Activision, Ubisoft, Bethesda Undecided On Used Game Fees

By William Usher 2013-06-24 13:49:50 discussion comments
Following the announcements from Sony and Microsoft regarding the step away from disc-based DRM, publishers have basically been left in a town full of angry gamers with pitchforks and torches wearing lab coats and monocles, leaving everyone to wonder if they will unleash a monster or if they will stay their hand? Well, the publishers are now biding their time before making a decision.

IGN gathered up responses from various AAA publishers to find out what they think about DRM'ing up used game discs or adding some mechanism for additional fees – a measure, I might add, that's already facilitated into the Xbox One's hardware and Azure cloud service – and despite gamers speaking up about the option of having used games at their disposal, some publishers aren't quick to step away from the idea of restricting used games.

Activision's CEO Eric Hirshberg first apologized for not having a definitively clear answer on the matter and then went on to say...
“Historically Activision is one of the companies that hasn’t charged for used games and hasn’t done things like online passes and whatnot. Our strategy as a company has been to try to make great content that people will want to buy and that they hopefully don’t want to sell. But that’s not an announcement or a future-facing statement. That’s just an articulation of how we’ve approached it in the past.”

Ubisoft's senior VP of sales, Tony Key, also chimed in on the matter after IGN tossed him the question about potential used game fees and restrictions, deflecting the answer a bit with a more diplomatic approach to the situation, saying...
“For us, we just want to figure out how we all can participate in making that a good thing for everybody. When we have another person with a game from one of our brands, what we have to figure out is, how do we bring them into our family? We have nothing to announce about used games right now. We’re still trying to get our heads around what the first parties are really saying and what they’re going to do.

We see both sides of the argument. We’re going to tread carefully before we make a decision that so many people want to know about.”

I think it's interesting that they talk about treading “carefully” as if they can't just do business as usual despite making money hand-over-fist with a few of their franchises. It almost sounds like they need to deliberate how to screw people over without pissing people off. I think it also speaks volumes when compared to Sony's own Jack Tretton, who simply laid it out that they weren't going to put any sort of blockades or restrictions on gamers for accessing used games on the PS4.

Bethesda's VP of marketing, Pete Hines, was a little more skeptical of the whole situation and aimed to keep it simple by putting the ball back in the court of the console manufacturers, saying...
“What I would say is that we’ll absolutely chime in once we’ve had a chance to wrap our heads around it. We need to ask more questions about what they mean by this and how that works and whose relationship is with whom. It’s more just like we want to make sure we know what we’re talking about before we start making statements like, ‘oh, we’re absolutely doing this or that.’ That’s the main thing.

You just have to appreciate that, in this climate, we’re reading some of this stuff too and going, ‘what?’

Hines also notes that it's more about “reading the fine print” and ensuring that no one is saying anything too soon before they get all the details.

Given that Microsoft completely reversed their policies for the Xbox One, I have absolutely no idea how this will play out with some publishers and whether the option for used game fees is even still on the table.

We all know that Microsoft's DRM reversal caused Cliffy B to become pissed off like a geriatric retiree who managed to get his ruffled panties bunched enough to twist his Jimmies, but I'm curious how many publishers felt the same way?

Let's just hope that when it's all said and done we're not looking at the dust settling into a DRM-filled marketplace where the first-party publishers are hands-off but the third-party publishers are charging through the nose cavities for every single aspect of a game.
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