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February 6
2013

Could Used Games Disappear From Consoles?

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But will they always be guaranteed?
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Edge online published information today that the next Xbox will require an internet connection to operate as well as utilize activation codes for physical copies of games. What that adds up to is no used games for gamers in search of a bargain.

While the information reportedly comes from “sources with first-hand experience of Microsoft’s next generation console” and not an official Microsoft release, the rumor mimics a lot of trends in recent video game sales. More and more titles from high profile developers/publishers like EA and Activision require activation codes for certain game modes, usually online multiplayer, as a way to grab a chunk of the used game sales they miss. Other developers, such as Sony, have licensed remakes of older games into collections as a way to put titles back on shelves with a “New” sticker. And frequent DLC content updates can bring in dollars for used games just as easily as new copies.

But apparently nothing is quite up to snuff if rumors like an Xbox barred from used games keep coming up. Sony’s next console has also been the subject of speculation that used games could be next on the endangered species list.

From a business perspective, the move makes sense. Every sale beyond the first puts money in the pocket of someone besides the developer as their rights currently only extend to the initial sale. Afterwards, the game is property of the physical owner, who can sell it as they please. Used game sales represent massive amounts of cash developers and publishers miss out on, representing about 40% of Gamestop’s sales. (Those numbers have taken a significant dip, however, due to digital sales and developer efforts to cut into used profits.)

Thus, barring used games entirely could open up a swell of new funds for an industry where even failures need to amass huge revenue to keep a developer afloat. But it could also be illegal.

Let’s not forget the court ruling in July 2012 that said the right of exclusive distribution for software disappears after the initial sale and that used licenses could be sold legally. Basically, that little activation code can be given to someone else without money going back to the developer because it belongs to the buyer, not the person who made the software. Granted, the decision was made in the European Union’s Court of Justice and has yet to result in a similar ruling anywhere else, but the precedent nonetheless exists. Microsoft or Sony attempting to gain total control over the used game market could result in a similar case.

And never count out the mod scene. Xboxes and Playstations that try to limit player’s ability to play games would almost immediately crack apart at the hands of the internet’s tireless pirates (pirate in the dashing rogue sense, not the stealing jerk sense). Even with modifications rolling out to open these hypothetical platforms, sales would almost certainly take a hard hit from customer backlash, especially if either Microsoft or Sony regulates used games and the other doesn’t.

The worst part? None of this even approaches the horror and problems with an always connected console, but let’s pray to our respective deities that we never see that.

So what do you, the customers, think? Would you buy an Xbox or Playstation even if that meant no more used games?

[source - Edge Online]
[ima via ©BrokenSphere/Wikimedia Commons]

12 Responses

  1. avatar Banim says:

    Having to be always connected to play single-player games is really ridiculous. Not being able to play used games is a kick in the nuts. Looks likely that if things keep heading in this direction, I’ll avoid the next gen of consoles entirely and just focus on PC.

  2. avatar Michael says:

    The always online gimmick is a death sentence for many. I bought diablo 3 thinking I’d be able to play it, yet my internet just isn’t fast enough to keep up with their demand. Diablo runs so poorly I can’t play it. So I know I wouldn’t be able to play my xbox if they went to that as well. From what I saw online, a huge amount of gamers are just like me in that regard.

    As for the no used games? If they even tried that, I’d never buy another microsoft product again. Sadly, blizzard proved they didn’t care about how many people they turned against them with their inferior product. I really don’t see microsoft caring either..

  3. avatar leap says:

    I would never buy a console from any company that used such dirty tactics, and I’d think twice before buying any of their other products in the future.

    I don’t think it does make sense from a business perspective. Screwing over your customers is never a smart move. If this happens I hope to see them suffer the consequences.

  4. avatar Miri says:

    I don’t ever connect my 360 to the internet. & I’d rather not have to lug my either net cable around just to play a game.

