The War on Used Games Continues

First off, yes, every time I write about used games I am using that image because I think it’s awesome.

There is going to come a time when people who work (or worked) for large public companies will learn to shut their face when it comes to topics that tend to piss off the buying public. The customers. The reason for their working existence.

This is one of those times.

Richard Browne, a former THQ Exec, former Eidos developer and a veteran of the gaming industry of over 20 years, has unleashed his anger on used games in an op-ed piece on GI Biz. It’s worth a read. Here’s some of the juicer bits:

A colleague of mine brought to light how bad this has become just the other week. He went into his local GameStop and was point blank REFUSED the option of buying the game he went to get new. After pressuring the sales assistant for a few minutes he finally got his new game – but only after the assistant got his manager’s approval to sell it to him. That’s the state of retail today, and it’s not healthy for the consumer at all.

This is the type of stuff one would expect to see on a 24 hour news channel on a slow news day. There’s no way to prove what Browne says here, but as someone who has spent his fair share of loot at game stores, including GameStop, I have never heard of such a thing. Have you ever read an anecdote by someone who is “in the games industry” about how they went to a game store and the dumb as a stump store clerk didn’t know anything, and that person had to set the customer straight. That’s what this reads like.

An employee refusing to sell a new game and the manager being called out?

Come on.

The real cost of used games is the death of single player gaming. How do I stop churn? I implement multiplayer and attempt to keep my disc with my consumer playing online against their friends. It works wonderfully for Call of Duty – no doubt it can work wonderfully for me. The problem is, at what cost? Countless millions of dollars would be the answer. Let’s take a great example, one of my favorite game series released on this generation – Uncharted…

Browne goes on to talk about how adding multiplayer where it’s not needed is damaging. On this I totally agree. We have said as much here at NHS on countless occasions. But again we go back to expectations.

Used games have been around for DECADES. The gaming industry has survived so many waves of new pirating tactics and the evil that men do…so much so that these companies had the ability to go public and make shareholders some coin. Lots and lots of coin.

But it’s not enough. Laying the issue of tacked on multiplayer that damages single player gaming at the feet of used game sales makes absolutely no sense. It’s shooting in the dark.

This all started to crash when developing budgets went through the roof. The cost to make a blockbuster skyrocketed and thus did the expectation for the return on investment. Prices jumped to 60 bones. And for what?

Take Browne’s other scapegoat: Tim Schafer

The real cost of used games? Let’s take someone like Tim Schafer. Tim works his genius in the video game medium primarily through selling fantastic stories in fantastic worlds, and primarily these experiences are single player games. Tim walks into publisher X and puts his latest, greatest piece of work on the table with a decent mid-range budget. It doesn’t stand a chance.

Used game sales are the reason Tim’s games aren’t being made by huge companies with huge budgets? No. Schafer’s games are niche products, as brilliant as they are, that will not appeal to a mass market where selling 300,000 units isn’t enough. It has nothing to do with Joey NoJob buying a copy of Mass Effect 3 for $45, used.

Browne is so adamant about this that he supports the idea that Sony and Microsoft should not allow used games to work on the new machines. He calls it “the Nuclear Option”. Oh, it is that, Richard, it is that.

And when THAT doesn’t fix the industry’s bloated, self-important miasma? What then? What will be the next thing that “is killing the industry?”

Because right now, according to Richard Browne, it’s you. It’s you and your cheap ass ways during a monstrous recession that’s making companies fail, people to lose their jobs and corporate CEOs to have to explain how it all slipped away.

You and your habit for cheaper videogames.

Way to go. Nice job, gamer.

56 Responses to “The War on Used Games Continues”

  1. rhamorim April 16, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    You tell them, Abner!

  2. Plankton April 16, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    “The real cost of used games is the death of single player gaming. How do I stop churn? I implement multiplayer and attempt to keep my disc with my consumer playing online against their friends.”
    Oh man, I heard almost the exact statement over 10 years ago about PC games. Things really don’t change. For an industry that is all based on high-tech and progressive ideas, it harbours a lot of daft and backward people.

