Do I frequently visit Gamestop or some second-hand store looking for a discount off of the latest games? Yes, of course I do, and why shouldn’t I? Recently the industry has accepted this absurd notion that used games shouldn’t have the same basic features as brand new off the shelf products. Online passes and content locked on the disc are only some of the ways both developers and publishers have taken a wrong stance against this issue. It all comes down to money, or at least that’s the basic excuse that these publishers (corporations) have used to defend their stance. Bullshit. The gaming industry is easily one of the most profitable entertainment industries in the world, and who knows; maybe the universe. So in general, I have an extremely difficult time taking that argument seriously. It all comes down to this silly notion of entitlement, and whether as a consumer we actually own the products we buy.
Based on the actions publishers have started to take against used games and consumers, it’s apparent that we as consumers are not supported. This is somewhat amusing and extremely hypocritical of the industry. Take for instance the recent fight between the gaming industry and the state of California based on the sale of violent video games. Of course the main argument does have to do with whether it’s even constitutional; however it does provide insight into the huge double-standard that has emerged. Gamers and consumers alike were asked to step up and defend the industry, however when it comes down to it; the industry doesn’t even come close to repaying the favor to consumers. It’s a complete and unadulterated double-standard.
But let’s look back at the issue of money. Do publishers give up their right to extend their profits after the initial sale of their product? There’s no easy way to answer that, but I’d say yes. Those in the gaming industry shouldn’t have any special precedent over other entertainment mediums. I’m all for publishers earning an honest profit, however not at the expense of the consumer. Besides, gaming is a complex and young industry and there’s better ways to earn money after the initial sale; which doesn’t involve punishing the consumer.
What does this mean for second hand shops and businesses like Gamestop or Gamefly. Initially, nothing. As publishers and developers begin to accept this as the norm, that’s when problems will start to arise. Gamefly will die off incredibly quick since all of their business relies on rentals and used game sales. Which leads to another issue. What types of specifications will these online-passes have? Will it differ for each publisher? Will used-games be nothing more than an over-glorified demo? Also, what makes you think pieces of the singleplayer are safe? We’re already seeing Capcom and others locking pieces of content on the disc as DLC. I have no doubt that unless this issue is swiftly dealt with, that the entire game will have to be purchased again.
These types of practices are extremely disheartening, especially when its combined with the bogus DLC shenanigans we’ve been seeing the last few years.
What about the future of retail? Most people argue there will always be local places to purchase games, however more and more that doesn’t seem to be the case. Publishers have been increasingly keen on putting their product on places like Steam, PSN, or Xbox Live. The issue with this is consumers have yet to see any sort of benefit. I will defend Steam and a few other digital distribution services for stepping up and offering competitive and mostly fair pricing, however the console market must feel completely shameless. I love my PS3 and Xbox 360, however both services offer absolutely horrific and unfair pricing. Just take Warner Bros for instance with their recent pricing on DLC. Do you think they won’t do the same for full games? Even though these games are much cheaper to place on these services than retail; consumers will never see the benefits.
What do you guys believe? Do you think publishers should have a complete stranglehold over the market?
Let us know in the comment section.