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Consumers can resell downloaded games, rules EU

Consumers can resell downloaded games, rules EU

Tue 03 Jul 2012 2:16pm GMT / 10:16am EDT / 7:16am PDT
Legal

"An author of software cannot oppose the resale of his 'used' licences" says Court Of Justice

The Court of Justice of the European Union has made a crucial judgement determining that publishers cannot oppose the resale of their previously bought and played downloadable games.

The ruling even goes as far as to say the judgement stands even if the original buyer has signed a End User License Agreement, and will have major implications for distribution services like Valve's Steam and EA's Origin.

The judgement, explained below in more detail, came about after a legal battle in the German courts between software reseller UsedSoft and developer Oracle.

"The principle of exhaustion of the distribution right applies not only where the copyright holder markets copies of his software on a material medium (CD-ROM or DVD) but also where he distributes them by means of downloads from his website," said the official document.

"Where the copyright holder makes available to his customer a copy - tangible or intangible - and at the same time concludes, in return form payment of a fee, a licence agreement granting the customer the right to use that copy for an unlimited period, that rightholder sells the copy to the customer and thus exhausts his exclusive distribution right. Such a transaction involves a transfer of the right of ownership of the copy."

51 Comments

Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D

863 707 0.8
Ridiculous.

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Kevin Clark-Patterson Lecturer in Games Development, Lancaster and Morecambe College

294 27 0.1
It will be interesting to see how the developers/distributors factor that into their website/services - hows does Joe Bloggs transfer his licence across to A N Other?!

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Hugo Dubs Interactive Designer

163 24 0.1
Does it mean that we could have a digital second hand market?
That would be nice for players and families' budgets that can't afford to pay full price games.

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Mihai Cozma Indie Games Developer

124 34 0.3
@Kevin I think they will be forced to integrate features for such transfers into their own software. Maybe they will even get a % out of it for hosting the trade :)

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,630 1,509 0.9
Hmmm

Steam already has a gifting and inventory system. I don't know the back-end of it, obviously, but on the surface it wouldn't be hard to set-up a second-hand market, with standardised pricing, which both Steam and the publishers could take a cut from.

This would actually be ideal for both the industry and consumers, since it would create a second-hand market for PC games - on the market leading platform - and the industry would profit from it just as much as Steam and consumers.

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Graeme Foote Programmer / Game Designer, Sakevisual

8 3 0.4
Interesting judgement. I'm unsure of what impact it will have on the future. As it is, I've never heard of UsedSoft although I get the impression that since their fight was with Oracle it was for the sorts of software that normally costs hundreds of pounds to licence.

I'm not sure where it's going to go with this. I personally can't see a sudden explosion of second hand download market in gaming though it does mean that all these rumours of forbidding used games being used on future consoles could be in for a challenge in court if it comes to pass.

EDIT: On the other hand, sites like Steam or GOG could probably make a killing on this if they move fast enough. Although it might upset publishers...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Graeme Foote on 3rd July 2012 4:30pm

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer

585 323 0.6
Morville, give your head a shake.

Cannabilizing their core sales for a cut of used sales? When they already mark down prices by 75% and so on?

Things which drive the price down will not benefit the industry - even if they get a "cut".

Probably what they will do to facilitate the sales of used digital copies is *nothing*.

It's even ridiculous to think you can sell a used digital copy. As if they are dealing with a physical product - like a book.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Carter on 3rd July 2012 4:34pm

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Mike Wells Writer

62 29 0.5
Logical and crazy in equal measure. So does that mean the publishers/providers have to make technical changes to facilitate resale or can they get away with "we're not opposing it, you just might have to throw in your pad/PC/phone/console to do it"? And does it mean that I can sell to you (on a day I'm not planning to play it) and you can sell it back to me (when I am), then to you, to me, to you, to me ... you get the idea? Or sharing as we used to call it? Wonder how long it will be before Microsoft feels obliged to change the way purchases over Xbox Live are locked to gamertags....? Yeah, right. I can see the end of "right to use for an unlimited period" from here.

