Skip to main content

Volition dev: next Xbox not playing pre-owned games would be "fantastic"

Online passes are "a band-aid on a large wound".

The next Xbox possibly disallowing pre-owned games from being played? That would bea "fantastic change for our business", according to Volition (Saints Row) design director Jameson Durall.

In an article on #AltDevBlogADay, Durall offered ideas on how Microsoft might implement such technology.

"The system is already there for Microsoft," wrote Durall, "all they'd have to do is use the DLC and codes model they have to tie a game to your Xbox live account. Each retail disc would likely need that unique key somewhere in the code so the account would be able to link it properly. Ideally it would tie a full version to the console it is registered on so family members can play even if the main account isn't signed in, but this is exactly how their model works now anyway.

"It does have it's faults that would have to ironed out," he acknowledged, "like game rental. I'm a fan of rental companies because they have to buy copies of the game to be able to rent them out and if someone likes the game, there is a chance they would purchase it for themselves.

Who's that one in The Bible that likes the colour red?

"I could see Microsoft implementing their own rental service which would maybe give them a code that activates the game for X days and they are charged a small amount. This could work when you borrow the disc from someone or even with digital download of the full version. It would also send a percentage of the rental to the developer with each rental - likely improving the overall revenue we would receive from it.

"Another issue would be with simply lending the game to a friend," Durall went on, "but maybe they could implement something similar to what Amazon is doing with their Kindle Books lending policy. The license of the game could be transferred for a set time to another Gamertag and the original owner won't be able to play during that time. Seems like it could work."

"They also don't seem to realise how much they are hurting us when they buy a used game and how pirating a copy is just plain stealing."

Jameson Durall, design director, Secret Project Y at Volition

The rumour of the next Xbox possibly disallowing pre-owned games from being played came late last month, alongside mention of a Blu-ray drive in Microsoft's next machine. But there was no explanation of how this would all work.

Through DLC, publishers and developers have found ways to make more money from their games. They've also attempted to monetise pre-owned sales by requiring codes to unlock multiplayer or to enable DLC. First-hand buyers of the game are given this code for free, but those who pick-up the copy second-hand need to purchase a fresh code online.

These methods are "really just a band-aid on a large wound", wrote Durall.

"In the end, I fully believe that we have to do something about these issues or our industry is going to fall apart," he urged.

"People often don't understand the cost that goes into creating these huge experiences that we put on the shelves for only $60. They also don't seem to realise how much they are hurting us when they buy a used game and how pirating a copy is just plain stealing. Maybe something as simple as educating them could help solve the problem...

"I know that some will say I'm not considering the retail games stores and the impact something like this would have on them, but remember, they were doing fine well before the used games market became such a staple of their business.

"The truth is, [retail stores] aren't concerned with how this business is affecting us, so why should I care how these changes will affect them?

"Every game I buy is new from Amazon and arrives at my door on or close to release day, shipped free with no tax. The proper revenue also gets to the Developer that created it - how could a retail store ever get more convenient than that?"

Jameson Durall is design director of "Secret Project Y" at Volition, a THQ studio. Volition most recently released Saints Row: The Third, which has been a success for embattled publisher THQ. Volition will now work on announced Guillermo del Toro collaboration InSane, plus Secret Project Y, which we can only assume will be Saints Row 4.

Saints Row: The Third DLC.

Read this next