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GAME's rental plan not "legitimate," says Braben

Frontier Development's founder calls on industry to issue 'rental only' titles "as soon as possible"

Frontier Development's David Braben has cast scepticism upon GAME's upcoming plans to launch a videogames rental service, saying he doubted it was legitimate.

Earlier today, the UK retailer announced plans that would see a subscription-based mail order rental service offered for videogames, akin to that already offered by LoveFilm. Braben told GamesIndustry.biz that the industry would have to act immediately to release rental only copies or face "greatly reduced revenues".

"It's an interesting idea, I'm not sure it's legitimate," he commented. "I think we as an industry should support this kind of thing and we need to, as soon as possible, bring out 'for rental' copies."

"What we could do, much like the DVD industry does, is mark retail copies 'not for rental or resale' and have special 'for rental' copies," he explained.

"What we can do as an industry is make sure those rental copies have access to the sort of thing that is potentially going to be blocked out when the same game disc is reused - by that I mean the ability to do downloads and things like that."

"I think we should be supporting GAME in this and in order to do that we really want to bring in the concept of rental and non-rental copies," Braben added. "If [GAME] plans to do it with normal retail copies then clearly that's a bad thing because that's eating into our sales at already quite a tricky time."

He further commented on claims made by GAME that the rental service would act as a 'try before you buy' option for many consumers.

"Yes, they're trying to sell it to the industry so it doesn't look too much like they're trying to steal our lunch... It reinforces the issues that we've got to allow for. It really means we've got to take action now rather than later."

He continued: "To be honest it requires all of us [in the games industry] to work together in a coherent way... to make a really good service for the user. I'm not out to cause trouble for the consumer but bear in mind this will greatly reduce revenues if we're not careful, and it removes the differentiator between good games and bad games because the problem is none of these sales will be tracked we won't see the figures for the number of rentals."

"I think they're essentially dressing this up as something that is legitimate and backed by the industry, because we don't have rental copies at the moment - to legitimise the existing system, so called 'pre-owned', where there's really very little to distinguish it these days."

"If you go into a shop and take a new game to the counter you'll quite often be presented with an old game, because they don't have stock of the new games, where the price is only a gnat's whisker different."

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James Lee