Posted on November 4, 2010 at 9:18 p.m.
@AAA: Completely agreed with you. The problem isn’t used games. It’s the pricing model. If people want to argue that the price point allows developers to collect a greater percentage of the sales price (part of that money is going to the retailer, part of it is going to the publisher, part of it is going to the console licensees) and that lowering the price point allows developers to collect a smaller percentage of that money, that’s a debate I think we need to have. If those fees are inhibiting the ability for brick-and-mortar retail to price the games accordingly, that’s a debate we need to have. But I think a lot of people would agree that if video games were hitting the shelves at thirty or forty bucks a pop, people wouldn’t be so interested in paying five bucks less for a new video game; that if video games retained their value over months and years, people would be less likely to trade them in.
@Lynn: Thanks for the input. Nice to see we have someone with industry experience in the fray. I looked at the possibility of acquiring a GameStop job as kind of a learning experience, but I’ve heard way too many stories, and I’m not a shill. I can’t push products I don’t believe in. Would have been fired on the first day.
If I knocked something you worked on, don’t take it personal. My distaste for THQ as a publisher probably runs deeper than my distaste for Activision.
Hell, the distaste is probably the entire issue endemic to the developer perception of used games. There’s a reason I want nothing to do with the game industry other than “being the guy who rants about it”. It’s a completely thankless job. Yeah, the pay-to-own product IS a product. This is not a cheap hobby at all. But release a great game with a horrible camera? “This game sucks. I can’t play it. It has a horrible camera.” Sixty-plus hours a week to hear about how your efforts are irredeemable because of a single screw-up. And if you make it big, your bosses (guys whose previous careers revolved around maximizing the profit of a completely unrelated product) make all of the money out of your efforts. It’s bull.
So I can definitely understand the animosity over used games. Personally, I don’t buy them en masse. Most of my purchases are made at brick-and-mortar, and I can’t stand the way they abuse the packaging. I have no guarantee the game is going to be in good quality, and I don’t care much for the three stickers that have been laid on top of each other. And I’ll only go with used games on Amazon if they’re going to give me more than a couple of dollars of the new asking price. If not, I’ll go new.
As AAA mentioned, Battle.net cut into both piracy and used games by being the best option for the game’s multiplayer component. Sure, LAN offered better internet. But Battle.net sold “community” and sold it incredibly well. And then modders took that Battle.net model and parlayed it into ICCUP and Garena, smaller-but-superior emulations of Battle.net’s capabilities (namely in terms of latency).
Battle.net 2.0 comes out, and it’s an inferior version of Battle.net that’s more difficult for modders to crack. That’s it. Instead of making the service so good that you wouldn’t want to play anywhere else (as one of the Blizzard developers stated in interviews), they simply designed it so it would be a complete pain in the ass to crack.
The industry just can’t decide “well, this is now beginning to cut into our profits, so now we have a problem with it”. And it can’t decide “we’re going to eliminate the problem simply by revoking functionality”. Eliminating the problem isn’t the sort of creativity befitting of how this industry got to be what it is today. They should find a solution that benefits the consumer.
Rough comparison: The Korean e-Sports Players Association is the governing body for competitive gaming in South Korea. With their central support, they managed to turn Starcraft into a spectator sport. For the seven years prior to the announcement of Starcraft II, Blizzard Entertainment had little to no problem with this. They prodded them on a couple of things (told KeSPA not to sell tickets for its grand final), but for the most part, Blizzard didn’t care. Then they announce the sequel. And then all of a sudden, it’s about “protecting the intellectual property of Starcraft”. An intellectual property whose legacy was fueled by those very competitive leagues.
Have to see what happens. Assuming the Ninth Court ruling doesn’t get overturned, “retailers give a cut” seems more likely than “banned used video games” or “nothing changes”. If this had been a problem from the get-go, I’d probably sympathize and side with the developers (assuming the money made from this endeavor doesn’t skip the developers and move right up the chain to shareholders and corporate). But after ignoring it for fifteen years? No dice.
(By the way, if I knocked on any of your products, don’t take it personal. My distaste for THQ as a publisher probably runs deeper than my distaste for Activision. I can’t get behind a publisher that has that LJN vibe to it, the publisher that scrambles to secure a license on any popular television franchise simply because it has a chance of selling.)