Xbox One will let you buy second-hand games

Microsoft's new console will let you trade in your games, the company has revealed, but with some onerous online restrictions attached.

Nick Hide Managing copy editor
Nick manages CNET's advice copy desk from Springfield, Virginia. He's worked at CNET since 2005.
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Nick Hide
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Microsoft's new console will let you trade in your games, the company has revealed, but with some onerous online restrictions attached.

In a blog post clarifying its position on how second-hand games will work on the Xbox One, Microsoft said, "We designed Xbox One so game publishers can enable you to trade in your games at participating retailers. Microsoft does not charge a platform fee to retailers, publishers, or consumers for enabling transfer of these games."

But because the Xbox One is always online, and Microsoft is desperate to crack down on piracy and take more control of how you play, buying a second-hand game, or simply giving it to a friend, won't be as simple as it is now.

Every game will be installed to the Xbox One's hard drive, and every copy of a game will be tied to the account that first installs it. You'll have to give up the right to play that game if you give the disc away.

The company's game-making arm Microsoft Studios, which publishes games such Halo, Forza and It's Mr Pants, will let you trade its discs in and give them to your chums, but that's not to say other publishers will do the same. They'll look pretty mean if they don't, but that's never stopped them before. They could even charge you to play a game that's already been used, beyond what you paid CEX or whoever.

"Xbox One is designed so game publishers can enable you to give your disc-based games to your friends," the company says. "There are no fees charged as part of these transfers. There are two requirements: you can only give them to people who have been on your friends list for at least 30 days and each game can only be given once."

Microsoft is betting that people are so happy with the convenience of digital downloads -- you'll be able to download every game instead of buying a disc, and play your games on your friend's Xbox One if you log in -- that they won't mind these restrictions. But in return for convenience it's taking away your permanent right to own those games.

Your Xbox One will have to connect to the Internet once a day or you won't be able to play your games. So, apart from the inconvenience of not being able to play if your connection goes down for more than a day, it means Microsoft can at any time turn off its servers and the games you paid for won't work. In 20 years, if you get your Xbox down from the loft to show your kids what you used to play with, it may well not work.

If you annoy Microsoft in some way, violating its terms of service, it can void your Xbox Live account and you won't be able to play the games you paid for. It's in complete control. And it can change its terms any time it likes.

What do you think? Are those all prices worth paying for digital convenience? Or if you buy something do you really want to own it? Let me know in the comments, or over on our draconian Facebook page.

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