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Retail

GameStop exploiting devs and consumers, says Ready at Dawn boss

GameStop exploiting devs and consumers, says Ready at Dawn boss

Mon 22 Jul 2013 2:05pm GMT / 10:05am EDT / 7:05am PDT
RetailDevelopment

Ru Weerasuriya on fighting back against used games, and why he's launching The Order 1886 exclusively on PS4

Ready At Dawn

http://www.readyatdawn.com/about.html

readyatdawn.com

After much protest from consumers, Microsoft decided to change its Xbox One policies: used games will be playable just as they were on the Xbox 360, without any additional fees imposed on the retailer or player. Used games continue to be a huge part of the AAA console market, making up around half of GameStop's gross profit, but developers often have a lot of disdain for the practice, which doesn't yield them one penny.

Ready at Dawn boss Ru Weerasuriya is definitely one who falls in the anti-used games camp, but he doesn't want to see them disappear. He simply believes developers need to get a piece of the revenues.

"I think the problem is right now there are retail outlets that are really taking everybody for a ride. You can't make a living at the expense of everybody else. Unfortunately, they're not just making a living at the expense of developers but also the consumers because the consumers will see less and less games come out if developers can't get revenue to make more new titles and keep going as a business," he lamented to GamesIndustry International.

"I think this is something we need to curb on the retail side. We're putting the consumers in an awkward spot and we shouldn't have to," he continued. "Why should they be the ones to deal with a flawed system? They are the guys we do this for. They are the ones who should be able to benefit the most from being able to buy it."

"I don't think we should stop used games, but we should do something about getting part of the revenue back from GameStop and places like that"

Weerasuriya went on to describe the anger he felt during a recent experience he had at a GameStop store. "I walked into a GameStop, asked for a new copy of a game and without telling me he tried to slip me a used copy and wanted to sell it to me for $5 less. I flipped out in front of the guy. I was like, 'Dude, wrong guy... You're doing this to the wrong guy.' I don't think people realize, and the guy was trying to justify it to me. I was like, 'You have no idea.' There are developers out there who are making games for [years] and some of them will go down purely because the revenue stream is basically flawed and creating this place where developers don't see even a little part of it," he said.

"I don't think we should stop used games, but we should do something about getting part of the revenue back from GameStop and places like that. That's not penalizing the consumers; they'll still get what they want. But I don't know who's going to address it."

Of course, the fact that the pre-owned business is thriving is a symptom of a larger issue: game pricing. For the average consumer, buying a console for several hundred dollars followed by numerous $60 games is simply not feasible. The game has to be a true blockbuster to be worth 60 bucks for many gamers, and that means that a lot of AAA developers are feeling the pressure. Wouldn't it be easier for consumers if they could buy a much shorter AAA experience for $20 or less? Telltale has certainly shown that episodic games like The Walking Dead can be hugely appealing and successful.

"Think about it this way. What the consumer wants is choice. It doesn't mean we have to kill the $60 game, but you should have the choice for other price points. I would love to go home and play a two-hour game at night right before I go to bed. You play the game, get a full experience and a full story and go to sleep afterwards. I love that idea, but I also love the idea of playing the 15-hour game that I have to pay more for. I think there's room for different tiers. And I think the market is already breaking those out," Weerasuriya commented.

Just like summer blockbusters in Hollywood, there will always be a desire for thrill rides like Call of Duty, he added: "We can make the indie game just like there are indie movies, or we can make the summer blockbuster. The beauty of our ecosystem is that it continues to grow and is getting stronger to be able to allow for all these tiers to exist, and for them to balance out. For every big, Titanic-type thing you can have a bunch of projects that are smaller and that's the beauty of the ecosystem. We need them for each other. We can't dismiss one and hope to have just the other."

Weerasuriya hopes his new, first-ever console IP, The Order 1886, will fall into the blockbuster category. It's an idea that he's been percolating for many, many years, and Ready at Dawn is finally prepared to tell the story... with a little help from history.

"One of the things I love about storytelling is some of the best stories ever told are the ones we've actually lived. You can create all these crazy worlds and stuff but sometimes they're not believable. If you really think about it, our history is the most amazing place to find stories," he said, conjuring up ideas of Assassin's Creed for us.

1

"The funny thing is we started our ideas on this even before we heard about [Assassin's Creed]...This IP is really a recreation of the world and how the world would have evolved into something slightly different, and we really catch it in that moment of post-industrial revolution London. And you still get to experience a lot of the things that really happened in the [real] world. You'll interact with real people that lived in our world. The idea of all of this is imagine you created something where you didn't have to explain everything to people. If people wanted to find out something about a character they could just look it up in Wikipedia."

Some gamers instantly labeled the game as Steampunk, but Weerasuriya would classify it as anything but that actually. "Steampunk is usually not believable. We call it neo-Victorian London... For us, it was how real can we keep it, and what can we do to make people believe this really existed? So if you push a weapon or something too far to make it unbelievable, then we dial it back. And then it could be a weapon that Edison put together using technology that he invented at the time... that's what was important for us, that believability," he said.

Most developers today are platform agnostic. Financially, it just makes sense to get your game to as large a base of consumers as possible. Ready at Dawn is taking a risk by staying exclusive to PS4, but Weerasuriya is completely confident in his decision to stay loyal to Sony.

"We saw the initial talks about PS4 and what it was going to be and we've had a relationship with Sony for 10 years, so we felt it was the right time to not only move but to move to a single platform again where we could bring our expertise to something that could make us realize the game we wanted. Once we knew that internally, we approached Sony and said this is what we have and here's where we want to go, and they listened to us and we had a great discussion about how big it was going to be, and it turned out to be bigger than expected. So it's a good conscious decision from us to target a platform that we could make the most of," he explained.

