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Bleszinski: AAA numbers don't work with used and rental games around

Bleszinski: AAA numbers don't work with used and rental games around

Sun 16 Jun 2013 2:19am GMT / 10:19pm EDT / 7:19pm PDT
People

Cliffy B says Sony is playing PR games with consumers

For many this week, Sony "won" E3 by announcing that the PlayStation would have no always-online DRM. According to tweets by former Epic Games designer Cliff Bleszinski, Sony is merely "playing on the internet outrage" to gain some free points with gamers. Bleszinski said that players' expectations for AAA games have led to crazy budgets, which aren't sustainable with used and rental games around.

"This is why you're seeing free to play and microtransactions everywhere. The disc based day one $60 model is crumbling. The visual fidelity and feature sets we expect from games now come with sky high costs. Assassin's Creed games are made by thousands of devs," Bleszinski said in a seriesof tweets.

"You cannot have game and marketing budgets this high while also having used and rental games existing. The numbers do not work people," he added. "I'd bet Sony has some similar stuff up their sleeves they're just playing on the internet outrage for free PR. You're all being played!"

Sony's current stance has led to enthusiast consumers having a strong affinity for the PlayStation 4. If Bleszinski is right, just how bad would the backlash be?

49 Comments

Wesley Williams Quality Assurance

133 72 0.5
Popular Comment
As someone who lives on game rentals (as a hobbyist critic on a budget), I beg to disagree. Customers don't demand the ridiculous budgets for games, we demand great games. Somewhere along the way publishers decided great games meant they had to look phenomenal or have 100hrs gameplay or additional redundant multiplayer. The thriving Indie community shows there's another way.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Wesley Williams on 16th June 2013 8:55am

Posted:A year ago

#1

Tudor Nita C++ Multiplayer Programmer, Gameloft Romania

23 26 1.1
Love the smell of fresh baseless speculation being taken (somewhat) seriously because of one game dev. personality. Seriously though, positive growth indicators have to be sought-out somewhere else, not at the expense of your target audience. To me this means tools & methodology. Asset creation tools specifically and a shift in how assets are designed and built. The entire asset pipeline, has been more or less frozen in a perpetual 1998 time-zone.

No wonder though, especially when the first team to be moved to trouble areas, even years before the launch date is the tools one. Add to this, the closed-source nature of tool development and you get a dev. industry relying on single entity 3rd party tools [ ex: Autodesk ] which at this point have very little incentive to push things forward.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tudor Nita on 16th June 2013 10:28am

Posted:A year ago

#2

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,566 1.7
Absolutely!

There is clearly an audience for those types of games, but if if you can't make the numbers work then don't come complaining about it to me, try something else.

What is that something else? Dunno, that's their job. They don't have a right to exist and I can assure them it's tougher down where I play on mobile, where even a both good and cheap game might flop. Seems they got it pretty good to me.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,200 1,017 0.8
@Wesley

The irony is, there are plenty of more modestly budgeted games with great graphics and longer gameplay than what some of the big publishers put out. To me something screwed up economically, astronomical budgets will have to find control and restraint somewhere, because a lot of it is waste and leading to games that are either average but pretty or too expensive to make any sort of return despite selling '5 million' or so.

Posted:A year ago

#4

John Bye Senior Game Designer, Future Games of London

484 456 0.9
"You cannot have game and marketing budgets this high while also having used and rental games existing. The numbers do not work"
The numbers probably work for a handful of big blockbusters like Assassins Creed and Call of Duty. The problem is that if you take a gamble on joining that club, even a big hit (like Tomb Raider or Resident Evil recently) can end up losing millions of dollars. Not every game is or has to be a triple-A blockbuster with vast development and marketing budgets. Not every game needs half a dozen multiplayer modes. Not every game has to be sold for $60 up front. Not every game will be better or more successful if you throw another hundred people at it.

Also, Cliffy B talks about used games, but what Microsoft is doing isn't going to stop used game sales. All they're doing is stopping people from selling, trading or sharing games how and when they want, and forcing them into the arms of a handful of big retailers like GameStop, who apparently aren't going to be paying anything for the privilege of monopolizing the market in used games for the Xbox One.

Beyond that it's up to publishers whether they want to charge a re-activation fee or block used sales entirely on a game by game basis. After this backlash, it would be surprising if (m)any of them actually take up that option. Even EA announced earlier this year that they're abandoning their Online Pass scheme because it didn't pay off for them.

So business continues as normal for "participating retailers", who will continue making all their profits from pushing used games over new, while end users get stiffed on trade in values and can't sell their games direct via eBay or CEX or wherever.

Honestly, I'm starting to think this has nothing to do with publishers and everything to do with propping up bricks and mortar retail for a few more years until digital completely replaces them. Microsoft have kept saying that retail is really important to them, to the point of insisting that publishers wait a couple of months before releasing digital versions of their games on Xbox 360, and then sell them at full RRP. A restriction they have now dropped with Xbox One so they can match Sony and Nintendo's online offering. Maybe this is the quid pro quo for retailers? You lose out on some new sales, but get a Microsoft-enforced monopoly on used sales, which is where you make all your money anyway.

