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View Full Version : Publishers Start to Aggressively Kill off 2nd Hand Console Game Market, So What Next?



squirrel
31-10-2011, 01:31 PM
I was so shocked by a piece of news from one of my friends who is a Playstation gamer. He angrily complained that Uncharted 3's multiplayer is bound by an online pass which is tied to the first PSN account registered, so that no second hand buyer can use that copy to go online. What the... I think Sony is selling games, not leasing them.

Please dont kick me out so hastily for talking something seemingly not relating to PC gaming. This news is actually having so much implication on PC gaming.

Back when Bioshock was introduced with activation limits, we have complained about this is violation to buyers' right. Publishers like EA keep using piracy fighting as an excuse for implementing such restrictive DRM. There are always speculation that publishers are actually intending to kill off 2nd hand market. Some publishers did publicly admit such intent, yet they try to keep distance between DRM and the topic of 2nd hand market. Now the picture is clear. They use DRM as a tool to deny our very basic legal right to resell the game, or to actually own the game. Come to think of it. If they shut down the activation server, they actually effectively confiscate our bought property.

Publishers offer prices for their games, and they use the term "sell". That means they sell the product to us, we pay for it, and we own it. The term "sell" has an explicit dictionary interpretation which is ABSOLUTELY not open to a second explanation. If publishers try to impose restriction on such rights by any means, they are cheating. Seriously, should we start consider such an criminal offense, and hold someone personally liable criminally? No, if we determine that such is a criminal act, we cannot let anyone get away under the cover of legal entity. Decisions are made by human being executives and board directors, not by machines.

Althea
31-10-2011, 01:33 PM
They use DRM as a tool to deny our very basic legal right to resell the game, or to actually own the game. Come to think of it. If they shut down the activation server, they actually effectively confiscate our bought property.
Uh... No. No. No. I'm stopping you there.

When you buy a copy of a game, you buy a license. You do not buy the game itself.

squirrel
31-10-2011, 01:39 PM
Uh... No. No. No. I'm stopping you there.

When you buy a copy of a game, you buy a license. You do not buy the game itself.

Trust me, I used to think it that way, too. But study the issue carefully, there is another term for software pricing schedule, called subscription. Application software like Adobe CS and anti-virus software like Macfee (do I spell it right? whatever) are offered under subscription, and may even come with limited period of usage. I had been subscribed to Macfee for 2 years before I switched to Avast.

Althea
31-10-2011, 01:46 PM
Why do I need to study it carefully? You've gone off on a tangent. Commercial anti-virus is paid for because of the high frequency of updates and software revisions, which are necessary to help protect a computer from viruses, not to mention as techniques improve so must the software. The same goes with commercial Adobe software. Smaller user base means higher prices.

When you buy a game, you only tend to get those sorts of updates with games with DLC releases, item shops and/or subscription fees, i.e. by and large MMOs, or rarely games with long-term appeal such as the Civilization games. Most games get a couple of updates and then that's it.

squirrel
31-10-2011, 01:53 PM
When you buy a game, you only tend to get those sorts of updates with games with DLC releases, item shops and/or subscription fees, i.e. by and large MMOs, or rarely games with long-term appeal such as the Civilization games. Most games get a couple of updates and then that's it.

Look, my concern here is whether publishers have the right to confiscate a property we have bought. They can effectively do so by denying you from activating you bough game soft. If they want to charge for new contents, they are in perfect position to do so. However, they are in no right eligible to restrict our usage of the bought software, the main program.

Althea
31-10-2011, 01:57 PM
Uh, yes they are. Whilst the legality of EULAs varies from country to country, they set it all out for you. They generally contain things about having the right to terminate your access to the software, about how you buy a license from them and so forth.

They don't come around to your house and confiscate the discs, case and manual, which is what you bought. They restrict your access to the licensed materials on the disc, which I personally believe they have every right to do.

If a contract ain't fair, don't sign it.

