One of the very first rumors concerning the next Xbox was that the console would block used games. After the rumor hit the streets, many disregarded as it as just that - a rumor. It's hard to believe Microsoft would cut off the used game market and risk angering pretty much every games retailer - including GameStop. Since then, the rumor has silently crept away into our subconscious to only be brought to the surface again over a year later.
Speaking to sources who have had direct contact with the next Xbox, Edge reports that Microsoft's next game console will feature an always-online DRM solution that will prevent used games from playing on the machine. Every game's physical copy will include an activation code, much like physical PC games, that must be entered to activate the game on the console. From there, it will use a Steam-like online verification system that will check your game against its database every time you launch it.
I don't think anybody needs to be told how incredibly asinine this is. Despite GameStop's dominance waning in the face of digital distribution, the used game market is something that thousands, if not millions, of gamers rely on. Removing the ability to play once, trade it in and get another will likely only anger gamers and cause them to move to a competitor.
Not to mention, such a move would surely anger the likes of GameStop and other retailers that make much of their profit from used game sales. These retail outlets may even refuse to carry Microsoft's latest machine if a used game block is put into place.
Edge's sources revealed other details regarding Microsoft's next console that aren't as controversial or incendiary. Keeping in line with previous rumors regarding the next Xbox' hardware, these latest sources say that Microsoft's new machine will indeed feature an eight-core processor clocked at 1.6 GHz, a D3D11.x 800MHz GPU, and 8GB of RAM. As for the size of the hard drive, that's unknown at this point, but it's expected to be rather large as Microsoft will pushing digital content delivery with its newest console.
On a final note, the sources spoke on the differences between Microsoft's and Sony's next console. It would appear that developers prefer Sony's machine over Microsoft's due to its flexibility as Microsoft is only letting developers use "approved development libraries." Sony is letting developers go nuts and experiment as much as they want. The OS in Microsoft's next machine, which some rumors suggest may be Windows 8, is also reportedly "more oppressive" than Sony's.
We'll find out more about Sony's next generation console later this month as the company is expected to reveal the first details at a February 20 press conference. It's unknown when Microsoft will reveal more information on its newest console, but a countdown timer on Major Nelson's Web site leads us to believe that the next Xbox will be revealed at E3 in June.