It's rumoured that the next generation Xbox will introduce a mandatory activation scheme designed to wall out pre-owned buyers (Sony, incidentally, has patented a system which could serve much the same purpose on PS4). We find the idea deeply dubious - Microsoft is well aware of how much its customers hate attempts to control how they make use of their purchases - but there's no denying, given comments to the effect from the likes of Frontier's David Braben and Crytek's Rasmus Højengaard, that a significant proportion of the publishing biz would back such measures.
Publishers often claim that used game sales "cheat" them of revenue that would otherwise have gone towards new games. It's a claim seldom supported by any statistical evidence, but the prominence pre-owned sections now enjoy in stores - often displacing new titles in the shop window - suggests there may be some truth to the argument. The question is perhaps not whether a pre-owned block will happen, then, as how we should feel about it when the industry at large eventually forces the hands of manufacturers.
Enter the latest Hot Topic, published in issue 96, wherein Log and I briefly (punchily?) debate whether we really need the ability to trade in games down the line. As always (1) this is very much an exercise in devil's advocacy, so please check in your torches and pitchforks before reading on, and (2) go right ahead and vote in the poll over the page.
Log says: YES!
What's mine is mine
I don't own anything any more. Instead, I'm licensed to enjoy the temporary use of things because a monolithic trillionaire entity generously accepts my payments and keeps their pipelines open. Netflix, Apple, O2, Virgin - I'm a subscriber to life. If I suddenly stopped my monthly payments, or their server nests were attacked by a deadly plague of data bees, I'd have absolutely nothing. For ongoing services, that's understandable. But for videogames, as some business analysts keep claiming is on the cards?
The most intuitive thing in the world - to read a book, finish a game, watch a DVD, then give it away to someone else - is being slowly taken from us by account-bound purchases that we're too scared to share because our accounts are linked to our credit cards. Even Valve, the gaming industry's cuddliest near-monopolist, has said that it won't comply with a recent court ruling to let people re-sell digital purchases. You monster.
I like my corporations scared. It's the only motive they have to provide me with a better service. Left to their own devices, these psychopathic quasi-people would serve only their own desires. If you are against second-hand purchases, Edwin, you are anti-culture, anti-sharing and against humanity. And by the titanium polygods, I will eliminate you.
And now, the thrilling rebuttal. Flip the page.