How Can Microsoft “Fix” Xbox One’s Game-Licencing?

Much has been made of the changes Microsoft are implementing with Xbox One’s game licencing. With every Xbox One game bought, installation of the game on to the console’s HDD and registration of the game to your Live profile are mandatory before (or whilst) playing. This may seem a little… draconian… but the system also does give rise to some that are long-overdue fixes, such as sharing titles across “families” – meaning your game would be able to be used by other family members on other consoles in your house (and yes, there’ll most likely be some restrictions to prevent exploitation of this ability).

On the flip side, however, there’s also some incoming restrictions which have gamers up in arms in frustration. In a nutshell, what Xbox gamers are objecting to are:

  • Online Connectivity – MS have confirmed that, in order to ensure your console’s software is up-to-date (and that the game(s) you’re playing are all valid purchases and registered), the console must connect to their servers at least every 24hrs. If the console remains offline longer than that, it can only be used for TV and DVDs/Blu-rays (and as a very expensive gaming paperweight) until it connects again.

  • Limited/Monitored Game Re-Sales & Trades – Due to the one-time licencing code that has to be registered to a console (online) for each and every game, you can’t resell a game. You can’t even lend it to a mate. MS are looking into options to “reactivate” a licence when you trade in a game (at selected, pre-approved retailers obviously), but that still means bye-bye eBay selling, sayonara to rentals and ciao to lending games to mates to play without you being logged in on his/her console.

So how could Microsoft solve all these (“first world”) problems in one fell swoop?

(I want royalties for this idea…)

MAKE IT SO HAVING THE GAME DISK IN THE DRIVE IS A DE-FACTO LICENCE.

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Microsoft want to make sure that people actually buy a game (and not pirate it) to play it (hence the game registration process), and that they haven’t on-sold it after buying the game. This ensures all that with minimal extra problems.

  • Can’t get online for a weekend? Leave the game in the disk drive and you can play “offline” to your heart’s content (as well as use the TV and DVD options).
  • Worried about not being able to lend, borrow or rent a game you want to play? Doesn’t matter if the registration code is already used as you have proof that you have the game – it’s in your console!!

Even if you want to resell the game yourself (and not via EB Games or JB HiFi), they can play it as long as they have the game in the tray. If they want to transfer the licence – charge a fee then and MS (and the publishers) get their cut of the re-sale – similar to how EA etc. (used to) sell their online passes on the Live Marketplace for those buying the game second-hand.

If MS and game publishers are worried about potential lost sales, there’s only a chance of having one “extra” copy between the licence and the physical disk. Hell, they could make it so if you’re playing by the disk offline that you have limited/capped/time-restricted singleplayer or no online gameplay (if you don’t have that game’s licence on your HDD), as it should be a fallback for being offline.

How is it such a simple solution could be overlooked? Sure, there may be a couple of tweaks to the conditions to make sure publishers are happy with their “cut” of used game sales, but it’s elegant ‘cos THAT’S HOW IT WORKS WITH THE 360 for “download to console” licencing.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And please, Microsoft, email me for my bank details to send the royalties to before you implement this.

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Author: David Lynch View all posts by

Favourite games include Shadow Complex, the Assassin’s Creed series, and he lives in hope of a new console title in the Star Wars: Battlefront series.

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