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RBinator avatar 10:31 AM on 05.28.2010  (server time)
The Entitlement of Publishers: Used games sales pt1

With this c-blog, Iím gonna try something different, splitting it up into two parts because of how long it is, much longer than I originally intended. It should help for people to get overwhelmed with thousands of words and possibly not comment as a result. Should also help to keep things more focused.

Entitlement has been talked about a lot in recent years, mostly last year, usually because of boycotts that have yet to work. People talk about the entitlement of customers quite a bit, but here, I want to focus more on whom I feel acts entitled as well but donít get called out on it as much; publishers. I feel publishers treat people more as money bags than customers, especially these days. I feel like they expect customers to treat them with respect, but in return, they barely do the same, often pretending to respect customers.

So the new excuse for publishers to pretend not to be greedy and to blame on poor sales is used game sales. Okay so ďnewĒ in this case is about a couple years old or so. Notice how itís never the publisherís fault if they didnít make the desired sales? Never mind the lack of advertising and/or enough people simply not being interested in a game.

His karma is due to buying used games.

Just because a game is good doesnít always mean it will sell well. I know people donít like to see games they enjoy like Beyond Good & Evil or Psychonauts getting poor sales. However, does calling people stupid and such really help the rep of those games? Itís almost like such fandoms of great games that sold poorly act like elitists in a few ways. For one, they act like they have greater taste in games because those particular games werenít shooters or other mainstream titles. Second, they act like those who didnít buy the game somehow have lower intelligent than those who do. Just because you brought a great game that sold poorly does not make you better than the next gamer. If people are not interested in those two games mentioned above, theyíre just not interested and badmouthing them isnít suddenly gonna make them more interested. There are more positive ways to promote a game without having to come off as rude and elitist like writing positive reviews and suggesting it for those that ask what their next game purchase should be.

Have we forgotten about the recession thatís been going on for some time now? People left and right lost jobs, including many people in the gaming industry. Basically, thereís loss money to go around compared to the start of this generation. Itís like publishers want more money when itís a lot harder to get it these days.

At least this stops Nintendo from getting greedy on the DS, except the hundred extra models.

Why is it okay for publishers to get greedy, but not the customers? Customers may not be entitled to a publisherís product, but publishers are not entitled to a sale either. If publishers want to make extra money, people will defend them to the death, but if customers want to save money on a product, thatís no good. Now Iím not saying that being greedy is bad in itself, but lines have to be drawn somewhere. For gamers, the line is often drawn at piracy. Where is the line drawn for publishers? Thereís a reason why greed is one of the seven deadly sins and Iím not saying that to bring religion into this, but because I think thatís the best way to explain it.

No longer limited to PC games and music.

So it seems like console games are catching up to most PC games that have means to make resell undesirable. PC games already have this down to a science, especially with the increasing DRM not just to prevent piracy, but also to prevent used game sales.

EA, not content with no longer being the evil empire of video games, looks to want to claim that throne once again, kind of. I know Activision held that title last year, but would have they done this year toward that? EA are currently in the process of Project Ten Dollar which basically means that all their upcoming titles, at least starting in 2011, will come with a download code if you brought the game new, but otherwise will be missing some content that costs $10 to get if you rent or get the game used. I have a feeling this will only affect a small minority of buyers, which to the publishers, would be better than nothing. How many customers are even aware of DLC and how many will care to be missing out on a small bit of the game?

Weíre already starting to see examples of DLC that comes with a game if you have a new copy, but would otherwise cost some money to get. Youíre told that this is a thank you gift instead of likely being content disabled the last minute and put up as a unlock key. Right now, this only applies to minor content, but how much longer will it be before this applies to core content? The Saboteur is one such game that does this. Like many other things, this is carefully set up to make it look like anyone that complains is in the wrong. While a few features are included with the unlock key, the one that gets the most (and only) attention is the topless option. This makes naysayers look perverted and who wants to take such people seriously? Publishers are quite good at mind games.

At this rate, the digital-only future looks more likely by the day. Do publishers really expect to be rolling in the same amount of money in the event that games go full digital and can only be brought directly from them? Would customers want to deal with not being able to borrow, take to a friendís house, rent, trade in, or even sell games? What about the same price that may not ever drop except for rare sales? Do publishers consider that these customers may simply just not buy their games and leave them out of the money they could be making? Get too greedy and itíll backfire one way or another.

GameStop according to many people, especially developers and publishers.

Canít really talk about used game sales without bringing up GameStop. People have claimed they stolen money through used game sales. Excuse me? Stealing? I swear the meaning of stealing has gone all over the place. Even if you were to argue that selling used products is unethical, that doesnít explain how itís illegal. After all, stealing tends to be illegal doesnít it? Did GameStop found some amazing loophole that allows them to legally steal money? Just because you may like how GameStop makes money off used games doesnít mean they are stealing.

Thatís not to say Iím here to defend them. I know they give you crap deals on trade ins and sell used games for like 10% off new prices, but thatís more of an issue with GameStop itself and not used game sales in general. Would legal grounds would publishers have against GameStop? Even if GameStop could be removed from the picture just like that, what would stop other retailers from selling used games or people going to eBay, for example, to buy used games? Will publishers update the ToS for their games to state ďyou agree not to resell this productĒ?

Will publishers directly target game rentals next? For $10 in about a few days, you can play a game long enough till you get bored of it. Should Blockbuster be banned from having rentable games? What about GameFly, which I currently use to play about 95% of the games I do today? I managed to play and finish many games without giving a penny to the publishers.

Used games and rentals give many people a chance to otherwise experience games that they couldnít have or didnít want to drop $60 on. Maybe Iím poor, but $60 is a lot of money for the average game that I find low replay value in, especially without multiplayer. Another factor is that if someone is impressed with a game they got used, they may look at the other games from the developer and consider buying them new. Now that may not be very likely, but thereís that small chance which can help in the long run.

Part two of this c-blog will cover various arguments that people use to defend publishers that I feel get way too greedy only because they can get away with it and pass it off as not being overly greedy.

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