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Retail

Pre-owned crackdown is a sad excuse for business innovation

Pre-owned crackdown is a sad excuse for business innovation

Fri 31 May 2013 6:30am GMT / 2:30am EDT / 11:30pm PDT
RetailPublishing

Taking away our right to share games will solve none of the industry's enormous financial and business model problems; it may even make them worse

We're far from the end of the story regarding second-hand games and the next generation of consoles. Microsoft promises to have more information to reveal and implies that gamers will be placated by these further revelations; the only reasonable reaction to this nudge-and-wink follow-up to last week's public relations disaster is to raise an amused eyebrow and imagine the chaos within the company as they try to figure out exactly what the hell they're going to reveal when the time comes. Sony, meanwhile, may well be watching with some trepidation - it's entirely possible that the PS4 also restricts second-hand sales in some fashion. Sony has always said that PS4 will play second-hand games, but hasn't been drawn on detail regarding that stance - and the halo the company is presently wearing (no pun intended) will evaporate rapidly if it transpires that it's also planning such an unpopular move.

"An industry which thinks it's reasonable to wage war on perfectly normal consumer behaviour in this way is an industry that's seriously dysfunctional"

Stepping back to consider the wider picture, we're looking at a very bleak future for pre-owned or sharing of software. Steam is already the de facto platform for PC games, and it offers no second-hand sales channel and no method of sharing software with friends (and I mean that in the traditional "borrow my game" sense, not the euphemistic "sharing" as in piracy). iOS and Google Play games are locked to the user account. Now Xbox One (and possibly PS4) games will also prevent you from sharing games with friends and place hefty restrictions (and costs) on second-hand sales.

This isn't just going to impact on the racks and racks of second-hand games at game retail stores, it's going to have a major impact on gaming culture overall. It means no more buying a game and lending it to a friend when you're finished, or going halves on a copy of something both of you want to play. It means no more going over to someone's house and browsing their shelves for something to borrow - and by extension, removes a major impetus for many people to collect games in the first place. It means no more Lovefilm or other rental services for games, no more communal caches of games in the office that colleagues can dip into. Eventually, terribly sadly, it could even mean authorisation servers somewhere being turned off and an entire generation of games becoming inaccessible - a grim scenario but one which has already happened on a smaller scale with the switch-off of other DRM-backed systems.

There's little point in going into any huge depth about why this is all a bloody awful idea - suffice it to say that as a consumer myself, I don't think I'll be buying an Xbox One if its DRM system turns out to be as draconian, abusive and intrusive as it presently seems, and similar decisions by Sony would equally nix a PS4 purchase. Given that I've bought every console in every generation for almost 20 years, that's a fairly significant departure, but it's no idle chest-beating on my part. If you take out the ability to lend and borrow games, the process of sharing enjoyment and entertainment that's been at the heart of my gaming hobby since it began, I don't know that my time or investment in consoles is justified any more. It's terribly sad to think that key decision makers in our industry are now apparently of the impression that "social" in terms of prancing around like a drunken tit in front of a camera is the future of the medium, while "social" in terms of pressing a game box into a friend's hand with a gleam in your eyes and words of praise and enthusiasm on your lips is to be frowned upon and treated as criminal.

"The cost of developing AAA games has risen and will rise again, but the cost of marketing games has absolutely soared"

What's more useful is to ask how on earth we got ourselves into this position, because an industry which thinks it's reasonable to wage war on perfectly normal consumer behaviour in this way is an industry that's seriously dysfunctional. It's easy, and very tempting, to blame the avarice of publishers and platform holders. There's no denying that some of this market's biggest firms are - like so many modern companies - rather over-padded with MBA-toting examples of human mediocrity whose understanding of the creative industry they've joined is zero but whose capacity to string together meaningless corporate buzzwords into arcane incantations summoning forth utterly rapacious and awful business practices is practically limitless. This is not to say that creative and excellent business minds aren't also at work in games, but they're very outnumbered by sub-par chancers spouting corporate drivel, and as such this entire area of the industry effectively wears a giant "kick me" sign that lights up in bright neon every time something like the Xbox One reveal or an egregious abuse of IAP in a full-price game occurs.

Yet even if swearing about people with expensive suits, MBAs and not a jot of real wit or intelligence to share between them is cathartic, it doesn't actually get us to the bottom of the problem. The reality is that the crack-down on sharing and second-hand sales is part of a wider malaise. A wide swathe of high-end game development is struggling to pay the bills - that's a simple reality. The cost of developing AAA games has risen and will rise again as new consoles demand higher-quality assets and new technology R&D, but the cost of marketing games has absolutely soared - and as Square Enix' Yosuke Matsuda pointed out in a revealing statement this week, the cost of actually getting games into retail and sold through to consumers has also soared. Everyone poked fun at Square Enix' huge sales targets for games like Tomb Raider and Hitman: Absolution, but Matsuda's assessment of what happened to those games is sobering - as are the frankly enormous figures the company had to earmark for marketing and retail-related costs such as returns allowance.

This is reality; something is utterly broken at the heart of the AAA business. It's entirely possible to put a game on the market which sells millions of copies, easily covering its development budget, and still not make enough money to justify the outlay once you factor in all the other huge costs. Developers have always felt screwed when they looked at games selling millions of units while royalties failed to materialise thanks to the creative accounting methods many publishers borrowed from Hollywood. Now, publishers are starting to feel a similar pinch, as games which should have been a safe bet see their profits evaporate in a perfect storm of additional costs and revenue drains. The cost of making a game has risen a bit; the cost of getting someone to buy a game has risen a lot, and unless your franchise is a Call of Duty scale monster, the whole thing is looking increasingly unsustainable.

"Killing off the second hand market isn't going to earn the industry a moment's respite - if anything, it'll hasten the decline and death of the existing business model"

Is the answer to crack down on customers sharing games with friends? No, of course not; that's the frightened lashing out of a wounded animal. Is it to crack down on the second hand market? Again, no. There's absolutely no question but that companies like GameStop and GAME have spent the past decade rabidly gnawing on the hand that fed them, but this ill-conceived crusade against second-hand sales punishes consumers for the industry's own years-long failure to rein in the transgressions of its most cavalier and self-interested retail "partners".

Is there, however, a problem that needs a solution? Yes. The AAA business simply has to change; the existing model is broken and a new one needs to be found. Matsuda says that Square Enix is going to experiment with ideas like Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight, among others, in the hope of finding a new approach to creating games that makes financial sense. I'm not convinced that crowdfunding is a viable model for big publishers in the long term, but I'm absolutely convinced that something new needs to be tried. How games are funded, created, distributed and ultimately enjoyed is going to have to change radically in the next few years, or there simply isn't going to be a AAA market outside of a handful of established, ultra high-budget franchises. Killing off the second hand market isn't even going to earn the industry a moment's respite - if anything, I suspect that it'll hasten the decline and death of the existing business model. I don't expect that any company which isn't rethinking its AAA funding, development and release model to still be in business five years from now.

62 Comments

John Pickford Owner, Zee 3

46 152 3.3
Popular Comment
The (small) activation fee is the full price of the game.

Posted:A year ago

#1

Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus

459 738 1.6
Popular Comment
Andreas - the main point of the article isn't so much, I believe, to debate the pros and cons of a locked down, no-trade system. At least that's not what I gathered, and thank Christ for that because that debate's been done to death.

The point of the article is that, in terms of actual innovation, the industry at large has only really innovated in one way: how to take things away from consumers.

