Microsoft's messaging on how used games will be handled on the Xbox One seems to be muddled, contradictory and confused as different individuals within the company offer out-of-step messaging on the subject. At issue is a report in Wired indicating that when software purchased on discs at retail or through the Xbox Live Marketplace is installed on a system it is associated with the purchaser's user account. Since the software would be tied to that first purchaser's Xbox Live profile, if someone else were to use it on their system then they would be charged an undetermined fee.
Seeking some clarification on the subject, GamesBeat asked a company rep about used games on the Xbox One. They said the following:
"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.”
As we mentioned earlier, a Wired report quoted a Microsoft representative who claimed that gamers have to pay a fee to activate used games on a second account.
But later the Xbox Support Twitter account said that there is no fee:
"Again, there is no fee to install the game. Your friend will not pay a fee. ^BA"
But Microsoft corporate vice president Phil Harrison told Eurogamer that there is in fact a fee:
“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.”
A user pointed out the Eurogamer article to Xbox Support, who said that "that information is not accurate at this time. Sorry for any confusion. ^BA"
Finally, Larry Hryb (Major Nelson) tried and failed to clarify the issue one last time:
"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."
So we are left knowing only one fact: the games you play on Xbox One are tied to your user profile through some sort of license. What happens after that remains lost in the murkiness of PR-speak. There is apparently a fee involved should someone else buy your game at GameStop, but Microsoft is not giving a clear answer on how it will work - or if you, yourself, can somehow transfer that license to someone else... Also it sounds like your friends won't be borrowing your games from you unless you want to share your Xbox Live profile information with them...
We'll have more on this story as it develops. Hopefully at some point it will make more sense...