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Retail

The Real Cost of Used Games

The Real Cost of Used Games

Thu 12 Apr 2012 3:02pm GMT / 11:02am EDT / 8:02am PDT
Business

Industry veteran Richard Browne is all for the rumored anti-used system in Orbis and next Xbox

Over the past few weeks there have been a number of articles appearing on websites across the globe fearing the concept that Sony and Microsoft are going to use, as GamesIndustry International itself put it, "the Nuclear Option" by blocking the ability to play used games on their next generation of hardware. Without fail, each and every one of these articles seems to take a damning view of this concept; even industry "analysts" like Michael Pachter have weighed in on what cost this would have to first party and third parties alike and how it would damage the industry, going as far as labeling the concept "evil". In truth it is nothing of the sort and what each and every article fails to account for is the REAL cost of used games.

I've been in this industry for 25 years, I've run development (internal and external) for seven different publishers. Used games were never, have never, been an issue to any of them. Today that actually still holds true; publishers don't hate used games, but they do hate the practices of GameStop and those that followed to force used games upon their customers - if you want to hear about nuclear options, GameStop fired theirs first. A colleague of mine brought to light how bad this has become just the other week. He went into his local GameStop and was point blank REFUSED the option of buying the game he went to get new. After pressuring the sales assistant for a few minutes he finally got his new game - but only after the assistant got his manager's approval to sell it to him. That's the state of retail today, and it's not healthy for the consumer at all.

1

The real cost of used games is the damage that is being wrought on the creativity and variety of games available to the consumer, and it's directly a result of these practices. Developers and publishers alike now spend many hours working on constructs, systems and game design elements to try and eliminate the churn of a game. Whether this be online passes, copious amounts of DLC, or gating mechanisms, one thing is for sure - it doesn't benefit the consumer. Do I really want to have to type in a token code when I buy a game? No, you've just added annoyance and friction to my experience. But more to the point - do I really want talented studios spending their time designing and implementing this rather than polishing the game? No, I really don't. But there's a much bigger, much more expensive way of trying to stop churn and it's the one that everyone has flooded to.

"The real cost of used games has been the destruction of the mid-tier publisher and the elimination of many an independent development studio"

Richard Browne

The real cost of used games is the death of single player gaming. How do I stop churn? I implement multiplayer and attempt to keep my disc with my consumer playing online against their friends. It works wonderfully for Call of Duty - no doubt it can work wonderfully for me. The problem is, at what cost? Countless millions of dollars would be the answer. Let's take a great example, one of my favorite game series released on this generation - Uncharted. What on Earth was the point of taking the completely single player experience of Uncharted 1 and bolting on an entirely new game to Nathan Drake's second adventure? The multiplayer game (brilliantly executed as one would expect of the Naughty Dog team) had absolutely nothing to do with the single player experience, and from my perspective had absolutely zero interest from me as a consumer, and I'm not alone in that. I hate to think what it cost to make, refine, balance and tune - but I can guarantee it added a whole lot of zeroes to the budget, and made the P&L look a lot more challenging. And it's all aimed at stopping the game churn. Now a lot of people probably derived a lot of enjoyment out of it, and in Uncharted's case it seemed to have no material effect on the quality of the single player experience - but I'd say Uncharted is most certainly the outlier in this because few people have the resources of Sony and Naughty Dog.

The real cost of used games? Take a look at the most recent Ninja Gaiden game. Why does that multiplayer mode exist? What effect did having to build it have on the single player experience? There is no reason for the multiplayer game to exist; it makes no sense in NG's universe. No doubt, the budget and resources for the team weren't massively extended when the request for multiplayer was added, so it absolutely must have materially impacted the people building the core game. I'm not singling out Ninja Gaiden here, as the number of games that have gone the same route over the past couple of years is substantial. But is it good for the consumer? Absolutely not - in general they're getting a poorer single player game. But again that's the tip of the iceberg.

2

The real cost of used games? Let's take someone like Tim Schafer. Tim works his genius in the video game medium primarily through selling fantastic stories in fantastic worlds, and primarily these experiences are single player games. Tim walks into publisher X and puts his latest, greatest piece of work on the table with a decent mid-range budget. It doesn't stand a chance. What you'll hear in response to that is that publishers are too risk averse. This simply isn't the case; publishers have to deal with P&Ls in reality, and they know the minute that pitch has finished that Tim's game will sell a few hundred thousand copies and then get endlessly churned. In the end, Tim has gone on to write smaller games, digitally delivered and is now using Kickstarter to fund his latest and greatest product and I think that's fantastic. Do I think it's fantastic that I'll no longer be able to buy another Brutal Legend style Tim Schafer game? No I don't. Is that beneficial to the consumer? Absolutely not.

The real cost of used games? The variety of games out there is shrinking. Existing franchises that have been successful on a single player formula are being redesigned out of their element to introduce multiplayer features. Resident Evil is now a tactical shooter. Resident. Evil. Some single player games naturally have been launched with great success in the past year or two; Rockstar have had such fortune with Red Dead Redemption and LA Noire. Both these games take a different tact to combat churn - they're absolutely huge and take weeks to complete. Guess what? Making those games was extraordinarily expensive. The risk for the publisher on such products is enormous. So we now have a situation where risk is being eliminated from a publisher's purview. You simply cannot afford risk, since the console business has become a complete hit or miss scenario where hits are well rewarded but misses are potentially crippling. Is less choice and less variety of software beneficial to the consumer? Absolutely not.

"I hope and would actively encourage Microsoft and Sony to embrace the 'Nuclear Option' and put an end to this"

Richard Browne

The real cost of used games has been the destruction of the mid-tier publisher and the elimination of many an independent development studio who in the past conducted work in that space. With next generation budgets leaping yet again only the 'mini-publishers' - such as Epic, Insomniac, Bungie - can possibly survive externally to an actual publisher. Beneficial to the customer? No.

The rebuttal of course is usually the same. Used games fuel new game sales; this is GameStop's response and some buy into it. Of course, in reality it's pure conjecture without any evidence. If used game trading fueled new game sales then when used game trade-ins became the new standard a few years ago new games sales should have spiked. Of course they didn't; in fact game sales have stayed mostly flat or actually declined. The causation of that is primarily because not only is the GameStop line a complete fallacy, there's actually a worse truth, which is game churning isn't a one-off second hand thing but a multiple of a multiple. New game gets returned for used game which gets returned for used game which gets returned for used game. It's not like GameStop is pushing new game sales when I bring the first game back. They push enough pre-orders of new software to satisfy their churn on used.

I was a student once, albeit briefly - I was certainly a kid once - and when I bought a game the value of it to me was far more than the disposable entertainment construct that surrounds games today. I played those games to death. Because the second rebuttal is that without trade-ins people can't afford games. But you know what? I've grown up, and so has a large part of our user base. We don't necessarily sell to "kids" anymore. We sell a lot of product to adults with decent disposable income - people who will find a way to buy Skyrim, Saints Row : The Third, Assassin's Creed, Battlefield 3, Batman and Call of Duty in November. Look at the numbers, they did. As for the kids, well, those over 17 will find a way too.

So personally I hope and would actively encourage Microsoft and Sony to embrace the "Nuclear Option" and put an end to this. Give us no used games, give us digital access to software on the day it launches to retail. I don't think we'll see even a minor drop in sales; in fact, I think we'll see it rise. Oh and don't worry either of you, I'll buy my Durango or Orbis from Amazon.com, Sony.com or Microsoft.com if I have to.

80 Comments

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,020 1,467 1.4
Put an end to used games and you'll cut hardware sales in half, and I think that's being conservative. Unless you're willing to cut new game prices significantly (or price digital at least 15% lower than retail) and cut prices much faster, gamers will react to this by ditching consoles entirely. If your goal is to kill the console industry and make people play PC and tablet games, though, go right ahead.

