Always-on Xbox is a bad idea, say UK retail bosses

Saturday, 6 April 2013 20:15 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

A few UK retailers have added their two cents into the “always on” debate, a function rumored to be integrated into the next-Xbox partially in order to block pre-owned games from playing.

Speaking with MCV, Dixons Retail’s Christopher Rogers said while the chain doesn’t sell pre-owned games, the possibility of an always on console is bad idea in the UK as the broadband infrastructure isn’t up to par in all areas of the country. “Surely last month’s teething troubles with SimCity are a warning for this,” he stated.

Don McCabe of CHIPS added that while a console always connected to the Internet would be a positive thing, due to automatic updates and along with reduced load times and piracy, blocking second-hand titles and forcing consumers to pay more is a bad idea. McCabe also brought up the broadband connection in the UK as well.

“Block second-hand and force a constant connection and the market will shrink rapidly,” he said, “but Microsoft will still make a profit. As for the rest of us [at retail], tough titty.”

Games Centre’s managing director Robert Lindsay, feels it would be a critical mistake on Microsoft’s part to do this, as it would allow Sony the upper hand.

“If Microsoft incorporates the tech to lock out pre-owned games and Sony doesn’t then there is going to be only one winner in the next generation of consoles – and it won’t be Microsoft,” he said. “The publishers are completely out of touch with their consumers if they don’t understand how important pre-owned is in helping them fund new releases.

“Retail is struggling. This will create an even quicker decline. I remain optimistic that the rumours will remain just that, and Microsoft and Sony will make the right decision for the industry.”

Steven Doyle, manager of Games Dojo agrees that such a move would “kill the Xbox,” and make Sony the ultimate winner of the console wars.

“Customers have been unhappy with rumours about blocking pre-owned games and publishers using online codes,” he said. “If the Xbox 720 is locking out pre-owned games, we wouldn’t be happy about that at all and it certainly wouldn’t help us. Not all of our customers are online and not everyone is on the internet so that could damage it.

“In the UK, our internet infrastucture is way behind the rest of the world and if a game cuts out, that will upset people.”

Excite Games, which makes most of its profit from the sale of used titles, feels such a move would be “detrimental” to both retail and the consumer.

“We don’t make that much on new games, as the supermarkets have devalued new titles. We make most of our money through pre-owned,” said the firm’s Paul Whitfield. I put a post on our Facebook page a while back about this and most of the feedback from consumers said that if that’s the case, they wouldn’t buy the next Xbox.”

Finally, Chris Muckell, who is managing director of Xpress Games, agreed stating that if the store can no longer sell second-hand Xbox titles, a consumer migration will turn in Sony’s favor.

“Assuming everything we’ve read is true – that this could be a big failure from Microsoft if they exclusively adapt that route of distribution and online activation,” he said. “Pre-owned games fuel the entire new market.

“Microsoft needs retail.”

Microsoft is rumored to be unveiling its next console in May, with further rumors pointing to a holiday release in order to go neck-and-neck with PS4.

Thanks, woe.