"You're all being played!"
Does anyone really think Sony would make such a big deal of this and then turn around and say "ha ha, fooled you" next year and introduce something similar? Of course, it's entirely possible publishers could introduce their own scheme for PS4, like some already have on PS3 and Xbox 360. But like I said, if anything they seem to be stepping away from online pass style schemes because they don't work.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,283 2,491 1.1
Popular Comment
If you sell 5 million units at full retail cost and you receive $15 per unit, you better damn well be making profit. If not, you have a money management problem that doesn't have a damn thing to do with the used and rental markets.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 465 1.4
Popular Comment
I hate the argument "well, if indy creators can make Fez or Angry Birds on a shoestring budget, then there's no need for Ubisoft making Assassin's Creeds." Bull. I like some smaller, indy budget games, sure, but I also love a lot of AAA games, and I've never seen a AAA game produced on an Indy budget. I want both to exist. If you don't like AAA games, then don't buy them, and if paying full retail for them is too much for you then don't buy them, but don't whinge that the retail asking price is too high, and that they're "monsters" for wanting you to not buy used copies, which is essentially legal piracy.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Todd Weidner Founder, Big Daddy Game Studio

420 1,000 2.4
Popular Comment
what really doesnt work is all these AAA developers being top heavy with suits and consultants pulling in hefty 6 figure salaries who bring nothing to the game creation process.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Eoin Moran Studying Bachelor of Engineering, University of Melbourne

35 32 0.9
I wouldn't be surprised if Sony's "play" may just involve having more game discounts for playstation plus subscribers. It would make digital DRM games much more appealing as well as make consumers happy about their Psn+ subscription for multiplayer.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,194 1,169 0.5
Hmmm... given that the industry could have probably taken some sort of control over used games resales back in the 1990's in the pre-digital age, harping about it now and in some cases making it seem as if people who buy used are WORSE than people who steal outright (who use the same "new games are too expensive!" argument), there's something really off in this latest spin on the "demonize used!" debate...

Why not make digital games cheaper than physical across the board and see what happens? That's how it should be unless you're saying that AAA and other games should all be priced the same way no matter how they're produced and that extra digital fee is a "convenience tax" or something silly like that. PS Plus DOES make for cheaper games (and free ones as well, Eoin) and it pays for itself if one buys games on a semi-regular or regular basis. That and they drop in free bonuses at intervals where if youre eyes get too big, you'll end up with a backlog of titles if you're not blowing through everything quickly.

@Tim... I'd bet you a nickel that ANY decent developer indie or not can make a "AAA" title with Unity, get it out for $20 - $30 and make a profit because the game is as good as some of the more expensive to make games with larger staff, bigger ad budgets and silly collector's editions that pack in junk that doesn't improve the game one bit (but DOES clog up shelf and floor space in some shops and/or get resold on eBay for many times what the sticker price is in some cases... with not a cent of those auction sales going to the devs or pubs).

Posted:A year ago

#10

James Prendergast Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
I agree completely with Wesley, Andrea and Jim. I also want to add that I think that Microsoft's "solution" is actually worse than the current model.

Why? Because they've given every player a way to legitimately share between 10 people and they aren't going to be just family and close friends, they're going to be internet friends as well. That's going to do two things: allow 10 people to pool and buy games or increase the number of games that you can play for nothing. Secondly to this you also have the ability to "give" any game to one of your friends list friends and then they get to share that with their ten friends. Gaming this system is going to be something that people will be doing (if they buy the XBO and accept all the restrictions) - especially for single player games. It's going to be *dramatic music* the death of single player games that can be played asynchronously.

You know how many people I know in my personal offline life who play a) the same platform as me and b) the same types of games and c) even are gamers at all? Four. Out of all my close friends, my work colleagues and ex-university friends that I'm in contact with I just don't know that many gamers. Now, XBO allows me to make a network with other like-minded people through web forums or whatever and I can have 10 gaming "Family" friends who I can share games with no problem (I'm still assuming that regional restrictions apply to XBO family list so only people within the same region would count). So, whereas I might normally lend a game to one other person now I'm able, practically encouraged and guaranteed to lend to 10 people.

Then there's used games. I have no data on this and would love to see some (though how you'd track it or even verify it I have no idea) how many people/players does the average used game get around? I'm not sure I can believe that the same used game disc goes back and forth into a place like Gamestop 10 or more times. Certainly, in HMV we had a very small used section and none of those games ever came back as far as I saw. While there may be other people that those games are shared to after leaving a shop I still am sceptical that it makes it to ten people on average.

The games industry needs to get its head in gear because blaming poor profits on the actions of the market is not how any successful businesses operate.

Posted:A year ago

#11

Craig Burkey Software Engineer

218 414 1.9
I agree with James I don't understand how the XBO works, under the PS4/360/PS3 model COD comes out and me and my friends buy a copy each, under the XBO it appears that only one is needed between 10 mates, I can't see how without some sort of secondary lock it can be in developers interest.

Surely a simple license transfer App that locks you out and allows somebody else to play for a predetermined length of time would be a more viable system plus you big up that it eliminates the risk of lending you favorite game to "Forgetful Frank" from the office as the license will automatically expire after a set time and you don't have to rely on him bringing the game back

Posted:A year ago

#12

Martin Oliver Sound Designer and Music Composer/Director

5 6 1.2
''what really doesnt work is all these AAA developers being top heavy with suits and consultants pulling in hefty 6 figure salaries who bring nothing to the game creation process''.


At last someone hits the nail on the head.

Posted:A year ago

#13

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,160 1,224 1.1
I look at the PC and I see an utter dominance of games which are always online. Games you play co-op with your friends while you chat with them.

