Alot of people seem down on Microsoft's announcement of the Xbox One, especially as it pertains to used games and borrowing. I've been reading WAY too many story commentors and Twitter feeds but Ben Kuchera's tweets helped put things into perspective to me.
Stop thinking of the "game" as the disc. It's just a delivery mechanism. We're seeing tension between what we assume and the new reality.— BenKuchera (@BenKuchera) May 21, 2013
Along with the news that game installs are mandatory, it makes sense that the physical disc is just a way to get the digital game onto your Xbox One instead of downloading it. Microsoft seems to be, for all intents and purposes, creating a digital-only console. Phil Harrison reaffirmed this in an interview with Eurogamer where he tried to explain how the used game aspect will work:
"I can come to your house and I can put the disc into your machine and I can sign in as me and we can play the game," he explained.
"The bits are on your hard drive. At the end of the play session, when I take my disc home - or even if I leave it with you - if you want to continue to play that game [on your profile] then you have to pay for it. The bits are already on your hard drive, so it's just a question of going to our [online] store and buying the game, and then it's instantly available to play.
"The bits that are on the disc, I can give to anybody else, but if we both want to play it at the same time, we both have to own it. That's no different to how discs operate today."
Games automatically install so if you take your disc to a friends house, the "bits", as Phil Harrison put it, are installed onto your friend's hard drive. He goes onto to say that they are attempting to put in a way to basically resell your license to a game, or your friend could choose to buy & unlock the game without the need to download it or go buy a physical copy.
Essentially, games are going to be digital only, just like on Steam, except that it seems Microsoft is looking at a way to allow the reselling of digital goods. I read It's true that I can go to a friend's house and let him play my Steam games under my account, but when I leave or log into another PC, he can't play those games anymore.
"We will have a system where you can take that digital content and trade a previously played game at a retail store," Harrison said. "We're not announcing the details of that today, but we will have announced in due course."
What all this information has brought me to is the realization that the Xbox One is a digital only platform, just like Steam, except that there will be someway to resell/trade-in previously played games. The news that pricing will be set by the publishers make the platform even more similar to Steam. The only negative of all this news (for me- I don't share games and am ready to move to all digital for my console needs) is that it would essentially kill of game rental services.