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,630 1,509 0.9
@ Tim

It might be that publishers (who, after all, are the ones who set prices on Steam) decide to no longer take part in sales, and instead focus on second-hand. It's hard to say, but my point is that it is possible, and that Steam has the basic infrastructure for it.

Also, selling a used digital copy isn't any more ridiculous than gifting a digital copy, to my mind. The only reason I'm not more positive about this is that I get the feeling that publishers will stomp all over this. If you think about it, is there any reason why this can't technically affect digital copies of movies? And music? And books?

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Rogier Voet Editor / Content Manager

72 31 0.4
It is logical if i download a game on steam/xbla/gog i own it and should be able to give this game away or sell it. From a technical point of view you should be able to sell a game to a other user, generate a code which allows a other person to download a game you own after downloading you lose ownership.

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Terence Gage Freelance writer

1,289 126 0.1
Does this actually mean anything without the infrastructure to transfer a licence in place?! Or will SCEE, Steam, MS etc have to develop options for you to 'trade in' your licence and it transfer over to someone else?! The whole thing just seems odd. Should the same decision not apply to films and music?

Posted:2 years ago

#11
Brilliant, Publisher's expect software piracy to be treated the same as real theft but on the same leg expect customers who buy licenses for software to be unable to re-sell or do any of the things you can do with a real product, something had to give, finally a little bit of logic, bravo.

And the Onus will now be on services like steam to develop transfer mechanisms. Publisher's cannot expect to give customers a short leash on one hand and enjoy equal protection on the other, this is an excellent comprimise that finally means consumer's are no longer short-changed, I doubt there'll be a very big second hand market with fresh sales easily available for low prices during sales on a place like steam.

The difference here and between that of the traditional used market is that this allows customers to sell games between themselves however steam itself is unlikely to actively buy back licenses from customers so customers selling their old licenses will no longer receive a fraction of their worth and also customers buying second hand will not be paying near full price, without a vendor to artifically muddy up second hand prices in the name of profit second hand will be a very different animal.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Alexander McConnell on 3rd July 2012 5:43pm

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor

411 213 0.5
Interesting.... I don't know if the ruling will lead to publishers and digital services to have the facility to make these trades, personal sales. To me the ruling reads that they will not be able to block anyone wanting to do so.

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Felix Leyendecker Senior 3D Artist, Crytek

184 204 1.1
Steam could easily introduce a virtual currency that is only good for "used" games and nothing else. So you could still sell your used games and buy other used games with what you get, but would still have to pay actual money for new releases.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Felix Leyendecker on 3rd July 2012 5:58pm

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,630 1,509 0.9
Urgh. Space-bucks. :'(

But! There is the Steam wallet, which has the benefit of being in real money, but once you put cash in, you can't take it out. Sell a game to someone, get money in your Steam wallet to facilitate your next purchase. All the money spent stays within the industry.

Now we just need other companies to set up the same system, so there's an amount of competition. :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 3rd July 2012 6:06pm

Posted:2 years ago

#15

Craig Bamford Writer/Consultant

40 54 1.4
I suspect that Valve et al may end up working to facilitate this simply because this may open the door for legal resale of accounts. Account resale's going to be way more of a headache than title resale, and you can set things up to make a percentage on title resale, so...

As for "DIGITAL ISN'T LIKE BOOKS!", I just have to wonder what sort of terrible books some people read. Books are routinely lent and resold, and a good book on the right paper lasts for absolute ages. I own books published in a previous century. There isn't really that much difference.

Sure, it's better than magnetic tape or optical disc, but that says more about the nature of those technologies than about the concept of resale.

Posted:2 years ago

#16

Paul Gheran Scrum Master

123 27 0.2
Awesome! Now I can unload my copy of Diablo 3. Now if I can only find someone who doesn't know how much it sucks yet...