Maybe the fact of many alleged AAA games being schlockmovie-fests with gameplay slightly above "push forward and press X" is not going in their favor.

Posted:A year ago

#14

Jonathan McEnroe Freelance 2D artist

47 20 0.4
"f you sell 5 million units at full retail cost and you receive $15 per unit, you better damn well be making profit. If not, you have a money management problem that doesn't have a damn thing to do with the used and rental markets."

Exactly!

Posted:A year ago

#15

Christopher Thigpen Lead Producer, Kiz Studios

47 92 2.0
Make better games. Reduce your marketing budgets.

Focus test games at multiple segments to gauge potential "stickiness". If the game doesn't resonate that the earliest of stages, then scrap it and go for Plan B.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Christopher Thigpen on 17th June 2013 3:11pm

Posted:A year ago

#16
Seriously though, positive growth indicators have to be sought-out somewhere else, not at the expense of your target audience. To me this means tools & methodology. Asset creation tools specifically and a shift in how assets are designed and built. The entire asset pipeline, has been more or less frozen in a perpetual 1998 time-zone.
You nailed it. Did you also notice how much attention is given to marginal visual improvements such as super-highly detailed textures, animations, etc that nobody ever notices? Seems like a lot of asset creation is there to impress other game devs, instead of pleasing the gamers. Some of the tech demos I see for engines make me wonder if any gamers truly care about most of the subtle features, beyond the initial hype.

Posted:A year ago

#17

Peter Law Freelance Game Designer and Unity Developer, Enigma 23

43 3 0.1
I'm sure I read somewhere, that only one person can play the "shared" game at the same time. So you and your 9 mates can buy 1 copy of CoD together, but only 1 of you can play it at a time.

Unfortunately, I can't remember where I read this to grab the quote :(


[Edit: Not where I original read it, but some info http://www.gametrailers.com/side-mission/54648/ms-confirms-xbox-one-family-sharing-feature-allows-up-to-any-ten-people
]

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Peter Law on 17th June 2013 5:46pm

Posted:A year ago

#18

Ruud Van De Moosdijk VP of Development, Engine Software

51 58 1.1
First, I hope journalists will finally stop using the CliffyB nickname, the poor guy decided to stop using it himself after he got out of his adolescent phase (which admittedly took years longer than the average person).

Second, this is of course complete bogus. Every single game can be made profitable if you make sensible business decisions. Don't have every single asset in your game produced at the highest cost, don't use Patrick Stewart to do your narrative voice and 20 award winning Hollywood actors for your cast (I have worked with plenty of fantastic voice actors that are only the fraction of the cost). Don't have Adele sing your theme song with music produced by Armin van Buuren. Don't license track from the world's greatest music acts, don't spend money on a superbowl ad. Half of your budget is wasted on "wanting to be a big boy". Frankly, we don't need Hans Zimmer or Kiefer Sutherland...they just jack up the price. (This aside from the before mentioned top-heavy suits).

Posted:A year ago

#19

Jakub Mikyska CEO, Grip Digital

207 1,123 5.4
Microsoft must be really busy these days, telling all their partners that they need some damage control.

Posted:A year ago

#20

Kaweh Kazemi Game Designer, Producer

1 2 2.0
So how do blockbuster movies survive then? The equivalent of AAA games in film have big budgets too, consumers can choose to rent or buy the product too (even if not immediately). If I rent a movie on my Apple TV my wife and I are already two consumers having watched the movie for one payment only, which is also quite below any price you will every play for an AAA game. Sure movies are a lot shorter than (most) games. But then games also work differently than movies in the way the capture the audience's time.

So we have the games industry with $14.8 billion (according to http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2013-02-06-USD14-8-billion-spent-on-gaming-in-us-last-year-says-npd) and the movie industry with $10.8 billion (according to http://www.mpaa.org/resources/3037b7a4-58a2-4109-8012-58fca3abdf1b.pdf). Games are US numbers, movies are US/Canada numbers.

Probably the number of moviegoers is higher than the number of gamers... but I feel the number of blockbuster movies compared to AAA productions in games isn't significantly higher or is it?

My numbers might be bogus and there are certainly a lot of other facts that make it hard to compare movies and games, but then again I don't buy Mr. Bleszinski arguments either. I wonder what's wrong with the gaming industry that it's not able to cope with consumers on a fair basis.

I'm quite certain that it was a PR stunt by Sony, but then I'm again fine with that as long as it's pro-consumer.

To me the publishers of AAA productions feel more and more like the dead-shrunken music corporations of the nineties.

Posted:A year ago

#21

Andy Nolan 3D Modeler & Digital Artist

3 2 0.7
All other arguments to one side, why is it the fact that the ethics of reusing, or more importantly recycling a manufactured product never comes into it. A disc format costs energy to make, it would cost more energy to melt or dispose of. The whole western world is recycling its clothes, shoes, metals, plastics as best as it possibly can for a reason. How is this an acceptable, "green" business model considering the quantity of manufactured console disc products. Either do direct to drive like steam, or do not and allow a used game market.