Drake Sigar
31-10-2011, 01:59 PM
I was so shocked by a piece of news from one of my friends who is a Playstation gamer. He angrily complained that Uncharted 3's multiplayer is bound by an online pass which is tied to the first PSN account registered, so that no second hand buyer can use that copy to go online. What the... I think Sony is selling games, not leasing them.

I don't know much about the Uncharted series, but I'm assuming it's primarily a singleplayer experience with multiplayer crowbarred in because there must be a multiplayer option in every game regardless of how much sense it actually makes, and your friend can play the singleplayer mode without worry.

This is the only situation where I have an ounce of sympathy for the corporations. When some dh'oine buys a second hand copy, not only do Sony not receive a penny, but that person also drains the multiplayer servers which Sony pay to maintain.You can usually fall back on the argument of potential sales, but when you're actively taking money from a company by using their servers I think a line has been crossed.

squirrel
31-10-2011, 02:04 PM
If a contract ain't fair, don't sign it.

Legal systems aren't always perfect, but we are keep improving.

Think of minimum wage as an example. One minimum wage legislation is in ratified and in force, no employer can legally offer wage lower than that level. Of course, employees can "voluntarily" agree with a lower salary with their employer. However, under minimum wage legislation, court cannot honour such contract, and employer will be held liable for the criminal offense (As least that's in China's law, and I think that's a good part of our legal system).

"Selling" is to sell, there is no second interpretation.

Rii
31-10-2011, 02:07 PM
It's an unfortunate trend, and one I fully expect to get worse with the next generation of consoles, but PC gaming is already far worse in this respect. Steam is basically Project 100%.

The only thing to do is to reduce the price you're willing to pay for games accordingly.

- $5 for being buggy on release
- $5 for 0-day DLC
- $10 for post-launch DLC
- $10 for intrusive/restrictive DRM
- $15 for inability to re-sell the game

And so on. With most AAA games it turns out that the publisher actually owes you money. The only games I've paid full price for in recent memory have been from Nintendo. They might not be keen on reducing their price of their games, but as those games are almost entirely free of the myriad diseases that plague the modern industry I consider it a reasonable trade-off.

Everyone else can join the bargain bin and/or I'll-wait-for-the-GOTY-edition-bin. Or the pirate bin. Or (worst of all for the industry) the I-don't-even-give-a-shit bin.

The corporate minds running the industry are basically strangling it to death by attempting to wring ever greater amounts of money from those who are willing to grit their teeth and bear the pain instead of encouraging more people to actually play their games by making them not feel like they're injecting themselves with herpes.

squirrel
31-10-2011, 02:16 PM
This is the only situation where I have an ounce of sympathy for the corporations. When some dh'oine buys a second hand copy, not only do Sony not receive a penny, but that person also drains the multiplayer servers which Sony pay to maintain.You can usually fall back on the argument of potential sales, but when you're actively taking money from a company by using their servers I think a line has been crossed.

If more than one player are playing online with a single copy, then yes that's exploitation. However, consider they are selling game, they are selling tickets to their server resources. If you sell your T-bond to another buyer, can the Fed deny to repay the second hand buyer who buy those T-bond from you?

And my friend commented so positively for multiplayers of Uncharted 1 and 2. I do not own Playstation 3 so I never try out myself though.


It's an unfortunate trend, and one I fully expect to get worse, but PC gaming is already far worse in this respect. Steam is basically Project 100%.

Warez groups are so active for good reason. I bought Chinese version of YS Origin (a Falcom action RPG from Japan). Turn out it is restricted by online activation. I have to download crack for it. Pathetic, I know. Ever since then I try my best to avoid any game soft restricted by such crappy DRM.

Cooper
31-10-2011, 02:43 PM
With regards to Europe:
Directive 2009/24/EC, Article 4, section 2:
"2. The first sale in the Community of a copy of a program by the rightholder or with his consent shall exhaust the distribution right within the Community of that copy, with the exception of the right to control further rental of the program or a copy thereof."
i.e: You can do what you want with the copy you bought, (other than make more copies except for backup or if necessary for operation) other than rent it.

Secondly, the EU treats 'computer program' as a literary work. Meaning it refers explicitly and specifically to the code, not the disk(s) or otherwise.