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Tony Johns

520 12 0.0
I think it would be sad if the nuclear option was used.

I had to bring some multiplayer Wii games to a friends house because the games they had the other people at the party did not want to play. He had mostly 2 player fighting games and even though my friend and I rocked at playing them, the other people at the party would not want to play fighting games.

And he could only afford the games that he likes but can't afford to spend money on party games that we won't use and I had to bring over some Mario Party 9 as well as Wii Sports Resort.

If I were to do that in 5 years time, I would have to say sorry to the people at the party all because of the hardware publishers not wanting people to borrow or share games.

and I think, after all Nintendo and Microsoft tried to do to bring in the casual audience for games so a group of people could play together. That would be lost and that would mean that core gamers and casual gamers could not share or play the games together at each others house, instead I would have to drag my console just to play the games at my friends house if his console does not have the games on it that would suit those at the party.

It would also mean that the casual audience would lose interest in games, the population of gamers would go down, and videogames would go backwards instead of forwards in regards to who a gamer is.

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Jed Ashforth
Senior Game Designer, Immersive Technology Group

107 178 1.7
There's been enough digital-only success stories across the Industry to show that there's a healthy market for single sale games with no hope of resale. Steam has been enormously successful on this model, and I think it's because their tiered pricing and spot-sales strategy is very well thought through.

It's important we don't just directly compare the Durango / Orbis suggestions to current gen consoles by simply remove the resale possibility from that familiar scenario; it's almost certainly going to look worse for consumers in that light. But there's very few complaints about Steam, XBLA or PSN not offering resale; apart from a different distribution model it's arguably a more appropriate analogy for what Durango and Orbis are proposing with title resale.

How it will affect hardware sales is a different issue, but for gamers wanting the AAA experience on their HDTV screen they're still likely to be an attractive proposition. And remember, it doesn't have to be an either/or proposition for Consoles, PC, Smartphone or Tablet. They all have different qualities to offer and across the range of gamers I know, all have at least 2 of those platforms they can play games on, most have all 4. We shouldn't assume this will sudddenly resolve into players choosing one format to rule them all just because resale is taken out of the equation.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jed Ashforth on 12th April 2012 5:22pm

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Neil Holmes
Developer Relations Manager, BlitzTech

4 1 0.3
If your goal is to kill the console industry and make people play PC and tablet games
So your answer to a lack of second hand games on consoles is to turn to PC gaming, where Steam is king, or a tablet based app store? Because those really cater to the used market, right ;)

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Felix Leyendecker
Senior 3D Artist

181 200 1.1
I agree with this article. Also, making used games impossible to sell doesn't mean there will never be price cuts ever and everyone has to pay full price no matter how long a game is on the market.
Retailers buying wholesale quantities can still lower the price if they feel like it, just like they do today. I have bought many console games for 20-25 euro from retail stores that were not used.

Posted:2 years ago

#5
While it's true that retailers have raised the stakes by pushing pre-owned too hard, it's also true that the reason they've done that is because the margins they were getting on new titles were too thin to make specialist retail profitable. Why are the margins so thin? Because, with the exception of a few monster franchises, production budgets have ballooned to a point where publisher profit becomes vanishingly small.

It's a vicious circle, and one that reveals some unpleasant and unsustainable truths about the way this industry works - on both sides. Sell smarter, not harder.

Posted:2 years ago

#6

James Stanard
Senior Engine Programmer

8 13 1.6
I totally agree, and I'm so happy to see someone put my thoughts in print exactly.

I think that the racket GameStop has going is like a rental house under the false pretense of being a sales shop. People who want to buy and play games end up giving money to a company that contributes nothing back to the developer or publisher. A used game is the game that keeps on giving. The disc might get scratched, but until it's unreadable, the game experience will be exactly the same, undiminished. So why wouldn't you buy used? I still believe in trading, buying, and selling used games with my friends. But it's the greedy business practice exploiting the current laws and situation that siphons off billions of dollars from the gaming economy and depreciates the whole industry. That's what I disagree with. It's a blight, and whether it's "morally acceptable" or not, it very much hurts the industry and the economy. Laws should be made to protect the creators of games. Just look at how many developers have had to close shop. Look at Sony's record losses this generation (despite their dogged attempt to fight piracy.) Look at the sad void of single player games.

And of course the obligatory arguments that when sales are regulated, the natural market forces will decide prices. Games will be more fairly priced, and creativity and innovation will be fostered. Trust in the dynamics of a well-regulated economy.

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
Popular Comment
I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone miss the point by such an enormous distance. He may have actually hit some sort of anti-point in another galaxy or alternate universe.

"Mid-tier" games have died because nobody in their right mind is going to pay 50 quid for a "mid-tier" game ("Buy me! I'm mediocre!") and publishers are too stupid/arrogant to price sub-AAA games sensibly. Originality has died because nobody in their right mind is going to pay 50 quid for a game they don't absolutely know they're going to like, so no developer in their right mind is going to spend tens of millions of pounds making one.

The industry has a near-fatal entitlement culture that says "We spent loads of money making this game, so you have to buy it". Inconveniently, though, most consumers don't have infinite amounts of disposable income, so their response tends to be "Fuck you, I can only afford four games a year at these prices so I'm buying FIFA, Call Of Duty, Skyrim and Need For Speed, because I know I'm going to enjoy those".

Mr Browne's fantasy of a wealthy adult demographic is wishful-thinking bollocks - games have a short window between adolescence and adulthood in which to make money from their audience, because you only get a few years between someone getting a job and suddenly being able to indulge an expensive hobby, and them having a partner/family who will frown on such frivolities with skyrocketing bills to pay.



Of course, the downside is that they don't get to make absurdly overblown epic games about macho, scowling space marines to compensate for their lack of childhood male role models, but they try to live with it.

If you can't make a profit on first-instance sales of your game without scrabbling around trying to grab after-market money you're not entitled to (once I've bought a game that disc in a plastic box is my property, and whether I keep it, sell it on or shove it up my arse is absolutely none of your fucking business), YOU'VE EITHER SPENT TOO MUCH MAKING IT OR IT'S JUST PLAIN NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Cut your cloth according to your means, do a better job, and stop bloody whingeing that the public owes you a living.

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Robin Clarke
Producer

303 691 2.3
Unless you're willing to cut new game prices significantly
Well... yes? If new games aren't in cut-throat competition with preowned copies then they can be priced more flexibly.

Posted:2 years ago

#9

James Stanard
Senior Engine Programmer

8 13 1.6
P.S. This "nuclear option" is just the publishers taking it into their own hands to combat the vicious leeching of money by used game racketeers. It would be in the consumers' best interest if the government would step in to prohibit businesses built on this model while still leaving it open for people to lend games to friends.

Posted:2 years ago

#10

James Ingrams
Writer

215 85 0.4

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Mike Kennedy
Founder | CEO

20 2 0.1
It is Retail that needs to change. For the past 12 months we have been discussing with publishers a new online model which as we all know has significantly less o/h and expense than brick and mortar; so we could survive and profit off of much smaller margins that what GameStop needs to stay afloat.

Our model would pay pub's a % of the second hand sale from all used game sales generated from our online marketplace, intrade for their promotion and endorsement of our pro-industry trade-in model. In the end most were scared shitless of the backlash by GameStop (if they those to support us), which now really doesn't make any sense as they are sure to get some back lash from them if they eliminate used games altogether. Not to mention the consumer backlash which is what they should be more concerned about.