  3. Rob April 16, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    I wouldn’t be so shocked to find out about a Gamestop guy practically refusing to sell a new game. I have a Gamestop near me that on two occasions were suddenly “out of stock” on a new game I tried to buy that happened to be on their display shelf. They seemed to feint a half-hearted look in their magical drawer but to no avail. In the past they would have packed up the game that was taken out of the display box and sold it to me as new…which is another issue entirely..but not these two times. I was of course offered the games used in both instances. That’s not outright refusing to sell me something new, and it could’ve been legit, but it smelled awful fishy all the same and I refuse to go into that Gamestop anymore.

    • Michael Barnes April 16, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

      I don’t know Rob, when I hear about stuff like this it sounds like typical Gamestop angst and conspiracy theory…there’s just no reason for them to withold a sale, even with a used copy on the shelf. Unless there are secret commissions or sales goals going on, which isn’t impossible but it’s HUGELY unlikely that they would be secret.

      More than likely it was the case of lazy sales reps that just didn’t feel like looking…the rank and file reps, AMs and store managers don’t have any stake in keeping you from buying a new game, and at a corporate level there’s no gain to the company from any such policy.

      • Bill Abner April 16, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

        ‘More than likely it was the case of lazy sales reps that just didn’t feel like looking’

        Or it’s a fabricated story.

        • Rob April 16, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

          I’m reporting what happened to me at one isolated Gamestop store. I’m not saying the practice is running rampant nor am I saying this guy in the story is telling the truth..I’m just saying I’ve seen some fishy stuff at this one store when compared to my experiences at other Gamestop stores. Believe it or don’t believe it.

          • Bill Abner April 16, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

            Rob I’m sorry man, I wasn’t referring to your comment but to Browne’s story. I misread Mike’s reply as I thought he was referring to that too.

      • Rob April 16, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

        Very well could be. I know those guys are paid dirt. I don’t have any angst towards Gamestop and I have no problem going to other Gamestop stores, but that one left a bad taste in my mouth.

        Perhaps I’m a bit jaded because I worked at a CompUSA back in the late 90s as a computer sales guy and everything and I mean EVERYTHING was about selling the extended warranties with everything you sold since the margins on PCs was so miniscule. You could sell 100 computers in a day but if you didn’t sell enough warranties it would actually be seen as a negative. And that management would have no problem whatsoever in letting a sale go if it was clear that a warranty wasn’t going to be bought with the computer. I couldn’t take that environment and didn’t stay very long. I don’t know anything about what kind of margin a Gamestop or any other retailer gets on a video game sale, but the used stuff is huge profit. That’s why I still have the attitude that someone could be screwing with me when this type of thing happens. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but I’ve lived and seen these types of tactics in the PC hardware world.

      • Vexxin April 17, 2012 at 12:39 am #

        I worked for GameStop briefly (don’t judge me). I was never told to deter a sale, but employees were absolutely graded on how many of those used game cards they sold. We received no financial or benefits-related reward for this, but it was implied that it was the stat that could affect who the first employee to be let go should it come to that.

        I have worked for worse companies for sure, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary for a corporate environment. I might call them sleazy, but outright combative? Nah. Shame too, cause despite the low pay, it was awesome to talk about video games all day.

      • camazotz April 18, 2012 at 1:50 am #

        Absolutely. Gamestop has a vested interest in selling used copies when it can, because that’s how they generate churn….you can’t sell a used copy back to them until a new game’s gone out the door. Anyway, my understanding is that Gamestop employees don’t even get commissions for sales so the only motivation for selling to demand (or my pet peeve, getting preorders) is fear of losing their job.

    • Michael S April 17, 2012 at 1:43 am #

      Maybe the clerk only had the display copy and wanted to buy it themselves.

  4. Michael Barnes April 16, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    The game industry is commiting suicide and we need to help it die by buying as many used games as possible. Quit preordering, quit bending over for stupid shit like metal cases and unlockable shotguns. Quit buying DLC and don’t buy anything with an online pass. Just say no to these clowns.

    The sad thing is that industry folks are, at this point, outright lying about what’s going on and laying the blame on US. If people only buy 20,000 copies of Binary Domain in its first month of release, is it the fault of used games, piracy, or whatever…or is it that it’s an unexemplary title released without any compelling differentiator or _reason_ for the customer to spend $60 on it?

