Are game publishers on the verge of bringing a no-share/no-resale model to the console game market?

Since the launch of the PS4, Sony has been the flag bearer of pro-consumer policies. The console maker has been evidently clear with its marketing message prior to the console’s launch back in 2013. Meanwhile, Microsoft has often been lashed out at on the internet for originally embracing an anti-game sharing/anti-resale model for the Xbox One prior to its launch. Eventually, the software giant altered these plans and reverted back to the traditional console retail game model.

It appears that Bethesda is on the verge of setting Microsoft’s original plans in motion and setting a new trend in the console space with its forthcoming release of The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited on the PS4 and Xbox One. Both versions of the game will require a CD key, much like the CD keys that come with retail copies of all PC titles.


This, in turn, implies that you will not be able to sell your copy of the game, or buy a used one for that matter, as the game’s license will transfer to and tie-in with your PSN or Xbox Live account. Users have expressed concern regarding the matter on the game’s official forums, as a result of which a developer entered the discussion and confirmed that users will indeed need CD key to play the MMO.

To clarify, you will need a unique game registration code in order to play the game, and used copies will not be eligible to receive a key if the code has already been redeemed.

It works the same way as the PC version in that the code included in the box is to activate your ESOTU account and the discs are for installation purposes. If you own the disc but don’t have a key, you’ll be able to install the game and reach the login screen, but you won’t be able to log in and access the game without an active ESOTU account.

Interestingly, this initiative is also similar to how Microsoft planned on handling game licenses, which would be transferred to a user’s Xbox Live account once the game has been loaded up. The adoption of this PC-like retail game model clearly goes against the kind of consumer freedom Sony has been boasting about since before the PS4’s launch. It’s an interesting inconsistency in the console maker’s marketing message, one that ought to raise several alarms.


For those who have forgotten, here’s a reminder.

 Could this be a hint at things to come? Will other big publishers, such as Activision and EA, also adopt this model and kill the buying and selling of used game software? Only time will tell. In the meanwhile, let us know what you think in the comments below.

Muhammad Ali Bari

Editor and PR Manager at GearNuke

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  • NoNeedToArgue

    pretty sure that’s how all console MMO’s work. DCUO was the same way before. but this is all moot because Bethesda already denied these claims and said used copies will work just fine.

  • kreator

    The only people mad at this are pirates! But anyway, I would love for M$ to make all the X1 exclusive’s digital only. 1st and 2nd party titles. Then we’ll start to see 3rd party devs going the same route, When they see all the money they stopped losing.

    • Digital only is a terrible idea, look at what has been happening with digital games lately. PT Demo on PS4 is locking up people’s libraries, EA’s Origin servers crashed and made their digital games unusable (even the already installed ones), Far Cry 4 on Xbox One locked gamers out because they accidentally deleted it from the servers so the game couldn’t authenticate.
      And no, not only pirates are upset. If a game sucks and you’d like to resell it, this method would not allow you to do that. Also, you can’t allow your friends to borrow it and if your account gets banned as M$ has done lately, you can never play it again.

      • kreator

        It’s going to happen!

  • Wasn’t buying that game anyways due to being “Online” only… but I agree… just say “No” to games that require keys to activate.

  • Escopablobar

    There is a simple and effective response to such measures. Don’t buy the game. If we want to repel such anti consumer behavior, we must send a message with our wallets.