Think about it: AAA games are either sequels of existing properties or focus-grouped dreck for the most part (see: Fuse). Indie games are not immune to this as well; if you want to sell a game or even get Greenlit, your game better have 1) zombies, 2) retro graphics, or 3) zombies AND retro graphics, hello Organ Trail), otherwise it's not going to make it, with very rare exceptions like Angry Birds or Ridiculous Fishing. One company went on Kickstarter, and now there's rumours that huge AAAs like Square Enix are going to consider it, because what's the danger when your consumers are taking on all the risk?

The only real area where there's been innovation has been in this, the ways to take things away from consumers. Talk about the advantages to you, personally, all you want, as you have done, but the numbers industry-wide are down, and have not improved since the implementation of DRM, online passes and the like. What else has there been? The freemium model makes for almost inarguably inferior games, as well as a sketchy business model in most applications, as developer after developer has complained that they do not like having to put cost efficiency into their design process. The only people who speak highly about freemium are beancounters. Even some of the things that can be done with Kinect come with *HUMONGOUS* strings, if you're at all familiar with their terms of service.

On this site, no one really seems to talk about what games they like. The most prolific commenters have been people - and sadly, you enter into this group, Andreas - who have a horse in the race and a bone to pick. I hate to paint you with this brush, but it's people like Bruce scream about the death of AAA and console gaming because he has a financial stake in its death. There's so much money at stake in this industry now that it's all anyone can look at; the games themselves that brought us here have become secondary.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Tameem Antoniades Creative Director & Co-founder, Ninja Theory Ltd

196 164 0.8
Couldn't have said it any better Rob.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Anthony Gowland Lead Designer, Outplay Entertainment

212 744 3.5
Popular Comment
like using car analogies, so imagine i would lend my car to a friend. Would he expect me to take care of the fuel cost while he drives?
That's not a good analogy, the running costs (in a game's case the electricity / broadband fees) are on your friend in all cases.

A better analogy for MS' new system would be like lending your car to a friend, and then that friend having to pay the manufacturer a fee (say 10% of the car's value) before it will start for him. Does that sound reasonable to you?

PS this is why car analogies are stupid. Games are not cars.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Felix Leyendecker Senior 3D Artist, Crytek

184 204 1.1
I think this will backfire on MS in a huge way, simply because it gives hacker groups a massive incentive to crack this system open. Even though console games might be the dinosaur in the software business where they are sold as actual product and not just licenses, you can't really spin this as anything but anti-consumer.
That said, something has got to give. If this change means that pure single player games have a chance of getting published without coming in Skyrim-like scale, that's something at least.
And judging from the PC communities' reaction to the same DRM scheme years ago, there won't be much left after the initial uproar.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Kieran Keegan Gameplay Programmer, Magic Notion

6 19 3.2

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Kieran Keegan on 31st May 2013 10:03am

Posted:A year ago

#6

gi biz ;,pgc.eu

341 51 0.1
"Steam [...] offers no second-hand sales channel and no method of sharing software with friends"
In principle, that's why cracks exist. If you read the readme provided with cracks, they always say "please support the developers by buying this game". In the old days I used to bring Micro Machines to a friend's place along with my gamepad, get more people and play together. Which friend's house it was depended on who's parents were away at the moment, mostly. If I imagine that scenario with these restriction in effect, it quickly turns into a "my parents are away, but I didn't activate the game".

One serious innovation would be, with the due adjustments, some sort of compulsory monthly fee, possibly included in the provider's bill (many Countries such as Belgium already include TV tax in the internet bill) that gets redistributed to game developers with some ratio. Then you're allowed to download crap until your PC explodes. Otherwise you get bandwidth limits and that's it. If you're broke you switch to limited broadband (no downgrading limits/fees on your contracts), if you have money you upgrade. I'm not saying this is the final solution, just showing that if they just invested in these things instead of DRM and other worthless technologies that will have the ultimate effect of making classic games disappear in the future, we'd probably have some decent alternative by now.

Posted:A year ago

#7
One word: WiiU

You choose between retail and digital. Power to the consumer.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,199 1,017 0.8
I think it should remain free and easy to share and re-sell physical products as it always has been. I expect to be able to do the same thing with software on a physical disc as I can with a car or anything else one might sell. Changing the terms and taking away freedom from consumers most definitely isn't an innovation.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

528 788 1.5
Popular Comment
Why not just leave the retailer who's selling the second hand game to reactivate game codes and disable the original user? If they want to make second hand part of their business strategy, make them take the hit. Leave the consumer out of it.

Posted:A year ago

#10

Sandy Lobban Founder and Creative Director, Noise Me Up

315 208 0.7
It all sounds a bit backward thinking this used sales these days. Its like that pet hate that some industry people just cant let go.

Unless the publishers and console makers who want to continue down the path of making discs start selling them at a lower price point then sales will continue to fall.

I can only imagine Valve and the like will be laughing, and rubbing their hands that the idea of hard copies for another generation is in the works.

Posted:A year ago

#11

Michael Benfield Senior Designer, Codemasters Birmingham

15 12 0.8
@ Kieran Keegan

Best post I have read on this site for quite some time. Gamesindustry.biz should be making a real effort to get him writing for this site as his informed reasoning on the subject is spot on.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Michael Benfield on 31st May 2013 11:00am

Posted:A year ago

#12

John Pickford Owner, Zee 3

46 152 3.3
Here's how I think it works. Lend the disk to a friend and they can install but have to pay the full price to activate. It has to be full price or close to or you'd just get groups of people buying one copy and passing it around.

Pre-owned. Owner sells original disk to the retailer. The retailer pays MS a fee to re-activated that disk. The original owner's copy will be deactivated the next time they use their console. The retailer can then sell the disk for whatever price they like and it will behave like a new copy. This process is the reason the XBOX ONE needs to connect to the internet constantly.

I think the whole thing stinks and I'm hopeful MS will back down.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Pickford on 31st May 2013 11:37am

Posted:A year ago

#13

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,613 1,475 0.9
Not read it properly yet, but it "uses data collected from the Japanese gaming market to simulate the effect that the removal of used videogames would have on consumer behavior and the resultant sales of new products."

http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2013/05/nyu-used-games-study/
The study found that if the used game market were to be eliminated and nothing else changed, game publishers’ profits per game would drop by about 10 percent. However, it found that if game publishers were to adjust the prices of new games to optimal levels, they could expect profits per game to rise by about 19 percent.

Posted:A year ago

#14

John Pickford Owner, Zee 3

46 152 3.3
Gamestop say that 70% of trade-in credit is spend immediately on NEW games.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Pickford on 31st May 2013 11:51am

Posted:A year ago

#15

gi biz ;,pgc.eu

341 51 0.1
@John Pickford: these guys are good with numbers, but think about it: retailer buys a new game for 90 and sells for 100 earning 10. It takes it back for 25 after customer has played it so shop balance is -15, then re-sells it for 75 raising shop's income to 60. The same customer also buys a new game, so shop makes an additional 10 (balance is 70). Customer comes back to sell both games, each at 25, but they really are worth 75 each to the shop, so they offer the customer a new game (worth 90 to the shop) for 75 to the customer (two used games plus cash). Omg, two thirds of the customer's money just went on a new game! Shop's balance is now 70+25-90=5! That's cool, now the shop's got an additional disc circulating (2 in shop, 1 that comes back with a pre-calculated probability), got a positive balance and 150 coins worth of used games. Pretty clever maths indeed.

