The console war is back on, as the latest generation of video game systems are finally being unveiled. Microsoft’s third Xbox system, the Xbox One, is a combination home entertainment system and game console that looks to be a lure for families. On the other hand, Sony’s newest PlayStation console, the PS4, hopes to cater to gamers by offering a lower-priced system that does not put restrictions on games.

And restrictions on games is one of the most talked-about topics in the early stages of the latest console generation.

Below, I’ll explain how the Xbox One and PS4 will handle used games and sharing.

Xbox One’s Policy

Microsoft is taking a lot of criticism for its new requirement of 24-hour online check-ins for gaming on the Xbox One. But on top of the check-in requirement, the way we’ve shared and sold our old games is changing dramatically.

No longer will gamers have the freedom to simply bring a disc over for a friend to try out or to trade. Here’s a breakdown of how game trading and sharing will work on the Xbox One:

Sharing with Friends

  • Games cannot be freely shared with friends. Gone are the days of lending and trading this game for that game. You can sign into a friend’s Xbox One with your account and play any game you have purchased, but you will need an internet connection and Microsoft will check in every hour to make sure you’re still logged into your account. So once your friend signs into their account when you leave, they no longer have access to play any of your games.
  • And while games can no longer be lended, you can give them to friends. You must be Xbox Live friends with them for at least 30 days in order to unlock the ability to give games. Once you give away a game, however, it cannot be given again. So if you decide to give your friend the latest Halo, you cannot ask for it back a few days later when you realize you still want to play it. The license for that game is now locked to your friend.

Used Games and Trade-Ins

As far as we know, games publishers have the final say regarding used games. This means that Activision, the publisher behind Call of Duty, may allow retailers such as GameStop to take in games for resale, while EA, publisher of Battlefield, may not.

Microsoft says games it publishes will be available for resale. For more details, see the company’s official statement, “How Games Licensing Works on Xbox One.”

PS4′s Policy

Sony’s policy for used games and sharing is much less complicated than Microsoft’s.

The company says it will not be restricting the lending or trading of games between friends, but will leave the decision to allow retail trade-in and resale of PS4 games to individual publishers, much like the new Xbox One policy.

Users will also not need to check in every hour or 24 hours in order to verify their account and continue playing games.

It’s clear that the landscape is shifting toward digital distribution this generation and that games publishers want to encourage the purchase of new copies of games over used. More details on these changes will surely come out in the near future, as we approach the new systems’ holiday release dates.

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