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tijames avatar 7:27 AM on 03.01.2013
Used Games, Online Passes, & My Frustration.
I hate economics.

So I had this argument. Being the confrontational person that I am I went on pressuring the other person to make a stronger argument for their statements. Even though we did reach a consensus I still feel as though they didn’t see that what was important in what I was pointing out.

Let’s go back for a moment. So this is specifically about the used video game market and online passes and publisher control over “creativity”. Reading this to myself I feel silly for even getting into an argument about this subject, but that’s what happens at 2 in the morning while playing Mass Effect 3 on xbox live.

For the most part, I made the point that most games aren’t good creatively simply because they are funded by a large publisher, who is more concerned with the profit motive and market instead of making a quality game, but rather that they are great based on the creativity and work of the developers, an example of this is a multitude of indie games that are made with a studio of less than 5 people that are mostly self funded projects. That’s not to say that devs can’t be abusive with the way they use money to create games, but that’s for later when we go into Sega And Gearbox.

Another point is that Most of these large publishers complain about the used game markets and all the losses they have because of second hand sales of they products. I could understand if these arguments came from small devs who can barely fund their own games and can only survive by new sales, but this kind of talk only comes from large publishers. Their solutions come as an always on internet connection, registering your copy to a specific account and not enabling others who bought it used to play without buying a new license, and sometimes an online pass to incentivize a new purchase or force someone who bought the game used to buy an online pass to recuperate some of “profit losses” from the used game.

The part of this I spent the most time discussing was the need for an online pass and the reason consumers buy used games and the effect it has on the publishers. First point was, the publishers needs to survive and the used market is taking money away from them. My answer, Most of those used game were sold new the day it was released and the publisher already made their money on them. Anyway second hand sale didn’t cause them to not survive or go out of business. Most companies that have have shown to be because of bad management, but that’s debatable I guess.

Second point was, If there wasn’t a used game market, the people who would have bought them used would instead buy them new at full price. My answer, Pure BS. The main reason people buy games used is because they usually can’t afford it for multiple reasons and most likely wouldn’t have bought the game anyway so there is no “lost profit” from those people because they wouldn’t have bought it new in the first place.

Third point was, The online pass it put their to supplement the “lost profit” from used game sales and put it towards the cost of maintaining the online aspect of the game and anyone who doesn’t contribute to it shouldn’t have access to that part of the game. My answer, This is the point where it gets heavy. I point out that again that there is no “losses” from used game sales because they would not have otherwise bought them new and the solution doesn’t even cover most of what the game originally cost and is pointless. A comparison, they only make $10 or $15 from that online pass that someone with a used game purchased yet the a full price game is $60? Doesn’t seem to me as those its really fixing the problem of “lost profits” as is not an elegant solution at all.

I go on to point out that the online aspect of the game is included with the budget of every other part of the game and is paid before the game is even launched and is maintained not from the money they receive from sales, but instead from what the original funding was from the publisher’s budget. You can’t honestly say that anyone actually contributes to the cost of maintaining those servers and the bandwidth and expect people to be happy when you block access to them because they didn’t pay for what you expect them to. The money they receive from all the sales go directly to pay back the publishers for what they “already spent” on the game’s budget. Anything else is pure profit and all of these arguments for stopping used games and making everyone have an online pass to play comes simply out of greed and the profit motive of any corporation. They need more money than they already make and I’m personally tired of hearing about it. Although, you know I could understand if these kind of complaints came from a small publisher or developer because even with every sale they make they might not break even, but that’s rare to hear from them.

Either way, going to another point about game creativity. My point is that sometimes publishers only care about what will sell and not as much about the quality. For most that is true, but in Sega’s case I feel like they’ve become better than they were years previously. A example of this, a failed one though, is Aliens: Colonial Marines. A highly anticipated game that they spent a lot of money funding for years. We find out that the developer, Gearbox studios screwed them over by using that money and time to create Borderlands 2 instead and even shifting some of the work to another studio. This shows that sometimes a developer can be abusive and royally screw over just about everyone. I feel like Sega really wanted to make something great, but ended up letting fans down when they shipped something lackluster. And the problem was mostly about money and Gearbox’s priorities. Its so disappointing to see a developer that’s so highly regarded to be so shameful. Makes me glad that I never bothered to play any Borderlands game. Although Anthony Burch was probably the best thing that ever happened to that company. Just Saying.

I hate economics. End of my rant.

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