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RBinator avatar 11:07 AM on 05.29.2010
The Entitlement of Publishers: Used games sales pt2



For the second half of this c-blog, Iíll go more into depth when it comes to the various arguments from people, mostly other gamers, to defend the lengths that publishers will go to try to kill off the used game market.

ďA used game sale is a lost sale for the publishers.Ē
I feel this is an age old argument that applies to other subjects as well that doesnít hold water very well. This argument assumes that if someone couldnít buy a game used, then they would have brought it new. Now granted, some people would buy a game new if they couldnít buy it used. On the other hand, many people would just wait till the price drop, which would be less money for the publisher than if the customer brought the game sooner. Others would rent the game, trade it for another game, or simply not get the game at all. So in other words, publishers may only get some extra sales if buying a game new were the only option. A small difference, but not quite as big as they seem to be hoping for.

I feel that this is a form of entitlement. Publishers tend to act like they deserve every last penny of their games if someone as much as plays them. I have a feeling this might be a pretty big factor in why certain current gen games donít feature multiplayer on the same console, even if previous games in the series did. They said that some games are too powerful to handle split screen. They expect us to believe that?! How does that kind of downgrade happen for something thatís been common even going back to the beginning of video games? So the almighty PS3 and 360 canít do something that the Wii can this generation?

Itís like they want to reap Capitalism for all itís worth, but as soon as Capitalism works against them, they want nothing to do with it. Instead of taking the bad with the good, like customers tend to, they only want to take the good and not deal with the bad. Why do publishers deserve to get a cut of the profiles off the same game disc more than one? As far as I know, other industries have to deal with this as well, but they donít seem to be up in arms about it unless I wasnít paying attention. I feel this comes down to quite frankly, whining. Because the system doesnít always work like how they went it too, they throw a hissy fit at customers that used the system in a way that didnít totally favor them.


Some have even gone on to say used game sales are worse than piracy. WTF?!

ďDevelopers need the money to keep releasing great games.Ē
Well, maybe itíll be a wakeup call to consider what theyíre doing when it comes to development. This could mean theyíll have to do more with less, like figuring out how to make great games without putting millions upon millions of dollars into each game. Putting more money into a game doesnít automatic make it better, especially since a lot of that money is used for graphics. Iím not saying graphics are not important and shouldnít matter, but less money means they would have to focus more on game play if they want high sales. Not every game a developer makes have to be a huge blockbuster with a development time of three-five years. Square Enix must have spent tons and tons of money on FFXIII, but they managed to release lower budgeted games as well. So not every company has the money or manpower to develop multiple games at once, but the ones complaining about used game sales the most usually are big companies. If $10 or $15 games can prove to be great fun and cost a lot less than full blown retail games, why canít they do something similar on a larger scale?

ďIf you canít buy a game new, you donít deserve to play it.Ē
Excuse me?! What right does a customer have to tell another customer what they can do and canít do with their money? The money from a used game may not go back to the game industry, but it doesnít mean a customer still isnít allowed to use other legal means to get it. What, are gamers supposed to be saints that give fully back to every single game they play? If publishers donít like it, they can always find another business model; instead of acting like they can do no wrong and that anyone who buys a used game is the poison killing the game industry. In fact, they already are working toward other business models that become more of a reality day by day.

ďVideo games have a shelf life of a few months compared to other products.Ē
Compared to movies, books, and other media that people keep interested in a lot longer even many years later, video games tend not to do that, likely due to the rapid advancing nature of it. Even thatís not completely truth since there is the whole retro fever going on these days and older games being sold as downloads. On the other hand, how likely are you to find new copies of games from even five years ago, especially GameCube or Xbox games? Really, are you supposed to not just buy them because the developers and publishers wonít profit from them? Are you supposed to wait years and hope for a re-release, something that only a select few games will get?


ďBuy our games new and there will be cake.Ē

ďUsed games donít have the same wear and tear issues as other used products.Ē
People often mention that used video games can work just as fine as new ones. Yes they can, but not always. Just like how used movies are not risk free due to how the disc can skip parts of the movie, used video games are not risk free either, even to the point of failing to read the disc properly, making the game unplayable. Cartridges had it worse back in the days.

