GameStop could refuse to stock PlayStation Orbis, says Pachter

If the next PlayStation blocks used, GameStop could fire back

PlayStation 4 (now reportedly called Orbis) is in the news once again, and the latest report reinforces a recent rumor about the possibility of new consoles blocking consumers from playing used titles (or imposing a fee to unlock them). This would be the equivalent of dropping a nuclear bomb on GameStop, and the retailer wouldn't sit idly by, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter commented to GamesIndustry International.

"It isn't really in Sony's or Microsoft's best interests to block used games. It would benefit Activision and EA slightly, and would hurt GameStop a great deal. If Sony unilaterally did this, I could see GameStop refusing to carry their console, and sales of the PS4 would therefore suffer," he said.

Pachter stressed that "if one does it and the others don't, the one who does it will see a loss of market share." He added that none of the big three console manufacturers "are stupid enough to do this unilaterally" and none of them "are evil enough to do it together."

David Cole of DFC Intelligence agrees that Sony or Microsoft would be foolish to block pre-owned, as a console with anti-used technology would turn off a large chunk of the hardcore gaming market.

"A system that tried to stop used game sales would probably turn off the core consumers that rush to trade in their old product to buy new product. In other words, I don't think it would do so well in the core market," he said.

Lewis Ward, IDC's research manager, acknowledges that publishers and many in the industry would love to "wave a magic wand and cut the used disc market off at the knees," but he also doesn't see it as a likely scenario.

"Customers would rebel. Until there's the equivalent of a great 'used' digital console game trade-in program up and running, gamers will continue to like the ability to trade in discs and basically get discounts on other games," he commented. "I can certainly see Sony stepping up the idea of $10 online passes for connected multiplayer and so on, but especially for families of limited means or that have a narrowband connection at home, the ability to buy/trade use discs is an important reason why they buy game consoles in the first place."

Ward also noted that certain hacks would likely overcome the anti-used technology even if Sony did decide to go forward. "I suspect that even if disc DRM/security is stepped up a lot that countermeasures will soon surface that will allow physical and digital games to be played on the platform, limiting the effectiveness of the effort," he said.

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Latest comments (25)

Private Industry 10 years ago
Who is more evil the company that blocks some features from used copies or the company that sells you used copies for 2 bucks less than new copies, doesn`t tell you the game requires an online pass and keeps all the money they make with it for themself instead of giving something to the people who made the product?

If I look at the US there are many many more stores than only GameStop and over there GameStop has the same reputation and get`s the same love as GAME in Europe. GameStop would loose more by not stocking a console than the console manufacturer.

Also I`m not sure it`s the core market that is so much into second hand it`s the more mainstream market that`s a strong driving force. From my experience the majority of the core gamers keep their games and don`t trade them back in just to get a few bucks off of the next game.
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Harrison Smith Studying Games and Graphics Programming, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology10 years ago
SONY and MS know that 30-40 percent of their consoles aren't connected, and that the publishers can simply do their own system if they desire. Right now their is nothing stopping publishers implementing their own no used game system by simply making the online pass unlock the entire game. Actually I would like to see an EA try an pull of this on one of their games and track it performance with a similar game and compare if the numbers do match up and used games are affecting the sales of new copies or not.
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Private Industry 10 years ago
That would leave a lot of people without a working game, because GameStop dosn`t tell it`s customers that they need an Online pass as simple as that. They sell you BF3 used for 2 bucks less than new and don`t tell you that you can`t play it online until you buy the online pass because they only care about getting the used copy sold and not about what happens to the customer when he gets home.
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Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus10 years ago
"Consumers would rebel" - Bullshit. Consumers would scream on internet forums, until God of Duty 8 came out and then they sucked it up for whatever the next generation's games sell for. That's a load of crap. We're in this situation because the hardcore gaming market has Stockholm Syndrome.
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Dominic Jakube Student 10 years ago
No the core market will more or less lump it like they did on pc.But are they the major market?I think not, the big money in in call of duty players who are happy with the same game year after year with the same grapics who wont bother ugrading their system.
If this happens we will all be buying are games at the supermarket or at 7-eleven because video game shops wont exist.
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Iain McNulty Person doing things 10 years ago
I'm surprised nobody has noticed the massive flaw in such a plan.

