Giant Bomb News

280 Comments

Microsoft Digs Bigger Hole Over Used Games

The company has assigned Major Nelson the task of trying (and failing) to clarify its stance with Xbox One.

In a bizarre attempt to provide “clarification” over the mixed signals on how Xbox One will handle used games, Xbox evangelist Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb has issued a statement meant to clarify the company’s stance. The statement does not succeed in doing that.

Here’s what he passed along:

“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. Reports about our policies for trade in and resale are inaccurate and incomplete. We will disclose more information in the near future.”

This conversation about used games as we become digital consumers was coming, and it was only a matter of which hardware manufacturer pulled the trigger first. Why, though, would Microsoft decide to stick its foot into the used games discussion without specific answers for consumers? There’s no room for half measures with used games. You are taking away some consumer rights, and if consumers are gaining anything in this transaction, Microsoft needed to make that clear from the very beginning.

Now, it's backpedaling. Now, it's trying to clarify. That means you've already lost the messaging war.

It’s possible there’s actually a pretty reasonable situation where players have the ability to turn in digital licenses for purchased games in exchange for Microsoft Points to spend on the Xbox Marketplace and used games continue to exist at GameStop and other retailers. Since the details of those arrangements is clearly changing, the onus would be on Microsoft to make the coming changes abundantly transparent.

Microsoft didn't, and it wants to pretend it's not its fault.

The statement itself is a joke, too.

“Reports about our policies for trade in and resale are inaccurate and incomplete.”

Microsoft is the one who put its executives and representatives in front of the press earlier this week, and presented increasingly conflicted information. The problem has been getting anything remotely resembling a clear answer out of them. The press hasn’t mangled Microsoft’s message, it’s that Microsoft has very little to say, and wants to point the blame at someone else with the wave of a hand. It won't work.

Sorry, Microsoft. It’s your problem, not mine. Try a little honesty next time?

Patrick Klepek on Google+
290 Comments
Posted by Finstern

I think Sony might just have the same ideas for used games as Microsoft. They were smarter to let Microsoft step out of the bunker first is all.

Posted by Clonedzero

This whole thing is a giant clusterfuck lol

Posted by HatKing

Honestly, I'd rather them get their shit together and answer with authority on the subject, than the shit where the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. I assume concrete answer will be out soon? But, they totally fucked up.

Online
Posted by EvilNiGHTS

Oh, Microsoft. I don't buy used games because I'm trying to save money, but because games go out of print and your online store is garbage. Tsk tsk.

Edited by SpaceButler

If they didn't want incomplete information to be published, they shouldn't have released incomplete information in the first place.

Edited by Asurastrike

Why, though, would Microsoft decided to stick its foot into the used games discussion without specific answers for consumers?

Posted by fmr1977

I feel bad for Major Nelson, he obviously is being told what to say. I guarantee that he wants to tell the whole truth as much as we want to hear it.

Edited by patrickklepek

Why, though, would Microsoft decided to stick its foot into the used games discussion without specific answers for consumers?

Thanks.

Staff
Posted by randombattle

@finstern said:

I think Sony might just have the same ideas for used games as Microsoft. They were smarter to let Microsoft step out of the bunker first is all.

It's so hard to say with Sony because of the lack of information but they have always had a pretty loose stance on online rights oddly enough. PSN is designed to let you share games across accounts and yeah there are share limits but it's pretty open. It's been in there for years but if they didn't want people doing it they would have changed it ages ago.

I'd say Sony is probably still thinking what they want to do but either way they are hands down smarter for not putting their foot in their mouths before they are 100% sure what they are doing.

Edited by posh

many rumours are pointing towards the burden being felt by the retailers, which would save msft from coming under any litigious threat regarding the free movement of goods laws. prices would still be the same, assuming retailers didn't absorb the blow and lose money on used games (which they won't)

Posted by ReverendHunt

Oh, Microsoft. I don't buy used games because I'm trying to save money, but because games go out of print and your online store is garbage. Tsk tsk.