We are still pursuing this model to some extent, but obvisouly, if pub's/hardware manufacturers keep going down these tracks with their next generation hardware, it will be a mute point. And with all this talk of pub's nuking used games, it will make funding our model near impossible as no investor in their right mind would fund a marketplace centered around physical games and the US post office to deliver them. So pub's really seem to be doing themselves in and/or all these rumors are making it challenging for us to even consider moving forward with this model.

If retail could change, things more or less could operate as consumers are used too. Consumers want "options" and don't take kindly when new things or ways of doing business are forced on them, eliminating their options. If retail could revolutionize to pay the pubs for significant second hand sales then all would be right with the world. Gamers could choose to buy digital or physical, new or used and that is the way it "should" be in our minds. On we go . . .

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Mike Kennedy on 12th April 2012 5:31pm

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Rick Cody
PBnGames-Board Member

144 14 0.1
If that's the case why aren't publishers cutting their ties with GameStop? All digital distribution. That'd prevent consumer confusion. Why have a disc drive if it's (basically) just for show?
Also, as soon as used games are discouraged the console business is dead. People having become very accepting of digital distribution through many other channels. If Apple and Google release HDTVs, it's over.
Consoles, with their exclusivity, are now the problem. Consoles have become strictly for blockbusters (and a few, random indie games) and we're not far off from getting those TVs that'll enable us play everything from basement-made to blockbuster.... Of course PCs have had all of those all along.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rick Cody on 12th April 2012 5:31pm

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Bernard Parker
Studying game design

23 4 0.2
Agreed

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Brian Smith
Artist

195 84 0.4
What a lot of hot air. The death of single player due to used sales is just absolute fiction. Even before the Internet had fully caught on games developers were being pressured to include mp regardless of it's suitability on practically every title by publishers.

Also, I don't see the car industry demanding it's share of second hand sales. Each and every car is resold on a dozen times, going by this game stuff they are loosing a fortune....bollocks, and that's why we don't see them doing it.

I'm with Spungo, you sold it to me, and now I can do what I want with it. Be thankful the industry is as lucrative as it is without trying to rape the last pennies from everyone's pockets.

Posted:2 years ago

#15
The only way to get rid of used games without alienating customers and basically removing all the money that used market generates is to set games say 6 months or 12 months after release to the same price as existing used titles, this would eliminate used games, and the way for publishers to maximise income from titles, shifting the majority of the profits in the budget market to publishers instead of companies like gamestop (who would still get new sales commission but far less money in the pot for them), otherwise these anti-copy systems in new consoles would significantly slow uptake in the new consoles meaning significantly reduced profits for next gen titles, basically you'd be keeping all the used gamers on last gen at the expense of latest gen titles, indeed those games who buy used who also buy a few new titles will not be able to on latest consoles so they will instead just stick to used in last gen consoles, in addition the pool of money publishers want would disappear instead of be transferred to them, used gamers will not be buying full price, specially if you try to force them in to it, instead of ending up with more money publishers would earn less money by trying to force such a change, should it be implemented.

There's only one way to remove used games, that's to reduce new games to the same price matching used game price patterns, slowly reducing the money over time of a title, Publisher's are just being greedy, and this article is frankly pushing a pretty narrow point of view with no supporting evidence beyond conjecture, single player games are not disappearing and even if they were it would be sheer greed in the part of publishers board's not to mention ignorance of how to maximise profits causing it not "used games", and if they did disappear, new companies would appear in their place because as long as theirs demand they'll be supply.

The fact publishers' have to result to painting such doomsday scenario's such as the article above in order to push their vendetta against used sales, of whom their poor misinformed board members were told were lost full price sales waiting to happen demonstrates that they're severely out of touch with consumers, It's easy for board members to look at piracy or used games and think it's all missing full price profit, just eliminate either and look how much our profits will go up, but the reality is the cash in the pot is the cash in the pot make best use of it instead of trying to blag more by mis-direction, in the midst of a recession the last thing any sane board should do is try to extract fictitious penny pinching profits out of their customers, the publishers should be kicking themselves that it fell to the used market and retailers to extract money out of budget sales, and if they want more money they should be getting in on the act not removing the game, all it will lead to is a reduction in traditional spending not an increase by their already hard up customer base.

If gamestop and others really aren't giving customers a good deal in the used market to generate maximum profits themselves then that gives publishers an in to release their titles after a while at a lower then gamestop price and generate most of the profit for themselves, help customers, eliminate used profits and generate more profits without alienating customers all in one foul swoop.

Edited 6 times. Last edit by Alexander McConnell on 12th April 2012 5:58pm

Posted:2 years ago

#16

Mike Kennedy
Founder | CEO

20 2 0.1
For sure. And now the consumers ARE right in the middle of this war between retailers and publishers and I know for a fact, most are getting plain sick of it.

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Dave Hawes
Project Manager coding

9 4 0.4
I have been meaning to weigh in on this for a while, and I am glad GI has put across an article that shows the other point of view on this. For years high pressure used game sales at retail outlets have been taking consumer money (giving them a very small saving on a game) and ensuring the majority is profit for them. The consumers don't save much, and the income that actually goes to the developers of the game has dwindled. The only person who wins from this really is the retailer, they make more and more money, consumers save a little, but mostly lose out because new games they might have bought simply can't be made. The quality of games has to be constrained to fit the reduced income caused by the large amount of currency being spent on games that is going to the retailer instead of the creators. If you don't think that is what happens, then why do you think the retailers push it so hard (I've frequently had to argue with sales staff in the UK to be able to buy a new game) and why are developers in general so against used sales? I wish we could have come to an agreement with retailers (where a small percentage of used game sales income went to the pub/dev who sold the game to the store in the first place) but instead the retailers have forced the industry into using this unfortunate nuclear option. It is going to have a negative effect for consumers, and that is unfortunate. It is also possible that greedy publisher execs would have forced us down this route anyway in some alternate universe where pre-owned games weren't choking off development funds, but the fact remains that they are and something had to be done about it. The success of things like steam, XBLA and PSN only seem to indicate to me that this is viable model and consumers will accept it, with plenty of associated (and understandable) grumbling. Day-one DLC and online passes is the other method by which developers have been trying to recoup some of the income from customers that would normally go to them that is instead going to retailers. I think in many cases DLC has offered great value for money compared to a used-game sale, and it is about managing a reasonable P&L so that developers can earn a living and customers pay a reasonable amount for their entertainment. I think if you asked most consumers if they want their money to go to gamestop or to the people who actually made the content they like, they would generally favour that!

Posted:2 years ago

#18

Michael Benfield
Senior Designer

15 12 0.8
First post on Games Industry.biz after a long time lurking. Just wanted to say that you are 100% correct and I too am looking forward to this functionality being implemented in the next generation of consoles.

I also think your beard is great.

Also, can we have the comments filters back please? The student/developer/other ones.

Posted:2 years ago

#19

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"I think if you asked most consumers if they want their money to go to gamestop or to the people who actually made the content they like, they would generally favour that!"

Posted:2 years ago

#20
Most of your arguments to me don't sound like arguments against the used game market, but about shortcomings and issues in the current publishing model that need to be sorted out. Perhaps the world doesn't NEED as many remakes of the same game year after year? Or maybe the reason the P&L doesn't work is simply because there isn't a market to support the game?

Getting rid of used games isn't going to solve that. A consumer who is on the fence, will simply wait until the publisher discounts the game. And if the publisher doesn't discount it fast enough, the gamer will forget the game and move on to something else that does fit their budget.

I can tell you what WON'T sell games. A gamer who spends $60 on a game to find out that the disc they hold in their hands can't be sold back for a credit on the NEXT $60 game they want. Digital downloads are one thing, but if a company tells me that a physical good I hold in my hand can't be sold to whomever I damn well please, then I surely won't buy from them again.

