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Thoughts On The RE: Mercenaries 3D "Non-Erasable Saves" Brouhaha

resident-evil-the-mercenaries-3d.jpg

A few days ago, Hal posted an article regarding the "non-erasable saves" features of Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. The move has drawn a good deal of criticism from across the web, prompting a member of the Capcom team, posting under the name "Snow," to address the issue in the official forums:

Hi everyone. I know there are a lot of questions about the save data for Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, and we'll try to answer as best as we can.

First, here's the official statement:

'In Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, all mission progress is saved directly to the Nintendo 3DS cartridge, where it cannot be reset. The nature of the game invites high levels of replayability, encouraging fans to improve mission scores. The save mechanic ensures that both original and unlocked game content will be available to all users. Secondhand game sales were not a factor in this development decision, and we hope that all our consumers will be able to enjoy the entirety of the survival-action experiences that the game does offer. '

Second, here's the gist:

There was no intention of lessening the experience of the game. Essentially, RE Mercs was treated like an arcade fighting game. You unlock characters, levels, etc and they just stay unlocked as they would in an arcade machine. There was no hidden motive to prevent buying used copies. It's not some secret form of DRM. It's simply the way we designed the save system to work with the arcade type of gameplay.

I'll agree with Snow on one point: Using a non-erasable save system doesn't point to a "hidden motive;" if anything, it's a rather bald-faced one. I understand that this is one of those obnoxious "bottom line" considerations, and that Capcom is free to act however they please, as to what limitations they put on their games. It does not, however, endear gamers to the company. It's not much of a stretch to say that the video game industry, as a whole, doesn't care for the used games market. Providing a lower price tag than new games, coupled with the fact that game companies make approximately zilch from used titles, it's an understandable annoyance. Still, it's an annoyance that has been tolerated since as long as I can remember, and for those us us who aren't exactly awash in a sea of riches, used games are a great way to expand one's library.

More madcap ramblings after the jump!

So why make a fuss about all this?

For one thing, it's dishonest. Saying that "Secondhand game sales were not a factor in this development decision" simply does not ring true to the skeptical reader, particularly when the scant amount of evidence required to form such a conclusion -- the fact that the appeal of a game like Mercenaries, such as unlocking "characters, levels, etc," are rendered largely null for used copies, due to the save system -- is far more convincing than the implicit "Trust us, we wouldn't lie to you" in Capcom's official line. Secondly, it's just disappointing. The company has clearly gone out of its way to do this; as GamePro's Pete Davison notes, "3DS game cards are internally very similar to DS game cards, which use either flash memory or EEPROM chips to save data -- and the defining characteristic of both of these storage solutions are that they're erasable -- one of the "E"s in EEPROM even stands for "erasable." So we're left with a rather cynical move which, by any standard, has been done purely for the sake of profit maximization. Lastly, it sets a troubling precedent. On can easily fathom that this is the sort of thing that game companies wish would become the norm -- it is, after all, in their best financial interest -- but dare not attempt, for fear of drawing the ire of gamers, such as yours truly, who will accuse them of using swinish tactics to punish those who buy used games.

Perhaps the critics and I are blowing this out of proportion, and at the end of the day, we will find that nothing has changed. Still, I can't help but think that the self-evidently cynical approach with Mercenaries - going out of their way to makes used copies less appealing than new - is essentially Capcom's way of gingerly dipping its toe into the pond of d*ckishness to test the waters. In any event, I believe it warrants some discussion.

13 Comments

oldtaku said:

The biggest reason this sounds like complete BS is that it is so trivial to allow a save to be erased. Multiple save slots takes more UI work, so you can see why a dev would want to avoid that work, but wiping the single save file back to initial state is nothing but a menu item and 'ARE YOU SURE'.

So given that it's not a technical issue, what's left? Hurting used game sales or an actual desire to make a handheld behave just like an arcade cabinet. The former is a lot more plausible.

get over it people. either buy the game cos you wanna play it or don't because you don't.

rdm said:

I would NEVER by a game that was unreplayable.... even if it was, say, $5 or less. And this game is unreplayable, no matter what CAPCOM says.

rdm said:

I mean to say, no matter how pure their intentions (or not), they made their game entirely unappealing to me. It's a poison pill....

Shin Gallon said:

I'll be honest, Capcom has been in decline for years now, and this doesn't help matters. I'm gonna pass on this. Really the only game they've got coming out this year that I'll be getting is 3rd Strike Online.

tropicotropicotropico said:

People like Just the trick bring down gaming for everyone. Capcom can eat me. Capcom could have easily changed the way this game saves. Screw them, if they want to go down this road without rolling out a cookie for the consumer, then I won't buy Capcom games anymore. It makes me sad, since Capcom was one of my favorite game developers, but not anymore.

Mittens said:

Speaking as a collector who intentional buys new games from only certain developers (Looking at you, Atlus...lasciviously), I shall consider buying this game used--with all the features pre-unlocked. for

BlackRabbit said:

Seems to me that this ultimately negatively impacts no one.. If you want a NEW experience, buy a NEW game.

Charlie said:

I'm one of those oddballs who doesn't mind the different ways game companies are trying to fight used game sales. Capcom gets $0 from the sale of a used copy of the game, it makes sense that they will try to get you to buy a new copy.

Well said Charlie :)

Joe said:

Yeah, rdm, I remember when I came across a Frogger coin-op at the laundromat that already had high scores on it. Unplayable!

Yachirobi said:

There's this wonderful thing called the bargain bin that gives you all sorts of discounts when you buy games from it. Ever heard of those?

I agree that it's a sneaky thing that Capcom is doing. I also have to say it's a smart one. While I never want to see the used game market go away, I do think Capcom has a right to try and find ways to keep money in their pockets. This is actually a pretty fair way to do it. If you want to unlock everything in the game, buy it new. That way you're supporting the company that made the game in the first place. However, if you just want to play the game itself and don't care about the other stuff, go ahead and buy it used.

I buy used games like everybody else but I think we should all keep in mind that, as much money as game manufacturers make, they won't keep making games they don't make money off of. Don't turn down a good deal but know that if you love a franchise, you should try and buy the new games. Letter campaigns and Internet petitions will not keep the game series you love alive.

Ace of Sevens said:

Capcom does make money off used game sales, though. People are more likely to shell out $50 for a game if they can turn around and sell it for $30 in a few months. The ability to resell is part of the value people are paying Capcom for. Take that away, and people will not want to pay less.

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Ace of Sevens on Thoughts On The RE: Mercenaries 3D "Non-Erasable Saves" Brouhaha: Capcom does make money off used game sales, though. People are more likely to shell out $50 for a game...

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