Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My thoughts on the recent used games court ruling...

Happy to see the the recent legal ruling over used game software. I'm excited about what it could mean to console game makers if game publishers step up- as a group- and make some demands of the retail giants (Gamestop, Best Buy, Toys R Us, Walmart,etc.).

Now don't misunderstand. I'm not opposed to used game sales. I NEVER have been (contrary to what some will tell you). I think used games help the market- to an extent- and I think gamers should always get the very best deal they can get when buying ANYTHING.

And I don't disagree with the doomsday scenario Jim Sterling of Destructoid paints of what could happen to the game business IF used games are no longer sold: fewer new games sold because customers could not use in store credit to buy new copies. Sure, that's a possibility. And a bad one.

But I'd like to think this legal precedent could/would be used instead to either:

a- motivate publishers to force big retail into sharing profits with publishers on used titles (i.e. 'hey, you want to keep breaking the law big retail store? Fine...then cut us in'). This is the ideal solve so publsihers win, big retail wins (a bit less than they win right now but they still get to make gobs of cash), and gamers themselves never have to feel ANY change to their game buying habits. Check it: everybody wins!

b- motivate publishers to force open a window where games can not be sold used OR rented for the fist X months of release. THEN once the window closes, the games can be sold used and rented and the publisher gets a cut. In this case, everyone wins but the gamer who buys used or rents and thus- annoyingly- has to wait a bit longer to play. But this is the movie model and it seems to work fine for those folks.

A common, obnoxious game fan insult thrown at any game maker who voices that they don't like the current used game market system is that game makers are greedy. I hear that a lot whenever game makers bitch about used games. I hear that AND I hear the stupid 'first semester on the debate team' quality analogy comparing used games to used cars which simply doesn't hold up if you think about it for 5 seconds. But on the greed insult, it goes something like this:

'You game makers are greedy fucks! You charge 60 bucks for your games- which is way too much- and they are never worth that much anyway. How much is enough for you? You just want all of our money!'

Now sure, some game makers are very greedy and would sell their mother to the Taliban if they could turn a profit (and we all know who I'm talking about here). But most are not. Yes, publishers want to make money and lots of it. But that's just business. That's not greed.

And the consistent decline in game sales shows that business is not so good. Some attribute it to longer games- ala RED DEAD and COD4:MW2- keeping players from buying more games (aka if a game can last you 100+ hours, you don't need to buy another game for a good long while). Some say it's the free stuff to play on the net (why pay for anything when I get just as much fun- for free- from AddictingGames.com?!?) . Some say it's iphone and ipad games (that are not tracked with the NPD). These are all valid- and in some cases wonderful- reasons the core console business is struggling.

But many suggest- myself included- that a good percentage of the issue is that used games are ruling the roost these days and gamers- especially in a tough economy- are opting to save cash by buying a used game versus ponying up for a brand new one. And since a new game is the only way publishers and developers make cash on their work, well it makes sense why the industry is suffering.

So for me this legal decision is a GREAT thing. But only if publishers use it to force big retailers who sell used games to cut them in on the deal.

THEN we all win.

Well actually- truth be told- THEN the fight will be developers struggling to get publishers to include used game sales in their contracts. But that's a fight for a different day :).


It's 12:11am...

...and I know what I'm doing for the next hour or so.

Halo, Abba Zaba, and diet Coke! What could possibly go wrong?!?

Sure, I gotta get up early for work and to take my kids to school but fuck it, I can play till 1 or so and still get around 6 hours of sleep...that should be enough,eh?!?

Thanks to the fantastic help from Jose and Kristen at my local Gamestop for helping me secure a copy at the last second. You guys rock tons!