We pressed Weerasuriya on the financial aspect of being PS4-exclusive, and he acknowledged that his studio often is guilty of putting creative needs ahead of fiscal ones.

"You have to be willing to give part of that financial aspect up to see your vision through"

"For us, the number one factor in making our decision was always creative. And to a fault over the last 10 years, we sometimes chose creative over a lot of other things. Yes, of course, there's an opportunity to make a dual-platform game and there are third-party publishers we can go to, and it's not something we'll ever dismiss, but for now since we've been so targeted towards working on a single platform it felt natural for us to make that decision regardless of the financial hit we would take," he said.

"In the future, who knows? I can only imagine that if the platforms get more and more similar in the future, maybe hardware manufacturers will only make hardware. I don't think that's ever going to happen because you still need to support your hardware. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo still need to support their platforms. And Sony always takes chances on their hardware to make very, very risky games as far as ideas and content is concerned, but it pays off. You have to be willing to give part of that financial aspect up to see your vision through."

Part of the creative vision for Ready at Dawn is to enhance games' believability. "Everything you saw in the trailer was in-game, and it was important for us to create something that we call filmic. A lot of the effort that went into it was to emulate a lot of things people are familiar with today," Weerasuriya said. "You don't have to tell someone who's watching a movie if something looks odd if it's filmed the wrong way. They know it because for their whole lives they've been watching movies."

"So we strive to emulate glass and how it looks looking through a lens with real depth of field and chromatic aberration - everything that we could do to basically build the correct physical aspects of a real lens, we tried to do in the game. Giving people that experience, you're not going to have a disconnect; it's really about climbing out of the uncanny valley to the other side. I think this is the hardware that's going to do that," he asserted.

If The Order 1886 is successful, Ready at Dawn could be looking at much more than video games. Weerasuriya noted that his team definitely has big transmedia ambitions.

"I will tell you, the franchise was created not as a game franchise. It lived its life before it became a game as a world, as an IP. You can imagine now that the game is a window into that IP, so yes, I want to have a lot of windows into that IP, and hopefully that'll come in many different forms," he said.

42 Comments

Robin Clarke
Producer

300 684 2.3
Popular Comment
I totally agree with Weerasuriya's view. 'Always online' requirements, or resale being taxed or restricted, are not the answer though.

Despite protestations from Cliff Bleszinksi, the market doesn't owe disposable, mega-blockbuster-budget console games a living. The answer is to make games less attractive to trade in. Price fairly, budget appropriately (which doesn't mean making shorter games), and encourage players to make repeat purchases.

Sadly, all of these are riskier and require more fundamental changes in how publishers and developers are run than lobbying hardware manufacturers to implement a punitative DRM mechanism.

Posted:A year ago

#1

James Ingrams
Writer

215 85 0.4
Popular Comment
Quite simply, if 85% of AAA games are out and out mindless action games, gamers who wan something different have to look elsewhere, for example older used games from a time when multiple genres were supported!

For example do you think we would have had successful PC games market in the mid/late 90's (it's peak some say) if practically every PC release had been a Doom shooter clone; instead of games like Monkey Island, Wing Commander and Command and Conquer as well!

Today all we mostly have are the Doom clones, with no Monkey Island's, Wing Commander's and Command and Conquer's?!

All gaming industry eggs seem to be in the same (genre) basket and at $50million plus, per AAA game, the industry is also walking a tightrope! I can see lots of eggs being broken over the next 18 months!

Posted:A year ago

#2
AAA's just need to be more episodic. Meaning dolling out the content on a regular schedule rather than just dumping it all onto one disc.. Make is so you need the original game to be able to play all the new content. I see the authors point being retailers are selling the same game over and over pocketing all the profits, but if AAA or any game developer wants to discourage it, they can. Simply dont build games that are easily digestible, and finished within a week or two. Sell the core game, one a customer must keep and then just keep the content flowing to that customer in DLCs.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Benjamin Seeberger
Writer/Translator

27 14 0.5
I'll state this here and leave it to others to interpret whether this is good or ill. By killing the used game market, developers will be killing their market.

I know that sounds far-fetched, and perhaps I'm way off-base here. I can only speak from my experience, where discovery and joy of games revolved around community --- notably, the community that literally created an entire market. Sure, when I was a kid other kids were buying games full-price, $50, $60 pops for a cartridge. But a very large majority of sales were going to places like Funcoland (now GameStop) in not only the purchase of used games but more importantly, the buying and trading of games for other games.

Did game companies die when the market had that trisector relationship? Quite the opposite --- the market flourished. I always went to Funcoland to buy games because I knew I could get a good deal. Funcoland prospered because they were always busy, because people were either buying, selling, or trading, and the in-betweeners who were just looking like people who might go to a bookstore, pop open a book, and read a bit.

Yes, today we have Steam, we have DRM-sites, and there are a hundred ways to find out about games. But those are all online presences. They are not a physical presence like a game store is. Perhaps it may happen, but I can't see games becoming more popular with the tear-down of used game stores. I can only see the building of an insular culture where gamers constantly feed off each other, and instead of drawing new consumers, feed off of the old until the only true gamers are farting away in retirement homes while the new generation (not even called gamers) are an entirely new breed carried away on another incentive scheme which actually delivers back to them as well.