So, no, when you 'buy' software in Europe, you are buying rights, as a consumer, to that code (which also includes the right to decompile it if you need to make it work). You are not buying a 'license'.
EULAs have absolutely no legal status or court precedence in Europe. And are unlikely to - no publisher will take them to court here as they are very unlikely to win.

Online-limiting is simply a means of publishers to make sure they never have to defend the EULA. For example I've seen second hand Steam-only games for sale in some shops. Which makes them only useful for having the game data on a disk and using a crack and not just getting it all on a torrent... That or putting them on the ends of bird feeders to deter squirrels (it works, I know)

So, yeah, this does affect PC gamers and is nothing new, at all.

But it is a world away from, say, Quake 3 needing a valid CD key to work online.
For anyone old enough - imagine if your Quake 3 CD key was only valid on the first computer you installed it on?... Somehow this has come to be taken as a totally acceptable situation...

Giaddon
31-10-2011, 02:45 PM
Yes, I'm sure publishers the world over are seeing the outcry against DRM and also the success of Steam and are scratching their heads going "what the eff...?"

Publishers absolutely want to kill the resale and rental markets. If I was in their position, I would too. As the legal owners of the rights to the games, they can dictate whatever terms of sale they want. We can choose not to purchase. If you're frustrated at the limited access your money gets you, don't buy the game.

As has been pointed out, this is the norm for PC. I haven't been able to rent a PC game in something like a decade.

Questions of the legal rights of consumers RE: software are interesting, but can only be decided by the courts.

Kaira-
31-10-2011, 03:06 PM
I'm not sure how this thing is around the world, but here in Finland if you sell something as a product (i.e., you can buy the product, and not a subscription), it is a product and you have the right to resale that. How Steamworks/GFWL/etc-systems handle into this is quite interesting and there's been no lawcase yet, but I find it interesting that though Steam in its EULA claims everything you buy is a subscription, they are still marketed with word "buy", which would imply they are products and not subscriptions.

Somewhat relevant 'news' from US:
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2008/05/court-smacks-autodesk-affirms-right-to-sell-used-software.ars (boldings by me)


But as Vernor's lawyers pointed out, the distinction between a lease and a sale is based on the actual characteristics of the transaction, not merely on how the transaction is described by the parties. And characterizing AutoCAD as merely licensed, rather than sold, barely passes the straight face test. AutoCAD customers pay a lump sum at the time of purchase, with no obligation to make further payments or to return the software at the conclusion of the supposed lease. Even more damning, Autodesk's own website offers customers a variety of "purchase options" and the opportunity to "buy online" directly from Autodesk, with no indication that "buy" really means "license." Similarly, online retailer CDW offers customers an option to "lease" AutoCAD as an alternative to purchasing a copy

Giaddon
31-10-2011, 03:10 PM
I'm sure there will be a legal case around this issue soon: I will be very interested to see what the courts (here in the US) say about it.

R-F
31-10-2011, 03:12 PM
ITT: People who are the reason the game's industry is going to shit.

But, yeah, OP, the games industry is trying to have their cake and eat it. Selling games as a "service" and then having terrible five-day wait customer service to get any issues resolved, claiming they're a service and a non-transferrable license and then denying refunds etc.

If it ever went to court, of course, they'd be royally fucked as the courts would laugh their claims of "SERVICE SERVICE SERVICE" out of their immediately. In law, it's a product, not a service.

Ghil
31-10-2011, 03:40 PM
Even in Canada, These EULAs wouldn't hold, as you are buying a product, not subscribing to a service.

and UnravThreads is again on the side of the corpo, EUlA's and DRM included. o.O

Cooper
31-10-2011, 03:49 PM
I do wonder if UnravThreads is an employee of some software firm.

Else they're part of that odd form of consumer. Not those who are unwittingly shafted by producers/retailers, who don't think about it, don't realise it and frankly don't care.