I do buy used games, and I'd be sad to lose the right to do so, but never from these leeches. Online auctions are more fair, I don't think they damage the industry at all (likely the seller will use the money to get a new game from somewhere - all of my money, no coins get "lost" on the way). In fact I think these shops are plain scams, they sort of look like a ponzi scheme. Unfortunately customers are not as good as them with maths and get scammed twice - they end up paying more AND they get less from games as less money goes to the industry.

Another plague worth mentioning is investors or publisher's managers making well over 15-20k per month. That's another black hole sucking money that won't come back (they don't buy their own games very often), and they still influence development quite a lot, while not doing anything useful more often than not.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by gi biz on 31st May 2013 12:29pm

Posted:A year ago

#16
What money is going to the publisher if the retailer doesn't stock the new game?

Posted:A year ago

#17

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,158 1,222 1.1
When Gamestop offers store credit, they hand out a loan, they take a risk. The risk is nobody wanting to buy used games, ending up with Gamestop having given out games for free. The profit margin on buying back and reselling games might look huge, but if you consider Gamestop is staking its entire company on that, then it should come as no surprise. If you reduce Gamestop to a $5 margin on every used sale, you can expect them to drastically change their business and their priorities of what they promote themselves.

But hey, we live in a world of publishers who can think on nothing else to monetize but instant gratification. They do it when an f2p game offers you to shave off 2h of gaming time to reach a goal for $5. They do it when they think that people will buy all games full price, if used copies and friends lending games go away.

Still, Gamestop is expected to take the same risk, while the profit of having taken the risk is shared by the publisher and Microsoft (of all people). Basic economy, why bother?

Posted:A year ago

#18

Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend

270 618 2.3
@ Kieran Keegan

I watch quite a lot of TotalBiscuit/the Cynical Brit and he speaks sense a lot of the time; the used game mentality as it is today do real damage developers/publishers.

Whist I have no problem with people wanting to sell/lend their games to friends, I do strongly disagree with retail holding devs hostage over their games and then having the cheek to then do all they can to stop people buying those new games. Digital is the way to go and the retailers have dug their own grave.

What goes around.....

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 31st May 2013 8:27pm

Posted:A year ago

#19

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 941 0.7
In my personal expirience...

Im reluctant to buy games on release, unless its a game I really love like Zelda,Metroid or Metal Gear. They are just too damn expensive. Plus companies also look for ways to penny the crap outta you. I usually just wait for a price drop or an Ultimate edition. Ultimate editions provide the most value for me.

Regarding used games, I almost always NEVER buy them. Im picky about scratches and fingerprints. And only buy a used game, when I simply cant find a copy of the game anywhere else because they are sold out. I really like my stuff brand new and would really prefer my money going to the people who make the games.

But being a guy who has played games since the 1980's and seeing how things change.... I have been reluctant to purchase games on release day, simply because they are expensive. You can suger coat it all you want but thats how it is. I find myself more inclined to buy a game brand new game that is between 20$ and 40$ dollars. Blue Ray movie prices have gone as low as 8$, so im always picking up blu-Ray movies. I think the thing keeping games from being sold as much as they could is the price. I remember back in the day of 8-bit gaming, games would cost 50$. But you didnt have as many of them being released or that many platforms. You only had 1 or 2 games coming out for a franchise, per generation of consoles. Mobile games sell as much as they do simply because they cost less and are more accesible. Mobile phones are nothing more than a trojan horse for that. tablets are nothing more than phones without the phone feature. Everyone owned a phone even before games started coming out for them, it just so happens that phones can do more than just be a phone. So i wouldnt say mobile games sell more, its that mobile devices sell more, I doubt people buy a mobile device to play games. The only reason mobile games sell for less money is because they are more accesible and cost less. Blu-Rays are easier to pick up now cause they cost less, and I find it easier to pick up a game when they cost less. Console games struggle cause they cost too much.

Games are just too damn expensive, and with rumors circulating about them approaching the 70$ range. Its gonna be harder to purchase a game. Dont expect to sell any more copies than you already do. Add the expensis of DLC, Ingame purchases and games are even more expensive. Also add the rate of which games are pushed out the door such as the case with call of duty and Assasins creed. I held out on Borderlands 2 for this reason. im waiting to see if an ultimate edition arrives, if not I buy the original at 20$ and then purchase the DLC.

I recently bought Dragon Dogma: Dark Arisen, That to me was real value for money. At 40$ I was able to get the original game with the expansion. The game offers hours of content and gameplay is supererb. It sold pretty well and I didnt see so much marketing for it.

So yeah companies can scramble and do things to get a few dollars off the used games market, but like the article says, it wont make a huge difference. It cant replace bad bussiness practices.

Raise the price of the games, less people will buy them when they are new, this in turn will be offset by the used games fee that the industry now wants to impliment, which in turn will leave things almost the same as they where in the first place. Maybe selling games at a lower price will be offset by more people buying it.

Why do companies resolve to increasing team size and pouring more money into marketing and not finding alternative methods to keep the work force a reasonable size and more intelligent ways to market a game? Why simply resolve to raising the prices of games?

How the game reaches store shelves or business aspects surrounding the games creation is irrelevant to the average consumer. The only thing relevant is the final cost on the price tag. It doesnt matter how great the game is, the deciding factor is if people can afford them or not.

So yeah go take a slice of the used games market. I doubt it will make a huge difference if prices remain as they are. If game developers want people to purchase a new game, maybe releasing it at 30$ and DLC after that, I think people will be more inclined to purchase DLC that way. But no companies want to sell the disc full price. I think there are numerouse approaches the industry can take to sell games, but they stick to the same one and its raisng prices to make up for disfuncional business practices.

My only resolve to high cost would be to be more selective of the games and franchises that are important to me, and stick to those. At the end of the day resulting in me buying less games.

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 31st May 2013 3:26pm

Posted:A year ago

#20

David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers

359 78 0.2
Why do people go to the car analogy? I think a much more helpful comparison is to the sale of books, music CDs and movie DVDs. One would expect its basic functionality to work for another user without some roundabout activation fee. When we get into digital, things get a bit hazier but regardless I agree with Rob's point that if the industry changes the rules as they have been for retail products, they should expect some push back from consumers.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by David Radd on 31st May 2013 3:14pm

Posted:A year ago

#21

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 941 0.7
@Tom

Sorry, I meant buying a new game, not DLC.... The whole point is getting people to buy new games... anyway I set borderlands2 as an example. Im really writing based on my own expirience as a consumer.

Knowing that so much DLC would imminently be released for borderlands 2 soon after release, kept me from buying the game when it came out. Since I dont like buying used games, the only way ill pick up borderlands 2 is if the price dropped to 20$ so I can purchase the DLC and not spend so much.... or an ultimate edition bundled with all DLC on disc, which Id be inclined to buy at full price. Finally the issue is that there are so many great games, if prices become to high people cant afford every game they want and will have to be more selective just as I find myself doing so. I did purchase mass effect 3 with every single piece of DLC at release, special edition and all. I even bought the trilogy after owning parts 2 and 3. But thats a game I love and wont do this with many games. Because I also like borderlands, But i just cant afford to do the same thing for both. I can no longer afford to purchase every game I want. This will result in me not buying a game at all used or new. id resolve in being more selective of my purchases.

I was simply suggesting a different approach to selling games without having to raise the price or put a used games fee on used games.

I believe people should lend and share their stuff freely and without hastle. Different approaches can be made to sell new games. If games were cheaper people would be more inclined to buy them. I dont think that charging people for used games and raising prices is gonna solve dysfucional business practices or curb the hunger of greedy corporations.

@Andreas Gschwari - Online passes were free for new copies and it didnt keep people who purchased the game used from enjoying the single player game. Didnt like them but didnt mind them. Besides as soon as the publisher or servers go bust those portions of the game are rendered usless.