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Andrew Ihegbu Studying Bsc Commercial Music, University of Westminster

473 187 0.4
It entirely depends on whether you actually factor in the famed system I first saw on GPGnet (From Supreme Commander)

Namely, One account per customer.

Stop the customer from being able to access your multiplayer server and a large portion will still buy new. Those that cannot afford 40 for a version of CoD three generations old will finally have a decent option.

Posted:2 years ago

#18

Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer

242 99 0.4
Yeah, well, judge can say what he want's, but if there isn't a possibility to move the license to another user then it's still mute.. Well, one thing as an advantage for the publisher is, the original owner will certainly not be able to play it..

Posted:2 years ago

#19

Andrew Animator

148 158 1.1
The problem with this is massive. The games aren't 'USED', there is an inherent develuation to a used item which you don't get with digital items. ie. it is as good as a new one, which INSTANTLY devalues the new item.

THis isn't just bad news for steam, this is TERRIBLE news for developers.

One of the reasons I won't buy used physcial games is because I don't know how they have been handled, the boxes are wrecked and the cd looks like it has been chewed by a dog. A digital used game would be no different to a new one, so why on earth would I pay full price....EVER AGAIN

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew on 3rd July 2012 6:33pm

Posted:2 years ago

#20

Chris Nash QA Engineer

47 23 0.5
Are publishers now obliged to provide the means for their customers to resell digital purchases - or are they now simply not allowed to do anything about it? I'm reminded of the US iPhone jailbreak ruling - Apple aren't obliged to show people how to jailbreak, but if they choose to do so, they can't come after them legally.

Unless the publishers are forced by this law to implement a trade-in system for digital purchases, the issue remains purely academic.

Posted:2 years ago

#21

Andrew Animator

148 158 1.1
Seems to me like another example of the EU throwing its weight around in matters it cleary doesn't understand.

Posted:2 years ago

#22

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,021 1,470 1.4
EVERYONE CALM DOWN A MOMENT.

You all need to understand something. This ruling in NO way requires retailers like Steam, Origin, PSN, and XBLA to provide you with a way to transfer licenses. This ruling simply makes it legal to do so if you find a way.

You need to understand the specifics of this case. UsedSoft was buying licenses with unused Oracle software downloads from corporations, then reselling them to other corporations. Oracle was challenging their right to do this, and they lost, but there's nothing that says Oracle has to make their licenses transferable. The ruling merely states that, no matter what you put in an EULA, if users have a way to transfer licenses they are legally able to do so.

This will not affect Steam, Origin, XBLA, PSN, Nintendo Network, etc. unless they decide they want it to. So, yeah, move along. Nothing to see here.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 3rd July 2012 7:06pm

Posted:2 years ago

#23

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,630 1,509 0.9
@ Nicholas

True true. I suppose the real question is, after all the whining about used console game sales taking money out of the industry, and now this, will publishers and digital distro companies start to look for ways to help the consumer sell games on? It may be that they'll ignore this (I'm fully expecting them to), but it is a good point-in-time at which they could examine the services available, and try and implement some way to financially capitalise on used sales.

All that said, I don't expect them to. I can just dream. :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 3rd July 2012 7:14pm

Posted:2 years ago

#24

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,021 1,470 1.4
I absolutely don't think they'll make any moves on this Morville. I don't think they've even looked twice, other than to check over the wording of the ruling and make sure they're not forced to move on this, which they aren't.

There are some things this affects: You can now legally sell a Steam account to someone, for example, despite that violating their EULA. You can also legally buy a digital license code on Amazon and then resell it, despite that violating their EULA.

If Valve really wanted to, they are now legally able to make a service for users to buy and sell games to one another in the EU, even without publisher consent, but they won't do this. It would piss off publishing partners which would limit their ability to execute the sales that grant them so much retail power. Valve will not care about or act on this ruling.