An example would be if anyone wants a car, they do not get them from the showroom floor very often (especially in today's economy), it also instantly becomes far less valuable, like all products. In fact I have met very, very few people that buy cars new. They get it second hand, or even third hand and so on. Some cars keep running for decades, being handed down and resold. This goes for furniture, books, and a plethora of things.
You can still buy a Atari cartridge from ebay, or your local boot sale, and play it today. I simply can not see how this is ethically acceptable to turn a distributed product into effectively, a one use only product (as no one buys a second hand item for a retail price).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andy Nolan on 17th June 2013 5:13pm

Posted:A year ago

#22

Del Hartin Senior Designer, NaturalMotion

9 24 2.7
AAA numbers don't work with used and rental games around.

The Last of Us scores UK #1

I'm guessing it cost a bit to make, and made a fair bit of money...

Posted:A year ago

#23

Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus

459 738 1.6
I am so sick to death of having this discussion, but Del hits it on the head.

If you want the numbers to work, either cut back on dev costs or make better games. That's all there is to it. The numbers don't work because people are saying that 4.5m sales aren't good enough.

Posted:A year ago

#24

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 465 1.4
@Greg,
Hmmm... given that the industry could have probably taken some sort of control over used games resales back in the 1990's in the pre-digital age, harping about it now and in some cases making it seem as if people who buy used are WORSE than people who steal outright (who use the same "new games are too expensive!" argument), there's something really off in this latest spin on the "demonize used!" debate...
People who buy games used kind of are worse than pirates though, since pirates clearly don't want to pay anything, so they're easier to write off, while used game buys are clearly willing to pay something, they'd just rather not pay anything to the people who actually made the game they're playing.

And yeah, they could have done more to prevent used games earlier, but for two things. For one thing, they can't prevent people selling physical merch. They can't prevent people reselling cartridges, they can't prevent people reselling discs. Both practices would be illegal for them to do. They can prevent people from reselling licenses, however, which is the mechanism that Valve and Microsoft are using. That method would have been much much harder to employ in the 90s.
@Tim... I'd bet you a nickel that ANY decent developer indie or not can make a "AAA" title with Unity, get it out for $20 - $30 and make a profit because the game is as good as some of the more expensive to make games with larger staff, bigger ad budgets and silly collector's editions that pack in junk that doesn't improve the game one bit (but DOES clog up shelf and floor space in some shops and/or get resold on eBay for many times what the sticker price is in some cases... with not a cent of those auction sales going to the devs or pubs).
I'd take that bet.

@James
Why? Because they've given every player a way to legitimately share between 10 people and they aren't going to be just family and close friends, they're going to be internet friends as well. That's going to do two things: allow 10 people to pool and buy games or increase the number of games that you can play for nothing. Secondly to this you also have the ability to "give" any game to one of your friends list friends and then they get to share that with their ten friends. Gaming this system is going to be something that people will be doing (if they buy the XBO and accept all the restrictions) - especially for single player games. It's going to be *dramatic music* the death of single player games that can be played asynchronously.
It might result in that sort of activity, but since only one person can play at a time it would be no more practical than trading the disc around when you're done. I would hate to buy the latest Bioshock or whatever and not be able to play it because one of my friends is playing it.

@Ruud,

Second, this is of course complete bogus. Every single game can be made profitable if you make sensible business decisions. Don't have every single asset in your game produced at the highest cost, don't use Patrick Stewart to do your narrative voice and 20 award winning Hollywood actors for your cast (I have worked with plenty of fantastic voice actors that are only the fraction of the cost). Don't have Adele sing your theme song with music produced by Armin van Buuren. Don't license track from the world's greatest music acts, don't spend money on a superbowl ad. Half of your budget is wasted on "wanting to be a big boy". Frankly, we don't need Hans Zimmer or Kiefer Sutherland...they just jack up the price. (This aside from the before mentioned top-heavy suits).
But then it wouldn't be the same game. Sure, you can make a much cheaper game and turn a profit with much lower sales, but what about the developers who want to make that "big" game that has a lot of high cost talent involved, and what about the players that want to play it? I'd rather have developers be able to make big games under the assumption that people will not be able to steal their work, than to have them limit their scope by the assumption that half or more of the people who will be playing their game will be stealing it from them.

Posted:A year ago

#25

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,613 1,476 0.9
@ Tim
People who buy games used kind of are worse than pirates though, since pirates clearly don't want to pay anything, so they're easier to write off, while used game buys are clearly willing to pay something, they'd just rather not pay anything to the people who actually made the game they're playing.
Or, they want the game cheaper than it is new. Second-hand buyers don't actively avoid paying developers because they're dicks, they actively avoid paying developers because the cost of a new game is more than they're willing to pay. And that's before you get to the trade-in ecosystem.

Edit to add:

How many other industries survive with a second-hand market? PC components, home media, comics, books, cars, hi-fi/audio. They're all sustainable even with a second-hand market. Why is it that some in the video-games industry think they're an exception? And why is there an assumption now that second-hand buyers are worse than pirates (something I've read elsewhere recently)? I love my Steam collection, I do, but taking away second-hand without giving the consumer something in exchange - like cheaper prices on Steam - is just no way to run an industry.
I'd rather have developers be able to make big games under the assumption that people will not be able to steal their work, than to have them limit their scope by the assumption that half or more of the people who will be playing their game will be stealing it from them
So, you've never bought an item second-hand then? Because, you can apply that argument to everything that is second-hand.
"You cannot have game and marketing budgets this high while also having used and rental games existing. The numbers do not work people,
So, the assumption is that the used and rental market is screwing developers out of money. What happens when the used and rental market goes? Will prices come down? Does anyone honestly think the prices of games will come down? I think people are fooling themselves here.

