GameIndustry Defends Used Games From The Hubris Of Publishers

By William Usher 2012-04-17 01:47:58 discussion comments
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A lot of people may not see it much as news, but a reputable site that caters to the inner-industry of the interactive entertainment business jumping to the defense of consumers is actually a pretty big deal. While GameIndustry.biz International is not as well known as places like Game Informer, VG 24/7 or Kotaku amongst gamers, they command a great deal of respect within the community due to their insight and information.

Recently, John Walker of GI.biz wrote a lengthy, pro-consumer piece correcting Mr Richard Browne who did a detailed article in defense of big publishers (and possibly console makers) who want to abolish used game sales for good.

Walker explains in great detail how there really isn't any evidence to support used games killing mainstream retail gaming (especially considering how long used games have been around). This follows rumors from the PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720 possibly banning the use of used games. However, Walker blatantly makes it clear why there isn't any evidence showing how used games are hurting the market, ruining single-player experiences, prompting for more day-one DLC and causing prices to go up, saying...
I'd suggest that the lack of any evidence is because the pre-owned game market has caused none of this, but rather the blame lays with the seemingly limitless hubris of the publishers.

The attempt to control - or even entirely obliterate - the pre-owned market is an attempt to prevent people from selling their own goods, to interfere with the free market, and to artificially induce massive depreciation of your own products. And when a game costs quite so much money in the first place - 45/$60 - it is no wonder that most people cannot afford to buy all they want at full price. And that is the point. This is a matter of how publishers behave, not what retailers and consumers do with the results.

It's an excellent point because as it stands in PC gaming, there are no used game sales, only piracy, but PC games from AAA publishers still release at a $60 price point. Modern Warfare 3 is still available on Steam at this very moment (as of the publication of this article) for $59.99. If there is no used game sales competing with Activision's release, why on Earth does it cost the same amount as a fully packaged retail release? It's inane that the pricing is even the same.

What's more is that every medium out there that caters to non-consumable goods has a second-hand market, and we don't hear Hollywood (greedy as they are) or the RIAA (greedy as they are) or clothing companies complaining about the second hand market anywhere near as much as video game publishers. That's not to mention that the video game market is a whooping $68 billion dollar industry, with the retail market alone making up for more than $22 billion dollars.

Walker sums up the debate with this tidbit...
The real cost of used games? It's enlightened customers to the fact that they're being charged a great deal of money, and so they've embraced a system that allows them to share the price among themselves. And canny retailers have realised it means they can keep selling the same product over and over, each time keeping all the money for themselves. If publishers want to see this stop, they need only lower the price of their games. They need to stop acting like the budgets they spend are imposed upon them by some mad wizard, and spend less on making great games. Or, they can just accept that people have the right to sell their own property, and attempting to prevent this is a grotesque abuse of basic rights.

I like the part about the over-reaching budgets...I never understood why games had to keep jumping in budgets after the initial R&D period for new console hardware. I understand first-iteration games on new engines (or new engines in and of themselves) gets expensive, but afterward we should start to see the prices falling, right? Wrong. Somehow sequels keep getting more and more expensive (or so we're told) and no matter how much a game sells it's just never enough to recoup investments, hence bi-monthly DLC, Online Passes for multiplayer and all sorts of other ludicrous DRM measures.

It will be nice to see publishers spending less money on marketing (I'm looking at you EA with your $747 million dollar marketing budget) and more time making good games. Dark Souls from Namco Bandai and FromSoftware didn't have a $50 million dollar marketing campaign, it wasn't built on some $100 million dollar engine, however it did turn a profit for the company and it was critically acclaimed, proving you don't need Hollywood sized production and marketing budgets to make games that gamers want to play.

You can check out the full article over at GameIndustry.biz.
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