But that odd brigade of consumers who not get on their knees and bend over for the owners of the means of production, but then thank them and then try to convince all other consumers that they too should just get on their knees and bend over, not because that ends up being the path of least resistance to get the product one wants as a consumer, but because, somehow, it is an obvious, given and necessary right of the owner of the means of production to gaze upon a line up of eagerly twitching arses.

deano2099
31-10-2011, 03:51 PM
Uh... No. No. No. I'm stopping you there.

When you buy a copy of a game, you buy a license. You do not buy the game itself.

In relation to PC games: arguably yes. That argument has been had to death. But we're talking about a console game, EULA, what EULA? The one I agree to when I don't install the game?

Personally, I think the publishers are going to win this one and two things will happen:

1) GAME and other specialist retailers will go bankrupt, as margins on new games are too small to sustain them and they're reliant on the pre-owned market. I don't have a huge amount of sympathy for them but that sure as hell isn't going to benefit publishers in the long run.

2) Regardless of if that happens, publishers will actually see a drop in sales. You can't create money from nowhere. People have so much money to spend on entertainment, if you kill pre-owned, you basically double the cost of a game for people who regularly trade in (if I buy a $60 title, knowing I can trade in for $30 later, the effective cost of that game is only $30 to me - often literally as I'll be trading it in to buy the new one at the same time).

If something costs twice as much as it used to, people won't suddenly keep buying as many games. They'll either buy half as many, or decide that gaming isn't as worth their money as the pub or books. Because that's what they're competing with. The only way you get more money in to the industry is to take that money off other things consumers spend it on. Other entertainment products. DLC is actually a reasonably clever way around that, as at around 5, they're not competing with other entertainment products, but with a sandwich from Boots or a coffee at Starbucks.

But making the actual game more expensive (which is what's happening here) will have an entirely different effect. Most people will decide that paying that much more probably isn't worth it (plus add in the investment cost of the console and maybe it's not worth buying one either, as you can't afford enough games to make it worthwhile). There will be some people who love games so much they will pay a lot more, but, ooh guess what, those are the same people who like games so much they don't sell them on as they want to hang on to them.

This already happens with Steam on the PC, but how often do people buy full-price commercial games on Steam? Steam's success came hand-in-hand with its fire sales. It's a perfectly reasonable prospect: I don't mind not being able to sell my Steam game on, because I got it at 50% off and that's all I'd have been able to get for a second-hand copy anyway. Note that the secondhand market for CDs and DVDs is so much smaller, because they're cheaper.

Althea
31-10-2011, 03:51 PM
and UnravThreads is again on the side of the corpo, EUlA's and DRM included. o.O
Snort. No, I'm not. When I buy a game, I agree to the terms of the publisher. If I buy, say, Skyrim then I'm agreeing that Bethesda will let me play that game as long as I use Steam. If I buy Dead Rising 2, I agree that I can play it as long as I use GfWL.

I've never agreed with DRM, I just see things differently to others.


I do wonder if UnravThreads is an employee of some software firm.
I'm unemployed, thanks.

Cooper
31-10-2011, 04:15 PM
Agreeing to and being legally bound to are not the same.

I also love that turn of phrase "Bethesda will let me play that game." Conjures images of a modern day Oliver Twist... "please, sir..."

Under EU law, it is perfectly legal to, say, download files which strip-out GfWL or Steam.
Or use a No-CD patch for that matter.

Same directive as above, Article 6 provides for the purchaser of the software to decompile and adapt it so as to "achieve interoperability of an independently created computer program." Arguing that Steam, GfWL, SecureRom et al deny interoperability is pretty straightforward.

I do not agree to keep the GfWL, CD check etc. bumpf that comes with a game the same way I don't agree that I won't rip off the cover of a hardback if I'm taking it on holiday or my commute and don't want the extra weight.

deano2099
31-10-2011, 04:32 PM
Snort. No, I'm not. When I buy a game, I agree to the terms of the publisher.

Nearly. When you agree to the EULA, you agree to those terms. Which may be on purchase (Steam) or on install (box copies) or on first connecting to online servers (console online games).

The second question is if that EULA is enforceable or even legal. The example always is, if the EULA says "this gives EA the right to your first born child" it definitely wouldn't be enforceable. There is plenty of legal grey area here.

