Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Game publishers. My rant for today.

Gameindustry.biz put out an article today titled GameStop: Used sales benefit the whole industry. I’ll paste it here because you need to sign up to view it.

GameStop's executive vice president Michael Mauler believes that second hand sales benefit not only retailers such as his own company, but publishers and developers as well, driving sales and keeping customers engaged with yearly franchises.

Speaking to Edge, Mauler explained that without the opportunity to cash in on older titles, many gamers wouldn't be buying as many new ones.

"I can understand the feelings [but] we've sat down with developers and publishers and really gone through the data," Mauler told the magazine's website. "I personally think there's a lot of benefit to the publisher. "A great example is sequels, where there's a large percentage of people who are just not going to spend $60 every single year without being able to do something. They'll look at their shelf and see ten FIFAs, Pro Evos or Maddens.

"Being able to take the older one and do something with it in order to buy the next version is really important to consumers. That drives new sales quite a bit."

According to Mauler, getting new customers involved with a series which they may not have invested in at full price also pushes sales of DLC, but initiatives such as EA's Online Pass, which encourage direct payments to the publisher in return for access to online modes and features, aren't particularly effective.

"Our data says that used customers play a lot less online than new customers. The number's very low - like 15, 20 per cent."

The reason for that, Mauler feels, is the diminishing attractiveness of online offerings as time goes on and the users become more core, increasing the experience gulf for new adopters. Instead, he says, second-hand users will invest in DLC, extending their game experience.

Mauler's thoughts are unlikely to coincide too closely with those of publishers, given the vested interest he represents. However, he also makes a point about scheduling which may find more sympathy amongst industry figures, despite its stronger phrasing.

"We the industry have done it to ourselves," Mauler says of the second hand market. "We take all the great releases and put them all in a two-month period.

"If you're an FPS fan, you look at all the games that are coming out this fall, and you'd have to be pretty wealthy to buy all of them. There are going to be people who buy Battlefield 3, and they're not going to have €60 for at least another month or two...they're all coming out so close together."

A lot of comments on the article were related to not liking how a used copy of a brand new game could come in a day or two after launch and that the publisher sees none of that money. I don’t know about you, but if I see a used game for a few dollars cheaper I still buy new. I don’t know if some nutball has jerked off onto the disc. Now if that game was $20-30 cheaper I might risk it, but $5? Nope.

Some comments got me irked.

This is the same argument illegal music downloaders made/make right?


Thanks for sharing Mike, and I wish you and your team luck since you seem to be sincere enthusiasts. However, I think that used sales can be molded to benefit the industry -- consumers, retailers, and developers/publishers alike -- but that they currently (Gamestop model) are abused in a way that undeniably benefits executives at Gamestop far more than they deserve while eating into potential profits that developers need to stop getting laid off so often in this industry. There are a lot of things that need to happen to make this industry healthy and ethical, but used game sales strategies and lack of regulations/norms that protect IP creators have allowed Gamestop to swoop in and profit significantly off of our work.
To others saying the consumer gets to decide: If we really let the consumer decide what price point they wanted to pay, then everyone would just pirate games. Maybe you think this is ok, maybe not -- just throwing out there what extremes can occur when free market justification is followed unwaveringly.


Someone send this story to all of the studios that closed down last year....oh yeah they closed down last year because of people kept buying there games used and not new.


http://www.PostalGamer.com: Used sales benefit the whole industry

Which is a site that is used to buy and sell used games to people, and they will pay the publisher a portion of the proceeds because: “PostalGamer understands how the current used game retail environment is damaging the industry”.

Really? Fuck you all. This is my response to the article I linked to above.

Where do people, and publishers, get the idea that they deserve money from used sales? Because they made the game and all of a sudden that means they deserve money in perpetuity? When was the last time you heard Ford or Honda whining they are losing money on used car sales and that used car lots are stealing their profits? What about Samsung or Sony complaining that people selling TVs in garage sales are no better than pirates? Oh yeah they're not.

Why is it that after more than 30 years of making video games, publishers are only now crying about used sales? The idea that its killing the industry is rather silly since used sales have been around since the beginning of video games, and since the video game industry is bloody huge and making in the billions every year their arguments are rather weak.

I can't tell you how many times I've bought a used game and then gone on to buy the next version new. I started Civilization that way and have bought every version, and expansion pack (sometimes multiple times) new, over the years. So while Gamestop's argument in this case is self serving, they are making a valid point. The thing about a brand new game being offered used so quickly after its released is that someone had to have bought it new, brought it in to Gamestop, taken either cash or store credit (which gives you more back), and if they are taking store credit there is a very good chance they are buying another new, just released title. Is Gamestop making profit? Yes they are. When is that a crime?

The next time you buy a used car, send a few thousand to the manufacturer for all the hard work, design, prototypes and manufacturing they had to go through to put that product out. Sometimes years in development. Do you feel that is fair? Because they can use the exact same argument as game publishers are using. It doesn't matter that the scale is different, the argument is the same.

I am sure someone would mention the, 'but you're just 'licencing' a video game, you don't own it' argument. If video game companies really believed this, why didn't they crack down on used sales 30 years ago? Why did it take lower profits for them to start making that argument? This is a money grab by publishers nothing more. Lower profits hit, not because of piracy or used sales, but because of a massive recession. If we ever get out of the recession then we'll see people with more disposable income and buying more games.

I’m not even going to go into how new games are the same price at retail as they are at digital stores, yet the costs are a fraction of what they are at retail. I believe I may have mentioned that at some point.

It really annoys me that more and more people are buying into the whole ‘licensing’ shtick. They didn’t stop it for man many years, so precedent has been set. I don’t think they should be able to claim ‘licensing’ now. Plus I do see a slippery slope with this, and I’d rather not start it off.


  1. So, here's what I gathered from this post : Once we hit the magic $20 mark, you're totally on board with buying something that somebody may have jerked off in to.

  2. Its at a point where I will risk it yes. However since I don't live near you, the risk is fairly small.

  3. Luckily, no creepy pervs live in Winnipeg...

    As to the actual point of what you wrote, I agree with ya. I do hope that very few people actually jump on the "Ooooo...save a whole 5 BUCKS!" crap that Gamestop uses, though, because that's just weak as Hell.

    I DO like seeing something with a model similar to what Postal Gamer uses, simply because it might actually cause the whole freakout over used game sales to just...you know...stop. And that'd be awesome. :)

  4. Fully on board with this rant. When you buy a product, you should OWN it. It should be yours to give away, resell, whatever. I refuse to play megacorps over and over and over again for the same product (though I happily pay for genuinely improved versions, which is why I've upgraded some of my DVDs to Blu-Ray).