Penny Arcade Defends Xbox One's Used Game Fees
If you're unsure as to what this really means or how it applies to Microsoft's used game fees, refer to what Microsoft's vice president, Phil Harrison, tells Kotaku in a face-to-face interview, the quoted content comes directly from Kotaku's interview...
"The bits that are on that disc, you can give it to your friend and they can install it on an Xbox One," he said. "They would then have to purchase the right to play that game through Xbox Live."
The solution Harrison is talking about is called the Azure Cloud service. It's Microsoft's proprietary digital license acquisition, reacquisition and deaquisition marketplace portal.
If you have a new game that you want to lend to a friend but you don't want to give them your personal Xbox Live Master Account information, according to reports from both MCVUK and GameSpot, fees to acquire a new license for the game are rumored to be around $50 or £35. How on Earth is that consumer friendly?
Worse yet, the Penny Arcade Report feeds people an unconfirmed, false and presupposed postulation about prices coming down from the $60 limit for games, if Microsoft gets away with implementing this used game fee.
I'm not going to spend a lot of time debunking this because there's a more important issue to cover. As much as we all love Steam, just tell me how much Call of Duty games are available for, digitally, when they launch?
There are no used games to compete with in the PC market space (a $20 billion dollar space, I might add) so why the high price? Hey, right now (as of the publishing of this article) how much is BioShock: Infinite on Steam? Is the absence of the used game market for PC dropping AAA titles down below the $60 mark at launch? Oh, and how's that Games For Windows Live working out for you in the open market? Microsoft providing competitive pricing much? Right.
Barring a poor grasp of economics, the article's biggest stumble is that there is this poor misconception about the used game market cannibalizing the sales of new games. For about the hundredth time, this is a blatant lie and was covered in our own Top Misconceptions about the Gaming Industry. What's more is that used games are not deeply eating into the new game market as you're led to believe, and the proof is in the numerical pudding.
Now it's time to tear down the misinformation like the citizens tearing down the authoritarianism of the Berlin Wall: According to digital and retail trends, digital game consumption had risen to $10 billion in 2012, while (gasp) used game sales have dipped by 17.1% in 2012. Year over year, the used game market from retail sales are dropping. Let me repeat that, there has been a 17.1% drop in used game sales and a surge in digital media consumption. If you still don't believe the numbers and refuse to follow market trends, even Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter buried the rumors of used games killing the retail market when he pointed out that, at max, there is an approximate 5% cannibalization rate of used games on the new games market. And as the final nail in the coffin, Inside Gaming Daily reported that 70% of Gamestop's used game trade-ins go toward new game purchases, effectively fueling new game sales that directly resonates as revenue for publishers.
Last but certainly not least is a little issue of piracy. Yes the quote above is about piracy but I figured I would get to that last because it's a stupid thing to bring up regarding DRM. You see, piracy and DRM go together like a married couple who stays together arguing for 30 years and never separating, both needing each other in order to survive. It's like Sonny and Cher, Arnold and Stallone, or Rihanna and Chris Brown. The whole point of piracy existing is to break into things that aren't intended to be cracked. Thus, the cycle will never end. DRM is made to be cracked.
For a few examples, CD Projekt RED reported more copies of The Witcher 2 laced with DRM being pirated more than the DRM-free version, as reported by Tom's Hardware. Despite SimCity being touted as an always-on game, it only took modders just over a week to crack the game's code and enable an offline mode, effectively bypassing the draconian DRM methods. Heck, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was leaked early all because of Ubisoft's Uplay DRM, as noted by GMA News.
So why would Kuchera think that more restrictions would somehow prevent pirates, hackers, coders and security miners from cracking into Microsoft's private junk? I mean, it's not a matter of if it will be hacked but a matter of when. There is nothing that stands to be impenetrable to hackers and if they want to get in, they'll find a way sooner or later. Inconveniencing legitimate consumers with authoritarian services for the sake of stopping a few pirates is both misguided and ill-conceived.
However, perhaps I'm overreacting, perhaps Ben wrote the piece as satire and it was all just a purposefully misinformed and non-researched topic to give people a laugh? If it was serious then I feel bad for all the gamers out there who may be tricked into misinformation and a lack of proper rights that they should be informed about regarding these matters.
If you're actually concerned about many of Microsoft's policies and want to read up more on the Xbox One's consumer concerns, be sure to check out the complete consumer's guide right here.
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