ďThe developers are just being nice to those that support them by giving extra content.Ē
Oh yeah, the same way that Microsoft is nice to Gold members by offering downloads a week sooner. Oh wait, Silver members just get the downloads a week later. The same way that content already in the game, but costs money for the 108kb download, is a way for customers to support the developers. Not to mention the ďchoiceĒ to pay for cheat codes that were free a generation ago. I had no idea being nice meant not offering the full game for full price.

Publishers will pass off the download codes that come with the DLC as extra content. Come on now, letís be realistic, is everything people say 100% truth? Of course not! Itís more like ďthis always was part of the game, but we blocked it off with a unlock keyĒ. Business, especially when greed is part of the mix, isnít 100% honestly. So between the time that the game gone gold and reached retail, developers had enough time to put in content worth $10?

The way I see it, publishers have been testing the waters for years, slowly building up to where we are now and where they plan to go. They are slowly getting people to accept spending far more on games or dealing with having less content for full price.


You could do a swordless run till you reached GanonÖ

ďThe content that was taken out and put up as DLC isnít vital to the game experience.Ē
Yes, thatís what the publishers want to hear, people being okay with slowly losing bits and pieces of a game that wasnít brought new. Why not just keep removing content till everything that isnít completely vital to the core experience costs more? Why not just take out all the side quests in RPGs for those that didnít buy it new? Brought Call of Duty used? Thatíll be $5 to unlock multiplayer. Rented God of War III? $10 for the non-standard weapons. Want that fancy car on the cover of a racing game? Buy it new or hand over $5.

Keep going and you could have a bare base game if you didnít buy a new copy and end up downloading the rest of it for $30 or $40. People may argue that it wonít get to that level, but even now, would we have been discussing something like this five years ago? Who would have thought back in 2005 that small bits of the core content would be missing for non-new copies? This reminds me when Michael Capps, president of Epic Games, got mad at used game sales and wanted to charge $20 on used copies in order to face the final boss in Gears of War 2. If you seen the final boss, would you want to pay $20 for a ďbattleĒ that lasts around that amount in seconds? This could become a reality in Gears of War 3 at the rate things have changed between now and late í08.

ďDonít like it, donít buy it.Ē / ďSpeak with your wallet.Ē
I donít think many people consider that if enough people do just that, than how will the developers make enough money to break even, yet alone make a profit? As proven by the boycotts alone in the previous year, many gamers donít resist buying something they said they wouldnít buy. I feel that publishers will keep seeing how much money they can get from people till they had enough. They need us, we donít need them, since without people buying their products, theyíll go out of business, but weíll just find other games or means of entertainment.

Often, this is just said as a cop out argument to not actually want to discuss things. All after, itís much easier just to act like people who donít like something donít have a right to talk about it than to actually debate the issue. When thatís all people can say without anything else to backup their words, itís a pretty good sign that their saying ďI donít like what youíre saying, so stop saying it because I have the right to tell you what you can say and canít sayĒ. Combined this with ďno one caresĒ, which is often when itís an opinion someone doesnít like, clearly does care if they give extra attention to it, and you have one of the many reasons I donít have that great of viewpoint toward the gaming community in general.

Even simply not buying a game wonít get the message across to many publishers. Theyíll find some other kind of excuse if their game(s) donít sell like they expect them too. They may push even further to get more money out of fewer sales. They could even fall back on developing ďsafeĒ games. Should that fail, they could always pled to gamers to buy their games, act like victims, and act like something is wrong with their customers for not buying their games. At the end of the day, theyíll still be greedy to the point of turning heads.



At this rate, I have a feeling that weíll be looking at another video game crash down the road unless the greed is toned down. In fact, I think there already are examples of core content (and not minor stuff) being put up as downloads. I feel like itíll be a matter of time where physical copies of new games cease to exist and publishers play entirely on their own terms by going full digital to cut out the middle man and without ever worrying about people re-selling. I would like to see more great games, sure, but I also fear my favorite hobby will become super costly and tear apart the gaming community even further.

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