately, Xbox 720 will be an entirely online system. Rumor has it the console will require a 24/7 Internet connection, with the option to purchase games directly from the updated Xbox Live Marketplace. There's no telling if gamers will see a reduction in price by ordering downloaded versions instead of physical copies. Developers will realize cost savings, and gamers hope they will be passed on to users.
Certainly, lower game prices would make gamers happier. If the new titles cost less, many gamers could overlook the fact that used titles won't function on the new console. Conversely, if Microsoft continues to sell new releases at $60 a pop, they might experience a backlash from an outraged gaming community. At some point, the question of reduced distribution costs will arise, and gamers will demand to know why the savings are not being passed on. Time will tell.