Sure, GameStop needs to be giving a small percentage of profits back to those companies. That would actually re-invigorate the market, I think. But by small, I mean small. Anything larger would give those companies a hold over the used game market, which would be a step backward.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

431 406 0.9
Popular Comment
As much as you want to bring in as much money from consumers as possible, you must first and foremost ensure they feel they are getting a good deal.

All these attempts to control and squeeze money out of every aspect and increase the cost of gaming further in ways that gamers feel are unjustified have the unfortunate effect of decreasing their positive attachments to the products and instead leads to them focusing on the financial penalty more than the experiential reward.

Games companies can easily profit from used games by funding their own collective game trading organisation that brings all of its profits back to the game industry. They can spread the profits amongst the developers by having all developers share a pot share of the profits based on a metric such as team size or something or another, whilst the rest of the profit goes to the publisher of the traded game.

They can do away with the high street shop front, or partner with indie stores as collection outlets where the store receives payment for their storage service.

They can happily compete with GameStop. The consumer ends up happier, and so do the publishers because they get to profit from used games in a more acceptable manor. Of course that would require a leader, etc. and it seems much much easier to just introduce a game trading tax.

Posted:A year ago

#5
Consumers have always had the right to sell on their property, with no need for money to be kicked back up the supply chain. That's true of CDs, books, DVDs - everything. If games are to somehow be exempt from this, the industry needs to make a more compelling argument as to why it deserves special treatment. So far, we're not seeing it. All we're getting is the same "It's not fair, naughty retailers, a-bloo-bloo-bloo"

Let's not forget why most retailers ended up leaning so heavily on pre-owned in the first place: because the profit margins on new releases were so tiny that most couldn't actually stay in business selling new titles. Think about that: games shops couldn't turn a profit by selling new games.

Now, I'm not excusing the rapacious way the retailers have seized on used sales - mostly by screwing over customers with lousy trade-in prices and over-charging on second hand - but this is, ultimately, a mess of the industry's own making. As Robin says above, these big AAA titles need to be made more efficiently, or sold in more innovative ways, if they want to justify their existence. Nowhere does it say that these bloated projects deserve special protection from the whims of the marketplace. Budgets and development teams are ballooning, but there's no obvious improvement in the end products. Too many developers are spending more to get the same results. If the current production model isn't working, change the production model and stop searching for someone else to shoulder the burden.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dan Whitehead on 22nd July 2013 5:42pm

Posted:A year ago

#6

Michael Carter Jr
Studying Business Administration

9 2 0.2
Anything that requires dlc purchases to allow continued enjoyment of a game will automatically turn away some gamers like myself who have been ripped off and burned too many times by either losing our dlc when our consoles died or worse, lose access to digital only information when the game companies decide a couple of years later to stop supporting it. I and many others like me will never support a concept that requires downloading digital only info to continue playing a game.

I also agree that wider genres must be supported and everything shouldn't be pigeonholed to play the same way, companies like EA who take other genre games and them rework them to simulate either their combat or sports games are another reason why many of us don't want to spend 60 bucks on a new games. We are reluctant to even purchase a sequel at full price to a franchise we love simply because we are not sure it will have the same feel and heart the previous version did anymore.

It seems more and more that the only fans big game companies really want to draw are either combat or sport junkies. all the other traditional genres are either being watered down, or turning into clones of combat games. (thankfully a few companies do still attempt to keep the other genres alive, but it appears to be a losing battle.

Bottom line is if companies want consumers to buy games new, make them enjoyable, and worth the value of what is being paid. I have no problem paying full new price for a game if I feel that it is going to be worth it in enjoyment, unfortunately most companies have already shown they don't care about my enjoyment, they just want my cash quickly with little return on my end. And for the record, Movie quality and lifelike graphics are NOT enough to make a game enjoyable or better and sometimes it seems too much is worried about how the game looks visually and not enough attention goes into making a game enjoyable or even playable.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Jess Kappeler
Game Designer

16 30 1.9
Popular Comment
If Microsoft had explained the reasons behind their decisions, I think we could have had a much more interesting set of next gen consoles coming up.

Give me a reason why requiring that always online is good, and I'll gladly sign up. Steam allows me to create a library of games that I can always access from any of the three computers I'm likely to be playing games. Cloud saves allows me to pick up and play those games without hassle. The lower price makes up for the fact that I cannot sell those games to anyone. With PC you have the additional benefit of being backwards compatible for the foreseeable future, and with Valve many trust that if the company ever had to drop out of the market Steam games would be sold off to another company or at least made DRM free so you could continue to play your games.

Posted:A year ago

#8
hat's true of CDs, books, DVDs - everything. If games are to somehow be exempt from this, the industry needs to make a more compelling argument as to why it deserves special treatment.
not everything, you cant sell your business or even computer game software. Your are buying a user license, you dont own anything.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

431 406 0.9
@Todd: a license, whatever, but if the consumer feels cheated they become more sceptical about future purchases. Run it any way you want, removing used games means there is no natural economy for trading shitty games you don't want to play and would feel pretty damn cheated for being left with it. Presents are more risky and so are purchases of new franchises.

not buy your game, period. And in not being able to trade in old games people will invest less money on buying every iteration of a title, resulting in less income for []b]you[/b].

It will change the value proposition as well as the entire decision process of buying a game. Do you have any idea whether that will be positive or negative? at all. And do you want gamers to feel that they have been restricted? That is not a good feeling to bestow on your consumers if you want them to invest money in an activity that is not a necessity. And if people think their product is too expensive then they are led to further rationalise every purchase, and the lack of impulsiveness invariably results in less unplanned purchases and more reluctance to making a purchase.