If in the future a publisher of any given game goes bust, and shutters it's doors, how would their unlock pass work? Would the user just be granted one for free, would Sony take 100% of the unlock pass fee, or would passes for that particular game just not be sold any more?
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Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus10 years ago
@Iain - I'm guessing if Sony were to be enforcing this with a key system, they would be the ones who would pay out, and manage the online passes, or at least its infrastructure.
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Private Industry 10 years ago
That shouldn`t be much more different than how the online pass works.
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Iain McNulty Person doing things 10 years ago
@Christopher - Of course, introducing a standardised key system, one would assume Sony would be implementing and managing the infrastructure, as the system of current-day online passes and anti-piracy that is managed by the publishers is somewhat haphazard. A very poor example of this is the PS3 version of Bionic Commando Rearmed, which requires one to be signed into PSN in order for it to run.

My question though is, if in future a publisher does close, where would the revenues from second-hand purchased keys go, assuming keys would be available for second-hand games from PSN, and that typically the profits from said keys would be split between Sony and any given game's publisher? Or, if such a situation were to happen, would Sony just open up games published by the shuttered particular publisher to be able to be played without a key?
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Jose Martin Entrepreneur & Financing - Media / Tech / Interactive Entertainment 10 years ago
I never read such an idiotic statement related to gaming in my life. > "I could see GameStop refusing to carry their console, and sales of the PS4 would therefore suffer."

This analyst obviously doesn't know anything about the hardcore gaming demographic that bought the Playstation, the PS2 and the PS3...the only thing that could hurt sales of a PS4, initially, is a higher than expected asking price...gamers obviously complain about the possibility of blocked used games but in the end, the Playstation brand has an almost bulletproof history of consistently high quality platform exclusives on each succeeding new console.

Gamers simply cannot stay away from that kind of temptation, a new Gran Turismo, Uncharted, God of War and Metal Gear Solid game - and gamers will go ANYWHERE they have to, in order to secure a PS4 - no one has any loyalty to a retailer - it's laughable. There are a myriad of major brick & mortar retailers that would carry a PS4, not to mention all the E-shops. if Gamestop refused to carry the PS4, the only company hurt would be Gamestop.

An absence of the PS4 at Gamestop would have exactly ZERO impact on sales - Sony wouldn't suffer even ONE lost sale. I can imagine the scenario, Hardcore gamer or said gamer's parent walks into Gamestop: "I'd like a PS4 and a copy of Gran Turismo 6 please."... Gamestop Employee: "I'm sorry, we don't carry the Ps4. might I interest you in the new Wii U and a copy of Zelda: The Octarina of Wind Walker's Sword HD" .. gamer or gamer's parent declines, walks out and heads over to Walmart...end of story.

In what alternate universe does someone leave Gamestop with a Wii U as a PS4 substitute or leaves with nothing and says, "oh well, Gamestop doesn't carry it, I guess I won't be getting a PS4 now" ??? Anyone who thinks Gamestop has that kind of power is living on Fantasy Island... Da Plane...Da Plane!!! ;-)
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd10 years ago
Looking at the situation with games retail as an outsider, it really seems like retail has let publishers and consumers sleepwalk into a situation that benefits them disproportionately.

Training consumers to consider games as consumables that they 'rent' for part of an inflated RRP is counterproductive, and drives publishers to place huge bets on getting a game to sell at full price in a short time window after launch. There's no room for sleeper hits, evergreen titles or a retail environment where consumers can choose from several years' worth of titles under this model. All things that the digital stores do well.