Anyone remember the Circuit City (?) Divx scheme from years back? With those DVDs that you'd buy that would self destruct after a certain amount of time? Yeah, not many still do... and there's a reason for that.

Posted:2 years ago

#21
I agree completely. This is what a "free market" means and I would bet that 90% of game consumers haven't got a clue where their money actually goes or is divided, and that a majority don't even grok publisher vs. developer. It's like the music industry to them - the money all goes into a big corporate Scrooge McDuck style vault somewhere.

I'd like to see a AAA publisher / developer go out and take a more obscure game idea (not your Call of Duty or Madden Remakes, but something single player and different) and put it out there at HALF the normal retail rate for the launch month and just see what happens. Anyone have any data around someone actually trying that?

Posted:2 years ago

#22

Kevin Patterson
musician

187 103 0.6
Why don't publishers instead "go nuclear" on game pricing? Instead of releasing every game at $59.99, why not lower the price to get it on the "buy it on whim" pricing?
Games like Skyrim, COD series, Mass Effect, etc sell because of developer fanbases, marketing, and word of mouth on the huge costly to produce games. But a small dev studio releasing a fresh new IP is the same price new? Who is going to buy a game like Ninja Theory's Enslaved for $59.99 when some major title they haven't bought yet is out there? Enslaved was a great game that no one bought, and that is a real shame.

Going "nuke" on used games without a real change in pricing is a very bad idea.
Over the holiday's I spent more money on Steam's discounts on PC than on Xbox live, as MS's holiday sales were so disappointing. I bought games I wasn't interested in paying full price for, took a chance on them when they were $5 to $10 and became a fan. Another example is I bought Torchlight for $5 on Steam and when it was released on Xbox I paid full price, that sale made me a customer and now I cannot wait for Torchlight 2. There are so many old titles on Xbox live that aren't selling that they could heavily discount to get some money from time to time, and they hardly ever do that.

Also, the games I have bought used or from gamefly have opened my eyes to developers that I wouldnt have tried otherwise. Shadows of the Damned is a great game that I would probably never pay full price for. I rented it, and then bought it, and I will buy the developer's next game as I enjoyed it so much.

Posted:2 years ago

#23

Christopher Colton
Technical Support Specialist

1 0 0.0
I agree with all the problems you've identified. What I don't agree with is how any of them are because of used game sales. At best, things like DLC and unlock codes are the result of used game sales, but because the publishers or developers decided they wanted to force people to buy their games new, and not because used game sales directly caused a problem.

Posted:2 years ago

#24

Craig Bamford
Writer/Consultant

40 54 1.4
"The real cost of used games is the death of single player gaming."

On the other hand, Skyrim.

I'm also not quite sure about this assertion that used games are responsible for the dearth of variety. The more logical and simpler explanation is that games are getting pricey to make, so prices are holding steady or even increasing, while consumers have less money to spend on gaming thanks to a variety of broader market trends. Consumers and producers alike are going to be far more conservative, and focus on a few reliable brands with equally reliable gameplay.

Call of Duty isn't popular because of used games, it's popular because it's as much of a known quantity as McDonalds is. It may not be the best, but it's well-known and reliable.

It might be different if consumers had any sort of recourse if they were stuck with a buggy or poorly-designed game. They don't. The only option they have is resale. If they're reselling in droves, then what does that say?

Edit: The comment about how flat new-game sales proves that used games don't drive new sales also doesn't make sense. Not that it could, we're talking basic Econ101 here, but Browne seems to have not thought about the possibility that new sales might be even worse without the possibility of resale. You always have to consider the counterfactual.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Craig Bamford on 12th April 2012 6:39pm

Posted:2 years ago

#25

Joćo Namorado
Project Manager

51 16 0.3
Completely agree with Spungo (http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-04-12-the-real-cost-of-used-games#comment-41711). This article is out of touch with reality.

I would add two things:

1- If used games are the problem, why do publishers make games more expensive to buy on digital distribution channels, where there is no used sales? Answer: to protect the brick&mortar shops they accuse of being the problem. Otherwise, buying a game digitally should be cheaper.

2- "If used game trading fueled new game sales then when used game trade-ins became the new standard a few years ago new games sales should have spiked." Or maybe used game trade-ins became the new standard because new games prices increased when the current gen consoles launched and people did not magically have more money available to continue to buy the same amount of games.

Posted:2 years ago

#26

Phil Marley
Creative Director

3 1 0.3
Spungo McGee:
Buying videogames is a serious expense to most people, who get paid a lot less than even the lowliest production-line monkey of a videogame developer.

UK average salaries for the 'lowest rung' of each discipline in development, according to the Develop 2012 survey:






Posted:2 years ago

#27

Andrew Jakobs
Lead Programmer

233 92 0.4
I don't mind secondhand sales between consumers, but I do mind the secondhand sale by shops (which make money over and over on the same game, and keep asking the same ammount even if the game has been returned 5 times).
But secondhand games will be a thing of the past anyway as physical discs become less and less, people are getting used to such things as Steam, Origin, Onlive, Google/Amazon Android market, Apple's Appstore, MS windows market, which all don't have a resell option..
BUT I'd rather have a physical carrier as you never know how long the servers will be up for you to keep downloading the content (which ofcourse is the biggest problem with digital-distribution, what if EA decides Fifa 2012 (singleplayer) wouldn't be available anymore (they do it with the multiplayerservers)..

Also budgets on games a skyrocketing (there are exceptions ofcourse, but they are few), but the selling-price stays the same (and has been for many years).

Also I would like to tell people who are buying secondhand games at places like gamestop, to just look around on the internet, at a lot of places you can get new games for the prices (or even much less) they ask for secondhand.

Posted:2 years ago

#28

Ben Hewett
Studying MA Philosophy

40 1 0.0
I think Spongo and co have also missed the point: I would suggest that the issue here centres upon the relationship between retailers and publishers/developers, and not the one between retailers and consumers: does Gamestop et al have a moral obligation to 'invest' (for want of a better phrase) some of the capital they make from used games sales back into the industry which provides the products which they sell?

I would say they do.

Posted:2 years ago

#29

Keith Chima
Co-founder / Managing Editor

1 0 0.0
Is there no concern about what is best for consumers? Publishers use the argument that piracy is particularly bad because gamers can generate unlimited duplicates of a game, rather than just lending one copy of a game around, like a library might do. I agree with this argument, but by the same logic, prohibiting used games is going too far in the opposite direction. If you BUY a game, it should be treated as a permanent, physical copy of that game that the gamer can keep, trade, or sell as he wishes, like a physical copy of any other product on the market. Prohibiting used games is overcompensating for piracy (which, frankly, is not that big a deal on consoles); it's an unjustifiable move by publishers in the name of greed. Sony and Microsoft should understand that severely reducing the utility of their consoles in this fashion is going to hurt their sales overall.

I notice your main argument against used games is that the industry is negatively affected by the measures taken by the industry to ward off the sale of used games, like online multiplayer- the problem is not caused by the consumer. Maybe our efforts should then be targeted more towards the industry? The key here is that if your game has more longevity, players are less likely to sell it. I agree that I tend to prefer when companies focus on single player in games that were originally designed around single player campaigns, but I am not going to argue that a company should cater to us single player gamers, who now, unfortunately, are in the minority. I would also argue that a game that wears out its welcome in short order deserves to be sold off. If the game stops selling after 100,000 copies, there's probably a damn good reason for it- the player has no reason to continue playing it.

