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Why can’t game developers and publishers use their imagination?
Posted on Saturday, July 16 2011 @ 21:45:43 Eastern

I guess someone in the game industry has used their imagination at least once or there wouldn’t be a pass system for online games. Maybe you've heard of the newest one: “Ubisoft Introduces Uplay Online Pass [Update: Confirmed]” posted by Antony Severino. (gamerevolution.com/news/ubisoft-introduces-uplay-online-pass-update-confirmed-6753) Just as I know there wouldn’t be any video games if imagination was totally lacking, I know the online pass wouldn't be spreading if it wasn’t for a lack of imagination. EA, THQ, Sony, and now Ubisoft all have a pass systems for online games play. No original thought, just a bunch of me-tooism. Everybody and their brother is jumping on the bandwagon. The only justification ever given is game developers and publishers see no profit from used game sales. Well, DUH!

Don’t get me wrong, I feel for the game developers and publishers plight, but let’s be realistic they’re in exactly the same boat as everybody else. I mean if they were the only producer of a product that received no compensation from the secondary market, this whole “poor, poor pitiful me” act would hold up much better. Books have been sold and then resold for as long as there have been books. The author, the publisher, the bookbinder never see a penny from the used book store. The used car lot never sends money to Detroit (or Japan). Junk shops, pawn shops, thrift stores, consignment stores, vintage clothing stores, auction houses, antique shops and even art galleries make millions, if not billions each and every year all from used merchandise. They keep all the profits and nobody whines about it.

Yes, I know that books don’t have online play. But answer me this: Why do so many games have multi-player modes and even more developers are shoehorning them into their games? Because they want people to play their games longer. Why? So gamers won’t sell their copy of the game on the secondary market, and without the supply of used copies to buy, some will opt to buy new, some will rent, some won’t buy at all, and still others will choose to wait until they can get a lower price. Those who do buy a new game instead of waiting for a used copy will be lining the pockets of the game’s developer and publisher. Yes, more the publisher’s pockets than the developer’s, but the goal is still to get more money by selling more new games.

In fact the video game industry seems to be fighting a guerrilla war against used games retailers, and lets not forget the game rental business. Digital downloads are aimed straight at the heart of the used game market. As well as making more money for themselves from the sale, you are left without a physical copy of the game itself. Can you sell, or trade in your digital copy? No. Once you buy it it’s yours, unless you can gift it to someone else. DLC packs (i. e. Reefer Madness for L. A. Noir) are yet another thing game companies use to keep you holding on to their games longer, and an imaginative way to get more of your money at the same time. These pass systems for online games play are just another shot fired in this undeclared war.

Retailers aren’t ogres, they‘re businessmen, they will only charge what the market will bare for used games, and if they don‘t they'll be out of business. So as simple supply and demand economics dictate, if there are fewer used copies of a still popular game (i. e. COD: Black Ops) they can charge you more for a used copy of said game. But if they are forced to drop the price $10 (the cost of a online pass), you can be certain they will pay at least $10 less to the person trading in the game. This is all just simple economics, no more no less. The used game retailers are not, never have been, and never will be the enemy of the video game industry or gamers. Acting as if they are the enemy is insanity.

Instead of waging war on game rental companies and retailers of used games, why can’t game developers and publishers use their imagination? There is nothing stopping them, except maybe mental sloth and/or inertia. The developers and publishers ought to come up with more imaginative ways of earning money from the used games market. They could buy stock in the companies that trade in used games or game rentals. For that matter they could start their own company and get into the business themselves. Well, if they can’t think of better ways to profit from the used game market, maybe they could be more imaginative in who they steal their ideas from, for example the free to play MMO‘s with their micro-transactions.

Antony Severino pointed out in: “EA Shutting Down Servers on More Titles” (gamerevolution.com/news/ea-shutting-down-servers-on-more-titles-6737) “It costs money to keep a game's online modes operational, which is why every so often a publisher pulls the plug on the servers.” Even in this case more imaginative ways of earning money might have saved these games’ online play. Maybe the first year or two of online could be free, mixed with micro-transactions, and then they could charge everybody, new and used game owners alike, a small fee to keep the online play going.

Just like water sh*t flows downhill, unfortunately gamers are the ones at the bottom of this hill. I know this is more the publishers fault than it is the developers, but this whole thing still makes me want to scream: “Stop trying to screw the poor b*stard who wants to buy a used video game. ” If the publishers and developers used their imaginations a little more on the business side of the industry maybe we would all be happier.

 
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