This statement, right here, embodies everything I feel on the subject.

Edited by Master_Funk

I think Microsoft is going to regulate all of the used game stuff on their end, while Sony is probably gonna let the individual publishers decide the resale values. We'll wait and see which one is a better strategy.

Posted by andygazi

You didn't mention the 1st sentence:

Over the paste few days..

So you know they are taking this seriously. If I have to pay alot to trade games with my friends then I might be out. However ps4 will probably be doing the same thing now.

Posted by tenaciousdave

I have to wonder if they are being vague for the purpose of getting a reaction from people and deciding what to do from there.

Posted by doosmacleod

I've never had such little faith in a console before.

Every stance they've had, every aspect they've tried to appeal to, is to the polar opposite of my interests.

I know how there's this constant "Just wait until E3!" vibe going around, but... even with the prospect of good, or even great games, I don't see my expectations being remotely positive.

It's a damn bummer, man.

Posted by jayjonesjunior

Microsoft...

Edited by White_Silhouette

@fmr1977 said:

I feel bad for Major Nelson, he obviously is being told what to say. I guarantee that he wants to tell the whole truth as much as we want to hear it.

Agreed. He's just the front man in this and it's a hard position to be in right now. I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't even know yet.

Edited by artraider

I think it is smart for sony to wait, what has happened to Microsoft probably gives them a good idea what the consumer whats.

Edited by linus_south
Edited by KittyVonDoom

This Is.

How.

You Format.

An.

Article.

If You're

A Cool Journalist.

It is interesting watching what started as a minor spark in the background become a full blown forest fire. This is precisely the kind of situation where veiling information behind fancy and brief marketing reveals is really effing everything up for Microsoft.

Just explain what you're doing, or admit you don't know.

Edited by Nate

Well said, Patrick. Those shmucks.

Also, if Sony doesn't have restrictions on used games or penalties or "fees", I can tell you which console I'm more likely to buy in the next year.

Edited by Excast

I guess I am just sort of amazed that Microsoft comes out with this press event 3 months after Sony announces the PS4, has all this time to prepare and figure out a message that will appeal to us, and this is the best they could come up with. i watched Major Nelson in a Yahoo chat the other day. The guy spent 45 minutes answering softball questions and ignoring anything that didn't have a canned response he could copy from a FAQ.

They can't get their story straight on the need for an internet connection. They can't get their story straight when it comes to what information the Kinect is collecting and where it is being sent.. They can't get their story straight on what level of ownership we will have over the games we buy.

They are either lying or they are incompetent. Neither is particularly great news.

Posted by RedRocketWestie

If they didn't want incomplete information to be published, they shouldn't have released incomplete information in the first place.

Exactly, I see "Reports about our policies for trade in and resale are inaccurate and incomplete," and I think, "then correct and complete them." I'm sure someone, somewhere has made the decision that the rumors were bad PR and needed to be squelched, but at the same time didn't want to disrupt their original plan to trickle information out. The problem is this answer only placates a few people, and the PR damage is done until a real answer comes out. Accelerate your plan to tell us how it works, MS, because otherwise, we're left assuming the worst, despite what Major Nelson says.

Posted by Nightriff

But is this decision by Micro enough to hurt them when it comes time to buy new consoles?

Edited by RE_Player1

For how much time they had to plan this event this is embarrassing.

Posted by stalefishies

Honestly this is a marketing disaster...but it's a marketing disaster for something they're not really marketing yet. Yes, their lack of openness and clarity is pretty terrible, but if they do get the information out there in 'the near future,' as long as it's before the console's actual launch I can't actually see it doing a whole lot of damage.

I'd damn well love to get some clear information out of them though.

Posted by FinalDasa

I think a lot of their message, while inconsistent, was garbled through the filter of the internet. You have so many people losing their minds and tempers over, essentially, a lack of information.

While I get the frustration from the lack of answers I don't get the anger some exhibit. Everyone seems so ready to attack Mircrosoft for trying to answer an important question yet no one is asking Sony.