Finally, each of your arguments state that used games inadvertently cause problems like lack of variety and death of single player, because publishers are forced to create games with more longevity to prevent them from being sold. First of all, some would argue that being forced to build longevity into your game is a form of natural selection, and I would argue that a game company would naturally want to build a long-lasting game regardless of used game sales. Also, let's go over some of the most popular games/series of the past few years: Assassin's Creed, Skyrim, God of War, Uncharted, LA Noire, Dark Souls, Demon's Souls, Starcraft II, Mass Effect, Batman: Arkham City- although several of these games have multiplayer, they all have incredible single player campaigns, and there is a ton of variety within them (although, of course, the most popular games are always combat focused- but that's another issue entirely). I think incorporation of multiplayer is a natural step for the industry. Whether the single player campaign could have been improved with the removal of the multiplayer elements is unknowable, and some would disagree that the off-chance is worth sacrificing the multiplayer, which, in some cases (Uncharted, Dark/Demon's Souls, BF3, Starcraft II), is pretty damn fun.

Posted:2 years ago

#30

Joćo Namorado
Project Manager

51 16 0.3
@Ben Hewett: I'd say that's debatable, although I am in favor of morality and dislike their practices of forcing used games on consumers.

But the point being missed, in my opinion and one that has already been mentioned in the comments, is that consumers are *very* interested even in the slightest discount and trying to remove that from them will not help anyone in the industry. Instead, publishers should be looking to explore this consumer demand, and not to make it disappear.

For a consumer with a limited budget: If food gets more expensive I'll spend more money on food. If games get more expensive I'll buy less games. (Don't mean to sound too demagogic here...)

Posted:2 years ago

#31

Al Rhodes
Web producer/designer

24 15 0.6
I have no sympathy with any game producer or hardware seller if they make block used games. It is not 'evil' to do so, it is just greedy.

If I buy a game, I should have the right to sell it when I am done with it, as with anything else I own.

If I can't afford a new game and I have been bombarded with advertising and hype that makes me think it is indispensable, I should have the option to by an affordable copy. If I have to wait for a used copy, I have already lost out... especially with online multiplayer games where less people are playing online by then, or they have the advantage of levelling up far higher than later players.

Posted:2 years ago

#32

Marty Greenwell
Software Developer

56 38 0.7
"Is there no concern about what is best for consumers?"

Of course not - it's about what's best for the shareholders ;)

Not particularly looking forward to the gaming crash of 2014 if all this anti-consumer rhetoric actually transpires, but perhaps it's needed to re-adjust the current market.

Posted:2 years ago

#33

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
@Phil Marley,



http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16545898

So, actually, he's more right than you might think.

Posted:2 years ago

#34

Mike Arkin
Co- Founder

2 1 0.5
Richard is spot on. Used games are killing the console game business the same if not worse them piracy is killing the pc business. To everyone who is complaining about the cost of games, if there were no used games tomorrow, then we could price console games lower and not lose money. As it is, publishers are driving prices up and seeing profits fall. They dont have a choice, sales are falling so fast its impossible to make money in the console business. With THQ dead, there aren't many publishers left. Soon there will only be COD and Skyrim because there wont be anyone else left.

Posted:2 years ago

#35

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"does Gamestop et al have a moral obligation to 'invest' (for want of a better phrase) some of the capital they make from used games sales back into the industry which provides the products which they sell?"

No. Next question.

Posted:2 years ago

#36

Robin Clarke
Producer

303 691 2.3
Regarding the argument that publishers could discourage reselling by giving their games more longevity, I seriously doubt this is borne out by the numbers. Retailers are training consumers to treat games as a token currency irrespective of their content.

It's frustrating that the current situation (particularly with Gamestop in the US) is still perceived by some as being something that happened organically. Retailers discovered a shortcut that drastically reduced the need for efficient management, stock diversity or buying expertise, and exploited it without ever considering it might not be sustainable.

That said, I think the threat of abolishing preowned is perhaps a better bargaining tool than actually implementing it.

Edit: And yes, comment filtering (and/or reporting) would not go amiss.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Robin Clarke on 12th April 2012 10:01pm

Posted:2 years ago

#37

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,020 1,467 1.4
@ Niel Over your head? I thought my post was pretty clear that people buy used to save money, and those markets are successful because they are low-cost, while console games are extremely high-cost. The average cost of the almost 200 games I've bought on Steam is less than $15. My dozens of console games, even with a used market, average at least twice that.

Posted:2 years ago

#38

Peter Stirling
Software Engineer

25 7 0.3
@Spungo: You seem to have made an anti-point of your own. Calling mid tear and independent games mediocre is selling them short by a country mile. They are the ones doing the vast majority of inovation because they are willing to take risks. If anything they are less mediocre than the formulaic AAA trash.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Peter Stirling on 12th April 2012 11:38pm

Posted:2 years ago

#39

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,020 1,467 1.4
Agreed Peter, and that's why multi-tier pricing is very important. This is something console games are horrible at, and what's killing the console industry are publishers trying to claim every game is worth the same $60, which they aren't. Development and pricing needs to exist on multiple levels, not just AAA. If you want to see the future of the way the industry can stay profitable for both AAA and indie games, look to PC. It's the union of the two polar opposites (iOS/Android which only supports cheap development and consoles which only support big-budget development).

Posted:2 years ago

#40

Christopher Bowen
Editor in Chief

419 581 1.4
This article is well-intended, but horribly misguided. I don't think anyone can disagree that GameStop's insistence on turning their stores into upscale pawn shops is a major problem for the industry. But Richard's answer to this is to cut the nuts off of gamers, as if they were acceptable collateral damage. Basically, his mindset is that it's OK to do something like this just to hurt one corporation who's hurting companies, and whoever else gets cut out of the loop, so be it. That's the wrong track to take.

Posted:2 years ago

#41

Jess Kappeler
Game Designer

16 30 1.9


Digital games are cheaper...where are you buying your digital games? Steam games are incredibly cheap compared to their console counterparts. XBLA and PSN games seem "expensive" if they are priced at $15... iPhone and Android feel the same if they are over a dollar. Part of it is they are smaller games with smaller budgets, but it's also because they expect to sell more units because you cannot resell them.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jess Kappeler on 13th April 2012 12:24am

Posted:2 years ago

#42

Christopher Bowen
Editor in Chief

419 581 1.4
@Mike Arkin - But you *WON'T* price console games differently. PC games have no overhead, are distributed digitally, and don't incur the high licensing costs that games for the PS3 and 360 do, and yet AAA titles *STILL* cost $60, simply because they can get away with it. And don't tell me that's to make up the profits that those dirty pirates are taking away.

Posted:2 years ago

#43

Feargus Carroll
Producer

23 18 0.8
I've heard the used car analogy a few times and it's not applicable. A used car, by its very terms of use, is a degraded version of its former self. A piece if digital content on the other hands, stays the same regardless of age.

Posted:2 years ago

#44

Robert Barrow
Programming (AI), Web Development, Security (Pentesting, Recovery)

27 18 0.7
Bring back the lenslok!

Having never traded a game in or bought one second hand since I stopped using my Spectrum, I can understand the frustration of the developers who are seeing what could potentially be recompense for their work evaporate. Every used game sold is new game not sold. And in a fair world a percentage of that sale should hit the developer. I think it is quite important to draw the line between the developers and the publishers. As that never seems to be a 50/50 deal. So the money should reach the devs.

I can't see either MS or Sony curtailing the used game market this time around but I do think they will be putting a far larger emphasis on DD. Obviously the problem you run into there is the weakness of the infrastructure that can deliver your content. Imagine downloading Uncharted 3 (~50Gb) on a 3Mbps connection... And you used to think that loading a game off of a tape took forever. Unless they provide an OnLive service for all AA+ content.