Analysts responding so emotively to the idea of preowned being scaled back (going so far as making veiled threats about circumvention i.e. piracy) makes me confident that it will happen. GameStop will just have to adapt.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 10 years ago
To be honest, I don't get this at all. You only have to look at the PC market to see that games will still sell, even if they're tied to someone's Steam or Origin account (which renders second-hand sales obsolete). Yes the console and PC demographics are different; but if console pricing moves more towards tiered pricing - like the PC market has - then people will accept the lack of second hand games, in exchange for a more forgiving price structure. There's a lack of interest in new IP when it costs 60 bucks, which the trading of games offsets, but if newer IP games had a lower price, the consumer wouldn't need to offset their wariness of the product by trading in something they already have.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 29th March 2012 11:57am

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Thomas Dolby Project Manager / Lead Programmer, Ai Solve10 years ago
Articles that feature sensationalist predictions by analysts I've never heard of annoy me. Jose Martin's comment above is how I feel about this. GameStop would be stupid to consider such a thing.
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 10 years ago
I'd just be happy if publishers released digital copies of new games at reasonable prices - the content is automatically locked to your console so there's no need for any such anti-piracy measures.

I'd gladly pay something like 32 on launch day for a game like Uncharted 3 or Dark Souls; they just have to scale the digital price realistically against the retail price (not the 50 digital launch most games sit at). If these console-wide anti-piracy measures are implemented next gen by MS and Sony (I think either both or neither will do it as neither will want the advantage/disadvantage over the other) I'll still buy plenty of games but I think this'll mean I'll wait for more to hit the 15 sort of region, as there will be no 'safety net' of having resale value.
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Anthony Chan10 years ago
I wonder if this would work. Publishers could release games in Digital format first at a discount to the disc based price (eg. 39.99 as opposed to the 59.99 CAD). Then disc games would follow a release schedule that is at least 3 weeks after the digital release.

The disc would not be subject to any locks or such. However the discount in price encourages gamers to forego the option to sell or trade the game after playing. Essentially the discount should be just greater than the trade-in value that they can apply to their next game purchase, eliminating the need for them trade in old games to purchase new games.

This might hurt the group of gamers who do not have broadband internet, however they still will be able to pick up a physical copy of the game 3 weeks after the intial release.

But in the long run, everybody wins, as Publishers might be able to dent the used game market while gamers have more choices when it comes to game purchases. The consumer always quietly appreciates options and choice, but is highly vocal and resentful when choices are take away.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 10 years ago
Game stop are being assholes. I hope they go the way of GAME. As long as your not required to be on the internet to play im fine. im ok with having an initial activation code for the game or features of the game. PC games have done this for a longtime. So i dont know what the big deal is. However I hope this means the price of new games goes down a bit more.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 29th March 2012 6:14pm

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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 10 years ago
@ Anthony

That's a good idea. It's akin to a pre-order bonus, only the bonus is that the game is cheaper. I'm sure there'd be a good uptake of the digital versions, even if people didn't have awesome internet speeds, since they know that they'd play the game sooner or later, and would be thankful for the discount (in the same way people buy games on Steam Sales when they have a backlog of 200 games - a good deal is a good deal).
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Manoel Balbino Programmer, Playlore10 years ago
It's undeniable that Gamestop and its ilk brought this upon themselves when they decided to exploit the inherent commercial dynamics of $60 disposable six-hour roller coaster rides beyond the reasonable, but it's incredible how publishers cannot see the message customers who engage in Gamestop's ecosystem are sending: they are done with your shitty game and would gladly get rid of it in exchange for something else to play.

I also strongly doubt publishers would lower prices that easily, after burning down retail, renting, lending and borrowing. Just look at PSN and XBLA's games on demand: the pricing there is not nearly aggressive as it should be.