What is fairly straightforward is that most current EULAs, even if they are within the legal bounds of the law, don't abide by the spirit of consumer protection legislation. Much of the current legislation people are applying was written based on business to business transactions, as that used to be the only place 'software as a service' existed. Legally business to business and business to consumer legislation has always been dealt with differently, the latter offering much more protection. There are no current consumer laws that were written with digital distribution and online game services in mind. There likely will eventually be, and it'll be down to the games publishers to lobby against consumer rights organisations for how this turns out.

And that, is why it isn't constructive to just accept the natural state of things. If we all just accept EULAs as fine and don't challenge them, then that will be the argument of the publisher when it comes to properly getting a legal system in place: we've always done it this way, why should we change now?

hamster
31-10-2011, 04:37 PM
So we come to this again. I have made extensive arguments in numerous threads/comments section in the past. It more or less boils down to whether games can properly be characterized as a license (or lease) or good.

One time (initial) payment. No specified duration, or condition, to termination (or conditional to indeterminate and completely absurd provisions). Historically, a thriving second hand market. Sold in boxes. Offers no continual value beyond the product itself.

hamster
31-10-2011, 04:43 PM
And that, is why it isn't constructive to just accept the natural state of things. If we all just accept EULAs as fine and don't challenge them, then that will be the argument of the publisher when it comes to properly getting a legal system in place: we've always done it this way, why should we change now?

Sadly, games are the political scapegoat for everything and every politician worth their salt are jumping on the bandwagon to score points with the public (I AM IDENTIFYING WITH YOU-I AM SHARING YOUR CONCERNS-I AM PROTECTING YOUR CHILDREN-vote for me) so the impetus really isn't there, sadly.

I also really hate it when businesses go for scare tactics and put a crapload of obviously unenforceable clauses on their T&Cs and pressure people out of their rights when it hits the fan. Shouldn't even be legal.

Smashbox
31-10-2011, 09:53 PM
Here's the real shocker for me:

Online passes have clearly accomplished something in the way of diminishing the perceived value of second-hand games, so it's no surprise that they are being used increasingly. Some games without multiplayer have even begun to use them - for example, the new Batman game will lock you out of a the game's prologue and one playable character's storyline (Catwoman).

The reason they implemented this scheme in the first place, arguably, is to combat Gamestop's (and other retailers') evolving business model wherein they give far more shelf space to used products.

In the case of Batman: Arkham City, Gamestop is buying extra online passes from the publisher, printing them out and including them with used copies of the game. What. the. fuck.

Nalano
31-10-2011, 10:24 PM
Sadly, games are the political scapegoat for everything and every politician worth their salt are jumping on the bandwagon to score points with the public (I AM IDENTIFYING WITH YOU-I AM SHARING YOUR CONCERNS-I AM PROTECTING YOUR CHILDREN-vote for me) so the impetus really isn't there, sadly.

Also scapegoated by politicians to score points with the public:

Chinese people
Mexican people
Black people
Poor people
Single mothers
Welfare recipients
Public unions
Homosexuals
Civic employees
College professors
Climate scientists
Illegal immigrants
East Coast liberals
Muslims

psyk
31-10-2011, 10:33 PM
Homerfront also does this and im sure other games do as well, got to love only complaining when it effects yourself.

sabrage
31-10-2011, 10:47 PM
I truly don't understand what makes game publishers think they are different than any other market in the world. Second-hand sales are a fact of life, and they shouldn't expect special treatment just because Gamestop has capitalized on that fact.

Skalpadda
31-10-2011, 11:42 PM
I saw something in the paper a while ago about a local library that wanted to let people borrow games. Sadly I have no idea how they were planning to do it or if it even happened at all, but it's funny to think how different a beast the software industry is to all other entertainment and education industries when it comes to these things.

Smashbox
31-10-2011, 11:48 PM
In answer to the original question: console games on the next generation will be tied to your account, a la Steam.

zookeeper
01-11-2011, 01:02 AM
The reason they implemented this scheme in the first place, arguably, is to combat Gamestop's (and other retailers') evolving business model wherein they give far more shelf space to used products.

