As promised, Microsoft has provided additional clarification regarding used games and the Xbox One. However, while Microsoft’s stance on the issue is pretty definitive, they are still leaving a lot of the big decisions to the publishers.

Since Microsoft’s Xbox One event, rumors have been running rampant which suggest the next-gen console would block used games. Not only that, but if gamers wanted to play a used game they might have to pay a licensing fee, which could cost as much as the full retail price.

In a 3-part blog post, Microsoft’s Major Nelson (read: a team of Microsoft PR and Marketing professionals) details how exactly game licensing works, while at the same time leaving some specific questions unanswered. As the post explains, Microsoft designed the Xbox One so game publishers can enable players to trade in their disc-based games at participating retailers. They also designed the Xbox One so publishers can allow players to loan their games to friends (more on that in second).

Trade-in and resell your disc-based games: Today, some gamers choose to sell their old disc-based games back for cash and credit. 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.

However, although Microsoft designed the Xbox One to support this option, that doesn’t mean publishers have to. In fact, given the language of the post, we wouldn’t be surprised if this decision had some input from publishers.

Microsoft E3 2013 Teaser Trailer

So, while you can, in theory, trade in disc-based Xbox One games, whether or not the game will work on a different console is determined on a publisher-by-publisher basis. In other words, if publisher X doesn’t support used game trade-ins, then that publisher’s titles will be locked to a single Xbox One console.

At the moment, there’s no word on if gamers can purchase a license to connect the game to their Xbox One. We would expect that also to be determined by the publisher, but the post makes no mention of it.

In essence, this is the announcement most of us saw coming, even if it’s a bit more obtuse than we anticipated. Microsoft, as a publisher, claims they will support trade-ins, almost making themselves the “good guy,” while publishers like EA, Activision, Ubisoft have the freedom to deny used games.

What makes this announcement so interesting, though, is that making this a publisher decision hints that Sony will approach used games in a similar fashion. Had it been Microsoft that dictated the used games policy not the publishers, then Sony would have more freedom. Instead, Sony will face pressure from publishers, if they haven’t already, to offer a similar used games policy. That isn’t to say they will, but it’s certainly a possibility now more than ever.

Xbox One Controller Buttons Close-up

In addition to a fairly complex used games policy, Microsoft also announced an Xbox One feature that lets players give games to their friends. Again, publishers can decide whether or not to support the feature, but it works like this:

Give your games to friends: Xbox One is designed so game publishers can enable you to give your disc-based games to your friends. 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.

If the game is installed on your Xbox One then anyone is free to play that game. Your shared games library is accessible from your console or your account thanks to mandatory installs and the cloud, which means your games follow you wherever you go. However, if you want to take a disc-based game and loan it to a friend, you can do that – provided the person has been on your friends list for more than 30 days and you haven’t loaned the game out before.

It’s a lot to take in, and certainly not as clear as we’d hoped, but Microsoft’s stance on used games is sure to ruffle more than a few feathers. Moreover, they put the ball further in Sony’s court, regardless of whether or not the PS4 will sport a similar policy.

How do you feel about Microsoft’s used games policy for the Xbox One? Do you think putting the onus on publishers suggests Sony will include a similar policy?

Source: Major Nelson