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 31st May 2013 6:20pm

Posted:A year ago

#22
Steam and IOS have shown us that people will accept games bought and locked to their accounts. Personally I am disgusted seeing that supermarkets such as ASDA and non-specialist retailers like HMV are selling my work second-hand. I just hope that we will be allowed the flexibility in pricing models that Steam and IOS have.

Posted:A year ago

#23

Bryan Robertson Gameplay Programmer, Ubisoft Toronto

86 210 2.4
Aside from the fact that DVDs also have cinema ticket sales, the main difference is that if I walk into HMV, there's no second-hand music or DVDs section. If I buy a CD, I'm not asked if I'd like to buy a second-hand version instead. If I go to buy a DVD, there aren't second-hand copies stacked on top of the new copies, in an attempt to get me to buy a second-hand version instead. The problem isn't so much that second-hand exists, it's the extent to which mainstream games retailers push second-hand games over new games.

Posted:A year ago

#24
It is things like this that have always hurt the attempts to introduce DRM into the consumer market.

There is inherently nothing wrong with DRM. Done right it can not only lower game costs by limiting piracy but actually improve the resale market by ensuring that a give copy can only be used by its current owner and eliminating the need for a fixed physical copy that can get damaged.

The lesson Apple taught us about DRM is that people are not inherently against it, if they think it makes their lives better or gives them more options. The problem is that the first instinct of the media providers has always been to use it to take *away* options, and thats something the consumer always resents.

As for the economics of the industry, I think it is a problem that is going to solve itself in a few ways..
(1) Cutting out the retail chain. In the past, the vast majority of the money went to the publisher and the hands product had to move through to get ot the consumer. The internet has brought much more efficient ways for game developers to reach their market and retain more of the sales price.

(2) Ending bloat for bloat's sake. We have reached the end of the "more of the same" method for differentiating your product. Game developers are going to have to refocus on uniqueness and quality of content and give up trying to compete on quantity.

Both of these factors make it an exciting time to be an independent developer. Yes, the old industry is in chaos, but chaos brings opportunity for those brave enough to grasp it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jeffrey Kesselman on 31st May 2013 4:46pm

Posted:A year ago

#25
Im not sure i agree Bryan.

When I walk into Newbury Comics I see racks upon racks of used DVDs and only a few new ones on endcaps or special displays.

Posted:A year ago

#26

Michael Harrell Studying CS, University of Utah

3 1 0.3
I believe that going after used game sales/retailers is the wrong choice. It's the same with piracy (not that selling your used game to your buddy is piracy). In order for publishers to get more first-party sales, they need to make the original product more enticing than a used edition. Digital deluxe editions of the game that cannot be resold at the same price as a physical copy, or even selling the digital copy at a lower price than physical, makes more sense than assuming that you'll somehow get something back by harassing your fans.

Posted:A year ago

#27

Kenneth Stubbs Customer Options Team, BT

1 0 0.0
@Jason iOS games are a poor example as they are small digital apps that are either free or cost very little. I doubt I could pick up the next Bioshock or CoD for 69p. Steam is purely digital as well so it's not the best comparison. This is about physical media that people can't even lend to a friend without their being a fee. If games didn't cost as much as they do maybe they would sell more. Sure there will always be people looking for cheap used games but I hope that as you said, there can be a flexible pricing structure in the future that benefits both parties.

@Jeffrey People haven't accepted DRM with those apps at all and if you look at reviews for apps that need certification every time you boot the game up, they complain about it. People don't always have a good signal or maybe they have used their allocated data and can't use anymore. That makes that game useless to them at that point. That's the same thing that could potentially happen with games on consoles.

Posted:A year ago

#28

Neil Sorens Creative Director, Zen Studios

17 48 2.8
The problem with limiting used games on Xbox One is that customers can't see the benefits right now, and potentially not ever. But it does help to be able to point at Steam and see a game ecosystem that offers a wide variety of experiences, not just the killing/sports games that dominate retail, where developers and publishers of all sized can flourish, and where as a consumer you don't need to buy used because games are so cheap if you can wait for a bit after launch.

Players can't make the connection between Steam's business model and the health and diversity of its games ecosystem; all they care about is the extra $5-15 dollars per title they have to pay. They also don't understand that if used games are removed, discounts become a more effective tool for publishers because used won't simply undercut them again. Thus, discounts become steeper and more frequent.

All of this will never be understood by most players, especially right now when those discount patterns and game diversity are not visible. And even when they are, players will attribute them to some other cause. It reminds me quite a bit of democratic governance, for for many voters just means an opportunity to vote yourself money and scream bloody murder when someone tries to take it away.

Posted:A year ago

#29

Anthony Chan Analyst, CPPIB

101 96 1.0
I think the CD-KEY is still the best. Lend the game to a friend, they have full access to the game however only one unique key can access the software. If you want the game purchase a key at the full price of the game.

The enemy is not the consumer. I totally agree with this. However, I will go out and say the enemy is truly Gamestop, Bestbuy, and Future Shop who resell used games. They are the ones who are profitting fully from this, and as such developers and publishers should focus energy in stopping them from RE-SELLING.

Lending a game to your friend to try, cool. Selling your played through games to Gamestop? Not cool.

Posted:A year ago

#30

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,194 1,169 0.5
Hmmm... I own 2000+ physical games, bought new and used. Should I be tracking down some defunct or current publisher each time I play a game on one of the 20+ consoles I own to pay someone each time I play an old game? Nope. Should someone I lend a rare (or hell, current) game to for an article be told they have to pay some activation fee just to try it because there's no demo out? Nope. Is the industry going to wipe itself and the future history of games out by continually ticking off consumers because it can't figure out why the business models it's using fail to generate all those overestimated sales figures? Probably (and sadly).

Hell, If it weren't for my buying and selling used games and all that borrowing going on back and forth between friends around the world for close to 20 years, I probably wouldn't be a gamer. All this over-monetization and deep thinking about how to figure out how to get consumers to buy into something the bulk of them don't want (and the numbers will show if or when Sony and Microsoft drop the "no second hand games!" bomb at E3) is simply going to send some things into the toilet faster than you'd think.

I think the industry had the chance to get a piece of the used market back in the 90's, but didn't bother, probably because it was too much work back then to figure out the pie slicing and logistics of setting up such a huge program.. Trying to do so now by continually demonizing and slapping all sorts of fees and schemes is doing nothing but making more people not pleased with what's coming. And like it or else, once they start getting sick and tired of being told how they can play the games they BUY (not rent, or steal), they'll go away (to Steam or other services for PC games) or wait things out for the inevitable price drop/fire sale.

Posted:A year ago

#31

Anton Pustovoyt Game Designer & Developer

2 2 1.0
I personally welcome this crackdown on pre-owned. Without getting into the debate whether this new direction is right or wrong, I'd like to tackle another problem, consumers attitude. I think the problem with said attitude is that it is considered to be perfectly normal to pass on the entertainment once you are done with it. When I go to movies, I pay for two hours of experience, once I've gotten my two hours of experience, I do not expect to be able to get part of the money back by selling the movie ticket to a friend. So why should games be any different? You pay for a set amount of "fun", once you are done, you consumed the product you bought.

However, in the past it was impossible to distribute the games digitally, thus creating a physical artifact, the dvd/cartridge/disc of the game. When it comes to sharing physical stuff (like a car), the logic is pretty simple, when someone else has it, you no longer can use it. If you lend your car to a friend, you end up without a car. So car manufacturers do not need to worry about car lending causing issues for their business, as either you or your friend will need to sooner or later to resort to a permanent solution, buying another car. Second hand? Cars wear down (games rarely do).