(apologies for multiple edits. :) )

Final edit:

Apologies if I come off a bit strong here, but I occasionally buy second-hand, so to be told that I and people like me contribute nothing to the industry (and am worse than a pirate) is pretty infuriating.

Edited 6 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 17th June 2013 9:29pm

Posted:A year ago

#26

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 465 1.4
Or, they want the game cheaper than it is new. Second-hand buyers don't actively avoid paying developers because they're dicks, they actively avoid paying developers because the cost of a new game is more than they're willing to pay. And that's before you get to the trade-in ecosystem.
Yeah, but two points on that. The first is, if you don't like the original retail price, wait a bit. Tomb Raider is currently available, new, for $30, which is about $15 less than it was used in the month of the game's release. You can claim that you only buy used games because you're too cheap to pay the retail price, but that's only valid if you're also too impatient for that price to come down on its own. The second is that even Microsoft made no moves to kill used games entirely, they just put mechanisms in place that might allow them to get a cut on the deal. Ideally players would be able to buy used games, just in a way where developers would get the same cut off a used game as they would get off the retail copy.
How many other industries survive with a second-hand market? PC components, home media, comics, books, cars, hi-fi/audio. They're all sustainable even with a second-hand market.
Most of those involve a physical product that depreciates over time. A used game is typically functionally identical whether it is fresh out of the box or used by a dozen people before you. What works for some industries does not work for others.
And why is there an assumption now that second-hand buyers are worse than pirates (something I've read elsewhere recently)?
I addressed this. At least a pirate can use the excuse that they would never pay anything for the game anyways. A used player is clearly someone willing to spend some money for the game, so how is a player who was willing to buy Tomb Raider used for $55 in the first few weeks, but is unwilling to pay $30 for it now, not a worse human being than someone who was not interested in paying at all? In either case the people that actually made the game received nothing from that person, so from their perspective they are, at best, equal.
So, you've never bought an item second-hand then? Because, you can apply that argument to everything that is second-hand.
I've bought a few things second hand, but never anything that I've claimed to love, especially if the new version was still available. You have to admit that there is a certain level of hypocrisy in both claiming to love games and also regularly buy them used.
So, the assumption is that the used and rental market is screwing developers out of money. What happens when the used and rental market goes? Will prices come down? Does anyone honesty think the prices of games will come down? I think people are fooling themselves here.
I think prices will follow the same market forces at play on Steam and in other industries. Companies will charge both the maximum they can get away with and the minimum they can get away with. They would like to charge more because it means more profits per sale, but they also want to charge less if they can because it means more units sold and potential higher overall profits. If they can charge $40 for a new game and still make solid profits off it then they will do so. If they don't have used games gobbling up their potential profits then they have more flexibility in that regard. I doubt the price of new AAA games will drop below $60 any time soon, but I imagine that the discounts after that will come a lot stronger and faster than they currently do.

Posted:A year ago

#27

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,613 1,476 0.9
@ Tim

Fair fair. A couple of points, though. :)
At least a pirate can use the excuse that they would never pay anything for the game anyways.
Ah, see, this might be where our differences become apparent. I think it's fairly obvious that a majority of pirates will happily pay for a game, if the price is right, just as I believe those who buy second-hand will happily buy new if the price were less.
I think prices will follow the same market forces at play on Steam and in other industries.
Well, that's fair. It's obvious that I don't think that'll happen, but it won't take that long to see which one of us is right. :)

Posted:A year ago

#28

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 465 1.4
Ah, see, this might be where our differences become apparent. I think it's fairly obvious that a majority of pirates will happily pay for a game, if the price is right, just as I believe those who buy second-hand will happily buy new if the price were less.
I don't think too many pirates fall into the "price hero" category. If they can't ever currently find the game at what they would consider a "reasonable price" then I just don't think their definition of "reasonable price" is worth considering. As I pointed out, you can get brand new games for lower prices than used, you just have to wait a couple months. You can't expect to have both low prices and the newest games any more than you can expect to buy a used car that is only a month out of the factory and good as new.

Posted:A year ago

#29

Craig Burkey Software Engineer

218 414 1.9
What about the guys who buy new and sell them second hand to part finance more games? You stop that and you stop alot of game sales

Posted:A year ago

#30

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 465 1.4
What about the guys who buy new and sell them second hand to part finance more games? You stop that and you stop alot of game sales
If they buy two games, sell them back for half price each and then buy a third game, they're only really buying two games. The industry would be better off if they just bought the games they could afford to buy, and everyone who also wanted those games would have to buy them at retail, even if that meant having to wait a few months for the price to drop.

Posted:A year ago

#31

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,194 1,169 0.5
@Tim: Using THAT logic, hell... we may all as well wait until the PS4 and Xbox One are discounted and made smaller and buy up all our new games then as cheaper hit versions. Console prices are a harder entry level thing to swallow for some (as noted now that Mattrick's on the interview circuit again):

http://www.gamespot.com/news/microsoft-defends-xbox-one-500-price-point-were-over-delivering-value-6410352

Sure changing behavior is key to addressing the used issues, but you aren't going to stop either early adopters nor those who want to pay full price for a game from doing so and those people from selling their games and or consoles to someone else who may want them down the road.

