Microsoft's statement about pre-owned licences on Xbox One last night has sent a shiver up the back of indie retailers.
MCV has spoken to a number of indies from across the UK and while some are happier than others the message is clear – many are worried that their livelihood is under threat.
These new complicated pre-owned licence agreements are bad news for the consumer, they argue, and possibly even worse news for Microsoft. Here's a selection of what we've been told today:
Matthew Brady – Game On
They have left yet more unanswered questions. [Distributor] Gem doesn't have any info and nothing is feeding back from Microsoft. We don't know anything. The new information put to bed the issue of Kinect buying but ‘participating retailers' could be anyone! If it's just the big boys, they'll be no competition. The EU is already on Steam's back about restrictions and so what happens if Microsoft do it too?
Microsoft is overcomplicating things. We can't get the information from Gem or Microsoft and its going to affect us for the next six or seven years. Who knows, Sony could go the same way.”
Don McCabe – Chips
Microsoft has screwed the launch up big style. It is digging a big hole. It's the classic dominance leads to arrogance, arrogance leads to fall and the fall leads to a fall in sales and then they listen to consumers and become humble and being humble leads to growth.
History always repeats itself. Our industry is very cyclic and some haven't completed that dominance to humble cycle. Look at THQ – it became arrogant, invested in uDraw and it screwed them up. The history of video games is littered with companies that were massive in their day but took a wrong step. EA have gone through the same cycle a few times and now they have become humble again. Look at the Simcity debacle. You'd think Microsoft has looked at all the past mistakes and thought how can we do all of these.
Microsoft has screwed the launch up big style.
It is digging a big hole. It's the classic dominance
leads to arrogance, arrogance leads to fall and
the fall leads to a fall in sales and then they listen
to consumers and become humble and being
humble leads to growth."
Don McCabe – Chips
It's another case of a manufacturer trying to control the market. Again, it's a case of more questions than answers and that's not good in terms of PR. The negatives are what people remember and all retailers are crapping themselves. This is my business, why should you control my business?
But as retailers we evolve. You can't say you can't sell it. You might not be happy about it but you've got to evolve with the situation. If it doesn't sell, you'll move onto something else.”
Chris Muckell – Xpress Games
The latest policies do sound like a retailers' minefield, but that said we don't know yet what support and how low down the chain Microsoft will be supporting with the trading in at Retailers.
Does ‘retailers' mean GAME, HMV & Tesco? Or does it mean Xpress Games and all the other indies throughout the country? We've not been briefed on anything yet, so it's hard to give a good honest judgment until we've heard from the horses mouth how/if Microsoft will be working with indie retailers.
In a nutshell it just sounds over complicated for a consumer. There are too many rules, overcomplicating something that should be a simple process simply just to syphon out a few pounds of pre-owned revenue for the publisher/Microsoft.
This is going to be a minefield for all retailers to one extent or another. Imagine the fun with customer returns/unwanted gifts. It will be an interested 12 months ahead. Let's see what Sony have to say.”
Robert Lindsay – Games Centre
Yet again it feels like Microsoft and publishers are still testing the water to see how far they can take this without causing a consumer revolt.
In the good times a few years ago when revenue was healthy no one really mentioned the pre-owned market. Now that all publishers are feeling the squeeze they are grasping for any short-term solution they can find. If they do implement this there will be no winners and it's clear that customers are completely against this system.
Bryan Grieve – Videogaming 24/7
It's not very good, but it's better than what it was first sounding like. Its biggest impact is on new games. Staff are going to need to know about the games and I cant buy a copy several copies to give to the staff. The new lending policies mean that I can't pass one copy around to my staff and people cant lend copies to friends. It's going to damage sales of new releases.
But the possibility of having to register as a retailer is going to be a positive. It will help us because it means retailers may have to register to become a part of it, meaning the market stalls that sell games cheaply and don't pay rent can't stock games as they won't be able to register as a retailer.
I can't see ‘registered retailers' meaning just the
big stores because, on the whole, publishers try
and help indies. I go to a lot Namco Bandai events
and they try to help us. There are a lot of us indies
in the UK and across the world, so Microsoft won't
want to ignore us."
Bryan Grieve – Videogaming 24/7
I can't see ‘registered retailers' meaning just the big stores because, on the whole, publishers try and help indies. I go to a lot Namco Bandai events and they try to help us. There are a lot of us indies in the UK and across the world, so Microsoft won't want to ignore us.
But we still don't know what publishers will charge for games and play pre-owned games and that's an issue.”
Tony Porter – Games N More
It's pure arrogance. Microsoft is beyond arrogant. It's becoming like a task on The Apprentice where they just haven't got a clue. To think every Xbox One owner will have a broadband connection – it's unbelievable. Internet is cut off for loads of reasons – faulty connections, people not paying bills on time – it happens.
The trade-ins for participating retailers sounds like it's for larger retailers that have got the money.
I don't see the point of stocking Xbox One at the minute and customers are saying that even though they had the Xbox and the Xbox 360, they will go for the PS4 as it's a gamer's console, not a entertainment system. What the hell are they doing? Not everyone has internet. Some just want the game and not to play online. Those people are being ignored by Microsoft.”
Julian Slater – Bits N Pieces
It's all still too vague. The pre-owned thing is fair enough but I can see EA charging a fortune. Always on is a massive blow. So many customers don't have online or play Xbox Live. People are not that loyal to a particular console that they won't switch to PS4.
Participating retailers? I don't know. Will participating retailers just have to sign up to a Microsoft website and pay a fee? Either that or it means Microsoft will sign a deal with the big retailers. But it sounds a fee based system and if so, that's absolutely fine as it makes trade-ins last longer.
If PS4 is a games console but Xbox needs to put more emphasis on the game side because it will turn people away. People already have laptops and smart TVs so we already have ‘entertainment systems'.
Additional reporting by