But the case is drastically different with the video games. A game is an experience, rather than a physical artifact. Once you beat a game, you no longer need to continue possessing it (in most cases), you have absorbed the experience it had to offer. You can safely pass it on without needing it back, unless you'd like to replay it at some point. So technically, what you do is pirating it, as you keep the experience you gained from it and also pass it on to a friend.

So I don't see how the attitude of "I paid money for fun, and now Im gonna sell it back to get part of money back" is logical. You paid for an experience, no refunds once you are finished. You don't sell back theater experience or a circus show. The physical part of the games is from past decade and I can't wait till they go away, making all distribution digital, saving on publishing costs and transportation. The target of this change are not really consumers but second hand stores, which is a welcomed change. Does a game cost too much? Wait for a sale instead of buying second hand, steam is almost giving games away for free several times a year. Not to mention that I've seen cases where second hand costs more than original collectors edition of same game. Steam proved digital, customer locked content distribution to be a successful model so why are people bringing out their pitchforks now that consoles go same way?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Anton Pustovoyt on 31st May 2013 5:31pm

Posted:A year ago

#32

Andrew Ihegbu Studying Bsc Commercial Music, University of Westminster

469 178 0.4
What I find particularly compelling is that everyone here in the industry is on the one hand pushing that this needs to be done, and that places like GameStop are ruining the revenues of developers, but on the other hand nobody except Ricky Lopez and Morville O'Driscoll has actually identified how to combat the public's resistance to this.

Honestly, I don't think you will sell more games if Xbox One style game access passes are doled out and GameStop simultaneously goes bust tomorrow. Why? Because of the massive social and viral marketing that lending and sharing games creates, combined with the fact that the majority of older and younger gamers (and parents of younger games) WILL NOT spend £40 on a computer game for their child, it's simply far too much.

And seeing as shop sold new games seem to depreciate slowly and digital list prices even slower, I think (without serious reconsideration of the price points that new games are sold at) the new age of restrictive DRM built into devices will be a sad, greed filled one, with a lot of companies to prideful to stop themselves from dying.

Because in reality, you want to race your price points to the bottom until you find the sweet spot between sale price and the amount of consumers willing to pay that price. I believe that we are significantly above the maximum profit price at the moment.

Posted:A year ago

#33

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,158 1,222 1.1
Popular Comment
Let's make games behave like moves, shall we?

First we *exclusively* distribute a new game over a channel which offers best "payment per user options". Movies use cinema and payTV, games should therefore use some "always on" service offering personalized, non-transferable copies of games distributed fully digitally. The price of admission is rather low and no barrier to entry. $15-$20 at most.

Second step in the life-cycle of a movie is DVD distribution. The movie studio relinquishes most of its control and can no longer sell "per user". The studio accepts the physical copies will be lend to friends, shown at parties, resold, etc. The movie studio compensates by asking a higher price for this copy. Your BluRay copy will always cost more than the movie ticket at first. This is where games default back to $50-$60.

The third step is competing with resellers. The movie studio does this by repacking DVDs, offering special deals, doing new cuts of movies and lowering the price faster than the bargain bin does. This phase has its own order of stages. Sufficient to say that games already do that with game of the year editions or other promotions, often tied to the release of an IPs latest sequel. Important part is to keep producing competitive products.

Fourth step is to license the movie out to some TV station. They pay the price, how they recover the costs is not the movie studio's problem. Games also do that, one example is the German distributor "The Pyramid" who buys up PC games to shovel them out the window for $5-$10.


Anybody in Hollywood will tell you that the money is made in steps 1&2 with step one being the important one to establish a franchise and recover the costs, while step 2 is for earning more money. By the time reselling comes into play, nobody gives a damn, count your money and get to the next project.

But look at the game industry and their formula. Skip step one although the infrastructure is in place. Whine about the implications of stage two and start to "fix" it while risking to alienate your customers. Sony's PSN got good feedback by making it some sort of stage three subscription service.

If you want to earn more money, or compare yourself to Hollywood, then man up, copy their scheme faithfully and in detail. Don't do it partially and wonder where things go wrong.

Posted:A year ago

#34

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 941 0.7
@Tom=====>I totally agree on how movies make money through the box office and product placement and music makes money with live performances etc. Im a fan of Borderlands, Im just waiting it out until they release the final DLC to see what Im gonna do and if they are gonna release an ultimate edition. Im certain the price will drop, and Id like to get all the DLC for that specific game because alot of it is cool. New characters and loads of content. I think a new one for Tiny Tina is on the way.

@ Klaus Preisinger=====> I agree with your post, you got a star. Hoping they repackage borderlands2 and make it an ultimate edition.


anyway-------------------------------------------------------

With rumors of games costing 70$ and DLC becoming more prominant. If the total price of a game, between initial disc release and total DLC is going to exceed 100$ then games are going to be expensive.... now a fee for used games???? People are going to have to be more selective wether they buy used games or not, which will result in less overall game sales.

I know used games is an issue, but with prices so high who can fault that? However I personally stay away from used games cause gamestop just sells the game used for 5$ dollars less, hardly a deal maker for me. Id rather pay a little extra for a fresh new copy. But with sales of used games surging game stop raised the prices for used games as well, its not as attractive as it used to be.

Does every game have to cost 60$? I really liked it when "anarchy reigns" was released for $30 and wished other new games followed suit. I just think prices of games are so high people will do anything to pay less... including piracy.

The industry wants to sell you games at a higher price, sell you additional parts at an additional cost, plus charge anybody who you lend the game to another fee?... My niece has to pay a fee everytime I lend her a game?... seriously? I go every weekend to my parents house and play video games with my niece who is barely old enough to have a credit card. What? I cant do that anymore unless she pays or I drag my entire console over there or pay the fee for her? so yeah, its expensive and the more expensive it gets the more people will resort to cheaper methods to play including piracy.

Honestly, I loved video games, I dislike used games and advocate against piracy. I really wish developers can make more money so in turn i can get the games I want, Like Darksiders 3, Mirrors Edge 2 and beyond good and evil 2. Sadly with so many of these draconian and shady methods to squeeze more money out of me, Im just getting FED UP! This is why the XboxOne reveal was met with so much negative responses.

The sad thing is pirates dont have to deal with none of the crap paying customers do.

Edited 7 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 31st May 2013 6:14pm

Posted:A year ago

#35

Michael Harrell Studying CS, University of Utah

3 1 0.3
The sad thing is pirates dont have to deal with none of the crap paying customers do.
Is this exactly the issue for me. With few exceptions, it is easier to steal a game than it is to go the legitimate route.

Posted:A year ago

#36

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game

1,254 421 0.3
@Jeffrey, I would take that as his point, you can go into used CD or DVD stores, but the stores taking money for promenant displays to sell new DVDs/CDs, aren't utilising that marketing to sell a used cpy instead. There is a dividing line between used and new music stores, generally.

Posted:A year ago

#37

Spencer Franklin Concept Artist

99 137 1.4
@Jason Callis

I agree, people will accept it on iOS and Steam, but that's because the price is right. Try telling someone who spent 60-70 bucks or more on a game, that they can't resale it after use, or simply loan it to a friend, or let someone in the same house use it in their room on their own machine...? I don't think that will be accepted. If compromise must be made, I think the publishers will have to do so at the price point. If the games will drop down to the 30-40 dollar range... I am much more willing to concede to the restrictions.

