Be Gone! Used Games: From Rumor to Speculation to Major Possibility
Just recently, major video game industry websites posted rumors of the next generation Microsoft console of having plans to eliminate used games. At first, this seems like a greedy attempt to gain market share for total game sales, not including digitally distributed games; but what is Microsoft really trying to accomplish?
First of all, let’s talk about the used game market. Used games, for most retailers, are the most profitable sector of its total organization; they buy games from customers at a low, sometimes fair, rate and then sells the game for anywhere between 2-10 times their purchase price. For retailers, it is a gold mine and a staple to its successful business plan. Although this benefits them immensely, this takes a huge blow towards the actual developers and studios that created the video game. The developers of the video game are usually and most likely not seeing a single cent out of that used game transaction; so they initially came up with the brilliant, but not so brilliant idea of, one time use codes.
One time use codes are an incentive to those who to decide to pre-order or purchase a game new, either from the developer themselves, or an outside retailer. Most codes offer downloadable content or an online pass that is required to play the game online. Sure this helps studios recover some lost money that in my opinion honestly belongs to them, but it also has large potential to hurt their total sales by leaving published reviews, and word of mouth to fully decide for the customer if they will purchase the game at all. Also, there is a significant market of gamers who do not have online services with their home console, nor internet at all. So why should they be subjected to the dreadful one disc, one console/profile idea?
Yes, the ability to buy a used game to demo it or to save a few bucks is great for consumers, but it seems like we might actually be hurting ourselves in the long run. If a studio were to receive all profits of a game they created, then they would have more capital to start new projects, sequels, and to keep our game selection higher (we are all tired of just 1-3 good games to pick from frequently). The number of gaming studios that closed since 2006 was well over 50 (source kotaku), and I’m not talking about small time studios, these were all reputable studios that had a least one or two games created to be proud of. Who knows? Maybe one of those 50+ studios could have had a breakthrough last year and could have completely obliterated the Call of Duty franchise.
Now I strongly believe that there will not be used games in the future of entertainment systems. But, to have that accomplished, the vast majority of consumers must have high speed internet, not only at home but on the go. This brings up the issue of internet speeds amongst countries, and the service providers in each individual country. The steps these companies are taking appear to be going like this. Disc only > Disc with one time use code > Game download on demand and disc purchase > Games on Demand.
Microsoft is not really trying to hurt gamers, but to prepare themselves and consumers for the future of gaming/entertainment console. A few possible alternatives have been around a while and are showing up more often with better selection for demoing a game before buying it. Many studios release a small part of their game or offer a 10 minute download of its full game for consumers to try out before making the purchase.