Posted:2 years ago

#25

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,630 1,509 0.9
Mmmm. *sadface*

Still, speaking personally, I'd rather have awesome Steam sales, than the ability to sell games from my Steam account. So it's not a complete loss. :)

Posted:2 years ago

#26

Dave Knudson Sr. Technology Manager, Electronic Arts

42 7 0.2
It seems like "right to use that copy for an unlimited period" is a pretty key point. If the vendor specifies that the application usage is for a finite period of time, it looks like this ruling doesn't apply.

This might just unleash a bunch of tit for tat, can Oracle just update their license to limit usage for "100 years" and be free of this?

Posted:2 years ago

#27

Brian Smith Artist

198 94 0.5
If the industry expects to be able to restrict customers ownership of digitally distributed games then I think they'll need to show some proper price differentiation to offset the restrictions.

I.E On demand retail games being sold for the same price as their boxed versions.

These are lesser products. They have no box,disc,manual or ability to be sold. They should have a price that reflects that. Currently the publishers are milking it and consumers will pressure that situation to change if the industry doesn't do it first.

We all know it isn't viable to resell openly as it'll have a hugely detrimental effect on sales. Just because this isn't an option though doesn't mean you can get away with doing nothing about the obvious gap in relation to digital and retail.

Posted:2 years ago

#28

James Prendergast Research Chemist

741 439 0.6
@Alex O'Dwyer


"A digital used game would be no different to a new one, so why on earth would I pay full price....EVER AGAIN "

If you've ever heard of Steam sales then you must surely think the same thing about those. I know many people who ONLY buy digital games on Steam (and other services) at discounted prices. I think your point isn't particularly effective in this regard - there will always be a set of people who will pay at RRP and others that won't, regardless of being able to resell an item or not.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 4th July 2012 12:01pm

Posted:2 years ago

#29

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

528 788 1.5
@James - Steam sales are limited to a certain time period. If people could easily trade games there'd almost always be second hand ones available, and there would never be a reason to buy a new one. The only way to make money from making a game would be from the people who bought the game on day one, i.e. the slow but steady selling game becomes extinct. Only hugely anticipated CoD style blockbusters would exist.

Posted:2 years ago

#30

Doug Paras

117 61 0.5
You will lose a large market share trying to go into full streaming, internet is to unreliable @ this point and time.

Posted:2 years ago

#31

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,196 1,176 0.5
How funny. I predicted this sort of thing would roll around eventually about five years ago, but we'll see if it takes hold across the globe and if the ruling gets beaten to death in some territories and accepted in others (making for quite a pickle for some users and companies "grrrr"-ing at each other because one part of the world can resell a license and the other is locked into whatever games they buy, good, bad or otherwise)...

Posted:2 years ago

#32

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,630 1,509 0.9
and the other is locked into whatever games they buy, good, bad or otherwise
Unrelated to the wider implications, but I do wonder how many people would end up selling games from their Steam accounts, say. The fact that you can't trade or sell something once it's in your library makes me more cautious than ever about buying PC games, as opposed to console. There's, maybe... 2 games out of 300+ on Steam I'd sell, because I genuinely wouldn't play them anymore (mostly because they're not very good). Contrast this with console games, where there's always the thought at the back of the mind of "Ah, if it's not very good, you can just sell it and get most your money back."

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 4th July 2012 6:58pm

Posted:2 years ago

#33

James Prendergast Research Chemist

741 439 0.6
@ Dave Herod:

I have to disagree. You might predict that happening but there's no evidence for it in the history of computer games and that's including data from second hand physical sales....

As an example - given the limited copies of the original Baldur's Gate - how many re-releases and new digital purchases do you think have occurred since its release and subsequent ease of resale/borrowing and also patching?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 4th July 2012 8:06pm

Posted:2 years ago

#34

Dave Knudson Sr. Technology Manager, Electronic Arts

42 7 0.2
If you could individually sell the games it likely would ruin the Steam sales. They would probably become limited to X number of units and would be overrun by users from the bargain sites looking to flip them.

