There have been a slew of next-gen rumors slinging left and right over the past couple of weeks, and none have irked the gaming populace quite as much as anti-used game measures. We've heard talk of it on both the PlayStation and Xbox side of things, so a widespread move could very well be a possibility.
But instead of crying about it, I'm going to try and find a silver lining in all of this mess. Now I know what you're thinking… Is this guy out of his mind? How could limiting the consumer's options possibly be a good thing? Blocking used games will single-handedly destroy retailers like GameStop, bring down rental services like GameFly, and prevent gamers from getting a game on the cheap for making a buck on what otherwise would collect dust.
Believe me, I hear you loud and clear. Blocking used games would have some serious consequences that don't swing in the favor of the consumer, but upon closer inspection, there are also a lot of benefits that should not be overlooked.
Developers Profit From Every Game Sale
You know those guys who worked incredibly hard to make the games you enjoy? Well, a lot of them are struggling to stay afloat thanks to used games. Today, the gap is widening between triple-A big-budget titles and small downloadable indie games, as B-tier developers can't seem to make enough of a profit to justify funding from publishers. So many studios have been closing lately, and while a lot of that has to do with the growing pains that our industry is going through right now, used game sales are certainly not helping the situation.
Those who buy a game used are contributing absolutely nothing to the people who poured their blood, sweat, and tears into crafting that experience. Instead, online sellers, GameStop, etc. are the ones who collect all of that profit. Call me crazy, but isn't something wrong with that picture?
So now you're thinking… Well, Alex, I see how this helps the game companies, but what do I get out of the deal? Sure, you may have to spend a few extra bucks to get the games you want new, but isn't keeping those studios in business worth it? A number of promising franchises will never be continued thanks to poor sales, and anti-used game consoles help in preventing that.
Online Marketplaces Will Naturally Be More Robust
We're moving towards a digital-only future rapidly, so it's only a matter of time when used games will no longer be an issue anyway. As such, we're going to see better online marketplaces in place to curb games' weaker presence at retail. Take the Steam Store as evidence. It is far more consumer-friendly than the PlayStation Store or Xbox Live Marketplace. As such, if either Sony or Microsoft opt to block used games, they're going to need one heck of a compelling reason to keep you hooked on purchasing games new, and I can see much of that happening in the digital realm.
Wouldn't you like a PlayStation Store that isn't clunky and incredibly slow? Doesn't a more streamlined and easy-to-navigate Xbox Live Marketplace sound nice? Let's face it, gaming consoles are no longer what they once were. Thanks to heavy online integration, these two platforms have become ecosystems, where the services are the main draw rather than merely the hardware. To put it bluntly, if Microsoft and/or Sony think they can get away with locking out used games, they better be able to compensate, big time.
Games Will Be Cheaper, Have Larger Discounts
Wouldn't you agree that digital versions of games on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network are grossly overpriced? Why would I spend $59.99 on a digital version of the new Devil May Cry when I can pick up a brand-new boxed copy for the same price (or maybe even cheaper) at my local retailer? It's asinine, and Steam has proven that. So, once again, if Sony and Microsoft are planning to block used games, they'll need to have some compelling sales to keep gamers from jumping ship to the PC gaming sphere.
Apple's App Store and Valve's online marketplace have done so well because of two things: competitively priced software and convenience. If the next PlayStation and Xbox can do the same, the worries tied to used games will be but a distant memory.
So what say you? Do I bring up at least a few valid points or am I losing my mind? Be sure to sound off with your thoughts in the comments below.