  5. avatar ecco6t9 says:

    The day these two things take over is the day I hang up the controllers and call my days gaming as done.

  6. avatar Stan Lee Cube Rick says:

    Yet another reason to skip the next generation of consoles. I’ll be over here on PC thanks.

  7. avatar Shin Gallon says:

    Oh darn, if that happened developers would actually get money from sales instead of glorified pawn shops like Gamestop! Imagine the horror of paying an extra $5 per game and all it does is ensure that people that actually MAKE games get money for it! The horror…the horror…

  8. avatar Rick says:

    Those types of tactics are expected of Microsoft – even Nintendo’s comment on the shipment delay of Fire Emblem: Awakening seems to echo this mentality. As they said to bereaved customers, “It’s available in the eShop”. I really don’t like it, but it seems inevitable that products like this will move to all-digital copies in the future. The only bright side is that it cuts down on the use of plastics and petroleum. Go green or gtfo? LOL!

    @Microsoft: Thanks, assholes.

  9. avatar freeyourmind says:

    @Shin Gallon: They already do get paid for it. That’s a lovely straw man, though.

    This is like auto dealerships or manufacturers trying to make it impossible to buy and sell used cars. It’s merely greed, and trying to recast the debate as about “making money from games” is a load of crap.

    • avatar Shin Gallon says:

      They get paid for the first sale, not any successive sales from other people that want a game. Used sales hurt developers, period.

    • avatar Shin Gallon says:

      Auto dealerships make their money from the financing you do when you buy from them, not the cost of the car. Your analogy fails.

  10. avatar fillerbunny9 says:

    while I stay away from Gamestop as much as possible and mostly order from Amazon these days, the idea that “pre-owned games are killing the industry!” is a bunch of bunk. what is killing the industry is homogenization and garbage titles. shovelware is abundant, always has been and perhaps always will be. there are games that demanded a big budget to focus on OOOOH Graphics! only to fail to deliver on the game play experience. there are the microtransactions designed to bleed a consumer dry on day one and for the following year. despite my annual income jumping in leaps and bounds, my game buying has slowed as time goes on. my library from the PS1 generation to the PS2 generation to the current generation has slowed. there used to be things I could count on plunking money down on, JRPGs, the newest entry in the big franchises like Castlevania, Resident Evil, Final Fantasy. instead I’ve watched them become watered down clones of other genre pieces. I don’t buy FPS so that right there omits a large chunk of the new releases in general.

    for every Dishonored, Valkyria Chronicles, or Kingdoms of Amalur, we’re getting a pile of garbage, such as 3/4 of the Kinect’s library, or all those mini-game collections for the Wii, or whatever trash is being shovelled onto the PS3. (seriously, outside of Ni No Kuni I think the last game I got for PS3 was Arkham City when that came out…)

    when I was younger I used to wonder how I would afford all the games I wanted, how would I find the time and money. now that I have more of both, I find myself wondering where all the good games are for me to buy. when I go to a large gaming section in a Best Buy or wander into a Gamestop, I look at the walls, and I just don’t see much worth my time. I don’t give two shits for online deathmatch with some twerp 1/3 my age screaming obscenities into his headset. I don’t really care for most of the online offerings out there at all. (though I’ll confess to enjoying the various options War for Cybertron had out there for a while, it got boring after a month or two)

    maybe I just don’t see the point in paying $60 to go through a game in a single weekend (looking at you DMC), maybe I am just too old to care about this month’s Gears of Halo: Call of Black Ops, and I know for sure I have gotten tired of the whiny young hero thrust into a game to somehow make it relatable to Japanese audiences. (Vaan from FFXII, and it wouldn’t shock me if the same weren’t the reason for Hope in XIII)I’m tired of games saying “Look how gorgeous all that stuff in the distance is! nevermind that the gameplay sucks and you’ll be done in 8 hours!”

    companies have been putting style over substance and are now paying the price for it. I just wish it had come to bite them in the ass sooner.

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