As it currently is, it seems like Steam sales are a win for customers as they can get good games on the cheap. It can help the game as well, as it can be used to spark interest in the title.

Posted:2 years ago

#35

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game

1,255 421 0.3
I remember an acquaintance mentioning that Green Man gaming have facilitated selling on used digital copies for a few years now, so there is a precedent, even if it is with a lower key digital retailer.
Good old Games are DRM free, so if you sell your copy/licence, as long as you delete all your copies and back-ups, this could affect that.

Posted:2 years ago

#36

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

528 788 1.5
@James - I don't know much about Baldur's Gate at all, so I'm not really sure what point you're trying to make. Either way, one old game doesn't necessarily mean anything to the games business as a whole today. There are people who buy a game then rush through it as quickly as possible so they can take it back to the shop to get as much of their money back for it as they can, effectively using trade-in as a method of rental. I can't think of any reason why a person wouldn't do this online too - if anything, it makes it slightly easier. Now if you go on Steam and see the option to buy the game new at one price or "second hand" for cheaper, knowing full well there's no disadvantage whatsoever of buying the "used" version, why would anyone ever buy a new one again? Rather than spreading the cost of development over everyone who plays the game, the cost is being spread over only the few gamers who plays the game within a few days of release.

Posted:2 years ago

#37

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,630 1,509 0.9
@ Dave

What you say makes sense, but there'd be mitigating factors to help the industry if it were to come to pass. Just, none of them would be very beneficial to the consumers.

For instance, there's nothing to stop Project 10 Dollar being revived, and similar systems being taken up by all publishers. DLC would become far far more prevalent, I think, as would pre-order bonuses that are tied to the first-purchaser's account. All 3 things would still allow for second-hand sales whilst nickel-and-diming the second-hand buyer, to the point where they'd probably have been better off buying it new.

Posted:2 years ago

#38

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

528 788 1.5
Exactly. If everyone is constantly finding ways to circumvent paying money to the people who actually made the game, the game creators have no choice but to attempt to extract more money from the poor sods who still do buy new. Which turns those customers off and harms sales further. That's why I see second hand sales as harming everyone. Short term gains for individuals causing long term problems for the industry as a whole. In the ideal world, for me, there'd be no second hand sales, but games would be cheaper in general and everyone who played a part in getting that game to the player gets a fair cut.

Posted:2 years ago

#39

James Prendergast Research Chemist

741 439 0.6
@ Dave Herod:

The point I was making is that the used market hasn't, by itself, hurt the games industry (we're discounting the effect of Gamestop and GAME et al. in this example as that's a different kettle of fish!).
The second point I was making is that Baldur's Gate (and many other old games) have been released, re-released, re-packaged with tie-ins, sold digitally etc etc. They are well beyond the point of profitability and the spectre of the used market that you're calling on (which affects a large portion of those sales) has not had a measurable effect on the subsequent releases of the game - meaning that people bought and did not sell and people did not buy used in enough quantities to justify those re-releases and repacks. I think it's safe to say that whoever makes those decisions would not do so unless there was anticipated demand there. (I myself own at least 3 copies of BG, 2 of BG2+SoA and TotSC and Icewind Dale in various formats)

"I can't think of any reason why a person wouldn't do this online too - if anything, it makes it slightly easier. Now if you go on Steam and see the option to buy the game new at one price or "second hand" for cheaper, knowing full well there's no disadvantage whatsoever of buying the "used" version, why would anyone ever buy a new one again? Rather than spreading the cost of development over everyone who plays the game, the cost is being spread over only the few gamers who plays the game within a few days of release."