--

Secondly, there will always be examples of things that you can't resale. Having said that you can trade businesses (that's how the stock market works, only that it is parts of businesses being sold). And sure it is just a license, but it is sold as a product and so long as consumers see it as a product and not a license / service they will treat it as such.

That being said, IAP is the perfect model for opposing this since people do not expect to be able to trade their in game purchases for cash, though there is no reason not to allow trading within a game.

You cannot force people to view things as you wish them to. The disjunction between the two could cost you big dollars.

Posted:A year ago

#10
@Todd: a license, whatever, but if the consumer feels cheated they become more sceptical about future purchases

true but what does that have to do with licensing? Last i checked business and gaming software was a multi hundred blillion dollar a year business.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 22nd July 2013 6:57pm

Posted:A year ago

#11

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

431 406 0.9
Todd, what it has to do is with buying behaviours and again perception. The pricing for the license mirrors that of a product, and for that reason the user treats their packaged product as it is presented.

As I said, iAP and subscription models provides the perfect metaphor for the customer and comes with a pricing model that reflects that.

The size of the industry doesn't change the need to respect perceptions or at least acknowledge them. Why must these licenses be non-transferable anyway? That decision isn't inherent in the business model but is only enforced under the (in my opinion misguided) idea that it increases revenue.

If your interest is to generate more profit then wouldn't the first logical step be to identify how and why people thought the way they do? Is not the fact that consumers resist this good indication that perhaps the circumvention of trading or the taxing of trading acts would yield results contrary to your business intentions since they don't mirror the consumer's perception?

Again as I have previously said, when people feel cheated they resist spending unless it is entirely necessary. If you refuse to understand the consumers then you will only oppose them rather than work with them. Perhaps that is why Zynga and King.com have managed so successfully to make bucket loads of cash from users who cannot trade their game. You don't even need to give them a disclaimer or show them the license terms because their behaviour inherently follows it.

And if you wish to price your license like a product then exactly how do you expect people to react and feel about that decision?

Do you think it doesn't matter if consumers feel cheated?

Posted:A year ago

#12
And if you wish to price your license like a product then exactly how do you expect people to react and feel about that decision? huh? so the business world software community which dwarfs by many magnitudes the console gaming software world, the business software community doesnt understand business? huh?

Its funny you contradict your own argument with the Zynga and King comment. According to you, they shouldnt have been able to make all that money since people cant trade their " product".

Do you think it doesn't matter if consumers feel cheated?
Of course you shouldnt and dont want your customers to feel cheated, but the answer to avoiding this need not only be, allowing them to turn around and sell the software they hate to someone else, thus becoming part of the problem.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 22nd July 2013 7:36pm

Posted:A year ago

#13
If I were microsoft I would just approach this differently. DLC is where the money is at, Totally avoids all the production/wholesale/retail/transportation cost and the vast majority therefore stays with those that actually created it.

Anyway all I would do is release and make available non transferable DLC copies of the game the same day the physical copies are released, and discount the DLC version. Physical tradeable copy is 60, make the DLC 39. I would also allow people to pre order new games, have them pay before hand online, then a week or so before release, have the software download itself into peoples machines in the background, and have itself trigger on 12am on release day.

The only thing holding back DLC on consoles is the clunky and drawn out process. Streamline it, and by next gen, physical copies will be all but dead, and left to a few over priced physical limited editions disc versions.

Posted:A year ago

#14

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

431 406 0.9
the business software community doesnt understand business? huh?
I never said exactly whether they do or do not, but the answer to that question is how users feel - that is the real metric. Just to shut that trail of thought down, as I am not here for an argument or nitpicking, my comment was in regards to people's negative reaction to decisions about what they can and can't do. Anything outside of that context is just an attempt to attack my reasoning by nitpicking, and really is unnecessary if anyone is intending to have productive communication. No ifs or buts.

Whatever is relevant to the discussion should be discussed. Taking comments out of context is pointless and unproductive.
Its funny you contradict your own argument
Terribly incorrect. I am making sense of how users perceive their product / license. In fact, ignoring what I said you still have a scenario with users are happy with non-transferable digital products which are licenses within Zynga/King's games, yet unhappy with non-transferable digital products which are licenses for full fledged games. The contradiction you claimed I made is only a mirror of the user behaviour. You can interpret that as a contradiction or you can observe what marketing has to say about that.

According to marketing there are low and high involvement purchases, people behave differently (and in this case I'm talking about the issue of being tied to a higher involvement purchase). What I've said coincides with what they teach in business and marketing. There, contradiction solved. So to claim what I said is a contradiction is to make a pointless claim against the field of marketing.

I can quote books if you really want to nitpick but I can't be bothered with all of that. I can't be bothered with office politics either. Those things piss me off. I like to get on with people and everyone I have worked with will tell you that that is exactly what I do. Nitpicking is pointless and really pisses me off. Can't see the point in it. Doesn't add to anything. It's just egos trying to battle shit out for shit sake.

---
Of course you shouldnt and dont want your customers to feel cheated, but the answer to avoiding this need not only be, allowing them to turn around and sell the software they hate to someone else, thus becoming part of the problem.
What you are suggesting is that consumers must bite the bullet and be happy with it. How does that reflect behaviour? I'd hazard a guess that trading best reflects it, and if you look at some of the grand theories of economics such as the invisible hand, it just so well supports it. And again, my point is that it makes each purchase higher involvement. That I believe is a bad thing for revenue. And aside from everything I said my main points are very simple. Higher involvement, good or bad? Nitpicking is absolutely unnecessary. We can have a semantics debate on one of those stackoverflow subsites for semantics, and we can have rhetorical competitions on opposing debate teams or some other place.

