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A Few More Pennies In The Jar


In the recent year or so, anti-used gaming schemes have become a big contention point in a seemingly activist attitude towards video games. Whether from the extremely ridiculous "single save" scheme from Capcom to the more common "online pass", publishers are trying harder and harder to stick their fingers into the pie of used game sales. In this little write-up I'm going to pay my two-cents and throw my thoughts into the arena.

Coming from a purely logical standpoint, it more than makes sense that publishers (developers too probably, but the publishers are the ones lighting up the room) would like to see some more money back from their investments. A potential 120 dollars from two NEW buyers would be just 60 dollars from a NEW/USED duo, can be disconcerting from a purely business of money view. While there are many ways other than these passes to increase new sales or get money out of used purchasers (here's looking at you DLC), the online pass seems to be becoming the de facto method by the industry, but herein lie(s) the problem(s).

For starters, there wouldn't be so many outspoken individuals if this was a completely logical idea. The publishers making such a fuss are already the ones that make the most money, which in turn paints them in the fat, greedy oil baron archetype and we all just LOVE those guys don't we? Their defense is that online servers cost money, but not only is this arbitrary with all the DLC they release, not all games have dedicated servers. Even the ones that do wouldn't suffer, as Destructoid's own Jim Sterling has pointed out, "two can't be made from one". A person who buys new then trades his game in also gives away his "slot" to play online, which is then purchased by the new buyer regardless of if he plays online or not, and if he doesn't that's essentially making things cheaper for the publisher anyways.

Online passes also have the potential of crippling the online community in the long-run and ripping people off if they don't have the knowledge of its current status. Who is to say that a year from now people will still be playing the game that the publisher just gladly forced an unknowing user into buying? That's money that did nothing. Could this be fixed? Sure, remove online passes when the population is dwindling. That poses even more issues though. When is it time to remove it? Would publishers even care? Wouldn't this just further hinder the longevity of these games?

As a whole, I think publishers and/or developers wanting more capital for their projects is a completely logical thing, but I also think online passes are the wrong way to do it. Make your games "untradeable"; if people like your games enough they won't throw them at Gamestop for store credit (which brings up the used market allowing new purchases but that's another story). Give more incentives to buy new than just "oh, well, if I buy used I'll have to pay for this completely stupid thing to get all the content the game was shipped with". While this argument seems to be completely polarizing, with people wanting to burn down these big publishers and people defending their right to make money of their own games, I think most people can agree that almost forcing people into this new policy of blocking content and all its potential repercussions is NOT the way to do it.
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About Konneryone of us since 12:18 AM on 09.29.2010

I've played video games ever since I can remember. My fondest memories are playing Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time on the SNES with my brother, but that's all negligible stuff next to my love for music. If it's music, chances are I find some way to love it, and I take in anything I can. I play multiple instruments, and I guarantee you I have better music taste than anyone you know. Oh, and I'm also pretty opinionated.
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