Tech Guy's used game rant.
Posted on Sunday, February 12 2012 @ 18:39:35 PST
So video game developers and game publishers are b*tching and moaning about how used game sales are killing their profits. And now we have hardware developers considering the inclusion of anti-used-game technology that will lock a game to the first console it is put in. Nickson and Kane mentioned this whole issue is this weeks podcast and I just want to elaborate on it a bit.
First off, and this is something Kane and Nickson specifically mentioned, why does the gaming industry think it has the exclusive right to prevent consumers from buying and selling used merchandise? No other industry, that I know of (except the digital downloads industry, excluding mobile device apps), makes any attempt to violate the rights of consumers the way the game industry is trying to. Take the automotive industry: you can buy a new car or the same car used. In the case of the used car, the manufacturer doesn’t see a dime of the resell. And yet no one complains about it. The same goes for books. And movies. And CD’s. The gaming industry is trying to lock out the consumers right to decide if the item they purchased, at full price, is still worth that money after actually getting to fully try it out. And that brings up a good point: when the consumer buys a game, they have no idea if it’s worth the money or not. I don’t know about you, but the limited, half completed demos that developers put out, aren’t quite as good of a test drive as, say, test driving a car. When you test drive a car, you get to see ALL of the features, right then and there. With a game, you have to buy it before you get to know if you will be satisfied with it. With cars, and books, and movies, the consumer can, if they decide that the item wasn’t worth the full price, sell the item and recoup some of their money.
This consumer ability to ditch an item because it wasn’t up to par with their expectations forces manufacturers, writers, and producers to try and make their item worth keeping. When it comes to a car, it needs to be dependable, affordable, and have all the features the consumer expects to see. For books, the consumers expects a story that, when read for a second, third and fourth time, is still entertaining. Movies are the same way. Re-readable. Re-watchable. Re-drivable. And worthwhile to do so. For games, they need to be worth re-playing. But the gaming industry has started down the same road that the music industry has been going down for decades. This is the road of manufacturing media instead of creating it. These medias are creative in nature and when you start manufacturing it, creating a process that business execs expect be perfect in every way, you start to lose the whole driving force for consumers to want to buy the media. This manufacturing process degrades the creative process to the point the developers (or musicians), and publishers are churning out the same regurgitated crap over and over and people are getting weary of paying full price for these medias. Case and point: Call of Duty. And games of games. Seriously though, how many used copies can you find of CoD and of sports ***? I would bet that you can find significantly more copies of these games used, one month after launch, than you can find new ones.
So, whats the solution? Well, one solution would be to make it worthwhile for the consumer to keep the original, day-one copy of a game. I keep every game I ever buy because if I bought it, I like it enough to play it again. And again, and again, and again. For example, the Halo series: I love the story behind that series. I have played each installment at least five times, each. Why? Because to me it’s worth it. Why five times each? Because each is unique and has its own bit of unique story to it. (Call me a fan-boy if you want, I don’t care.) So then there are games like CoD. Most people who play CoD, buy it day-one, play the single player once, and then play the multiplayer, ad nauseum, until the next installment arrives. They sell the previous installment, buy the newest one and repeat. Now I’m not saying it’s impossible to like the single player mode of those games enough to actually keep them, but when the vast majority of your market is selling your game every time a new installment comes out, it would appear that you are doing something very wrong. Perhaps a multiplayer update and a single player extension should be DLC. Hell, make it relatively expensive DLC at about $25. At least then people would keep your games.
But really what I’m getting at is this: the content of media (games, music, movies) has become so diluted with the “hurry up and get the next installment out now” mentality that the overall quality, and ultimately the consumer drive to purchase and keep the media, has been reduced to near-nothing. There are a few rare gems out there (Super Meat Boy, Darksouls) that completely blow this mindset out of the water. These games have rabid followers thanks to the developers really pouring their hearts into it. If more developers and publishers out there would adhere to this sort of heart-felt-philosophy of creation, then perhaps the used game industry and the likes of piracy would diminish. Now, I can’t speak for anyone else, but when media is so good that I can’t get enough of it, I am willing to spend whatever it takes to get it. If my Xbox 360 died today, I would buy a new one just to play Super Meat Boy and Crackdown. That’s an extra $100 each, just to be able to play them again. Because it’s worth it.
This article was written by my colleague, Andrew McDaniel. It was posted here with his permission. Check out more of our content at www.everythingstentative.com (http://www.everythingstentative.com/). We also do a weekly podcast.