Friday, 30 March 2012

More Backlash and Rumours Against Used Gaming

Are you getting a sense of deja vu? Same here.

I can't help but feel that I must be starting to sound like a broken record at this point; but when the same issues keep coming up time and time again it's impossible to avoid commenting on them, so here we go ... again.

First and more briefly I'd like to comment on the current rumours of the next generation Sony offering, currently going under the codename "Orbis" because I guess for some reason Sony wants us to think that the damned thing isn't just going to be called the Playstation 4 when it comes out. Anyways, according to some rumours (which again I stress are only rumours at this point and time) suggest that this console will not be backwards compatible whatsoever, and on top of that will also prevent used sales by locking games "to a single PSN account" and enforcing this by making sure that "users will be forced to be connected to the PSN to boot up their games."

Where can I even begin? First of all the backwards compatibility of the Playstation 2 & 3 (although of course the full backwards compatibility was limited to early generation iterations of 3 only, for some reason) are part of the reasons why people bought the thing to begin with. It certainly weighed heavily in my decision to purchase one. If Sony is not only going to take that feature away, but also prevent people from buying used by forcing them to connect to PSN -- so far it doesn't seem that they're implementing a "you must always be connected" a la Ubisoft type of DRM, but who's to honestly say -- then honestly, count me out.

I know that it's basically the same thing that Steam does for PCs, but that in my mind is one of the main factors that separates PC gaming from console gaming; with consoles you can buy used and play for a reduced price, and also keep your old games without having to have the previous generations. Without those advantages then why should I keep endorsing consoles when they basically force the same demands on me as PC gaming, but without the functionality, price range, and even malleability that PC gaming can offer? I frankly don't see a reason aside from some exclusives, and even those are becoming rarer and rarer these days.

The second thing I wanted to address is that yet another game developer is speaking out against used gaming (shocking, I know). Denis Dyack of Silicon Knights has gone on the record with the following statements:

"There used to be something in games for 20 years called a tail, where say you have a game called Warcraft that would sell for 10 years. Because there are no used games, you could actually sell a game for a long time, and get recurring revenue for quite a while. Recurring revenue is very key,"

"Now there is no tail. Literally, you will get most of your sales within three months of launch, which has created this really unhealthy extreme where you have to sell it really fast and then you have to do anything else to get money,"

The thing I noticed here is that Dyack mentions Warcraft, in other words, he mentions a PC game when the used game "problem" is almost solely an issue with console gaming. I could be wrong, but I'm finding it very hard to remember a console game with a shelf life that long. Certainly there are classic titles that people will want to experience and pick up, but those are often rereleased in collections, or as price reduced greatest hits titles. Also, the problem with the lack of a tail isn't related to used gaming, at least not in the same fashion that Dyack seems to believe it is.

No, the problem as I see it is that there's often an over-saturation of product on the market, and as often seems to the be case an underwhelming idea of what the term quality means. I also have to reiterate that I don't understand where all these developers and companies are coming from when they're seeing the used game market as a recent phenomenon; I remember selling my Game Boy and SNES games for cash (cash which, by the way, I spent to buy more new games, thank you very much), and although used gaming has probably never been bigger, it's certainly not just this brand new shiny threat to the industry.

I can certainly agree with Dyack on one point he makes: games these days are getting budgets that are completely out of hand. Sometimes it's warranted when it's a game in a long running series, but there comes a point when enough is enough. The idea though that used gaming is somehow killing the industry is still utterly laughable to me. Again if you want people to actually buy your game outside the gate, then why not at least try to make sure that the game is actually worth that much money in the first place. A video game is an investment unlike a book, show, or movie. It's something that's arguably meant to last for at least a little while longer than most, so if it doesn't should the developers and publishers be the ones at fault, rather than the gamers for actually wanting a return on an investment and then turning to used and discount to actual get a decent return from it?

Anyways, given that I'm just repeating myself at this point, I'll just conclude this week by saying this: I'll stop covering this stuff the second the industry stops complaining about this, so for everyone's sake can they stop complaining about it soon?

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