It's true that the PC market has gone this way years ago. But it's also true that most games sell a lot more in consoles than on PCs, the simple experience being a huge factor. The PC games that make the most money are those which are the complete opposite of the ones an anti-used system is indented to protect: overpriced disposable 6-hour single player games.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Manoel Balbino on 29th March 2012 7:29pm

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Andrzej Wroblewski Localization Generalist, Albion Localisations10 years ago
I blame the marketing people. Every year unproductive marketing scourges are getting more and more greedy. In fact linguists should invent a new heavier in meaning term for greed already. They're doing everything they can (save for commiting suicide) to kill the quality (in terms of product's added value) in every aspect and on every stage of game development, while making almost sexual efforts to impose the notion that their puny marketing (in fact: sales + fraud) is the mostest importantest (if not the only) added value to the product. They're doing everything they can to either exploit every talented individual out there (but never letting them become a "rising star") or destroy them. They've tried to con customers into buying the effects of their hastily scheduled, hard-pushed to the market garbage in the past. Today they're trying to force people into buying it. What's next? "Aggravated sales"? Breaking into people's homes? Spying on them?

Reading what I just wrote, I realized that it's already happening...

Seriously, marketing needs to be eliminated. And I don't care if people will lose their jobs. If you're a marketoid -- learn to do something productive, or it's your business.

Today truly creative and productive people are being forcibly kept on the verge of poverty by the abovementioned. Just look at the translation rates imposed by marketoids/managers while they're driving sports cars, living in villas. For what? Inproductivity?

I say this needs to stop now...
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Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 10 years ago
Uhm. I personally think blocking used games is stupid (but for myself it wouldn't be a problem as I never buy/sell used games)..
But thinking there will be a countermeasure/hack is very naive, especially if you look at the current protection of the PS3, which is pretty secure again (still no Custom firmware beyond 3.55, and it's harder and harder to get a new game running on the 3.55)..
BUT I can see from the publishers point of view, as they only make money on the first sell, but stores like gamestop make money on every sell, they buy the used games for very cheap and sell them with a lot of profit, and if they are lucky, the people even resell the used game back..
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Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus10 years ago
@Morville - I would argue that the console landscape is a different bird, because the focus on those is on AAAs. On Steam, the AAAs are heavily offset by smaller, AA and indie games, and the AAA games don't do as well on PC for the most part, though a lot of that has to do with antipathy on the part of publishers (hi, Ubisoft!); AAAs do well, but not as much as on consoles. But the flipside of the consoles is that those smaller games are just a sideshow, especially as noted by the focus of Sony (who has done OK, but only really played footsie with smaller devs) and Microsoft (who isn't even trying to focus on games, period, anymore; they only want to be an entertainment console and games are a small part of that puzzle). With rising development costs - especially on a console of this much power - it's going to end up forcing the AAs and As out of the console game.

Therefore, you're dealing with people who basically only buy AAAs. And they historically like to play that year's version of Call of Duty, Madden, FIFA, etc., and get rid of it when done. So it's a bigger deal for console gamers than PC gamers, especially since the starting price is going to be $60 for most relevant console games... if we're lucky (I think they're going $70 or $80)
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James Verity10 years ago
just one question, if you are unhappy about the price a retailer sells a second hand game, why are you supplying them the game in the first place or are you telling me your forced to supply a retailer stock?
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Shawn Zipay Community Manager, Total Gaming Network10 years ago
So GameStop doesn't stock a new system? Alright, people will just order it online from Amazon or head over to the Wal-Mart down the street.

It's not like there aren't tons of alternatives out there from where people can buy their hardware from. I really don't see this as having much of an impact at all, if any of these rumors turn out to be true.
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Kyle Simms10 years ago
Blocking used games is a terrible mistake on Sony's part and they should either squash or confirm these rumors because they're only going to get worse from here on in. As for the gamer "uprising" I have to call BS, unless Nintendo and Microsoft both try and pull this off there are other platforms people will flock towards and Sony will be supported by their "hardcore" fans and those still under the allure of nostalgia (ya know, the Nintendo technique). A possible boycott may start but it would have to be user registered in the millions to even be a bleep on Sony's radar.
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Andy Samson QA Supervisor, Digital Media Exchange9 years ago
"An absence of the PS4 at Gamestop would have exactly ZERO impact on sales "

Looking back at the "media format wars" retailers pulling out HD DVDs caused the Blu-Ray format to win the war. Then again it could also have been due to consumers getting confused what an HD DVD is.
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