I've never traded in or sold a game to a place like that, so I may not be able to speak to this with great accuracy, but do they not give you a paltry amount for your trade in and then turn around and sell the used copy for $5 less than the new one? Personally, I'd pay the $5 and get a new, sealed copy and if I want to sell it I'll go on craigslist. I get more on the sale and the buyer pays less.

But I guess gamestop is convenient. I guess.

deano2099
01-11-2011, 02:12 AM
I've never traded in or sold a game to a place like that, so I may not be able to speak to this with great accuracy, but do they not give you a paltry amount for your trade in and then turn around and sell the used copy for $5 less than the new one?

No and yes. You get a fair sum (especially if you take store credit rather than cash), but they sell it for a lot more.



In the case of Batman: Arkham City, Gamestop is buying extra online passes from the publisher, printing them out and including them with used copies of the game. What. the. fuck.
I actually quite like that, and was hoping that was the direction we'd go in when these things came in to start with. I mean, to the consumer it then makes no difference.


In answer to the original question: console games on the next generation will be tied to your account, a la Steam.
Thing is, if one of MS or Sony do this, and the other doesn't, they lose the console war.


I truly don't understand what makes game publishers think they are different than any other market in the world. Second-hand sales are a fact of life, and they shouldn't expect special treatment just because Gamestop has capitalized on that fact.
It really is a tough one. I agree with that, but then what other industries see second-hand goods sold in the primary specialist outlet for that product, with equal or greater prominence. Cars. That's about it. I do have sympathy for the publishers and I actually think online pass is the way to go, with selling stores passes at bulk discounts.

Anthile
01-11-2011, 02:48 AM
It's hardly a new development. Back in the 80s and 90s, quite a few games have been made more difficult for no other reason than to prevent people from just renting it to play through it on a single weekend. This is of course hard prove but it becomes evident once you notice that the Japanese versions are often significantly easier (because renting isn't really a thing in Japan, or so I've heard).
Battletoads is probably the most infamous example. It's almost unbeatable in the western version but the Japanese counterpart is actually a lot more reasonable.

sabrage
01-11-2011, 02:52 AM
I believe renting is actually illegal in Japan, but I'm basing this only on memory.

TailSwallower
01-11-2011, 03:01 AM
In answer to the original question: console games on the next generation will be tied to your account, a la Steam.

Indeed. I'm expecting Microsoft to go disc-less with their new console because every Blu-Ray they sold would give money directly to Sony. The only issue is that many people wouldn't be able to 'afford' the massive downloads.
But yeah, games tied to an account are almost certainly the way of the future for consoles. And they'll push it as a good thing: save games in the cloud (which Microsoft is launching soon), being able to access your games and your saves from any console, they might even claim it's cheaper by dropping prices a little bit - they won't have to pay for manufacture, distribution and they won't be giving retailers a cut, so they'd be able to afford it even if you take the extra bandwidth into consideration.

But yeah, I don't know how I feel about this situation. I'm all for consumers having access to cheaper options (and I've sold 2nd hand Xbox games before), but the way GameStop and others approached the 2nd Hand Market is potentially damaging to publishers, and thus developers... You know, the people that actually make the games that make all these people money.

cowthief skank
01-11-2011, 09:24 AM
I actually quite like that, and was hoping that was the direction we'd go in
when these things came in to start with. I mean, to the consumer it then makes
no difference.

Though I mostly agree with you, the game shops would probably reduce the payment to the consumer.


It really is a tough one. I agree with that, but then what other industries see second-hand goods sold in the primary specialist outlet for that product, with equal or greater prominence. Cars. That's about it. I do have sympathy for the publishers and I actually think online pass is the way to go, with selling stores passes at bulk discounts.

I tried to think of a comparison. Cars is the only one I could think of too - perhaps books? But the major difference with cars is that cars break - they need spare parts, authorised mechanics, etc. I've never worked in the car industry, nor do I own one, so could be wrong, but I imagine the manufacturer also makes the spare parts too, and gets a bit of money from the authorised mechanic?

