By Tucker Cummings, dealnews contributor
It's been an interesting few weeks for gamers, particularly Xbox fans. After initially planning a host of seemingly draconian online connectivity requirements and restrictive resale policies, Microsoft announced some big changes to its original Xbox One plans in response to gamer reactions. Now, users will no longer be forced to have a 24-hour Internet connection in order to play, and they have fewer limitations on the resale of their used games.
And while some gamers view Microsoft's reversal as a major win, others can't help but wonder if they just shot themselves in the foot. Is it possible that new and used video games would have been cheaper under the Xbox One's original model?
Xbox One Games Could Have Been CheaperMicrosoft's change of heart was indeed met with joy from many gamers and tech insiders like Matthew Reardon. A member of the marketing team at Glyde, an online marketplace where people can buy and sell video games and other tech goodies, Reardon argues that fewer restrictions on game trade-ins is a good thing for consumers.
"We see people making and saving hundreds of dollars a year because they have the ability to re-sell and buy used games," he explains. "Dropping $60 on a new game is less risky when you know you have the option to resell it. The ability to resell and buy used games allows people to explore different titles and find games they love."
But not all gamers shared Reardon's view. Kyle Wagner wrote in Gizmodo that gamers would likely be paying more money for new and used games on the Xbox One now that Microsoft had shifted its policies. "Publishers know that they will not make money on resold games, so they charge more to the first buyer. You are paying for others' rights to use your game in the future," Wagner explained. "If the old system had gone into place, you would likely have seen game prices drop. Or, at the very least, it could have staved off price increases. You also would have started getting a better return on your 'used' games — because a license does not have to be resold at a diminished rate."
Do Free or Cheap Video Games Make a Fan?Under the original Xbox One model, users could have played games from a friend's "shared library" for free. Wagner argues that the loss of the 10-person "family share" plan and the inability to share downloaded games with friends is also detrimental to the console. But Glyde's Matthew Reardon sees the whole price scheme differently.
"We see avid gamers buy new games for $60, play them for a month or two and resell them for $35 or $40," Reardon explains. "That really amounts to a $20 to $25 purchase. It was not clear that new Xbox One game prices were going to drop to anything close to $20 to $25 with the original restrictions in place; lower cost games were never guaranteed, [and] the ability to resell through a publisher's hub was left up to the publishers, who may not have followed through."
Reardon also explained that he regularly sees gamers take a chance on a new title, by way of low-priced used games. In many cases, the gamers in question like the used game so much that they buy additional titles in the franchise, often new and at full price. This impulse buy, based predominantly on price, acts as a gateway for gamers to try out an acclaimed game with low financial risk. It may not be the "free" sharing that gamers could have gotten with the Xbox One's family plan, but many gamers still prefer physical discs to downloaded games.
"We're fans of what is less restrictive for consumers," Reardon notes. "Giving people that assurance of true ownership, that they have the choice to turn their things into cash, is a good thing."
In many ways, this year's next-gen console war is the most pessimistic one in the history of gaming. The launch of previous consoles has always been met with enthusiasm and even a certain degree of wonder. And while fans are excited about advancements in graphics with next-gen consoles, an overwhelming number of conversations seem negative and cynical. It was likely this cynicism that influenced Microsoft to abandon its original Xbox One vision, whether it was for the best or not.