Will Microsoft allow Xbox One game rentals? Even rental companies don't know

Still confused about Microsoft’s policy on Xbox One game rentals and used games? You’re not alone. Companies like Gamestop and Gamefly, whose businesses partially depend on used games, don’t have answers for you, either.

TechHive attempted to contact games retailer Gamestop, game retailer service Gamefly, and rental service Redbox to ask them whether or not Xbox One owners would be able to sell their previously-owned games, rent them, and buy previously-owned Xbox One games—just as they’ve done for virtually all previous consoles.

Unfortunately, representatives from those companies appear to be in the same boat as we are: trying to figure out what the future holds.

“It’s been a meeting-filled morning,” a spokeswoman from Gamestop said in an email. “Microsoft is designing the Xbox One to enable customers to trade in and resell games, and they’ll have more details to share on this at a later date.”

Gamefly was equally obtuse. “GameFly will not be making any statements until more information is released by Microsoft,” a company spokeswoman added.

Neither responded to followup emails asking for clarification. Redbox representatives could not be reached for comment.

NPD estimates that U.S. consumers spent $1.79 billion on used game sales and rentals in 2012, according to gamesindustry.biz, out of a total of $14.8 billion. The amount spent on new, physical game media dropped 21 percent to $8.88 billion, compared with the year before.

Microsoft: Game trade-ins still in place

A Microsoft spokeswoman said that consumers will be able to buy and sell Xbox One games, as has been possible with previous consoles. But she said nothing about rentals. “We are designing Xbox One to enable customers to trade in and resell games,” she said in an email. “We’ll have more details to share later.”

Larry Hyrb, the director of programming for Xbox Live (who blogs under the name “Major Nelson” also revealed Wednesday that the two key facts: that the launch of the One is still “months” away, and that Microsoft’s used-game policies appear to be in flux.

Questions about the used-game policy have quickly become the point of contention surrounding the Xbox One, which was launched with great fanfare but several questions, including the price of the console and its (bundled?) Kinect sensor. Microsoft did reveal some of the specifications of the console, including the way in which the operating systems work, the system memory, and the integration of services like Internet Explorer and Skype to more closely tie the Xbox One to the PC ecosystem.

Early reports claimed that Microsoft would charge a “small fee” if a game that was tied to one Microsoft Xbox account was played on another One console. However, Microsoft’s Xbox support staff has denied that’s actually true.

An official FAQ published by Microsoft also includes this statement: “We are designing Xbox One to enable customers to trade in and resell games. We’ll have more details to share later.”

Meanwhile, irate Xbox fans have attached thousands of comments to Hyrb’s blog post on the new used-game policy.

“Your [sic] absolutely wrong..... I was loyal to Xbox until they became anti-consumer, and now unless something changes I will leave them for greener pastures,” “mama mambo” wrote, in one of the more polite posts. “PS4 is a possibility if they dont do the same, if they do, then im going all PC. In the last year or so, Steam has really grown on me, and I favor it over the 360 anyway. I was hoping the next Xbox would get me excited, but it looks like its pushing me away.”

What will the future hold? It certainly appears that the used-game issue may color the One’s reception in the market, enough that Microsoft may need to respond, quickly. So far, Sony, the number-two player for in the United States console market for the last two years, has taken a more consumer-friendly approach to content: not only does it not charge for multiplayer access, but the company recently said that it willstream PlayStation games to non-PlayStation devices.

Image Credit: Flickr/Jennie

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