Althea
01-11-2011, 09:33 AM
I've never traded in or sold a game to a place like that, so I may not be able to speak to this with great accuracy, but do they not give you a paltry amount for your trade in and then turn around and sell the used copy for $5 less than the new one? Personally, I'd pay the $5 and get a new, sealed copy and if I want to sell it I'll go on craigslist. I get more on the sale and the buyer pays less.
See, I think Gamestop et al work a bit like a pawn shop when it comes to trade ins. If they offer you $10 for a $60 game, and sell it for $55, there's a $45 profit... If it sells instantly. After some months it might drop down to $40, where there's a $30 profit and so forth. They have to cover themselves as much as possible. I'm not saying I agree with how little they give, but that it's likely just so they don't lose too much money.

Rii
01-11-2011, 10:07 AM
Indeed. I'm expecting Microsoft to go disc-less with their new console because every Blu-Ray they sold would give money directly to Sony.

If that were a major factor the later Xbox 360 revisions wouldn't have HDMI ... or DVD drives for that matter. And Sony wouldn't ship Android phones or Windows PCs. Xbox 3 will feature a Blu-Ray drive because there's no other realistic option. And yeah, games almost certainly will be tied to accounts. *sigh*

Bristoff
01-11-2011, 10:23 AM
Personally I've no sympathy for Game, Gamestop et al. They buy used games cheaply and mark it up to ridiculous amounts, without paying a cent to the developer or publisher. It's come to the point that these shops are now about 75% used games and 25% new, with that number only likely to increase in favour of used games.

While comparing used games to other second-hand markets is an obvious idea, it's fundamentally not applicable. The point with second-hand markets is, that you buy cheaper goods (often older models) for a significantly lower price. Games, and to a lesser extent films (but honestly, how many second-hand DVD shops do you see?) don't suffer from depreciation in the same sense that i.e. cars do. When you buy a used copy of Uncharted 3 a month or two after it's out, it's of the exact same quality that a new one would be. You could get unlucky and get a scratched copy, but then you just take it back to the store for another copy.

The console market is simply moving towards the digital market in the same way the PC market has for years, to the point where as others have mentioned, all game purchases in the near future will be linked to you via your account. And personally, I don't mind the second-hand shops going out of business. I doubt game publishers would actually lower the price of games even if the second hand market wasn't a problem, but the alternative would likely be the that prices went up in a attempt to combat the issue.

At least that's how I see it.

hamster
01-11-2011, 10:40 AM
I doubt it. With the price elasticities as they are I think something like $60 is already the upper limit.

I agree that the 2nd hand prices are a rip off (10% discounts??) but really since the market is receptive...guess you have to blame people for not knowing better. I personally find it quite strange. I would never buy something 2nd hand especially for that kind of price.

TailSwallower
01-11-2011, 10:56 AM
If that were a major factor the later Xbox 360 revisions wouldn't have HDMI ... or DVD drives for that matter. And Sony wouldn't ship Android phones or Windows PCs. Xbox 3 will feature a Blu-Ray drive because there's no other realistic option.

Hmmm, didn't realise how much necessary technology Sony was in control of. That's another reason for that entirely unlikely MicroSony (http://kotaku.com/5821752/why-sony-and-microsoft-teaming-up-on-their-next-console-makes-a-lot-of-sense) partnership to happen. I'd be interested to see what they came up with under those circumstances, but the monopolisation would be terrible for the industry.

Bristoff
01-11-2011, 11:10 AM
I doubt it. With the price elasticities as they are I think something like $60 is already the upper limit.

Arguably true, but then publishers would lower the money spent on the game (likely in the development) in order to keep the price fixed. Either alternative is not preferable.

deano2099
01-11-2011, 01:27 PM
Arguably true, but then publishers would lower the money spent on the game (likely in the development) in order to keep the price fixed. Either alternative is not preferable.

Sounds good to me.