You're missing the point - the game still has to be bought. You don't get multiple copies from that one sale, you sell it on to someone else as you do with most other "used" markets. Why would someone buy a new game? Because they don't want to wait for that original buyer to sell the game -then there's the fact that not everyone will sell their copy.
The other thing to take into account is that people are not saints. If I bought a game I wouldn't just give it away (unless I was wanting to give it away :) ) for free if I was charging for it. You only have to look at the Gamestop model for this and see that they'll price things $5 lower than RRP. I don't forsee many people wanting to get a game, play it for 24 hours and then sell it at a 95% loss. That just won't work. The industry can control this economic aspect quite easily through a few mechanisms:

1. Charge a small fee (or take commission) to list items for sale within the store it was bought from.
2. Have flexible and adaptive pricing schemes.
3. Have specific parts of the game that are not guaranteed (e.g. as they aready are not but have it stated EXPLICITLY that they are not - i.e. multiplayer servers) as these should not fall under indefinite sales aspects.

I think 1 is pretty self-explanatory but 2 needs a little elucidation. Basically, you would need to monitor sales of the game. If, after the first weekend the average re-selling price of the game was $5 less and you're seeing a lot of movement on that side of things and a corresponding drop in primary sales then you drop your price by $5 (or some other appropriate amount). So before someone jumps in and yells "It'll be a race to the bottom!!" you have to think about how these things work. It won't be a race to the bottom because a percentage of players will never sell the game - another percentage will not complete it in a short time-frame and also there may be no corresponding drop in continued primary sales due to re-sale numbers.
Therefore the numbers of used copies will always be limited and, also there will be some revenue generated by charging a fee or commission that will also help to keep the resale price higher because people will want to make as much money as possible from their resale.

The industry could also be smart about things as well. They could, you know, court new customers instead of trying to beat them into buying new games. Say, you release a costume set with new sales after the first week - only available to new customers and you could do this in many different ways - maybe becoming available to other customers a year later. It would effectively be all the stupid perks of "pre-sales" but shifted after the fact. (I, personally would get rid of that pre-sale bonus stuff as I hate pre-buying and not being able to get everything from one place - I think it's disrespectful to the customer who is willing to invest in your game before it's been proven)

There are many ways you can add continued value to entice new customers - you just have to think about it and not just throw out negative comments that have little thought behind them.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 5th July 2012 12:01pm

Posted:2 years ago

#40

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,630 1,509 0.9
Say, you release a costume set with new sales after the first week - only available to new customers and you could do this in many different ways
Regardless of everything else you say, this type of thing wouldn't work unless it was offered to all people who bought it new, not just new sales after X date. Just like pre-order bonuses negatively affect people who buy games after release, so this would negatively affect consumers who bought day-of-release. And, once you start offering it to all users who bought it new, how do you tell who bought it new, and who didn't?

Posted:2 years ago

#41

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

528 788 1.5
James, not everyone will trade in games but you only have to look at the size of the used games section in Game to know plenty will. And don't forget the same copy can be sold multiple times without any degradation. Depending on how promiment Steam made such a feature, if they were to do this, and how easy it was to use, I think once you were past the initial couple of weeks there'd be no shortage of second hand games to buy. Only the games that sell a lot in a short space of time make a profit, second hand recycling ensures that slow sellers are becoming a thing of the past.

Posted:2 years ago

#42

Brian Smith Artist

198 94 0.5
The flip of new titles to pre-owned could be helped by the industry too. If you put out a game that takes 5-10 hours to complete then you can bet your boots it'll be fired back to the gameshop quick as. Same with sub-par titles.

Posted:2 years ago

#43

Barrie Tingle Live Producer, Maxis

400 218 0.5
Surely all this will do is bring Online Pass to the PC market?
PC has gotten away without Online Pass since there is no real 2nd hand market for PC games. Add the 2nd hand market and then you see the Online Pass being used there too.

