[Update 2] Speaking with Kotaku, corporate VP Phil Harrison gave some clarity to the situation, and it's definitely not good news for anyone who buys used games. Each game comes with an authorization code that grants rights to the game and installs it to the Xbox One's HDD and ties it to a Xbox LIVE account. Other profiles on the console, say siblings, maybe, can play the game just fine too. But taking it to a friend's house, you either have to play on your Xbox LIVE profile or pony up full MSRP. Which means the game cannot be resold, in a sense, since the new owner would need to pay full MSRP to activate it on their console.
But Microsoft has a solution, Harrison said. They're just not talking about it today, but users will be able to trade their games online. Sounds to me like Microsoft doesn't just want a piece of used game sales, they want the whole damn pie.
We'll continue to update as the controversial story develops.
[Update 1] Xbox's press site opened up a Q&A moments ago answering some of the "top questions" people may have about the Xbox One. One such question happened to be "Will Xbox One allow players to trade in, purchase and play pre-owned games?"
The answer is yes, customers will be able to trade, resell, and play games. However, they follow that up saying that more details will be coming soon, so it isn't clear yet what their official policy will be regarding second-hand games aside from the fact it's possible.
If anything, this makes me believe that what Microsoft told Wired is indeed true, and users will have to pay a fee to play second-hand games on their system. Otherwise, the short answer of yes would be the end of it, and there wouldn't be a need for more details in the future. But since it's still not really clear, we'll wait for official details on how this will work before passing a final judgment.
[Original] Ahead of the Xbox One's reveal today, for weeks, the biggest buzz the system earned pre-announcement were negatives; specifically, the chance it may be always online, and that it may block used games from being played. We now know that the system itself does not require an "always online" connection (though developers may implement it on a per-game basis), but what about secondhand games?
According to an in-depth look at the Xbox One with Wired, the console blocks used games, at least in the traditional sense.
No longer will you be able to pick up a game used, pop it into your console, and have it play no questions asked. Instead, all games will have to be installed to the console, which will thus tie the game to an Xbox LIVE account. Once that game is tied to an Xbox LIVE account, it's tough luck for the next owner of that game. They'll have to pay a fee to Microsoft to sync the game with a new Xbox LIVE account—their own—since it'll already be tied to the first owner's account.
So much for saving a few bucks buying a game used. Even though they're not blocking used games outright, they are blocking used games as we currently know them. They'll be changing the landscape of secondhand game sales and will likely make an enemy in retailers such as GameStop. GameStop or other retailers may be forced to reduce the cost of used games to counter dramatically the cost of such a fee implemented by Microsoft. Sounds great in theory, but this means that consumers trading in or selling their games will get even less value for their games. And consumers buying it aren't really saving money, since they'll still have to pay the fee on top of buying the used game.
This information is still very new, and GameRevolution didn't hear this direct from Microsoft, only Wired did. Since this is such a controversial topic, we expect more information to come to light in the coming days leading up to E3 that will fully explain how this will work, and what implications it might have for consumers, developers, and retailers alike. We'll keep you posted as this develops.