Here we can be productive to the discussion hand. Please. For Pete's sake (or is it peace sake (or is it pizza's sake))!

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Keldon Alleyne on 22nd July 2013 7:54pm

Posted:A year ago

#15

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

431 406 0.9
I would also allow people to pre order new games, have them pay before hand online, then a week or so before release, have the software download itself into peoples machines in the background, and have itself trigger on 12am on release day.
Now that sounds awesome! That's the sort of stuff I'm talking about.

Posted:A year ago

#16

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

1,072 1,007 0.9
Gamestop's profit comes from knowing who values a game very little ($5) and connects them with somebody who values the game considerably more ($35). Naturally, they never met, else Gamestop's profits would seriously drip.

If you looked purely at the the transaction, then any software developer with access to a platform supporting account based verification should say: "I can do that". Especially since online enables developers to go look for a buyer before they even bought back the product from somebody. If you could buy and sell games on Steam with a cut going to the developer, who would be there to complain? Yeah, right.

At this point of complicated online used sales, this question has to be asked though:
if a developer is willing to institute a complicated buyback system, in an effort to earn $10 per sale, then what is keeping him from adjusting the price in such a way he earns $10 from selling a new copy in the first place?

Then you think about what is keeping them, say "aha" and stop blaming Gamestop.

Posted:A year ago

#17
Im not nitpicking, Im pointing out your flawed arguments.

One minute you say
That decision isn't inherent in the business model but is only enforced under the (in my opinion misguided) idea that it increases revenue.
then you say
I never said exactly whether they do or do not, but the answer to that question is how users feel - that is the real metric
again, how people feel is reflected, its reflected in businesses Revenue and earnings. Microsoft using the exact license model I speak about came from nowhere , only to become one of the richest and most powerful companies on earth, So I believe even thought you dont think licensing software makes sense, the business world disagrees with you and for good reason.
I am making sense of how users perceive their product / license.
customers perceive a product based how vou a ( business) market it and monetarize it. You say it yourself here as it is King and Zynga that dictate how the game is perceived, not the other way around.
Terribly incorrect. I am making sense of how users perceive their product / license. In fact, ignoring what I said you still have a scenario with users are happy with non-transferable digital products which are licenses within Zynga/King's games, yet unhappy with non-transferable digital products which are licenses for full fledged games. The contradiction you claimed I made is only a mirror of the user behaviour. You can interpret that as a contradiction or you can observe what marketing has to say about that.
Anyway, Have a nice day, Sorry if you felt I was nitpicking or picking on you.

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 22nd July 2013 8:14pm

Posted:A year ago

#18

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

431 406 0.9
@Todd: When I say reflected I mean something different to what you interpreted it to be. It's a natural by product of language that context can be missed. The "reflection" I'm referring to is the correspondence between how the user thinks and how the interaction is modelled. Perhaps I could have said correspondence instead.
You say it yourself here.
I guess that would be my error in not making enough effort to convey a clear message.

Consumers have an idea of how things should work and there is an unwritten rule as to what is just (hence the subjectivity of it all). All I'm getting at is that people are angry and disgusted with decisions that were made. That is a matter of fact. That fact suggests the model did not correctly correspond with one that people are 'happy' or 'cooperative' with. Nonetheless it tickled their disgust bone.

So yes, a role is played in how people may perceive a product - there is wiggle room. But those market decisions need to be reflected not just in marketing materials but also the entire conception of the "product" that gives rise to the "product of the product". At the end of the day people are spending money to play games. How this need is met is a matter of entrepreneurial, artistic, business and customer service ingenuity (there are going to be plenty more skill bases that are necessary to do it, but I'm sure you get the point).

You mentioned the business revenue in terms of how well the model maps to people's perceptions, but that in itself is not a measurement without a metric. What do revenues of $20Bn mean? Perhaps if we could estimate the willingness to part way with cash then that would be possible. Perhaps we could just examine the difference between current and previous generations (a very successful technique used by social game developers to increase decisions to pay for in app payments).

---

Well, I'm sure you have no intention of picking a fight, we're all professionals here. But as much as I might agree with used sales, my interest in any discussion is in exploring how I and we see things. I have no gripes with sharing compelling evidence that used sales is bad and changing my point of view. I have no issues placing contrasting views and exploring flip sides of an argument. That is just how I like to think about things. I rarely pick sides when I'm contemplating. I'm guess quite Austrian in that respect.

Posted:A year ago

#19
Consumers have an idea of how things should work and there is an unwritten rule as to what is just (hence the subjectivity of it all)
I agree, with one caveat, people are conditioned and thus they are use to and expect a certain continuity of what they have been conditioned to accept in the way of purchasing a said product. This is where microsoft went wrong with the xbone. They yanked and pulled the accepted way of console sales away too fast. What they needed to do, as I suggest above, is to not change to the old ways one bit, but rather introduce to the consumer a new option and way to do things, via DLC. Make it cheaper, more convenient for the customer, and before you know it, this new way will not only be an accepted way of doing business in this arena, but the preferred way of doing things.

anyway, again thanks for the discussion, I enjoyed it.

Posted:A year ago

#20

Richard Vaught
Studying B.A. in Game Design

19 33 1.7
I think that a lot of times, what we are suffering from is a sense of entitlement. The developers feel entitled. The retailers feel entitled. The Publishers feel entitled. The gamers feel entitled. Everyone feels like someone owes them something. So, this is the first bug that needs to be squashed. No one is entitled to anything, from anyone, under any circumstances. Step 1: Get over yourself.