Posted:2 years ago

#44

James Prendergast Research Chemist

741 439 0.6
@ Morville,

To be honest, I don't see it like that. In the same way that services entice new customers by offering them perks and often stores will sell things with additional items to encourage sales I see no problem with the games being packaged with something "new" to encourage sales. Or are you saying that cheaper bundles of Main Game + Expansion a year later are unfair to the original purchasers as well?

Pre-orders, on the other hand, mean that you cannot get all the perks that are available when you buy. Even if you can get those items separately you are punished for your "loyalty".

@Dave:

The same physical copy can be (and usually is) sold many times without any degradation to the game experience as well. That undermines that aspect of the argument.

Secondly, the publishers and developers would be stupid not to have some sort of arrangement with regards to how second hand sales are promoted and managed when dealing with an online store as well as payment and other remuneration structures. That would also curtail the gamestop effect whereby the retailer has more of a vested interest in selling the second-hand items than the new. Steam is not gamestop and digital is not retail. The publishers also now have their own 'stores' and networks so that's another variable that's completely different too.

Honestly, I think there's a lot of opportunity with digital resales but the industry has to be brave and adapt. It's still stuck in the past ways of thinking despite all the talk about mobile, freemium etc. Just like the music and, to a lesser extent, movie industries are discovering: you don't need to lock your content down tighter than Fort Knox to make a killing.

Posted:2 years ago

#45

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

528 788 1.5
The same physical copy can be (and usually is) sold many times without any degradation to the game experience as well. That undermines that aspect of the argument.
How does that undermine it? Retail stores are piled high with second hand copies and they're harming publishers so that pretty much reinforces my point rather than undermines it. If it weren't a harmful amount there wouldn't be things like Online Pass etc. Games would be better off without Online Passes but second hand sales have forced it on them. At the end of the day, games cost orders of magnitude more to make than they used to, yet they cost the same price as they did 20 years ago. Far less if you took into account inflation, and yet everyone seems determined to find ways to avoid paying the people that make the games. Then they wonder why developers go out of business and the only games that get made are sequels to sure bet money spinners or copies of them.

Posted:2 years ago

#46

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,630 1,509 0.9
Or are you saying that cheaper bundles of Main Game + Expansion a year later are unfair to the original purchasers as well?
In a way, they are, but two things.

1) The savvy users who aren't amazingly bothered about a game don't buy on day-of-release. They wait for the GoTY edition, which they know will be the same price as the standard, but with all the DLC. Publisher's have trained a fair portion of consumers to do this, since they end up getting burned by buying game+DLC+DLC+DLC ad nauseum. Some of it is worthwhile content, yes, but that doesn't mean it makes the consumer feel any better, knoing they're forking out so much for something that'll be re-released for less in the future.

2) It depends how quickly after release publishers decide to add material, and what it is. If some horse armour DLC got added to the pack 2 weeks after release, people wouldn't get upset. But what if it were a full-blown expansion, just given to the people who bought it new after a random date? My problem isn't with the idea, it's with the concept of making it exclusive to customers of new games, which is just going to antagonise the consumers who have purchased your game already. When you can just turn around and look at CDPR who made a vast amount of new content available to all purchasers of Witcher 2, why can't a larger group or publisher do the same?

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 6th July 2012 8:59am

Posted:2 years ago

#47

Curt Sampson Sofware Developer

596 360 0.6
I doubt any sensible publisher would support re-sale of digital copies because it can only lead to an economic loss. Since a digital copy has no marginal cost, if you have a customer who would buy it at price p, you're always better off selling him a new copy at price p than a used copy at price p minus however much you paid someone who already owns it to buy it back.

Posted:2 years ago

#48

James Prendergast Research Chemist

741 439 0.6
@ Dave Herod:
How does that undermine it? Retail stores are piled high with second hand copies and they're harming publishers so that pretty much reinforces my point rather than undermines it. If it weren't a harmful amount there wouldn't be things like Online Pass etc. Games would be better off without Online Passes but second hand sales have forced it on them.