I know far too many people who started gaming with used or handed down games and I don't think they'd be into the hobby without that start. All of them buy new and used titles and none are convicted criminals. Again blaming a consumer for seeking a bargain when they want or see one is a bit silly. How would you describe someone who steals a used game from a shop? A double thief?

Also... here's a game for you that's as good as any AAA title: Amnesia: the Dark Descent. It's not a shooter, sports or action game at all, but it's good enough to scare you under the couch, it's cheap and it's got some nice mods that extend the game's life significantly.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Greg Wilcox on 18th June 2013 3:16am

Posted:A year ago

#32

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 465 1.4
@Tim: Using THAT logic, hell... we may all as well wait until the PS4 and Xbox One are discounted and made smaller and buy up all our new games then as cheaper hit versions. Console prices are a harder entry level thing to swallow for some (as noted now that Mattrick's on the interview circuit again):
That's exactly what I plan to do with the Xbone, and maybe the PS4. Depends on how much difference there is in the launch titles to the current gen stuff. My PS3 and PSP were both purchased used, but hardware is a completely different matter since they don't make a profit on hardware. They'd most likely prefer people buy used hardware as it means they don't have to make another unit.
Sure changing behavior is key to addressing the used issues, but you aren't going to stop either early adopters nor those who want to pay full price for a game from doing so and those people from selling their games and or consoles to someone else who may want them down the road.
Nobody wants to stop early adopters, they are the best. The thing to stop is them reselling their games so that other people can buy them in a way that gives nothing back to the people who made the game. At the very least, there should be a system in place so that when player A does sell a game and player B buys it, the developers get some cut from that transaction. That's tricky to do, but not impossible. Microsoft's systems can do that, but they claim they won't use if for that purpose. PS4, I suspect actually can do that, but they are being even more adamant that they won't. For now, at least. I think it would be for the best, but Sony is being a chicken, and Microsoft will likely cave because of it.

This is a bit like that NYC "16 oz drink" situation, it's better for the consumers in the long run, but they hate it so it isn't happening. Yet.
I know far too many people who started gaming with used or handed down games and I don't think they'd be into the hobby without that start. All of them buy new and used titles and none are convicted criminals. Again blaming a consumer for seeking a bargain when they want or see one is a bit silly. How would you describe someone who steals a used game from a shop? A double thief?
No, they'd just be a single thief. It's not really blaming the customers, most really are just looking for the best deal for themselves without worrying about the consequences, but I also don't blame the developers, publishers, and manufacturers that want to shut off that pipeline and close off those opportunities. There will still be plenty of "cheaper than full retail" games out there, I'm sure that if people can't buy used games they will be able to find plenty of bargain bin "starter" games out there. Cutting off used games will not lead to even one less customer in the long run, but it would lead to better returns on high cost games.
Also... here's a game for you that's as good as any AAA title: Amnesia: the Dark Descent. It's not a shooter, sports or action game at all, but it's good enough to scare you under the couch, it's cheap and it's got some nice mods that extend the game's life significantly.
Nobody said that you can't make a good game that isn't AAA. I loved Fez, Angry Bird has done very well, but I also loved Bioshock Infinite, and Bioshock infinite is not going to be created in anyone's garage. I have zero concern that "good games" will vanish any time soon, whatever happens, "good games" of some variety will continue to be made. I just want to live in the world where game developers can make games like Bioshock, like Dishonored, like Tomb Raider, and not have to worry about falling short of their budget because used games siphon off their profits.

Posted:A year ago

#33

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,194 1,169 0.5
@ Tim: Well, we're agreed, save for the use of the word "thief" which is someone who WILLINGLY takes things that aren't theirs. IF used games were monetized to get $ back to devs and pubs and people found ways to circumvent that, THEN they'd be thieves. You can't say over thirty years or more of used game sales means people should feel as if they need to hit the confessional based on a (currently) non-existent and VERY unenforceable "law".

One of the first games I ever bought was a boxed used Atari 2600 game that was returned to a shop. I was looking for new games, the store had one game I wanted cheaper than the rest in the case and I asked why. It was a gift someone got a kid who got another copy of the same game from another relative, but as kids do, he got excited and opened both presents. Anyway, that was 1979 or 80 I believe and it's been new/used/buying/selling/trading since.

I wouldn't and don't consider myself a thief and I'd not want to call anyone else one, as there's a lot of room between a simple trade, getting more money elsewhere because a retailer only pays pennies on the dollar or just keeping something in the library here for historical purposes...

Posted:A year ago

#34

James Prendergast Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
I'm not going to address Tim's points because I think most of them are fallacious but I don't see arguing with him is going to change his position or even have him contemplate another point of view - at least from what I'm seeing here... but I wanted to reply to Andy Nolan's post:

I get what you're saying here in the first paragraph - I agree. I also think that running a bunch of servers with these game files on 24/7 for countless years is far more energy intensive than pressing a single disc and leaving it at that for that one consumer. People usually ignore this when talking about how "Digital" is the future because it's more efficient and less wasteful. It's not. You're just shifting the waste around and making it larger. I know this wasn't your point but I just wanted to add to it. :)

Posted:A year ago

#35

Yvonne Neuland Studying Game Development, Full Sail University

32 55 1.7
Blaming used games and rentals for the AAA budget problems is like blaming used car dealerships and Hertz for the failures of the automobile industry.

