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Braben: used games are killing single-player games

2012-03-20 12:30:00·  2 minute read   ·  Jim Sterling@JimSterling
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Frontier Developments boss David Braben has been attacking used games for years, and he's still going strong with his claims. Today, he has blamed the used game market for the death of single-player games, tragically missing the point that his own dramatic words end up making. 

"It's killing single player games in particular, because they will get preowned, and it means your day one sales are it, making them super high risk," he claimed to Gamasutra. "I mean, the idea of a game selling out used to be a good thing, but nowadays, those people who buy it on day one may well finish it and return it."

He claims publishers are unwilling to greenlight story-driven single-player games. You know, games like L.A. Noire, Alan Wake, or Heavy Rain. All of which have been huge successes. His own game, The Outsider, is struggling to get made, and he blames it on secondhand games. 

What David fails to realize, however, is that this isn't the fault of used games at all. He names the cause of the problem himself -- hysterical publishers harboring melodramatic fears of the used game market. There are enough successful narrative games -- and enough failed online ones -- that demonstrate what a line of bullshit the whole, "We need online modes to sell stuff" thing really is.

Just like DRM, some tacked-on online mode isn't going to make or break a damn thing about your game. It's a clueless attempt at doing "something" to feel better about the current state of play.

The preowned market has become an excellent scapegoat for unsuccessful studios, especially since there are no definitive numbers backing up their claims. There's only speculation and assumption, which means they can point at something else to escape the many other factors that go into a game's ultimate retail performance. Meanwhile, publishers sell games at high prices, institute anti-consumer practices like online passes and sub-par DLC, then act hurt and confused when such activities weirdly don't harbor undying customer loyalty. 

Used games aren't killing single-player experiences. Short-sighted publishers are.




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