Wait, you believe a business wouldn't try and get more money from their product any way they thought possible even without an impetus beyond wanting more money?
I'd like to see the evidence you have that second-hand sales are harming the industry beyond anecdotal "they are losing money because it's not being paid to them". I think it wasn't the fact of second-hand sales that "forced" online passes but more the revenue stream of Gamestop et al. and instead it was shareholder pressure to generate revenue on the back of that success given that they can't stop the sale of second-hand physical games through legal means. They never had a big problem with it over the 20+ years I was growing up in the 80s, 90s and 2000s even though they could have implemented something similar much, much earlier than they did.

Secondly, it undermines your argument because you based your argument on the lack of degradation of experience for a digital copy as opposed to a physical one. I was pointing out that there's rarely any degradation of physical copies either. CDs/DVDs and Blu Rays are pretty resilient things and will function with many minor scratches and abrasions on them. Another point - which I already discussed - is that in digital reselling the publishers/developers control the system and so can make it work in their favour as opposed to retail stores "piled high with second hand copies".

At the end of the day, games cost orders of magnitude more to make than they used to, yet they cost the same price as they did 20 years ago. Far less if you took into account inflation, and yet everyone seems determined to find ways to avoid paying the people that make the games.

Dave, this is a completely fallacious argument and I've had it before with other people. Yes, games cost more to make. However, the market is orders of magnitude larger than it was 20 years ago. The revenue you can generate from the potential 100 million console players today is much larger. Considering it took the NES 10+ years to get to 61 million consoles sold (http://www.webcitation.org/5nXieXX2B) and the Wii managed 64 million in around 4 years. If games are that expensive to make and there's no market there then developers and publishers are stupid to make those games that expensive. There are plenty of people doing cost/market analysis and if there wasn't a business case for those games then you can be damn sure they wouldn't be being made.

You only have to look at the movie industry for an analogous trend. Movies are getting more expensive to make - even though they've transitioned mostly to CG from the even MORE expensive miniatures and real sets and people. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_films#Most_expensive_films_.28adjusted_for_inflation.29) Yet these films are being made... why? Because the market can support them!!

Businesses are not some goody-two shoes give-away saints, they're there to make money and if you believe for one second that just because the average game price hasn't gone up (when taking into account of inflation) because the games industry is being generous to their customers then I really don't know what to say to you. You may as well tell me that the computer industry is being cheated by their customers and is about to go bankrupt because, when taking inflation into account, computing technology is cheaper than ever to buy despite being more expensive to produce, research and protect with patents....

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 8th July 2012 9:38pm

Posted:2 years ago

#49

James Prendergast Research Chemist

741 439 0.6
@ Morville,

I can see your point (split these into two posts as the other was getting a bit long!), however, if the content is later released for free to the rest of the buyers of the game like I mentioned I don't see the problem.

Posted:2 years ago

#50

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

528 788 1.5
@James -
Wait, you believe a business wouldn't try and get more money from their product any way they thought possible even without an impetus beyond wanting more money?
There's no money to be made from an online pass. The online pass comes free with every new copy. If everyone bought new the Online Pass would be unnecessary. Its sole purpose is to take back some money that was lost from a second hand sale. And talk about the 80s and 90s all you like, but second hand wasn't anywhere near as big a problem back then, because it wasn't be pushed on a mass market scale by retailers taking all the effort out of it.
If games are that expensive to make and there's no market there then developers and publishers are stupid to make those games that expensive.
The likes of CoD have pushed gamers to expect every game to be at that kind of level, despite that only the likes of Activision can afford to throw that amount of resources at a game. But that's what it takes to sell big on day one, and that's the only way to make money now that second hand has effectively chopped the "tail" off sales of games. People's habits towards "average" games tend to be to wait till the price drops before buying. Yet by the time that happens, the stores are stocked with second hand copies and there's no reason to buy new any more. That is not fair. An "average" game deserves "average" sales.

Posted:2 years ago

#51

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