But it's quite clear looking at the arguments from both sides that a divisive problem exists that needs to be rectified. And done so quickly otherwise we'll spend the next five years of our gaming time smearing grease over our lovely touch screens as we attempt to lose ourselves in the next vapid piece of shovelware that's popular with the kids. As we wait for the mobile market to grow up and flourish - with no trace of a used games market to be seen.

Posted:2 years ago

#45
A major problem in the cars industry is that people keep buying and selling their used cars, with no profit at all given to the manufacturer. The used car dealerships steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from the major car manufacturers by pushing used cars for up to 75% off of the retail price for a new car, making nearly 100% profit off of each sale.
So to fight used sales, the car companies find a way to make car keys isomorphic, so that only certain authorized drivers are able to drive it. When a car is sold, the new driver will have to pay a fee using the on-board Onstar console, or the car will be locked to under 20 miles per hour.
This is essentially the tactic. Sure the device used is hyperbole, but the example is not.
Why is it that the video games industry thinks that it should be treated like the Professional Software industry, and not more like the Music, TV, or Film industry? If the video games industry insists on selling software licenses instead of games, then there's a good chance it'll go the same way. The modern publisher model will slowly destroy itself, except for the MMOG and Competitive games industry. Consoles will vanish, as everything shifts toward the tablet, PC, and phones industry. Actually, that doesn't sound so bad! Carry on!

Posted:2 years ago

#46

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

655 270 0.4
A major problem in the cars industry is that people keep buying and selling their used cars, with no profit at all given to the manufacturer.
But they do sell parts. And sometimes service.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tom Keresztes on 13th April 2012 8:20am

Posted:2 years ago

#47
Popular Comment


"Or maybe used game trade-ins became the new standard because new games prices increased when the current gen consoles launched."

Really? Games are cheaper now than they were 20 years ago, even without inflation adjustment.

"I had to bring some multiplayer Wii games to a friends house because the games they had the other people at the party did not want to play"

Tough. I went to party and wanted to bring some Cristal but I couldn't afford it so had to bring Carlsberg. People seem to have an air of self entitlement when it comes to games.

"If your goal is to kill the console industry and make people play PC and tablet games, though, go right ahead."




The "install on one account" policy has been used for a while on PC and does not seem to be hurting the market at all, in fact revenues are up. I would hazard a guess that the people defending 2nd hand are the same people that say GAME going under will affect industry sales even though ME3 had record sales despite not being stocked there....

Posted:2 years ago

#48

Alex Hood
Narrative Designer

1 0 0.0
A used car is not the same as a new car, it's got wear and tear and will likely cost more to run as bits start to go wrong. There is also a feeling of pride in being the first owner of a car, in short there are incentives to buy a new car over a used car. A used game is identical to a new game when you play it so you might as well go for the cheapest option. This is not a good comparison.

Posted:2 years ago

#49

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"Calling mid tear and independent games mediocre is selling them short by a country mile. They are the ones doing the vast majority of inovation because they are willing to take risks."

You have an extremely different perception of "mid-tier" games to mine. To me they're the millions of generic rip-off WW2/space-marine FPS titles that aren't Call Of Duty, Battlefield, Gears Of War or Halo. There are *hundreds* of them cluttering the shelves of every game store I visit. Innovation and risk are the sole province of cheap downloadable games, whether on XBLA or the App Store.

Posted:2 years ago

#50

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"As we wait for the mobile market to grow up and flourish - with no trace of a used games market to be seen."

Um, the mobile market is already "flourishing" quite spectacularly, generating billions of dollars a year despite its products costing roughly 2% of what boxed games do. It has no need for a used market because it sells at disposable prices. And what does "grow up" mean? Become dominated by EA, Ubisoft and Activision?

Posted:2 years ago

#51

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"Games are cheaper now than they were 20 years ago"

And generate vastly more money. Gee, if only there was some kind of logic we could extrapolate from that.

Posted:2 years ago

#52

Aleksi Ranta
Product Manager - Hardware

273 127 0.5
I just want good games to be made and I have enough disposable income to buy a full-price game if the quality justifies the asking price.
Yes, talk about used games is all fine and good, but for me personally I just want good games to be developed that I can buy.

A good game always sells and I dont think im alone in being able to spend the cash if need be. Im 38 and still the same gamer i was 18years ago. Never bought a used game, funny that. And like the author, I too will buy my durango and orbis, irrespective of there being used games or not. Used games has not and probably will never facilitate me being able to buy good entertainment.

Posted:2 years ago

#53

John Drawdy
Staff Writer

1 2 2.0
" A colleague of mine brought to light how bad this has become just the other week. He went into his local GameStop and was point blank REFUSED the option of buying the game he went to get new. After pressuring the sales assistant for a few minutes he finally got his new game - but only after the assistant got his manager's approval to sell it to him. That's the state of retail today, and it's not healthy for the consumer at all."

Are we serious, as a former employee and a brother-in-law who has been a Store manager for about 13 years this is false. You do not need manager permission to sell a new game, when you ring up the new game is when the computer lets you know if they have a used copy and then it is offered. Next time go into GameStop yourself instead of listening to a second hand story from your unnamed friend.

As for the death of single player, are you serious, do you actually even play video games. Did you miss the Mass Effect series, how about the Assassins Creed series, our even the loved Final Fantasy series--for over 20 years FF has been single player. These are AAA titles that sell extreme numbers for their single player alone, the fact that it has multiplayer is just a bonus. Then you look to the digital services like PSN, XBLA or Steam and some of the biggest selling games were single play e.g.- Pinball FX2, Bastion, Limbo or Braid just to name a few. So to me--and I think many gamers--the single player is still one of the great things about games.

As for price and people not being able to afford it, where there is a will, there is a way. Do you know how many people trade their used games toward a brand new game because GameStop gives more in trade. Huh, so to me that seems like a huge incentive pushing the new games. Another thing that I can't seem to understand is why people freak about the system or game cost, the NES premiered with two price options US$249 and US$199 and games cost US$40-50 new and that was 1986. I was 5 and swapped all my games with friends or the mom and pop shops and just like any other idea, this became commercialized. How come no one is going after eBay, Goozex or even GameFly--no one cares that's why, they aren't hurting anyone.

Oh and the mid-tier developers, they still exist--just take a look at the plethora of crap that hits the store shelves on a weekly basis. Do you know why they exist and why they will never be destroyed as you so claim--many of the guys on those teams are good. This mid-tier is where the bad gets weeded out and the good guys find their way. Most everyone had to start at the bottom and make less then perfect games, but you learn and move forward--this goes for all industries.

One last thought before I close on this rant of mine, the multiplayer--as was already said--has been being pushed since the beginning. Do you think it was coincidence that NES came with two controllers or that the original GameBoy was designed to link up with other GameBoys. No, definitely not, they were designed this way on purpose with the idea of mutliplayer in mind, this is to draw people together. They know if you enjoy something, you are more then likely going to enjoy it even more with your friends. It wasn't long into the console wars that adapters were created so you could plug four controllers into you system--later becoming the norm. So multiplayer has been and always will be a part of gaming--the only real difference is now you don't all have to be in the same room,

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Drawdy on 13th April 2012 12:15pm

Posted:2 years ago

#54

Colin McBride
Studying MA in 3D Design for Virtual Worlds

35 6 0.2
The thing about nuclear options is that no one wins. A second hand culture exists in everything from books to cars to clothes -- just look at the diversity of junk that people sell on ebay. It's part of human nature. There's no way that the games industry can opt out of that without pissing off (and turning away) its customers.

If they really want people to 'love' their games then they should be working their hardest to make sure that their games are impossible not to love and that people want to hold onto them.

