In the wake of the loud and vehement backlash against Microsoft’s implications that gamers would have to pay an additional fee before being permitted to play used games on the Xbox One, the company has hastily backpedaled and shifted the responsibility for used games policies to the publishers. We are given to understand that there will be a default gate in place preventing used games from simply being transferred to a new console. However, game publishers can, if they so choose, “enable” gamers to trade in games at “participating retailers” (read: GameStop).
While Microsoft will not charge a platform fee for the activation of used games, a game that has changed hands will still need to have its transfer enabled in order to work, which means that it probably won’t be possible to simply give a game away to your friend once you’re finished with it. During its E3 presentation, Sony openly mocked Microsoft’s policy in a 22 second-long instructional video showing how to share games on the PlayStation 4.
Microsoft isn’t the only company that’s been getting a lot of flak this year, however. Electronic Arts recently won a Worst Company in America award for the second year running, largely due to the disastrous launch of SimCity, the spread of microtransactions in their games and the implementation of Online Passes. With regards to the latter, EA has responded to the complaints by discontinuing the Online Pass system and beginning to phase out Online Passes for older titles.
EA’s Chief Operating Officer, Peter Moore, responded (albeit rather disingenuously) to the nomination for Worst Company in America and it appears that he is now doing more damage control, tackling the issue of Online Passes and also addressing the idea that EA might have pressured Microsoft into adopting a strict used games policy. Speaking to Polygon, Moore insisted that EA is supportive of used games and did not lobby for gating systems on next-gen consoles:
“As the guy who is the chief operating officer of Electronic Arts I can tell you that EA did not aggressively lobby for the platform holders to put some gating function in there to allow or disallow used games. I am on the record as being a proponent of used games. I like the ecosystem.”
Note that while Moore says the publisher did not lobby for the gating system, he makes no promises as to whether or not they’ll use it, or what they are planning in the future for used games on the Xbox One. It’s doubtful that he genuinely enjoys the “ecosystem” of used games from a business perspective, since EA does not make any money off the sales of used games, but EA currently relies heavily on keeping a good relationship with GameStop, and since GameStop relies on its pre-owned and trade-in game systems to survive, Moore can hardly go on the record as an opponent of used games. Also note that he only claims that EA did not “aggressively” lobby for a gating system, and not that the publisher never asked for it at all.
Only time will tell whether EA will give customers permission to trade in their used games, but Moore was very firm about Online Passes and the decision to get rid of them:
“We cancelled Online Pass. I was at the meeting. It just wasn’t resonating with the consumer. It just wasn’t consumer friendly. It was hard work and it was as much work for the guy who would never trade his game in, even though we gave him some digital content, because you’re punching numbers in. We just made a decision… Online Pass was more trouble to the consumer than it was worth. It was a mistake. The consumer’s feedback was that this thing gets in the way of a good experience so let’s get rid of it.”
This comes as good news, if not necessarily new news. Moore dismisses the idea that EA is simply getting rid of Online Passes so that they can find a way to bring them back later on, but without Online Passes you can more or less guarantee that the publisher will be trying to devise new ways of profiting from the used game market. Now that the power over whether or not consumers will be permitted to trade in games has fallen into EA’s lap, what do you expect the company to do with it?
Source: Polygon [via CVG]