So, the online pass system being employed to combat used game sales is the big controversial issue right now. Only, there's an aspect to this issue that i am yet to read ANYWHERE.. A simple concept that i believe means many developers will actually make less money.
Let me preface by saying this is not about whether used games have a right to exist or not, this is about trying to predict the knock-on effect caused by implementing this system.
If online passes were immediately incorporated into all new games from now, perhaps it would be instantly successful. Used game sales may well be lessened, developers and publishers may make more money for their work. However, I don't think this is how it is working in reality. What we actually have is a large and possibly never ending transition period, where it is only the big name publishers that are implementing (and have the resources to implement) online pass systems and rewards into all their games.
So what, right? Those big publishers hand money down to their games' developers and that's awesome, right?
Yeah, but.... here's a scenario: 'Thelonius' goes into a store to buy a few games, he has about $90. He sees the two games he wants, one is Gears of War 4, the other is a game from a smaller, innovative developer that he loves. Both are available in the used bin but GOW 4 uses an online pass to gate off a chunk of content. What does 'Thelonius' do? He buys GOW 4 new and the other game used, where once he may have bought GOW 4 used (because he has no allegiance to the big name publisher) and the other game new because he wants to support the smaller developer and their innovative game.
If that example seems far-fetched, allow me to be more general.. If people buy more new games from certain publishers because of online passes, that means they will buy LESS new games from everybody else. Used games are still going to sell, but those games will become more and moreso, games from smaller developers that either don't have online passes or whose online pass is cheaper or unlocks less content. It adds another variable that a customer measures up when he or she values and compares products, a variable that has nothing to do with the worthiness of the game or the developer.
People will still play the same games they would have played, but i believe the distribution of which games were puchased new and why will shift dramatically. Developers that don't use a big name publisher will see an increase in used sales and decrease in new sales, i don't see any way to avoid this.
If the industry is really in trouble, which seems to be one of the main pro-online-pass arguments, is making the already richest companies richer (creating further monopolization) and not helping (perhaps even hurting) the rest, really the best idea? Is it possible more thought or regulation needs to be put into this?
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