Xbox Exec Responds to Rumors of Digital Game "Trade In" Feature

"We are not actively planning such a thing."


Recently, an Xbox survey sent out by Microsoft asked users if they would "sell back" their digital games for 10 percent of the purchase price. In wake of this, some analysts, including Michael Pachter and Colin Sebastian, have suggested Microsoft is "playing with fire" as it relates to the impact such a program could have on its relationship with brick and mortar retailers like GameStop. Indeed, such a program would conceivably eat into GameStop's market share and potentially shake things up.

Now, Xbox marketing executive Aaron Greenberg has responded to Pachter and Sebastian to tell them that the survey is only exploratory. It's not an indication that such a feature is actually in the works.

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"We are not actively planning such a thing; surprised it was even asked in a survey. Not fire being played with," Greenberg said to Pachter. To Sebastian, Greenberg said, "We are not actively planning such a thing. Always asking questions to understand the needs of our fans. No need to worry."

In a note to investors this week, Sebastian said Microsoft's Xbox survey may "stir up concerns" regarding GameStop's secondhand business, but the 10 percent figure is well below the average trade-in price that GameStop pays. Therefore, "While disclosure of the Xbox survey might create some noise near term, we believe that perceived threats to GameStop’s business would likely be overstated."

It's possible we'll hear directly from GameStop on the subject very soon, as the retailer will report earnings for its latest financial period later today, March 24.

Whether it happens or not, a digital game buy-back program is a really interesting idea and speaks to the rising profile of digital games in the current generation of consoles. Just recently, CD Projekt Red CEO Marcin Iwinski told us that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt digital sales on Xbox One and PS4 made up around 40 percent of all sales at launch.

First-parties were apparently super-pleased with Witcher 3's digital share, Iwinski said.

Would you be interested in a digital game buy-back program? Let us know in the comments below!

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