Gucci and Prada don't walk around blaming thrift stores for their market trends. Nor do they attempt to bar people from sharing their wardrobes with friends and family, or from selling old clothes on Ebay or Craigs list.

Argument's like the ones this article makes are absurd. If the people running the AAA companies truly believe the source of their problems are related to used games and rental sales, then it is easy to see what the real problem is: the companies are being run by individuals with absolutely no understanding of basic economic concepts and business practices. I tend to think that the majority of these arguments come from journalists with more enthusiasm than industry knowledge, not the business executives running the AAA companies.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Yvonne Neuland on 18th June 2013 7:14am

Posted:A year ago

#36

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 465 1.4
@ Tim: Well, we're agreed, save for the use of the word "thief" which is someone who WILLINGLY takes things that aren't theirs
Actually, "thief" would apply whether they know they are stealing or not, just as a point of fact. The act of theft, removal of other people's property without permission, does not require full understanding of the act. Besides, we were talking about someone that shoplifts a game from a store, if they don't know that doing this would be illegal then they could probably claim a mental impairment defense. Buying a used game would not constitute theft, and people who do it should not feel that they are committing a crime when doing so, but they should understand that if they are enjoying the games they are playing, then by purchasing them used when they could instead be purchasing them new, they are contributing nothing to the people who made that game or to the creation of future games. If they are "robbing" anything it is their own future happiness. It's a bit like how with those "take a penny/leave a penny" dishes at the store, sure, you can take all the pennies if you like, it's not illegal, but ideally you shouldn't.
IF used games were monetized to get $ back to devs and pubs and people found ways to circumvent that, THEN they'd be thieves. You can't say over thirty years or more of used game sales means people should feel as if they need to hit the confessional based on a (currently) non-existent and VERY unenforceable "law".
No, I'm clearly not.
One of the first games I ever bought was a boxed used Atari 2600 game that was returned to a shop. I was looking for new games, the store had one game I wanted cheaper than the rest in the case and I asked why. It was a gift someone got a kid who got another copy of the same game from another relative, but as kids do, he got excited and opened both presents. Anyway, that was 1979 or 80 I believe and it's been new/used/buying/selling/trading since.
Well, first, being able to return unopened merchandise is just basic commerce. That isn't technically a "used" game, even if the store chose to offer it at a discount. In any case, if that game hadn't been there, are you seriously suggesting you never would have bought another game? You clearly already owned an Atari and some number of games to play on it, why would you never have bought another game if you couldn't have bought that one?
I'm not going to address Tim's points because I think most of them are fallacious but I don't see arguing with him is going to change his position or even have him contemplate another point of view - at least from what I'm seeing here... but I wanted to reply to Andy Nolan's post:
/salute.

Posted:A year ago

#37

James Prendergast Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
Yeah, sorry, Tim. It sounded a bit harsh but I think we come from different directions on these topics. I just didn't want to ignore everything you were saying and over the last few posts as if it wasn't important. I think it is... and I think depending on how you* think about these things is dangerous for the community and for the industry.

[edit] *Not you specifically! :D

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 18th June 2013 7:31am

Posted:A year ago

#38

Michael Bennett Senior Designer, The Creative Assembly

39 12 0.3
Used games are the same as piracy, except that the pirate gets paid. I'd much prefer any game I worked on was pirated than have some leech of a retail chain make money off my work at everyone else's expense (including the consumer).

Posted:A year ago

#39

Craig Burkey Software Engineer

218 414 1.9
If I buy a game, I have the right to use it till the end of time, I don't see anything wrong with that and I don't see anything wrong with transferring those right to another person if I don't want them anymore. I think some people are greedy and want to be paid twice for the same game. Stuff like the online pass I understand as there are costs involved in maintaining online functionality, so I see that also as acceptable.

Here's a question why do sequels sell more than their predecessors? Personally I believe one of the large factors is the added reach of the original from second hand sales. Anecdotally myself, I got Dead Space 2nd hand as a present and went on to purchase DS2 & DS3 at release along with various DLC.

Posted:A year ago

#40

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,283 2,491 1.1
I wonder what Toyota, 20th Century Fox, Simon & Schuster, LG, Samsung and dozens of other companies think of the second hand market for their industry?

I wonder if they think of second hand buyers as thieves?
I wonder if they have tried to block second hand sales?
I wonder if they blame their market woes on second hand sales?

Probably not. You know what I think they do instead? They deal with it as part of the market. They alter their business model and operations to account for all the forces within the market itself. They change to fit the customer instead of trying to change the customer to fit them.

Posted:A year ago

#41

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 465 1.4
I think some people are greedy and want to be paid twice for the same game.
Well, the point isn't that they want to be paid "twice for the same game," it's that they want to be paid "once for each person that buys the game." A game is not like a manufactured good, where you build one and the work is in the conversion of a lump of raw material into a finished product. A game is digital content, a concept that might be downloaded or stored on a disc, but the actual work is ephemeral. If you want to trade your plastic disc around all you like, I don't see why the developers should object, but I can see why they would want to get paid if you'd like to play their game.
Here's a question why do sequels sell more than their predecessors? Personally I believe one of the large factors is the added reach of the original from second hand sales. Anecdotally myself, I got Dead Space 2nd hand as a present and went on to purchase DS2 & DS3 at release along with various DLC.
That might play a role, but it comes down more to the fact that the concept is already out there in the world and has a track record. If you think about it really, sequels probably sell better because of used games, but in a bad way. This is because most sales that do occur happen in the first week or so, and as a sequel is a known property, they are more likely to get immediate sales, pre-orders, that sort of thing, whereas unknown titles are more likely to "slow burn," and pick up more sales in the weeks and months to come. Thanks to used sales, these "slow burn" sales are more likely to be used copies, which don't actually count, since stores push used copies over new ones and rarely stock retail copies past the first week (if that).

