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June 6, 2013 at 5:59 PM

Microsoft confirms new restrictions on used-game sales

Microsoft today confirmed that it will add new restrictions to sales of used Xbox games, using new copy protection technologies built into its upcoming Xbox One console.

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The company also provided more details about how you’ll need to connect the Xbox One to the Internet at least once every 24 hours to continue playing.

Copy-protection mechanisms built into the new Xbox may also enable game publishers to restrict used disc sales or add “transfer fees,” but Microsoft itself won’t add a fee, the company said in a detailed explanation posted online today.

Microsoft is gearing up for a big presentation Monday at the E3 conference in Los Angeles, where it hopes to build excitement about the console, games and services it plans to launch closer to the holiday season.

By releasing details of its controversial new policies today, the company may be hoping that gamers vent their spleens this week, so complaints about the restrictions don’t overshadow its big show on Monday.

Still, concerns may linger about limitations being placed on entertainment products that people pay $60 or more to acquire.  Games may eventually be distributed entirely online, closing opportunities for resale. But until then there will be tension between people who want to resell their stuff and software companies that believe they have perpetual rights and control over their products.

Used game discs will run on the Xbox One, if authorized under a new approach that’s likely to limit resale activity. In effect Microsoft and game publishers are deciding where, and to whom, people may sell their game discs.

Sony’s likely to add similar restrictions to its PlayStation 4 console, which also is going on sale later this year.

Microsoft said Xbox One users will be able to trade-in and resell their game discs at retail stores, if game publishers allow it. Microsoft said it “designed Xbox One so game publishers can enable you to trade in your games at participating retailers,” the company said in a detailed blog post today.

Game publishers have chafed at sales of used games, so it will be interesting to see whether they limit trade or pricing of used games somehow. Microsoft acknowledged today that some publishers may charge fees for transferring used games, and may prevent used game sales:

“Third party publishers may opt in or out of supporting game resale and may set up business terms or transfer fees with retailers.”

Privately selling games — such as at a garage sale or through Craigslist — is severely restricted. Microsoft is restricting the transfer of used games to people on your Xbox Live friends list for at least 30 days. It’s also allowing used games to be sold only once.

“Xbox One is designed so game publishers can enable you to give your disc-based games to your friends. There are no fees charged as part of these transfers. There are two requirements: you can only give them to people who have been on your friends list for at least 30 days and each game can only be given once.”

Microsoft will require that Xbox One consoles be connected daily to the Internet, in part so it can check and see if owners are using any used games:

While a persistent connection is not required, Xbox One is designed to verify if system, application or game updates are needed and to see if you have acquired new games, or resold, traded in, or given your game to a friend. Games that are designed to take advantage of the cloud may require a connection.

With Xbox One you can game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your library. Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection, but you can still watch live TV and enjoy Blu-ray and DVD movies.

Microsoft didn’t say anything about whether government spies will also be allowed to periodically peek into your game console.

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