Xbox One: Pre-owned games system explained by retailers

Although Microsoft has refrained from going into the nitty-gritty of how the pre-owned games system will work on the Xbox One, retail sources have revealed more detail.

According to UK games industry trade magazine MCV, retail partners of Microsoft have been briefed on how the used games market will operate for the next-generation console, and some of them have spilled the beans.

Each retailer who wishes to sell pre-owned Xbox One games will need to both agree with Microsoft's terms and conditions and integrate the company's Azure cloud-based system into its own. This system would allow the store to deactivate the game from the seller's Xbox account, allowing it to be used by whoever buys the pre-owned copy. Games will be locked to one account on the Xbox One, so cannot be played by a separate person unless they are playing through a profile on the same console (a family member, for example) or the original owner logs into their account on another machine.

Much has been said about an activation fee for pre-owned games and it seems this is true. However, Eurogamer has spoken to another UK source who told the site that the consumer will not have to pay the activation fee, the shop will. Part of that fee goes to Microsoft, part to the original publisher of the game.

READ: Xbox One release date and everything you need to know

Another source told Console Deals earlier that the activation fee would be £35 in the UK, but that doesn't seem to be entirely true. There would be little benefit to the consumer or retailer if that were the case. Instead, others report that £35 is more likely to be the cost of the pre-owned game all-in, retailer mark-up and activation fee included.

If that's the case, the retailer will make far less on Xbox One used games than it has done with titles for other consoles in the past. And the consumer will find fewer bargains. Of course, the activation fee may fluctuate in the future, as certain titles get longer in the tooth, and therefore allow retailers to charge less but that is unknown at present.

The whole system effectively means that the resale market outside of Microsoft partnering stores will die completely. There will be no way to eBay your unwanted Xbox One games, because the technology will not allow you to deactivate the game from your own account to sell it on. At least, that's the current understanding.

Microsoft is yet to clarify further, although it did release a statement to MCV. "We know there is some confusion around used games on Xbox One and wanted to provide a bit of clarification on exactly what we’ve confirmed," it said.

"While there have been many potential scenarios discussed, 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."

Update: Larry Hryb, otherwise known by his Xbox Live gamer tag Major Nelson, is Microsoft's Director of Programming for Xbox Live, and he just addressed the used games issue on his personal blog. Hryb essentially called much of the reports regarding used games and the Xbox One "inaccurate and incomplete," and then he asked gamers to sit tight for more details.

"The ability to trade in and resell games is important to gamers and to Xbox. Xbox One is designed to support the trade in and resale of games," said Hryb in an official statement on Friday. "Reports about our policies for trade in and resale are inaccurate and incomplete. We will disclose more information in the near future."

Microsoft's statement is an indication that the company is feeling pressured by the reports and questions regarding used games, but it has yet to still reveal all.