Posted:2 years ago

#55

David Spender
Lead Programmer

129 54 0.4
I was reviewing my own game buying habits. I don't mind paying $50-$60 for a game I know I will always own, can trade with my friends, let them borrow, or sell if I want to.

When it comes to steam, price is a huge factor for me. I will not pay more than $15 for a steam game (usually under $10) because I know my steam account could be stolen/hacked, I can't trade/sell my games or let my friends borrow them. To me that makes a game worth much much less.

Posted:2 years ago

#56

Peter Dwyer
Games Designer/Developer

481 290 0.6
@David

You hit the nail on the head and it's something I've said myself before. Adding multiplayer does not in any way shape or form determine if I keep a game and clearly it is the same for a lot of others. If the next version of a franchise I follow comes out I'm going to trade the previous one to buy the next. If that option goes away I'm left with an expensive coaster and am a lot less likely to buy the next itteration simply because I know that come next year it's also going to be a very expensive coaster.

Posted:2 years ago

#57

Joćo Namorado
Project Manager

51 16 0.3
Hi Jess.

I meant digital versions of physical games. The ones you can buy at games on demand services like the one on the Xbox 360.



Steam does a great job selling PC games at great discounts, but a console equivalent does not exist.

Cheers!

Posted:2 years ago

#58

Joćo Namorado
Project Manager

51 16 0.3
Hi Jonathan,

"Really? Games are cheaper now than they were 20 years ago, even without inflation adjustment."

They are cheaper now than they were 20 years ago but more expensive than they were 10 years ago.

Game prices went down, then up again. Games sales went up, then down again. Do note that I'm not the one implying a direct relationship between the two. That was not even the item being discussed. I was simply pointing out that there was no basis for the author of the article to determine that game prices stayed up because of increased second hand sales, when the increased second hand sales could just as well be the effect of the console games price being increased by publishers (there WAS a price increase, look it up).

Cheers!

Posted:2 years ago

#59

Peter Dwyer
Games Designer/Developer

481 290 0.6
Yes the prices went up from the last generation as publishers kept claiming that their production costs had rocketted into the 200million range per AAA title.

Most sane people maintain that this is actually a studio cost and not a product cost and as such is utter nonsense. It was just used as an excuse to charge more. Clearly looking at todays AAA titles. If they truly cost that much to make then someone somewhere was robbed!

Posted:2 years ago

#60

Jeff Wilson

46 0 0.0
MS and Sony may be attempting to emulate the Apple iTunes Store digital distribution model in their consoles. I think Richard has a valid point about the risks involved in the continued rise in used game sales, though some of his arguments are very thin such as the fictious Single Player vs Multiplayer battle.

But, despite what he wants, used games sales will always be a huge market place - the only question is who will profit from it ? Will it be online retailers and High Street Game Stores or the likes of Apple, Sony, Microsoft and the Game Publishers ?

If MS and Sony make distribution of new games a digital exclusive then customers who cannot afford a full price game will have to wait until MS and Sony reduce the price online. Sadly, this may turn the tide against AAA title development migration for PC gamers as that may be one way gamers could buy a new game at a reduced price on Steam.

In an ideal world, we would all like to afford lots of new games, but many customers are on a tight budget so this makes used games a more attractive option for many and always will.

Posted:2 years ago

#61

Stephen Richards
Game Deisgner

68 28 0.4
If either Sony or Microsoft disallow used sales they'll be conceding a huge advantage to their rivals, simply because so many consumers will be turned away. But whether the 'nuclear option' is taken or not, it probably isn't necessary. All the next consoles need to do is sell digital games alongside retail ones, and then consumers can choose to buy a non-resellable version or not. If digital versions are priced competitively, consumers will voluntarily move away from used-games and no one need get angry.

There. Problem solved.

Posted:2 years ago

#62

Sjoerd Grevelink
Senior Engineer

1 0 0.0
The sad truth of this all being that what the publisher sees as revenue from a $60 box game is the same as from a $15 downloadable game. As long as this remains I don't see many boxed games going for a cheaper route, and becoming more and more exclusive to big hits.

@Stephen While I do agree, publishers currently hold policies that do not allow this. You cannot re-release a game digitally after you did a box release, or vice versa.

Another plausible option would be to limit second-hand sale in the first month after release, and then open it up (either gradually or completely). That said, such things could also be agreed with the stores. And I think that even if the publishers only saw 1% of second-hand sales, this would free up money for more awesome games.

Posted:2 years ago

#63

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,533 1,330 0.9
@ Sjoerd
publishers currently hold policies that do not allow this. You cannot re-release a game digitally after you did a box release, or vice versa.
Really? There's a few games, both on PC and console, that have had bricks-and-mortar releases after the digital. Wipeout HD on PS3 and Super Meat Boy on PC are the first to come to mind. Which makes me think it's not publishers who are to blame, but retailers trying to hold onto their margins, and forcing publishers to not release products in both mediums at different prices.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 14th April 2012 9:45am

Posted:2 years ago

#64

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"Another plausible option would be to limit second-hand sale in the first month after release, and then open it up (either gradually or completely). That said, such things could also be agreed with the stores. And I think that even if the publishers only saw 1% of second-hand sales, this would free up money for more awesome shareholder dividends."

Fixed that for you.

Posted:2 years ago

#65

Andrew Goodchild
Studying development

1,243 401 0.3
The thing to me that has caused the damage is not the existence of second hand, but who is selling it. I can buy a second hand book, at a second hand book-store, or charity shop, but what doesn't happen is me going into Waterstones, and me go up to the counter to buy a book, only for them to push a second hand copy. Remember also big games stores take money for in-store advertising and prominent shelf displays, which the publisher pays to try to sell more copies. If the publisher pays only to sell more used copies, that is a problem, one that doesn't exist with Cash Converters or a second hand only store.
Even if you insist on using the used car market, ignoring the degradation on the product, if I went into a Ford Garage to buy a brand new Mondeo, they would not try to convince me to buy a second hand car they had taken as a trade in, even though they may sell them.
There is nothing inherently wrong with second hand sales, and anyone privately or exclusively selling second hand should not have to pay any money to the publisher, but a company that uses the trade, special favours, and advertising money from the publishers to build up its business, only then to work aggressively to take sales away from those publishers, is doing harm to those partners, and is going to cause problems in the relationships.

Posted:2 years ago

#66
I don't have any data but I can recall two titles that did absolutely well - the original Katamari Damacy on PS2 and I think it was NFL 2K5. Namco priced Katamari at $30 USD and it became a runaway hit. NFL 2K5 sold at I believe $30 USD also, and it did apparently so well that EA had to buy out the entire NFL license in order to NOT play 2K's game and maintain their $60/copy foothold.

Neither of these titles would have done well, and Katamari would easily have been forgotten if it had been full priced.

Posted:2 years ago

#67

Andrew Goodchild
Studying development

1,243 401 0.3
Another good example is Skyrim having a very early price cut, before it needed to, which meant it outsold CoD at Xmas, no mean feat.

Posted:2 years ago

#68

Dave Hawes
Project Manager coding

9 4 0.4
A couple of points.

1) Special treatment: Well that depends, films have "special treatment" the rules that stop a DVD from being released until after cinema release allows them to maintain income, and you can't resell your ticket stub. So either that is ok, or we are different to film, in which case, the comparison doesn't stand.

2) @Spungo I think I know a fair few consumers (living in the UK, short of being a hermit it would be hard not to). A lot of people do think its worth paying more to ensure profit goes to the creators (you see this with everything from dolphin safe tuna to those who'll only buy music direct from indie bands). I will concede though, that they are probably not the majority.



4)2) @Spungo Finally, I would like to say I am a bit worried you might be a troll, I could be wrong, in which case I hope you continue to put across the viewpoint you feel strongly about. That said, if you are, I have uploaded my staff photo to my profile so you can take a pot-shot at my beard if you so desire.

