Xbox One's trade-in policies "would be easier to understand" without discs, admits Microsoft

Manufacturer wants to "bridge" physical and digital

Microsoft's chief marketing and strategy officer Yusuf Mehdi has defended Xbox One's game licensing policies in a rather good interview with Ars Technica, confessing that "consumers don't always love change, and there's a lot of education we have to provide to make sure that people understand."

Currently, there are restrictions on the sharing of Xbox One titles, and Microsoft has given publishers the opportunity to control or charge for the resale of their games. Negative reaction to this was "kind of as we expected", Mehdi told the site - Microsoft has built its console to be successful years from now, when the licensing practises adopted by Steam and other digital retailers have become ubiquitous in the console space.


The benefits of such a transition for consumers, he argued, are that pricepoints will multiply, and there will be a greater diversity of ways to buy and access games. "In the future, you can imagine the capability to have different licensing models, different ways that people have to access games. This all gets unlocked because of digital."

Publishers will compensate us for the limitation or curtailing of the power of resale, Mehdi went on. "As you go into a digital world, what's happening is publishers are choosing to have different business models and consumers are saying 'hey, if I can't resell the title, provide for me a different way to get value to get into your game.' And we think the market will be efficient in finding good models that work for consumers."

(We've heard proponents of digital share this line of reasoning before, but experience suggests that publishers won't lower prices out of principle. The proof will be in the pudding, naturally.)

As many have noted, there's no real precedent for Xbox One's licensing policies on console, hence the controversy. Mehdi conceded that Microsoft's approach "would be easier to understand" if the manufacturer had designed the console without a disc drive - digital releases are perceived differently to physical games.

The instead aim is to "bridge the two", and Mehdi accepts that better communication is necessary as a consequence. "We know we're providing a lot more value to consumers, but in that comes a lot of need to clarify, 'how come disc, how come digital, how's that work?'"

Last night, Microsoft's IEB boss Don Mattrick argued that detractors are "imagining" problems with Xbox One's online setup, and suggested that the console will be "embraced" in the "long run". What do you reckon?