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Everyday Legend avatar 2:35 PM on 06.17.2013  (server time)
How Does XBOX One Affect Independent Retailers?

This is the only image in this entire blog post, as I don't have tome today to go searching for little paragraph breaks.  I only have time to write, post, and GTFO.

Sorry 'bout that.


There's been lots of hate over the past week.  Some of it has been entirely justified.  But between all the torches and pitchforks about how the XBOX One operated and how it impeded the rights of the consumer who purchased it, nobody has seemed to ask a very simple question about used game or console sales:

Just how does this affect independent retailers?

Nobody has seemed to wonder how this is going to affect the hometown mom n' pop operation.  You have to understand, these are American businesses that have likely stood for many, many years, and they create their entire livelihood out of buying and selling new and used games, but they do not have corporate backing.  They probably don't have a franchise, either.  They're probably not blessed with two locations, they're people who know their regulars and have been their trusted source of advice and fair warning on many, many games over spans of time up to three decades in some cases.

And I believe these people are who have the most to lose from the sea change that is being forced into play.

We're talking about folks who have to pay rent on their storefront, who promote games and systems long past their lifecycles, stores that still hold treasures from their bygone eras and the systems to unlock their secrets to you.  They're not the "corporate partners" or the "preferred retailers" that Microsoft refers to, I can guarantee that much.  They aren't GameStop, Walmart, Best Buy or any other nationwide chain of big-box retailer - but I can tell you this, they are the stores that still give a fuck about a game or a system long after the planograms and window dressings change at the nationwide chains.  They're "done, done, onto the next one" while the independent retailer still moves forward, but stays rooted well inside the past.  These places are the only places you can find old games and old systems, as GameStop and their ilk jettison older systems, accessories and titles when they no longer provide the flashy sheen that sells to their "I want the new shit" customer, the customer indoctrinated on the culture that they themselves create and perpetuate.

And these places should be preserved by our industry, not destroyed.

Clifford Bleszinski made massive waves when tweeting this: "You cannot have game and marketing budgets this high while also having used and rental games existing. The numbers do NOT work people."  True enough, but this was said in defense of the XBOX One, a system designed to give an unprecendented amount of control and oversight to the publishers who spend this amount of money, and cutting off the used and rental markets that support the industry with more sales (rental games must be purchased  first, and used games can be bought with new systems / accessories / etc., and also supports the store that sells the new product).  

Instead of looking at how they can make a better, more sound financial decision with regard to how they operate their business model, they've decided to go after the used and rental markets as if they are the reason why they're losing so much money on their investments.  This is lunacy in its purest form.  This is blaming McDonalds for the fall of the caviar industry.  And they're wondering how these smaller games are making such giant profit margins, so the big-league publishers are pushing F2P options, and more microtransactions because "that's what we see that gamers want."  

What videogame players want is fun games without restrictions.  And what independent retailers want is to continue providing sustenance for their families by owning their personal small space in the industry.  And what the XBOX One threatens is both of these things.

You are free to disagree with me, but I will ask you to go do this: walk into a videogame store that isn't owned by a corporate entity with franchise rights nationwide.  Walk up to the counter, look at the incredibly rare Saturn games in the glass case, the Dreamcast brand new in the box, the Intellivision console up on the high shelf, and ask the clerk behind the counter (as the chances are good that they are the owner or like family to them, if not actual family) what they think about the XBOX One.  Ask them how they feel about being cut out by a company that still asks them to sell new product for them.  Ask them how they feel if the industry takes a sharp turn against them because publishers can't seem to stop outspending their means.

And then ask yourself if you can really support this.  If you can, then that means that you're okay with using toxic, nuclear waste as a simple pest control method for your lawn, and it shows what little regard you have for the lives of the neighbors who have to deal with the effects long after, and will eventually cause your entire neighborhood to become unlivable except for those who have no problem living in hazmat suits or have learned to like their new segmented eyes.  

It really is the same thing, when you come right down to it.  I buy 90% of my games from mom n' pop shops, because I like to support independent business, as it's about supporting their American dream.  Taking that away proves once and for all what kind of monsters Microsoft have the potential to become in the future (as if Microsoft's involvement in PRISM doesn't already scare you so horribly that you start seriously contemplating a switch to Linux), so consider taking a closer look at how that affects the present, and if the numbers you're hearing from the industry mountaintop isn't one hundred percent bullshit meant to force you into supporting the major players as they gut the industry alive.

There are much larger stakes at hand outside of your ability to play Halo.

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