Posted:A year ago

#38

Bryan Robertson Gameplay Programmer, Ubisoft Toronto

86 210 2.4
Rick Lopez
I go every weekend to my parents house and play video games with my niece who is barely old enough to have a credit card. What? I cant do that anymore unless she pays or I drag my entire console over there or pay the fee for her?
My guess would be that you'd do exactly what you'd do now if you had a game from Xbox Live Arcade, or any other downloadable title on Xbox. You'd sign into her Xbox with your Xbox Live account, and either bring the game with you on a USB stick, or download it to her console via Xbox Live.

Exactly what you'd do if you own a game on Steam, and you want to play it on a friend's computer.

Posted:A year ago

#39

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 941 0.7
@Bryan Robertson

I kind of missed that one... your right, I can sign in with my account... however I still lend her my games and in that case, it would be an issue as she would need to play using her account. I wouldnt allow her to play on my account if Im not their, plus I doubt the account can be used from 2 machines at the same time. I always lend her my games. Id hate to stop doing that or paying an additional fee to allow her to play. Thats really what Im trying to say.

Posted:A year ago

#40

Paul Jace Merchandiser

945 1,433 1.5
I blame Gamestop for constantly bragging about how much money they have made over the last gen. Bragging leads to witch hunts.

But seriously, I know that this is being done as a measure to create another revenue stream but wasn't that the reasoning behind all the ads via product placement for this gen? And yet publishers/developers are still bleeding money dry. So lets suppose for a second that both Microsoft and Sony go this route this gen, charging to play used games. What happens when those same publishers/developers still report low sales and some are forced to close down. Are we then going to go back to the way things were? Or are they going to start blaming something else and take something else away from the consumers?

The way I see it, the only way game companies will stop losing so much money is if they stop putting so much money into their games where they can only make a profit after selling 6-10 million copies. If you can't make money off of selling 1 million copies than your model is very broken. Companies need to lower their production and marketing budgets and re-adjust their sales targets to something much more realistic. Because the way it is now isn't working for the majority oif them.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 1st June 2013 12:15am

Posted:A year ago

#41

John Byrd Principal, Gigantic Software

10 17 1.7
I confess that when i read an article of this type, in my head I hear "I won't be able to feed my personal game habit because I rely on trade-ins to finance my new games." But the article's always couched in terms of impact on the so-called "industry."

All this seems unnecessarily breathless. Consumers have been trained over the past 20 years that you can share and resell console games but you can't share or resell PC games. This has to do with a series of court decisions in the late 80s and early 90s relating to ease of copying that really has no relevance to the current state of game tech.

The sky isn't falling. What will happen, if the secondhand market dies (which it absolutely should), is that the primary market will pick up the slack and prices will drop like rocks. Publishers are already thinking twice about releasing $59.99 games; there's just too much competition for play dollars. If you have to pay that much for an experience people only want to play for a few hours, the market will smack that down pretty quickly, especially in cases where you can download whatever whenever.

f there's one lesson to be learned from tablets and handhelds, it's that we can make money on products with zero aftermarket sales.

Posted:A year ago

#42

Todd Weidner Founder, Big Daddy Game Studio

420 1,000 2.4
Yet even if swearing about people with expensive suits, MBAs and not a jot of real wit or intelligence to share between them is cathartic
Cathartic? how about dead on accurate as to the reason this is happening. MBA education in the US teaches one thing basically , wealth extraction. How to suck dry every last drop of earnings from a company and/or product. Often at the expense of long tern planning and health. (but- Hell only a sucker would hang around a company for more than a decade when there are so many other companies and products they can bleed dry.. right?)

so what happened here in this instance? my guess....Some MBA somewhere ran a spreadsheet that showed that earnings could increase if this approach against used games sales was undertaken.
( Now lets never mind nor discuss the fact that the spreadsheet may not quantified correctly customer reaction and/or long term ramifications of such a move, such quantification would require hard work, and if there is one thing MBA hate...)

So anyway, going forward as we debate this, you can forget logic, and long term possible effects after all your going up against some sort of "Math" with numbers even.. on a power point presentation no less .... and the guy/gal is dressed nice and has a fancy resume.... Suits versus hippy, suits always wins, even know hippies usually always prove right in the long term.

Its part of the reason why this world and economy is in such shitty shape, Wealth extraction via shady spreadsheets used by suits with short term thinking.

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 1st June 2013 4:01am

Posted:A year ago

#43

Cale Barnett Animator

29 31 1.1
It's terribly sad to think that key decision makers in our industry are now apparently of the impression that "social" in terms of prancing around like a drunken tit in front of a camera is the future of the medium, while "social" in terms of pressing a game box into a friend's hand with a gleam in your eyes and words of praise and enthusiasm on your lips is to be frowned upon and treated as criminal.
Thankyou Rob, for once again perfectly expressing the feelings and thoughts of videogame fans and enthusiasts all around the world, with superbly written and funny excerpts like this.

Posted:A year ago

#44

Felix Leyendecker Senior 3D Artist, Crytek

184 204 1.1
This discussion sounds exactly the same as it did back when HL2 was released and everyone was all up in arms about forced online and games tied to accounts. The PC crowd quickly got over it, and I think console gamers will get over it just the same.

I think steam and iOS show that people are willing to accept account-locking, and it's not just because of price points. Plenty of people buy full-price or near full-price PC games as hardcopies on retail and don't expect to resell them. When the discussion about account locks on steam was fresh, there were no deals as they are today and price flexibility wasn't even there.

Posted:A year ago

#45

Richard Pygott Level Designer

40 13 0.3
Normal non-pirating consumers are taking on the cost of an industry that is dysfunctional and old fashioned in its ways and practices.

It isnt consumers fault how much it costs a publisher to advertise their wares or how they mis-manage thier business, but ultimatley consumers will absorb that cost.

MS going on record as stating that it isnt the consumer but the Retail Seller that will pay the activation cost is just more smoke and mirrors, do you really think GameStop and the like will take that hit on thier balance sheet? No of course not, it will be passed onto the price of the 2nd hand game in question, to the consumer.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Richard Pygott on 1st June 2013 3:12pm

Posted:A year ago

#46

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,194 1,169 0.5
Sorry, but the industry trying to dictate HOW people can play games will end things but good for some smug folks thinking we'll all fall in line like lemmings. Like re-reading a good book, I actually REPLAY most games I own, not run to the store whining that "it was only six hours!" or whatever the lot who don't understand game development (and think it's a cardinal sin if every damn game isn't "open world" or packing 20 multiplayer modes that are all the same "shootimindahead" stuff) go on and on about in other forums.

PC gamers may have "gotten over it" (which isn't entirely true - that market just unfairly weeded out those who wouldn't or couldn't meet the terms to play those products that rely on DRM), but telling console owners used to trading or hell, KEEPING games and not having to pay to "activate" or "reactivate" them is going to hit the market harder than some here think.

You can't MAKE money if you don't figure out how to TAKE money from gamers who want to spend it on a PRODUCT, not an endless service cycle of billing per usage and monetizing schemes. That's one reason why some Kickstarter projects get funded so quickly. Most people pledging know they're getting what they're donating to, be that a digital or physical release (or both) or those offbeat bonuses reserved for those with money to burn.

Once you weed out those who want all physical media and consider them not part of your plan, those who don't have online access (or live in areas where it's awful), those who don't want to sign more of their lives away and so forth and so on, you're just going to be left with a stagnant market full of people trying to prove the worst ideas are what makes sense while trying to convince themselves that it's all doing really well.