It's getting hard to parse actual issues like this used game quandary and those still angry Microsoft didn't show any games at their press conference.

Posted by BobTheFork

Patrick, Thank you for putting this out there. Aside from TV and games or what else they DIDN'T show, this is the real story and it needs to be talked about and not hyperbolized and dismissed.

Posted by MEATBALL

Man, this stuff really bums me out. I don't want to become a digital consumer. Change sucks. Pout.

Personally, I won't buy any console that doesn't allow me to do everything I can currently do with games that I purchase at retail. I hate that this is suddenly essentially unreasonable.

Posted by Matterless

As someone who does not give a damn about used games, this kind of shady PR is putting me off regardless. I was already angry about my hundreds of dollars worth of arcade games not being available to import. Pawning your own failures off on the media is super slimy.

Edited by SerHulse

@asurastrike: Maybe they saw all of the speculation about this issue that was floating around before the reveal, as well as the very negative reactions to said speculation and panicked.

Maybe they can't just come out with the details because they have had to change them at the 11th hour, to try and avoid all of negative press that was already building up, and even MS don't yet know what their policy will be.

Or maybe they're just fucking stupid, either-or

Posted by Draxyle

“Reports about our policies for trade in and resale are inaccurate and incomplete.”

What a mess. These aren't even anonymous rumors, it is by their own hand that we are given these constantly conflicting statements over what their console even does. They could have simply kept their mouths shut about these details, but they didn't.

I can't see this as anything but an internal realization that they need to re-tool the system to counter the consumer rage, but they're being blatantly dishonest about it.

Posted by Pixeldemon

Dammit Patrick, why won't you just tell me the accurate and complete truth about Microsoft's XBONE used game policies?

Posted by posh

@kittyvondoom: except it totally is how you format a news article, almost all news articles are formatted with line breaks between each sentence

Edited by artraider

@excast: I do not think they are making the console for us,they are likely targeting a audiance who is more interested in tv watching and a has a bit of ADD.

Edited by Jost1

Not getting an Xbox One. Been a happy 360 owner since 2007 but their focus is shifting and I'm not interested. Bye Microsoft :)

Edited by Deathpooky

Sorry, Microsoft. It’s your problem, not mine. Try a little honesty next time?

I don't think it's dishonestly with either this or the always online issue. It's that they still are fighting internally and with partners about how this all will work. They're probably being perfectly honest about how in flux and confusing this is. An actual digital licensing / trade-in plan will require a ton of work with retailers and publishers - it's a horribly complex legal undertaking. And the always on issue is tied into that, since you have to reassure publishers there will be enough protection against multiple installations in order to get them to buy in to your plan. No approval from publishers, no way you can run the system.

How they weren't prepared with at least some stock answers, or at least just a straight no comment, is baffling consider how much the Internet has been complaining about these very issues. But I'm guessing some execs thought they could push it off just by giving their already delayed conference, or could get away with half-answers until they finalized their plans. The far better plan would have been to include in their original conference their thinking on these issues and how it will benefit consumers, even if that's all BS, since right now everyone assumes the worst from Microsoft.

Posted by Askherserenity

@patrickklepek What I find pretty funny about this is that most of the press has given Microsoft the benefit of the doubt and haven't gone as hard on them as they maybe should. I mean, this is a pretty big consumer deal. It's the consumers that are making the biggest noise about this, as well it should be. They have no one to blame but themselves. After these last couple of months of people talking shit about these kinds of policies, Microsoft wasn't ready? Are you kidding me? They don't deserve more time to give us a plain, honest answer.

Edited by greedycheese

You don't buy Xbox One games, you only rent them until the servers go dark.

Edited by AtomicEdge

As Patrick says in this article, the debate about ownership in the digital age is going to explode at some point, and it seems Microsoft is happy to be that flash point.