Video games are entertainment. They are an extra, not a necessity. Remember your place.(And I am saying that as both a lifelong gamer and hopeful future developer.) You are not selling food, water, air, or any other basic essential of life. This changes the market in a very significant way, because now, in order to entice people to pay for your game, you have to offer them something that they value. Used game sells thrive for three main reasons.

1) The vast majority of games to not offer value commiserate to their price, plain and simple. Comparisons to other entertainment outlets does not justify your price point, so quit comparing yourself to something you are not. You make and sell games, not movies, books, music, or any other form of entertainment. That means that, compared to OTHER GAMES you must provide more value, not compared to other industries. As a consumer, I will not spend $60 on a game that I do not feel offers $60 worth of value, as compared to other $60 games, instead, I will wait for it to go on sale, or purchase it second hand.

2) There are too many titles for a consumer in an economically depressed culture to be able to purchase them all, but that does not remove the desire to play them. You should take that as a complement. They can't afford your product, but they want it anyway, and are willing to wait. This happens in every other industry, and games are no exception. Once the shine wears off first adopters have had the pick of the litter and the bragging rights, the rest of the broke community can come in and sample the experience at a more reasonable rate. I grew up in a poverty stricken home, if this didn't happen, I never would have been able to play anything. Now, I make a decent salary and buy 90% of my games retail. Never underestimate the power of future sales. Sow seeds of generosity now for major pay off later.

3) A large percentage of modern games suck. This is related to, but not equivalent to point 1. This isn't a case of value, but rather a case of trust. Like the video game crash in the 80's, the shelves today are piled with games that are a waste of space. Like then, developers today have abused the trust of the players by producing gold plated turds and charging as if they were solid gold. If developers abuse their customers, why should the customers not abuse developers? What we need is another 'Nintendo's Gold Seal' model, but one that is platform independent, trustworthy, and not in the pocket of the hardware manufacturers, developers, or publishers. Something that could bring back the faith and trust between developers and consumers.

On a slightly different note, there is the issue of ownership. IP laws are messed up, but I do not think they are messed up in favor of consumers. I understand that developers must make money, and that game development is a business. However, what the average person does for a living is only different in type, not in kind, from what you do as a developer. They give you their money, that they earned with whatever skills, talent, or sweat that they had to expend in exchange for the skills, talent, and sweat that you spent making a game. If I traded you a hand-crafted piece of wooden furniture in exchange for a game, would you accept it if I told you that you were not allowed to sell it, trade it, share it, show it off, modify it, or otherwise do whatever the hell you wanted to with it? No, you would tell me to piss off. Yet, that is exactly what you expect your customers to agree to. And then you have the gall to whine about you not getting what you are owed? I think the gaming industry needs a reality check. Currency is simply a method of converting non-liquid assets to liquid assets so that they can be traded more freely. Putting ideas on a disk instead of on a board in a box is the same thing. It simply allows them to be traded more freely to a broader audience, it does not change the nature of what they are or what they represent. You seem to forget that.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Richard Vaught on 22nd July 2013 10:10pm

Posted:A year ago

#21

Brook Davidson
Artist / 3D design

62 93 1.5
I agree with this article.

Edit: Oops, forgot to put a period.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Brook Davidson on 23rd July 2013 2:52am

Posted:A year ago

#22

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

896 1,325 1.5
We saw the initial talks about PS4 and what it was going to be and we've had a relationship with Sony for 10 years, so we felt it was the right time to not only move but to move to a single platform again where we could bring our expertise to something that could make us realize the game we wanted.
For someone who thinks so little of Gamestop's business practices you would think he would have been more eager to sign up with Microsoft when they were all DRM happy before the about face. I kind of agree with him about developers getting money from used games but not in the way he suggest. I think that online passes is a good way to do it but I don't see any reason why developers should get a cut of every used game sale when they already got the money from the first copy. If they loathe other business companies selling used games that badly they should start selling their own used games directly from their website or instore kiosk. .

Posted:A year ago

#23

Roman Margold
Rendering Software Engineer

24 34 1.4
Unfortunately, they're not just making a living at the expense of developers but also the consumers because the consumers will see less and less games come out if developers can't get revenue to make more new titles and keep going as a business
Sure, because seeing less and less CoD clones would be a bad thing.
Now, to be less sarcastic, I think if developers can't make a living, then the market doesn't need the developers. The market will fix things out.

Posted:A year ago

#24

John Bye
Senior Game Designer

480 451 0.9
Paul - "For someone who thinks so little of Gamestop's business practices you would think he would have been more eager to sign up with Microsoft when they were all DRM happy before the about face"
Microsoft's original Xbox One plans actually would have given big retailers like Gamestop a monopoly on used game trade-ins, while cutting out smaller stores and direct person-to-person sales via eBay and the like. And by default there was no fee to the retailer or the end user for trading in at participating retailers.

Posted:A year ago

#25

Roger Hantz
Systems Designer

1 3 3.0
I'm sorry, but you cannot change the market to suit your business model. Your business model needs to adjust to suit the fickleness of the market. You can't sit there and whine about not getting a piece of the pie from the second-hand market unless you're involved in it. As developers of new, original content, we are not part of the second-hand market. If you'd like to invest in developing a presence in that market, feel free, that's the way the market works. But you can't just sit there and whine about "Hey, there's money over there, and I want some of it too!"