Just to re-iterate, a huge number of people, especially kids, buy games on the basis of buy then trade back in later. The price difference for buying used or new is tiny, so from that angle it looks like killing secondhand would have only a marginal effect. But if you trade a game in for 40% of the new price, then buy a secondhand copy of something else at a 10% discount, overall the saving is 50%. So for people that do this, you're effectively doubling game prices. Think back to when you were a kid and imagine if something you liked suddenly doubled in price.

archonsod
01-11-2011, 02:43 PM
If it ever went to court, of course, they'd be royally fucked as the courts would laugh their claims of "SERVICE SERVICE SERVICE" out of their immediately. In law, it's a product, not a service.

Software has been classified as a service in most juridstictions since the seventies, so good luck with that one (you're kinda at the point where changing it is going to take a politician rather than a judge). Last time it was challenged in the UK was in the late 90s/early 2000s by Sony, who lost (they wanted to reclassify their games as goods rather than services).

Also note the EULA not being legally enforceable is a smokescreen. Not only are their precedents for it going either way, but in any arbitration the first thing a judge will do is look at prior agreements, which the EULA would certainly qualify as. It's one of the reasons even if a contract is found to be illegal you can still be held to the non-illegal terms.

Bristoff
01-11-2011, 03:42 PM
Just to re-iterate, a huge number of people, especially kids, buy games on the basis of buy then trade back in later. The price difference for buying used or new is tiny, so from that angle it looks like killing secondhand would have only a marginal effect. But if you trade a game in for 40% of the new price, then buy a second-hand copy of something else at a 10% discount, overall the saving is 50%. So for people that do this, you're effectively doubling game prices. Think back to when you were a kid and imagine if something you liked suddenly doubled in price.

I'm not saying the second-hand market isn't good from customer point-of-view, clearly it is as it's making more new games available faster, for a lower price, to people.

However assuming that you can get stuff much earlier than you used to, for a much lower price than you used to, without games having dropped in retail price, without it having some sort of detrimental effect on the industry is a bit naive.

In game developer and publisher eyes, you might as well be pirating those games in stead of buying them second-hand, the net profit for them is the same. Having the middle-man (Gamestop etc.) that isn't paying you a dime for your games, and who is effectively an ebay-wholesaler that's carving out a huge market for himself, is cutting an enormous amount out of your profit for actually making the game.

I'm sorry for the kids who are only going be able to buy 2 games a month instead of 4, but if it spurs an increase in quality in games, or if (a very big "if") it triggers a slight decrease in the cost of games generally, then it really is for the better.

Also, the shift on consoles to digital downloads in stead of game copies will likely see a rise in the amount of cheap, good, not-that-old games around. Exactly how steam has really good offers on decently new games quite often. People with less money to spend will just have to wait a bit, and not get all the new releases. That's the way it was when I was a kid too, by the way.

deano2099
01-11-2011, 04:23 PM
In game developer and publisher eyes, you might as well be pirating those games in stead of buying them second-hand, the net profit for them is the same. Having the middle-man (Gamestop etc.) that isn't paying you a dime for your games, and who is effectively an ebay-wholesaler that's carving out a huge market for himself, is cutting an enormous amount out of your profit for actually making the game.

See the secondhand buying market is a bit discomforting to me, but it's necessary to create a secondhand selling market, which is absolutely needed. You go to any town and a branch of GAME or Gamestation and there is always someone there trading something in. Those pre-owned games on the shelves don't come from nowhere, people have bought them in. And a lot of the time, they then spend that credit on new first-hand games too.

The thing is, you're saying the cost of making games has gone up. Which is fair enough. But there's only so much money going around. Publishers need more money, if we accept that, then where does the money come from? Doubling the price of a game (ie. killing the secondhand market) won't bring in twice as much money. That's not how it works.

It's possible, and maybe even fair, that the publishers could get hold of the money tied up in the large secondhand game margins that retailers currently hang on to. In theory, I think that's a fair goal. In practice, places like GAME are not doing well enough right now to deal with not having that money. The publishers could well get it, but they'd be losing masses of high-street visibility.

You can't just magic up more money. The industry has been growing by bringing in new customers but that's slowing now. We're starting to reach a saturation point, short of opening up entirely new markets (eg. Wii).