So if used games weren't a factor, then unknown quantities would stand a much better chance at retail, since they could still be purchased new weeks or months after launch, when word of mouth had gotten around that the game was really fun to play.
I wonder if they think of second hand buyers as thieves?
I wonder if they have tried to block second hand sales?
I wonder if they blame their market woes on second hand sales?
Yes, yes, and yes, although for most of their products they are prevented from doing so based on "first sale doctrine." That would apply to attempts to prevent gamers from reselling their game discs, but does not apply to attempts to prevent games from selling the licenses to play those games. While the right to resell music CDs has long been established, in a recent case a judge ruled that people are not allowed to resell MP3s without permission, which is essentially what prevents people from reselling Steam games, or potentially XBone games.

Posted:A year ago

#42

Donald Dalley Freelance writer

52 38 0.7
If they buy two games, sell them back for half price each and then buy a third game, they're only really buying two games.
Not in my world, it doesn't. 1 + 1 + 1 always equaled 3. A sale is a sale, no matter when or how it happens.

Posted:A year ago

#43

Donald Dalley Freelance writer

52 38 0.7
Blaming used games and rentals for the AAA budget problems is like blaming used car dealerships and Hertz for the failures of the automobile industry.

Gucci and Prada don't walk around blaming thrift stores for their market trends. Nor do they attempt to bar people from sharing their wardrobes with friends and family, or from selling old clothes on Ebay or Craigs list.
Exactly! The business model is broken if a game publisher is not making money with the traditional methods currently used to sell games. The pubs need to figure out how to make that first sale work for them. They have no business trying to control secondary sales. You certainly don't see book publishers do that. Just because this is a new digital world, the digital people are crying for more rather than fixing their business model.

Posted:A year ago

#44

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 465 1.4
Not in my world, it doesn't. 1 + 1 + 1 always equaled 3. A sale is a sale, no matter when or how it happens.
A sale is a sale, and that does represent three sales. What it also represents is most likely two lost sales, since the turned in games will likely be sold to someone who probably would have otherwise bought a new copy (if perhaps waiting a few weeks or months for the price to drop to a more reasonable level). That's five sales converted into three. If the second person then turns in the game again and it's again resold, that's seven sales turned into three. That cycle doesn't propagate exponentially, of course, but it does spread.
Exactly! The business model is broken if a game publisher is not making money with the traditional methods currently used to sell games.
Yeah, but then the alternative is to try and get players to not turn in used games, which means adding unnecessary multiplayer modes, or other feature bloat designed to cause players to keep playing after having already completing the main story, OR dragging out the main story with pointless elements so that it takes longer to complete. Now in some games this works for them, but in others it just takes a great game and dilutes it in the name of tricking players into keeping them until the used players bite the bullet and buy a new copy rather than waiting until the used market is saturated.

Publishes CAN adapt to make their games "work" in the used market, but only by making those games worse for those of us who already do pay for games.
You certainly don't see book publishers do that. Just because this is a new digital world, the digital people are crying for more rather than fixing their business model.
You don't? I've got some Kindle books to sell you then.

Posted:A year ago

#45

Aaron Brown BA Computer Science Student, Carnegie Mellon University

56 21 0.4
@Wesley Williams
As someone who lives on game rentals (as a hobbyist critic on a budget), I beg to disagree. Customers don't demand the ridiculous budgets for games, we demand great games. Somewhere along the way publishers decided great games meant they had to look phenomenal or have 100hrs gameplay or additional redundant multiplayer. The thriving Indie community shows there's another way.
you're kidding right...

The Wii U has plenty of good games slated for the next year, especially with a pending Zelda announcement in the works. Yet no one is talking about Nintendo.

People have eyes. People like things that are aesthetically pleasing.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Aaron Brown on 19th June 2013 2:30am

Posted:A year ago

#46

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,194 1,169 0.5
@Aaron... so I guess Minecraft and all those "retro" indie games that do well on multiple platforms are being played by the legally blind or folks with no "refined" tastes? ;^P

Posted:A year ago

#47

Andy Nolan 3D Modeler & Digital Artist

3 2 0.7
I most certainly agree with what you have written, it is definitely in line with my thinking on it. It is bugging me why this line of discussion is not voiced in the media, as it most certainly is a factor on the bigger picture outside the industry bubble. Cheers James.

Posted:A year ago

#48

Michael Bennett Senior Designer, The Creative Assembly

39 12 0.3
I don't have a problem with anyone purchasing 2nd hand games; I have a problem with retail chains selling 2nd hand games and making a huge profit that never contributes to the making of those games. It cannibalises the main source of revenue and encourages publishers/studios to only invest in multiplayer or service based games that will never be sold. It disincentivises the creation of the narrative, single player experiences I love so much.

If someone has $40 to spend on games, and they could purchase 4 $10 2nd hand games or 1 new game and pirate the other 3, I'd rather they pirated the other 3. Because then, at least one developer receives some money. Otherwise, no developer receives money.

Posted:A year ago

#49

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