One timely point I'd like to make with SDCC having just recently passed, is that it's a good thing the Comics Industry whined about all the second-hand sales their products have generated. I mean, where would that industry be if they hadn't tried to squeeze every last red cent out of all the trades and second-hand sales that took place between their customers. Who knows, if only that entire industry had managed to get their hands on second-hand sales revenue, maybe it could have survived long enough to host one of the largest entertainment conventions in the world or something. Oh, wait.... [/sarcasm]

Okay, I apologize for the snarkiness there, but it illustrates a point that second-hand sales are not a required panacea for the gaming industry to survive. I won't argue with Ru's point about the shady sales practices of that particular GameStop employee, but the overall point of getting a slice of the second-hand pie is a matter of looking in the wrong place, for the wrong solution to a different problem altogether.

Posted:A year ago

#26
@Richard Vaught
"No one is entitled to anything, from anyone, under any circumstances."
Consumer law says differently.

The crux of the argument is that while, technically, customers do not own the code on the discs they buy and instead only purchase a license to use that software, it is a physical product and people who buy a physical product consider it theirs. And, if they so wish, they will sell that product on when they've got no use for it. That applies to cushions, wheelbarrows, DVDs, cars and - yes - games. As I said, if games - physical disc-based games - want to be exempt from that centuries old system, then the industry needs to put forward a more compelling argument than just "Oh, you never owned that game in the first place and if you trade it in then our multi-million dollar studio won't be able to make games anymore".

That's a terrible argument, and one that carries absolutely zero weight with customers. Nor should it carry any weight, as the whole point of the free market is that the producer/creator exists to serve the needs of the customer, not the other way around.

Games are not unique and special snowflakes that deserve to be protected from the free will of their customers. Physical goods will be sold on, traded in, swapped, whatever. Deal with it. We're looking at almost 100% digital distribution within five years or so anyway, so this is a problem that will largely solve itself in the industry's favour. Bleating on about it now just looks like entitled whining.

Posted:A year ago

#27

Andrew Ihegbu
Studying Bsc Commercial Music

440 146 0.3
Todd, making AAA's more episodic means absolutely nothing for multiplayer games, where most of the money currently is. When the guy above you said everything is a doom clone currently' he meant everything is a CoD clone, and CoD didn't even start making truly epic single-player till maybe the last 2 or 3 games.



And sure, you can claim that GameStop didn't spend any money making the game, but Activision already recouped. The main reason they should want me to play their old game now is to court me into buying something new, and you do that by making it VERY accessible. Quite simply, the world didn't want the Xbox One system not because it didn't think that the idea was a good one, but because it couldn't trust Publishers not to be greedy. evidenced by the 'one game copy per system' restrictions.

Posted:A year ago

#28

Andrew Ihegbu
Studying Bsc Commercial Music

440 146 0.3
The thing that has to be asked, is if a Developer or developers on a whole would make more money operating like that and selling 'refurbished games' with their $10 profit whenever available, or letting GameStop do it for them?

Posted:A year ago

#29

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

734 430 0.6
Wouldn't it be easier for consumers if they could buy a much shorter AAA experience for $20 or less?

"Think about it this way. What the consumer wants is choice. It doesn't mean we have to kill the $60 game,

Yes, yes, yes and yes! I don't know how many times I've seen it written and heard it said: You make your game to the budget that you think the market will support. Doing the opposite and trying to force or coerce the market into a different way of doing things that then suits your direction will always end in tears.

I agree with this completely and I've said as much on here in the past. "AAA" doesn't mean expense or size - it means quality. There aren't anywhere near enough short AAA games in the marketplace as there should be because everyone (and I'm guilty of this as well) instead focuses on the 12-60 hour AAA epic game...

Posted:A year ago

#30
Todd, making AAA's more episodic means absolutely nothing for multiplayer games, where most of the money currently is.

actually I disagree, In multiplayer games, episodic can just mean a steady flow of new maps, new graphic choices,weapons, etc.

Posted:A year ago

#31

Richard Vaught
Studying B.A. in Game Design

19 33 1.7
@Dan

'Sense of entitlement' involves the feeling that you are entitled to something that you have no valid claim to, demanding that which is not yours be given to you. What I mean is, making a game does not entitle you to profit, or to future profits. Buying a game does not entitle you to anything more than precisely the product that you purchased. A sale of a product, the exchanging of one good for something of equivalent value as agreed upon by the parties involved, does not entitle them to any futures on that product. Saying that developers are entitled to proceeds from second hand sales is just as silly as saying that consumers should get a return on any income made from the investment of their $60 after the sale. Developers do not owe the consumer anything, and the consumer does not owe the developer anything. There is no entitlement beyond what is explicitly agreed upon at the time of purchase. Even the fact that the consumer does not get to see the terms and conditions of the sale prior to giving up their hard earned money is a little shady.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Richard Vaught on 23rd July 2013 5:00pm

Posted:A year ago

#32

Christopher Bowen
Editor in Chief

411 558 1.4
This tired fucking argument again?

Posted:A year ago

#33

Doug Plotz
East Coast Sales Director

1 1 1.0
On what planet is Weerasuriya living on? Should all manufacturers get a piece of the 2nd hand market? Let alone the individual market, do used car dealerships have to kick money back to auto makers? Let's not forget used book stores, surely the writers and random house should get a some money back. Last I checked we were still a (mostly) free market system. If pubs and devs weren't making enough money on the first sale, they wouldn't be doing it. I for one am not losing sleep that their not getting a second payday on the used market.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Doug Plotz on 23rd July 2013 6:51pm

Posted:A year ago

#34

Craig Bamford
Writer/Consultant

40 54 1.4
This would be so much more straightforward if games were like almost any other consumer good:

1) A robust rental market for those who don't want to buy something they'll use for four hours; and
2) Discounting of the cost of new products over time.

