GAMING BLEND

Forbes' Erik Kain Supports The Death Of Used Game Sales

By William Usher 2013-05-31 02:54:33 discussion comments


Now, Kain, Kuchera and Biscuit all hinge their arguments on the “strong arming” of GameStop forcing price fixing onto the publishers, when in reality that isn't true at all. As I pointed out in my rebuttal to TotalBiscuit's piece, what's the excuse for the high prices on Origin, Games for Windows Live or Impulse for digital PC exclusives? How does retail prices in a different market affect publishers who don't even release their games as physical discs? You can see that with the price variances going as cheap as a $1 all the way up to $60 for PC titles...there is no ceiling and they can set the prices wherever they want.

There's this unsupported belief that digital console prices will drop because it will boost “competitive” pricing on the platforms, except EVERYONE misses a vital point in this argument: There is no competition for digital game distribution on console.

Before raging out or putting on fanboy glasses, think for second: What other channel distributes digital Xbox 360 games other than Microsoft through their Live Marketplace? Prices are high now and there's no reason they would shrink if they no longer had to compete with retail chains. You can't get Xbox 360 games from any other digital outlet and you won't be able to get Xbox One games from any other outlet. The same applies for Sony and the PS3 and PS4.

The argument of competitive pricing only works if there is actual competition like there is on PC. Valve's Steam is not contained within an isolated market vacuum, they have to compete with GOG, DotEmu, GMG, Impulse, Desura and Origin. Who is the digital distribution competition for Microsoft or Sony? If you have an Xbox console you won't have a choice but to buy directly from Microsoft and if you have a PlayStation console you won't have a choice but to buy directly from Sony.

Common sense tells us that if the walled-garden is controlled by any singular force there's no reason to let the leash hang loose. In other words you can expect prices to rise, not fall under a digital cartel operated by Sony and Microsoft alone.



John Riccietiello may have been a shrewd businessman but he was spot-on when he warned Sony and Microsoft about the long-term effects of exactly what I mention above. It's essentially the platform manufacturers strong-arming DRM onto consumers with zero benefit to the end-user.

Now, removing the purport of “reduced game prices”, the argument about the industry being better off without used games becomes silly when looking at the economic impact on mom and pop outlets that buy and sell used games, as well as the common practice of game sharing amongst gamers. Putting hard working individuals out of a job so people already working for a company that makes $3.50 billion a year aiming to raise profit margins holds no good end for consumers. Unless of course, everyone who buys, sells and trades used games are already making $3.50 billion a year?

My final point is one that I recently mentioned; a point that was articulated quite well by Boogie2988 also known as Francis the Nerd Rager. In his simple controvert against used game fees (while ironically trashing GameStop) he succinctly mentions that wiping out the used game sector will completely decimate the low-income gamer from the industry. That's not to mention the people without internet, who unfortunately won't be able to comment and support articles like this for obvious reasons. But why is this good for anyone other than the billionaires trying to strong-arm the industry?

I know the people who rack in pay checks that can afford to speak on behalf of used games going the way of vaporware haven't had to live through the times some of us could call "harsh", "hectic" or a "financial hell" that would allow them to give much thought about people who can't afford to buy every game new. But it sure does look sad when people are willing to give up their gosh-darn freaking legal right based on the first sale doctrine, which was put in place to protect you, me and every diehard, button-mashing, finger-swelling, screen-yelling, multiplayer-playing gamer out there to keep scenarios that Microsoft is trying to introduce and implement from going into effect. That's not to mention that we're also giving up the moments of game-sharing, lending, borrowing or experiencing trades with friends just so some billion dollar corporations can add a few extra zeroes to the end of their fiscal reports.

It's sickening.

As Michael Pachter points out, the used game industry isn't the problem, the problem is publisher decision-making.
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