Xbox One games will require mandatory installation to the console's hard drive, Microsoft has confirmed, and will be locked to the account of a single user. In addition, a variety of statements have been made regarding pre-owned games and playing games on other consoles, many of them rather ambiguous and contradictory.
"On the new Xbox, all game discs are installed to the HDD to play," a Microsoft representative told Wired today. This has been styled a "pre-owned block", but OXM's Jon Hicks (who's currently in Redmond, checking out the new console) argues otherwise - when you sell the game on Microsoft will deactivate your install via unspecified methods, meaning the next purchaser won't have to pay the second-user fee.
Here's a bit more context from Jonty's Twitter.
Again, at no point when I was talking to MS did they say there was a fee for used games. They said used games were important and supported.— Jon Hicks (@MrJonty) May 21, 2013
There's also this from T3's Matt Hill:
Xbox One 2nd hand games: Xbox told me that once you sell a game, the license transfers in the cloud. So when a new gamer activates it...— Matt Hill (@gethill) May 21, 2013
...it's removed from your machine. This however seems to contradict what @wired is reporting so I'm intrigued to know why— Matt Hill (@gethill) May 21, 2013
Wired has now updated its story with the following: "Microsoft called Wired after this story was originally published to say that the company did have a plan for used games, and that further details were forthcoming."
I'm trying to get some clarity on all this - more soon, hopefully. Read our definitive Xbox One guide for all the details on the hardware, Microsoft's next gen vision, the power of cloud computing and the all-new Kinect.
Update - This snippet comes courtesy of the Xbox One Q&A section over on Xbox Wire: "We are designing Xbox One to enable customers to trade in and resell games. We'll have more details to share later."
Update 2 - Eurogamer's pushed Microsoft's Phil Harrison for an explanation. He hasn't quite provided one. "Okay, so, I can understand where some of the confusion may have come from, so let me try to help out there.
"First of all, you can buy a game on a disc from a retail store, come home and install it to your Xbox One. The disc contains all the bits and data on that game, which you can then give to your friend, and they can then install it on their Xbox One. No restriction on that, except that the second person obviously has to pay for it.
"You can purchase a game in two ways: you can purchase it from a retail store or you can download it. So the act of putting the bits on the hard drive - the Xbox One doesn't really know or care what method the bits got into the machine, if it was from a disc or downloaded from Xbox Live. But obviously the users will then have to purchase that content.
"What I think people are now confusing is the purchasing of content in the first instance with the ability to trade and resell the previously played games. We have a solution for that and we will be announcing exactly how that works in due course."
Harrison did manage to debunk a report that the new Xbox will lock games and content to a single account. More through the jump.
Update 3 - Major Nelson has confirmed that "while there have been many potential scenarios discussed, today we have only confirmed that we designed Xbox One to enable our customers to trade in and resell games at retail. Beyond that, we have not confirmed any specific scenarios."
So there could be some sort of fee-based shenanigans, but nothing's nailed down. It's worth noting that Sony hasn't commented on how it's handling second-hand games on PS4, either - maybe this is how the industry's decided how it's going to get some of that cash back from Gamespot and its ilk.
Major Nelson also commented on playing games at a friend's house. "Should you choose to play your game at your friend's house, there is no fee to play that game while you are signed in to your profile." This squares with what we've heard ourselves - the game is tied to your profile rather than your console.