I've been buying PC games for years on both disk and digitally that I fully understand that I will not be able to trade in, HOWEVER, this felt okay, because those games were cheaper than their console counterparts where the license was the disk.

Now I deal with a lot of software licensing through work, and so the idea of "just because I have this code, does not mean I have the right to use it" is not at all alien to me. For example, "DLC on the Disk" might feel a bit grubby, but it's no different to buying Keys in DOTA, or buying a WOW expansion pack, but something about holding that box in your hand feels different.

In the past, console games, as part of their closed system, have combined both the media and the license, and moving away from that is going to be a shock for console gamers.

I do believe however, that if Microsoft sticks to their guns with this, that in a year or two, we will all have forgotten this was even an issue, and will look at the media, be it digital or physical, and the license as separate entities and this will no longer be an issue.

Posted by Lelcar

Oh, how the tables have turned. I love new console generations. There is zero certainty that you'll remain successful from the previous generation. Microsoft is shitting the bed HARD right now.

Posted by kyle576

Sassy Patrick. I like it.

Edited by farisr

Honestly the issue about selling the games doesn't bother me as much as the issue about lending/borrowing/playing the same game on another xbox on another account does. Have more than one xbox and more than one user in the household, too bad, buy two copies of the game. I'd much rather they go back to requiring the disc to be in the console to boot up a game rather than all this backwards crap they've come up with for disc-less operation and preventing abuse.

There's a reason I don't do digital downloads, and bandwidth/download time isn't one of them. Don't turn my physical copies into digital downloads.

If things continue the way they are, doesn't matter what games they reveal at E3. For me, the only true games they reveal there will be the 360 games, and the third party games. All X1 exclusives will be seen as tech demos rather than actual games, since for all intents and purposes, the X1 doesn't exist for me as long as these policies are in place.

I'm not even going to start up about the online requirement.

Posted by Excast

We've all been hearing the ugly rumors about this console for weeks, if not months. Microsoft did absolutely nothing to dismantle that narrative. If anything, they reinforced it. And whose fault is that again? They've had all the time in the world to tell us what this thing will do. Less than 6 months from this thing being on store shelves and they should know, right? I mean, nobody forced them to wait months and then release vague information on Tuesday. Nobody is forcing them to wait another 3 weeks until E3 to let us know more.

Edited by KILLER_CATT

I completely agree! Well written, Patrick!

Posted by Boopie

the big kids have taken their ball and gone home so we will have to play hide and seek :(

Edited by Dhank_Dave

I've never had such little faith in a console before.

Every stance they've had, every aspect they've tried to appeal to, is to the polar opposite of my interests.

I know how there's this constant "Just wait until E3!" vibe going around, but... even with the prospect of good, or even great games, I don't see my expectations being remotely positive.

It's a damn bummer, man.

I concur. Too bad MS, I was on Xbox Live from day one. Don't forget the core audience that got you where you are today.

Edited by dagas

Between 2006 and 2012 I only had an XBOX 360 and I was convinced Microsoft was the clear choice but I have to admit that I think Sony is better now. PS plus is such a great service and I can't imagine paying for XBOX Live Gold ever again. Pay just to play online when I can play online for free and get free games every month makes no sense. And PS4 is focusing on games while the One is trying to be a mediacenter and I have no need for that. The PS4 is going to be more powerful and this about paying £35 to active used games or whatever is just crazy if it is true. I've not played my 360 since ME3 and I doubt I'll get an XBOX One any time soon. I was such a fan of MS, I even considered the 360 to be my favorite console of all time there for awhile. What happened MS?

Posted by Commander_Pants

Why don't they just bloody well come out and say what the actual process / stance is instead of trying to placate those people who are speculating because of a lack of info - by saying nothing of any actual value!

Good work Microsoft, you fail at PR and Community Engagement.

Posted by StoffInator

It's been clear since 2009 or so that Microsoft's focus was on games but on the casual and being the center of the living room. Now the Xbox One is that "all in one" device that no one asked for. My how Sony and Microsoft have switched places.