You Can't Buy PC Games Used, So Why Do They Still Have DLC?

By William Usher 2013-01-08 16:59:18 discussion comments
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One of the biggest arguments going on in the gaming industry – well, technically it's an argument that never ended since earlier on in this generation – is that used games hurt the gaming industry. The argument came to a head once more after a patent Sony recently filed could see tech further down the road prevent gamers from playing second-hand copies of games on their system.

There are have been many instances regarding some within the gaming community from recognizable, not-so-recognizable and no-name sites, blogs, enthusiast outlets and forums chiming in on the debate as to whether it's a good thing or not for Sony to extricate used games from their future systems...even though Sony actually did come out and say that the PS4 would not ban used games.

However, those defending Sony's patent to prevent the use of second-hand or used games on a system have done so in hopes of saying that maybe it could buck some bad trends in the industry. Adam Sessler from Revision thinks that banning used games could boost profit margins, so that in turn developers won't have to tack on poor-man's multiplayer modes into games like Spec Ops: The Line or Mass Effect 3...or Dead Space 3, which has to sell 5 million or go bust.

Others have gone the route of what I like to call the IGN-to-EA complex, calling gamers entitled and whiny about complaining about the anti-used game patent and explaining how blocking used games can help publishers make even more money. Yes, because obviously, middle-class struggling in the economy seriously need to be paying out more money to billion-dollar companies like EA and Activision because they so desperately need it.

One argument has been that blocking used games could lessen the need for season passes, multiplayer passes, and even DLC.



However, the one thing no one seems to address in this whole debacle and defense of “the big corps need to make money” and “banning used games could help the developers” is that the issues that could supposedly be absolved by banning used games already exists in the mainstream PC market. You can't buy a digital version of Max Payne 3 used for PC, but it has more DLC than previous PC exclusives like Hard Reset, Terraria or Minecraft. You can't buy Mass Effect 3 used for PC but it still has a tacked-on multiplayer.

Now an argument could be made that multiplatform games have to make these amendments/concessions because they're multiplatform, so the PC version will also get whatever is on the console version. However, what would make that go away by banning used games? I mean, why would pre-order DLC stop when it's such a driving force in retail sales? And why would seasonal DLC stop when it keeps gamers coming back for more? And even more than that, why would tacked-on multiplayer stop if it keeps people paying for DLC long after the initial release of the game?

As the headline states, the PC platform doesn't have a bustling used game market but all the vices that people say will go away by banning used games still exist, from “on-disc” DLC to shoddy multiplayer modes.

In fact, in that Kotaku community piece where an insider from a top tier publisher answered community questions, one of the responses in regards to multiplayer had NOTHING whatsoever to do with used games, mentioning...
Elder Scrolls and GTA are mega-brands, so I wouldn't use them as common examples for the industry, but yes, multiplayer is seen as vital to a game's success. It's a way to engage your core audience for a longer period of time and potentially market additional game content. I personally love single-player games, but I'm old, so I'm not really the target market anymore :)

Even Yager admitted to Polygon that 2K's Spec Ops: The Line had a multiplayer mode that shouldn't have existed, but it was forced in there not to thwart used game sales but to keep people coming back in hopes of milking them with DLC.

The reality is this: even if used games didn't exist, you can bet your bottom dollar that games like Tomb Raider would still have multiplayer. And even without used games you can also bet your bottom dollar that games would still have DLC from the mouth to the bung hole. Heck, just look at all the expansions for games like The Sims 3...and let's not forget that it even had pre-order DLC for the DLC.
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