Posted:2 years ago

#69

Dave Hawes
Project Manager coding

9 4 0.4
Also on the mid-tier thing, I think mid-tier does sometimes mean mediocre, but it often also means niche. Things that are mass market are often actually worse than things that are niche and an economic model that promotes mass-market so heavily over such titles is probably a bad thing not just for quality but for variety.

Posted:2 years ago

#70

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,533 1,330 0.9
@ Dave Hawes
Also on the mid-tier thing, I think mid-tier does sometimes mean mediocre, but it often also means niche. Things that are mass market are often actually worse than things that are niche and an economic model that promotes mass-market so heavily over such titles is probably a bad thing not just for quality but for variety.
So far in agreement it's not possible to agree more. :) Just because a game is priced far below what EA or Activision would sell it at, doesn't mean the game is mediocre. Legends of Grimrock is an example of that. Whilst the devs would love to have sold it for $60 I'm sure, a Dungeon Master style game isn't going to sell vast quantities at that price, no matter how good it is. But at $15? It's consistently topped the best-selling on Steam since release, and it's a fantastic game.

@ Dolly

Bravo. Filtering comments here by professional status would be a dangerous thing indeed. Not only does it shut out worthwhile commentary from outside your selected sphere, but there's a chance it would homogenise all opinion, so that the site becomes a round-table of yes-men. I don't think anyone honestly wants that, do they?

Posted:2 years ago

#71

Ben Hewett
Studying MA Philosophy

40 1 0.0
@ Morville, regarding your points regarding filters.
Filtering comments here by professional status would be a dangerous thing indeed. Not only does it shut out worthwhile commentary from outside your selected sphere, but there's a chance it would homogenise all opinion, so that the site becomes a round-table of yes-men.
1. The worthwhile commentary from 'non-professional' contributors would, I presume, not be shut out (we would still be able to post) but it would merely give the option to readers to filter the content they wish to read. I think most contributors on this site are open-minded enough to want to read opinions not necessarily supportive of their own.

2. I strongly doubt that such a filtering system would homogenise all opinion. We currently don't have a filtering system. Browsing through the range of comments from 'professional' contributors in this thread reveals a whole gamut of thoughts and opinions. Introduce a filtering system and...we would still have the gamut of opinion from 'professional' contributors that we had before the filtering system. Therefore, how would a filtering system cause the homogenisation you speak of?

Posted:2 years ago

#72

Ben Hewett
Studying MA Philosophy

40 1 0.0
What I would like to see is the ability to flag, or highlight, ad hominem attacks or personal slurs. I enjoy visiting this site for the standard of argument regardless of how someone chooses to shape their beard.

Posted:2 years ago

#73

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,533 1,330 0.9
Answering both your points:

It depends upon how it's implemented. My assumption (yes, I know what they say about assuming :p ), was that you would have a setting within preferences to tick/untick which would hide/unhide comments depending upon the poster's status. Which would be bad. I don't see any other way to do it, but, that said, I've never been a forum admin, so it may be I don't have enough expertise in this area.

Edit:
What I would like to see is the ability to flag, or highlight, ad hominem attacks or personal slurs. I enjoy visiting this site for the standard of argument regardless of how someone chooses to shape their beard.
Indeed.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 15th April 2012 12:33pm

Posted:2 years ago

#74

Dave Hawes
Project Manager coding

9 4 0.4
The thing about wagons & horses vs cars, only works if in that case you were killing horses and wagons in order to physically make the cars. In doing so, eventually chocking off the production of new cars, until we would be stuck today with only the cars from the 50's being endless resold. Obviously that doesn't appear to be what is going to happen, but then again, as I said, the analogy doesn't quite apply.

It does seem weird to me that a lot of the attacks on this, are look to iPad or steam, where you can't resell either? So is the consumer problem really to do with the price as opposed to reselling. In which case, I am happy to see a reduction in price (in-line with the cost of production) as part of this. I am not saying publishers are cool with that, but it's not what I think a fundamental economic problem.

Lastly on the legislation point, they aren't asking to change legislation. In fact the existing "rules" are as they are because of market forces and the will of the platform holders prior to now. It seems odd that anyone would accept those as somehow written in stone, and attempts by the same forces to change them, somehow illegal? Unfair perhaps, but not illegal.

Posted:2 years ago

#75

Josh Meier

40 15 0.4
Every Game Stop (or used game store in general) that I've been to has NEVER forced a used game on me. I find it incredibly hard to believe that a cashier at a Game Stop not only wanted to force a used copy on you, but needed permission from his boss to sell you the new game.

I understand I'm only one person, and therefore just one example, but I've never even heard of anyone at a Game Stop outright forcing people to buy used over new.

I've heard it in relation to GAME, which is the UK equivalent, but never about Game Stop.

Posted:2 years ago

#76

Curt Sampson
Sofware Developer

596 360 0.6
...what the publisher sees as revenue from a $60 box game is the same as from a $15 downloadable game.
Do you have a source for this figure? I find it rather difficult to swallow. I know that nowhere near 75% is going to retailers and wholesalers, and my understanding is that the cut that, e.g., PSN takes is is in the double-digit percentage points (typically around 30, is it not?), so where's the extra money going?
...publishers currently hold policies that do not allow this. You cannot re-release a game digitally after you did a box release, or vice versa.
That's clearly not the case. Just have a look at all of the games released on PSN over the last few months that were earlier released on disc. Three examples I happen to own are BioShock 2 (2K), Far Cry 2 (Ubisoft), and Infamous (Sony).

Posted:2 years ago

#77

Wale Awelenje
Programmer/Designer

13 1 0.1
Steady, now. Take a deep breath.

Developers and designers, good and bad alike, are complaining at the same time.

That shows that this is close to a universal problem.

True, those that aren't good at what they do will lose money no matter what.

However, in this case, those that ARE good, but are not making a game that fits into a specific *genre*, are also losing.

The model of selling a singleplayer experience for a fixed price is broken. If left to its devices, this type of game will die, and we will be left with free to play and multiplayer-type games, or "make your own story" games like Skyrim. Nobody will create certain types of product anymore.

If you don't care about these products, or if you would prefer to only buy the cheaper, indie versions, then you already do not factor into the equation. Your decision to abandon them makes no difference since you are a lost sale anyway, and if it kills the industry, all it does is speed it to an inevitable reality and let us get on with other things. A quick death is better than slowly wasting away.

On the other hand, if you DO care about these products, you should understand that regardless of quality they cannot survive under the current climate. If enough people that care remain as customers of the industry, then good products will thrive and developers will no longer have to contend with needing to "multiplayer up" their single player products.

Personally, I don't believe in a full blown nuclear option that strips the customer of privileges they currently enjoy without some form of compromise. What I would like to see are:

1) Games cannot be resold, BUT they are sold at a significant discount from current-day prices AND the fact that a user owns a game from a certain franchise or publisher will serve as credit towards a future purchase (further driving down the price and rewarding loyalty). In the end, the customer's net spend should not exceed what it is today- the money should be taken from Gamestop and NOT the customer. Let customers enjoy the same number of games with the same budget they had before the "crackdown"

2) Games CAN be resold, but a used game has diminished utility unless the retailer reactivates it or purchases a pack-in code to allow the new user activate it themselves. This way the used game market is allowed to persist but the publisher/developer recieves a royalty on each game resold. The economics of reactivating games and packing in codes will be taken care of by the current ridiculous markup the retailers enjoy.

This is a reply to Andrea Pipparolo.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Wale Awelenje on 28th April 2012 11:02am

Posted:2 years ago

#78

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