The fact that four-year-old "new" games cost almost the same as they did at release is absolutely ridiculous. They clearly shouldn't cost as much after four months, considering how frontloaded sales at $60 are. Used games are an issue precisely because of this problem. They show that the market just isn't going to clear at the cost that publishers are asking. So lower it.

Posted:A year ago

#35

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

896 1,325 1.5
Microsoft's original Xbox One plans actually would have given big retailers like Gamestop a monopoly on used game trade-ins, while cutting out smaller stores and direct person-to-person sales via eBay and the like. And by default there was no fee to the retailer or the end user for trading in at participating retailers
John it was never confirmed that Gamestop would be the only one allowed to take Xbox One used game trade ins. The only mention was of "approved retailers" which could have been several, not just Gamestop. Also, with the DRM version of the XB1 publishers/developers such as Ready at Dawn would have been able to get a cut of each used game sale of their game when it got added to another users account in order to be playable on their system. In other words, had Ru Weerasuriya and his company made a game for the first version of XB1 they would have gotten a piece of every new and used copy sold.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 24th July 2013 12:18am

Posted:A year ago

#36

John Bye
Senior Game Designer

480 451 0.9
Paul - "John it was never confirmed that Gamestop would be the only one allowed to take Xbox One used game trade ins. The only mention was of "approved retailers" which could have been several, not just Gamestop"
I'm sure Gamestop wouldn't have been the only option, but it would almost certainly have been a handful of big national and international retail chains in each territory, while independent stores, small chains, dedicated second hand stores, online trading sites and direct person-to-person sales would have been cut out of the system entirely. It's still reducing customer choice and competition, while doing nothing about the real problem.

I'm fine with people selling old games on eBay or to their friends, that's their right, I've done it myself in the past, and I doubt it causes the industry much damage. The issue I have is that some high street retailers bite the hands that feed them by stocking and pushing used games over new, to the point of their employees trying to convince you to take a used copy instead of a new one when you reach the till, while offering poor trade-in values for most games and then trying to sell them back to their customers for only a couple of quid less than a new copy.

To people who compare games to music, books and movies, you don't see HMV selling used CDs and DVDs, or Waterstones selling used books - there are dedicated second hand stores for that. Games are the only industry where specialist retailers sell used and new alongside each other, apart from cars. But when you go to a car dealership to buy a new car, the salesman doesn't try to convince you to buy a second hand one instead.

Microsoft's original DRM plans would just have further reinforced this situation.

Paul - "with the DRM version of the XB1 publishers/developers such as Ready at Dawn would have been able to get a cut of each used game sale of their game when it got added to another users account in order to be playable on their system"
True, but by default there was no charge to the user or retailer, and even before all hell broke loose, Microsoft had already said they weren't going to charge a fee for trade-ins on first party titles, and other publishers had followed suit. It's a system that you had to opt into, and nobody wanted a piece of that action, especially after the negative reaction to the original announcement.

Posted:A year ago

#37

David Serrano
Freelancer

299 270 0.9
I don't think we should stop used games, but we should do something about getting part of the revenue back from GameStop and places like that.
Here's the problem with designers, programmers, creative directors, artists, writers, producers, etc... who make this argument.

1. They assume if studios or publishing companies earn more, they will earn more by default. The assumption is wrong because studio and publishing executives can't maximize their compensation or ROI unless they minimize expenses. And creative and technical talent are one of their largest expenses. So if GameStop ever did agree to share their resale profits, anyone who didn't have a contract that entitled them to a share of the revenue wouldn't receive a dime... in any form.

2. To claim they would be more fairly compensated if retailers shared resale profits is to claim the following: the problem isn't the compensation model which enables studios and publishing companies to massively undervalue their work while massively overvaluing the work of senior business executives and managers... the problem is the retailers refuse to enter into revenue sharing agreements based on unsubstantiated legal claims. Agreements with studios and publishing companies who like GameStop, would also not be required to share any percentage of the revenue with them.

So I agree, the people who actually conceive, design and create the games are not being fairly compensated. Not even close. But the resale market is not what's standing between them and what they deserve... studio and publishing company executives are. Which is why they need to stop daydreaming about resale market scraps and start fighting for the revenue sharing agreements with game studios and publishing companies they actually deserve.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by David Serrano on 24th July 2013 3:21pm

Posted:A year ago

#38

Joel Hruska
Analyst/Journalist

13 67 5.2
I agree that physical sales are declining. Long-term, everything is digital.

That still doesn't justify why game publishers deserve a cut of used games sales, whereas used books, used movies, and used music don't generate any revenue for the original rightsholders *either.* This isn't about hurting Gamestop, it's about preserving the customer's legal right of first sale. And until publishers start openly promising to deliver Steam-like experiences and DRM-free games that won't depend on activation servers to remain playable, there's no way I'm going to advocate a system that limits used games.

Posted:A year ago

#39

Dominic Jakube
Student

92 13 0.1
The reason GameStop is maximizing profit is because apart from the low margins on new software they can see the digital future where their shops are no longer needed.They know they only have 5 years or so left.

The platform holders and publishers should embrace this digital steam to cut out retail by pricing games on digital cheaper than retail.If a game is say $60 new and $55 used a non tradable digital version should be $40, sure you might make a bit less up front but at least you get to control your games more and reduce the used market.

But short-sighted greed means that this hasn't happened, at least judgeing by the digital prices I see on Xbox market place ane PSN where recently The Last Of Us was $15 more than I could find at retail.

Posted:A year ago

#40

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