With whispers from the rumour mill incessantly claiming that Microsoft are readying a next-gen console with an always-connected requirement, representatives from UK retailers - both national and independent - have weighed in on the ebate, and the response has been almost unanimous.
If true, it could provoke enormous industry decline.
"I do not think the UK broadband infrastructure is robust/fast enough for this to be a prerequisite," said Dixon's Christopher Rogers. "Surely last month’s teething troubles with SimCity are a warning for this?"
Rogers;s concerns regarding infrastructure were supported by CHIPS MD, Don McCabe:
"‘Always-on’ can work well for those who have that facility but even in the UK we still have a lot of customers who don’t have a broadband connection," he said.
"It could be that Microsoft has decided that customers who buy second-hand and are not connected are not profitable customers, and it would be more profitable to have a much smaller market with users who are willing to pay for entertainment and who spend constantly online.
"Block second-hand and force a constant connection and the market will shrink rapidly, but Microsoft will still make a profit. As for the rest of us, tough titty."
Games Centre MD, Robert Lindsay, echoed the warning of market decline, but suggested that were Microsoft to implement an always-on strategy by themselves, "then there is going to be only one winner in the next generation of consoles – and it won’t be Microsoft."
That last point was also made by Games Dojo's manager, Steven Doyle, who stated that "it all depends on what the PS4 does. If Xbox doesn’t allow pre-owned and the PS4 does – it will kill the Xbox. Customers have been unhappy with rumours about blocking pre-owned games and publishers using online codes."
The point was also made that pre-owned sales feed directly back into new sales.
"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," said Lindsay. "It’s not rocket science to see that a £39.99 new release with no sell-on value will put a massive hole in consumers’ spending budgets."
"I do think – 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," agreed Xpress Games' Chris Muckell.
"Pre-owned games fuel the entire new market. GAME’s entire new business plan is based around the pre-owned market with their ‘trade in a selected title and get a new release for pennies’ offers. Microsoft needs retail." [MCV via VG247]