Which, by the way will last until the first big service outage or major hack - then it's finger pointing up and down the corporate ladder and "I told you so" posts here and elsewhere...

Posted:A year ago

#47

James Prendergast Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
@ Felix and Greg:

Definitely agree with Greg on the point about Steam. I buy a lot less "new" games on PC these days (three in the last 3-4 years?) because I know I'm basically sitting on a time bomb so there's no reason for me to sink money into something. I usually wait for a huge sale as digital-only has reduced the value of games for myself... and I can't believe that I'm the only one out there.

I buy new, full price console games a lot because there is more inherent worth in the purchase. I've only ever resold one console game and it was one I really didn't like and I was a student at the time and needed the money (£10) I got back from it. Yeah, I was pretty broke! :)

I also tend to buy on GoG or direct from the devs (DRM free) when given the choice e.g. Humble Bundles rather than on Steam. Why? Because it's a better deal and allows me to control my purchase.

I actually disagree that non-service software should be able to be sold under licence and I also disagree that just because the contents of a game remain the same that the value, both real and cultural, remains the same over time. There were a few people up thread who were arguing that person B gets the same experience as person A when they play the same game later on. That is absolutely untrue: games, like all art, are inherently given context and worth based on the temporal cultural surroundings. Similarly, they are given context and worth based on technical ability as well. If this wasn't true then all games should and would never decrease in sale potential regardless of platform or year.

Posted:A year ago

#48

Tim Ryan Producer, Fire Muse Consulting

10 0 0.0
> Why not just leave the retailer who's selling the second hand game to reactivate game codes and disable the original user? If they want to make second hand part of their business strategy, make them take the hit. Leave the consumer out of it.

They'll just pass the cost onto the customer. The original user's game was "disabled" when they sold it.

Posted:A year ago

#49

Tim Ryan Producer, Fire Muse Consulting

10 0 0.0
This will all be moot in five years. Cloud-based streaming and downloadable games will make manufacturing of hard goods irrelevant. The middle men like GameStop will go the way of Blockbuster. Then the two most important groups in the business deal will benefit: Consumers will see prices come down and buy more games. Publishers and developers will see more of the profit.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Ryan on 2nd June 2013 4:55pm

Posted:A year ago

#50

Brian Smith Artist

197 89 0.5
@Tim - Unfortunatley industry players are showing an embaressing amount of greed when it comes to digital sales. If we were looking at a future were we would see price drops and profit rises for the benefit of creator and consumer then great but it's not gonna happen. In retail releases publishers are are getting back what... about $15-20 on a new release. Then they pop it on a console store for $49.99 as a digital download, months after it original release. This isn't an industry I'd ever trust to lower pricing.

Posted:A year ago

#51

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,194 1,169 0.5
This will all be moot in five years. Cloud-based streaming and downloadable games will make manufacturing of hard goods irrelevant.
Really? Try telling that to people who will STILL live in areas where they can't access reliable internet. The fallacy of an ONLY digital lifestyle will only be realized when EVERY person can have access to content as securely as possible. Again, all those eggs in one smug basket and no backup plan means a lot of headless chickening when something goes wrong that's not planned for.

Anyway, what needs to happen in the future is some sort of gog.com for console games, as all this overemphasis on the future is going to be erasing the past history of some companies (Microsoft, in particular) unless they find a way to caretake and curate (for profit, obviously). Wnat, they WANT people to not remember the Xbox or Xbox 360 in ten years? That might be fine for some folks who don't give a crap, but I'm not part of the short attention spanners...

Posted:A year ago

#52
Perhaps the ridiculous Free Games giveaway at the bottom end of the market is affecting the "something for nothing" expectation at the top end of the market too.... watch out everybody, next it will be AAA games that are expected for free, and after that the hardware that they run on.
And who are the people that will ultimately win? the channel providers who just want more and more content downloaded through their pipelines..... ever wondered why no serious effort has ever been made to stop spam mail... because some people out there make an awful lot of money shuffling data around... and they are the winners right now... free anything = more activity. So expect this free model to become the norm over time across all games (including downloadable AAA) until all of us are prepared to confront the reality of the slow dripfeed of money towards the service providers and away from everyone else.

Posted:A year ago

#53

Shane Sweeney Academic

401 418 1.0
The industry needs to stop making increasingly large expensive games that cost $60-70 that 9/10 consumers who purchase do not make more then 3 hours into! Does anyone really expect people to pay for $50 let alone 60 or 70? Like really? Using DLC to extract more money from the consumer is wise only if a title is already profitable on sales alone. If the title still doesn't make money, artificially building DRM into the way we trade games lamenting how poor the industry is, is the biggest damn canary in the coal mine the size of big bird. If this is *really* true and not just unjust profiteering then all game developers on consoles need to scale back massively. Like right now!

The industry should not prop up it's unreasonable product sizes by artificially extracting more money using DRM. Massive warning guys and girls, MASSIVE warning. Don't let Bruce be right.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Shane Sweeney on 3rd June 2013 12:25am

Posted:A year ago

#54

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,194 1,169 0.5
@John Hare: Free and cheap is no longer "bottom end of the market" - it's moved to mid market and up with indie bundles and other day/week/month one sales making many wait to buy some games (including more expensive AAA releases) until they drop in price. Or worse, they'll whine about the pricing on some indie games that are released as inexpensive (see the furor over Fez and it's dollar discount that set in before Phil Fish teed off on potential customers and non-buyers who just didn't like the man for an example).

My own random discussions with games in my area are revealing a lot of interesting patterns where not as many are running out to pre-order or buy new games because they're waiting to save on either a used copy or a lower priced new one once the inevitable price drop hits. The excitement is fading fast in a few people because they want actual innovation and no more gimmicks passed off as "must-have" tech.

Granted, I take advantage of indie bundles myself - partly for charity, but mostly to try games I may have missed because I actually can't afford to buy everything I want to play (and nope, I'm no fan of sharing stuff just because I think it's overpriced or whatever the reasoning is these days).

Anyway, this has been building for some time and I don't think this industry truly understands how bad it's going to get because they can simply bury any arguments against their plans with charts, graphs, stock ticker clips, nearly constant positive press from folks who've never seen the other side of the "debate" and pricey press conferences that make things out to be sunny and roses in the not too distant future...

Personally, I think developers of any games should be paid for their work at some point - no one should not get noticed for this sort of work (hell, entertaining people is a hard gig!). But I can't stop someone for wanting to drop a free game into the market either because it's a labor of love or they want to generate attention for future work. The problem is it's created an unreasonable expectation among many former paying customers who now want all their games to roll in for the cost of a biscuit or less. Meanwhile, the ones who pay are still there, but if you go by NPD's charts, they're not buying some of these games in the same numbers. Yeah, I just used a chart as reference (shoot me later).

Posted:A year ago

#55

Nick Parker Consultant

299 176 0.6
The vast majority of comments are on the same page so hopefully we are at an early stage of the process for Microsoft and Sony so they will come to their senses and work out a solution before launch.

Just a couple of points of fact:
Retailers (certainly in the UK) make a lot of their margin on pre-owned sales because they have to pay less VAT (local tax) or even none on selling second hand goods. So they buy a used disc from you including 20% VAT and even if they sell it on at the same retail price, they make more margin because they pay VAT only on the difference in the two prices after their margin is taken out. This is why pre-owned discs is such a good business for retailers, certainly in the UK, and, I'd imagine, in the USA.

"...but Matsuda's assessment of what happened to those games is sobering - as are the frankly enormous figures the company had to earmark for marketing and retail-related costs such as returns allowance." Any packaged goods publisher should not be surprised at these retail related costs; returns provisions have been on the books since the eighties and marketing costs at between 8% to 12% of net revenues have existed since the cartridge days. Any publisher should build a realistic sales budget and not say "how many do I need to sell to make the target ROI?" which is a sure way of increasing the retail related costs by stuffing the shelves with inventory in the hope that it will sell-through.

Triple A titles are expensive for the younger gamer which is one of the reasons (that and more competition from choice in the games app world) why the average age of Triple A gamers has been creeping up over the past five years.

Well done Rob again; great article.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nick Parker on 3rd June 2013 11:15am

Posted:A year ago

#56

Farhang Namdar Lead Game Designer

75 47 0.6
They'll push through with this, and you'll all take it and we'll move on to another sad point in gaming history.

Posted:A year ago

#57
This will kill of any console if its implements this (we will soon find out with the new XBOX) people who buy consoles look only at this, whether or not they will get their moneys worth in gaming experience, MS have gone down the social media route thinking thta everyone will enjoy the new level of social interaction while gaming. This alone will play a negative factor in their sales and to add to this they are going to make people buy their games at full retail price regardless of how its done.

This is going to give other competing consoles to take advantage of MS tactics and not go through with the same policy or if they do (Sony is highly likely) they will probably do the activation at a cheaper rate or simply make online or additonal content only available through passes.

Posted:A year ago

#58

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 941 0.7
Another issue that gets to me, what will happen when microsoft decides to not support the XboxOne. Much like the original Xbox and perhaps the Xbox 360. When a game is no longer supported, the server goes down or the publisher goes defunct... the online portions of the game are rendered usless.

Microsoft literally has the power to flip an off switch and make every game for there platform useless, when a new platform arrives and actually I can see microsft attempting to make consumers buy those games again for the new platform.

A gamer like me who has so many games to go through and will alternate between old and new games would hate to see games in which I cannot play because it cannot find the server that will authenticate its use. What gurentee's that these games, that require an authorization to play and be verified from an external server.... what gurentees that 10, 20 years down the line those servers will exist.

Look I finsihed both Shin Megami Tensei digital Devil Saga 1 & 2, both 70 plus hour games, 90 if you wanna level up enough to be in good shape for the end boss. Then i finsihed Stella Deus, and Ill even play my old 8 and 16 bit nintendo games from time to time. Just because its old Super Mario world remains my favorite mario to date. the suits at microsoft find no value in this because none of them play games. They are in a business of making money from games, but I doubt they really understand them.

This is why I cannot support an always online connection. Sure lots a games have online portions, but I rarely buy those games for it. Such as Crysis, Ninja Gaiden razors Edge, Tomb Raider, Uncharted 2&3, Halo. Alot of these online features are shoe horned in, but since I dont by the game for them if the server goes defunt I still get to play the single player game. When Borderlands 1&2 servers go down I can still play single player. I dont complain about these online features cause they give you something to do after ther main game. But they are hardly the reason I buy the game, unless its a call of duty or a sports game.

I do not find any justification to tie down a game, or components of a game to an online connection when its not required. To me the XboxOne always on is nothing more than a Draconian DRM system, designed to squeeze more money from the consumer and dictate how they use there products.

I want somebody here to give me one single benefit towards the consumer, of having a game always online and as in Microsofts case have a game reigister every 24 hours to be authenticated. I want someone to go ahead and justify why games need to be always online and that it isnt DRM. I want somebody hear to justify something that for the past 25 years there hasnt been a need for it... and in what way does it benefit the consumer. And I understand the nature of some games, or portions of a game require it. But Im talking about games or the portions of games that dont need it.

Finally studios complain that they arent making money... Why is it that when they do make money they have to add 100 people to there development staff, why is it that they plan a game and design it with the mentality that they need to sell 10-12million units to break even? Who on earth would do such a stupid things. And then you have all these engines, frostbite 3, Unreal 4, luminouse engine. Why cant these engines be developed to streamline the development process as well as do more stuff in a shorter amount of time? Why is it that development companies cant have game assets that can be used in multiple games, why do you have to always make a human figure for every game. Why not have a team dedicated to make models, textures and have assets already made for teams to not have to do everything from scratch? I understand certain art directions are differant from game to game, but the point you can have all these assets already made and you can modify them to suit your needs, without doing everything from scratch.

Tomb raider sold about 4 million copies in its first few weeks and was deemed a failure, because they need to sell 10-12million units to break even. Bioshock infinit sold just under 4 million and it was deemed a success.... why???

Finally there is marketing and im quoting Dr. Chee Ming Wong on this:
A simplistic alternative is , why should marketing be as much or more than the cost of developing a AAA title. Surely, there must be a way to save on the massive overspend on retail advertising and make it more digital, will less spend on TV/Cinema spots even
So companies arent making money? The way I see it, the more money they make the more money they throw away.

Alot of times one is most creative when they have very few resources to do anything. I mean look at Nintendo. Even going back to the original game boy, with on 4 black and white colors, it produced more great games than the Atari Lynx, Sega Game Gear, turbo express, Neo Geo Pocket and Wonder Swan. I think the more money and more resources you give a company, the more laid back they become. I mean how many hames has Blizzard churned out in the last few years. They are sitting on there asses with World of War Craft and Diablo 3. How many years has it taken them to put out Star Craft 2.

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 4th June 2013 1:16pm

Posted:A year ago

#59

Ebiala Enisuoh Owner/CEO, Game Related

1 0 0.0
I don't understand the argument when it comes to used games and why the industry is so hell bent on stopping it. I am a huge fan of the god of war series and when I first picked up god of war 1 it was a used copy I bought for $30, I bought it because it was cheaper then the new version and at the time I wasn't so sure about the game, but till today that was one of the best purchases I ever made, that one used copy lead me to buy god of war 2 on its release date, I bought a psp because of god of war and bought both god of war games for psp on the release date, I also preordered the Pandora's box edition of god of war 3 and bought god of war ascension on day one. So from my experience that one used copy of god of war I bought helped me discover a great game and till today continue to support the series.

Posted:A year ago

#60
A simplistic alternative is , why should marketing be as much or more than the cost of developing a AAA title. Surely, there must be a way to save on the massive overspend on retail advertising and make it more digital, will less spend on TV/Cinema spots even

Posted:A year ago

#61

Axel Cushing Writer / Blogger

106 131 1.2
@Rick
THANK YOU!

One of my pet peeves related to game development is the way that game studios seemed hellbent on reinventing the wheel every single time they started a new title. At first, I had theorized it was an unintended side effect of Moore's Law. Since processing power was doubling every couple of years, developers had to re-write the engines to take advantage of the expanded resources now available to them. And since game development was following a roughly two year cycle on average, they were playing catchup all the time. When the GPU Wars started up, the theory had to be revised. The developers were probably getting reference builds of new hardware, I reasoned, so that they could have all the latest bells and whistles. Then Nvidia went to a six month release cycle, and pretty much blew the theory to pieces.

By this point, with the preponderance of games running off the Unreal engine, there's not a single compelling reason I can think of why studios aren't creating the virtual equivalents of a movie studio's or stage company's prop room. A collection of reference assets that can be copied, modified, bent, spindled, mutilated, and reskinned to fit a particular project. Somebody might have to rework models periodically if an engine advances sufficiently, but by this point, the actual creation of basic bits and pieces should be a non-event. How much it would shave off the budget of a AAA title is a matter of conjecture, but I'd think it'd have to be a quantifiable value of some sort.

Posted:A year ago

#62

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