    As for the Gamestop story…that’s bullshit and I’d say it to him eye to eye. Don’t posit a fucking second hand story as proof of something. “My friend said…” isn’t very persuasive. And aside from that, there is absolutely no reason that Gamestop would refuse a person a new copy of a game and I would be willing to bet dollars to donuts that there is NOTHING in their corporate policy that suggests that their sales staff REFUSE to sell a new game over a used one. They may say “hey, we’ve got a used copy of this”. Or there may have been a situation where the game was on hold for someone (maybe even a staff member) and it wasn’t technically on the sales floor. We don’t know. But I do know that Gamestop will gladly take your money for both used and new games.

    It does come right back around to the fact that games business is killing itself with reckless spending, developers over-promising results, and exaggerated assumptions of the saleability of video games. Add in a growing contempt for the consumer, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. The time is ripe for a second crash.

    • MikeO April 16, 2012 at 8:18 pm #

      Preach it, brother. Especially your last paragraph, which I think is dead-on.

    • Azureblade89 April 16, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

      As a former gamestop employee for 2 years I take my hat off to you good sir. Browne’s so full of shit his last name is Brown. It’s true; Gamestop would rather you buy used than new, but no gamestop anywhere; makes commission on sales. When you drop 5 bucks to reserve a game, that just let us keep our jobs; 15 bucks on a subscription and 10% off? Keeps our job. Buying new vs used is totally up to the customer.

      I honestly believe the only way to cure the stupidity and wasteful spending is to let these “big” companies burn. THQ has made some blatant mistakes, Bethesda hands you the same damn game every time etc. Just dropped 15 bucks on Legends of Grimrock; in one day I’ve already logged more hours in it than I have Mass Effect 3. Let M$ and S0ny lockout used games, and watch them lose everything.

    • rainynight65 April 17, 2012 at 1:28 am #

      I think the industry is getting too big for its own shoes. They just have no business spending these multimillion dollar budgets on AAA games that then are considered a flop when they sell only a million copies. It seems that there is noone who actually gauges the market before setting the budget. A few studios and publishers get it very right – CDPR, Double Fine, Valve… When last did anyone hear them complain about used games? It’s the big publishers who overspend and oversell, only to get a wake-up call at the end of the quarter.

      Cut the budgets, lower the break-even points, reduce contempt for paying customers. Time for some shrinkage.

    • Raniz April 17, 2012 at 3:45 am #

      I don’t agree about the preordering and online passes – I just preordered Guild Wars 2 because I have been looking forward to that game ever since I heard about it, I have complete confidence in ArenaNet and preordering is my way of showing them that.

      As for online passes, I think it’s a good way for developers/publishers to earn some money on used sales – which I think they should do.

  5. serialmike April 16, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

    I agree with Browne. Im sorry Bill. I think you may be victim of going to your familiar store where they know you. I have been a few gamestops in the last 2 years and they do push the used really really hard. I have had exchanges of with my answers of no,no,no and finally i want the new game or ill get it at walmart.

    As someone understanding making product and selling that product which I created, manufactured, advertised, I would not want anyone selling it used in any mass quantity. Personally I dont see why this is such an issue. If I made the game I would simply stipulate no used sales or you get no new copies and let gamestop watch all the other stores sell it. and the pure profit game guides they make a mint on.

    I simply side with the creator on this ever single time.

    With that stated, While I like the new cosoles not allowing for used games the problem will swing from used game sales denting hte bottom line and killing companies to corprate greed. Where the companies will not go back and lower prices to where they should be at about 40 dollars a game unless the game has huge budget needing a higher price. This is where the real problem lies.

    Not all games by said company cost the same to make and thereby shouldnt be the same price at the shelf. The poor guys game that could sell 300,000 copies should simply be sent out for reviews with little to no advertising, and let it make what it makes at 30 bucks a pop. and if no one reviews the game and publish the review of egg smasher the game then perhaps they dont get a copy of my next blockbuster to review till its a budget title.

    • Azureblade89 April 16, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

      I thought you were trolling until I realized you were being serious. Now I’m sad. Simply put, people are broke. If a game costs 60 bucks and Joe Dirt only has 40 dollars to spend on it; well there’s a loss of sale. Either way Creator ain’t getting paid, and Joe is going home without.

      • rainynight65 April 17, 2012 at 1:37 am #

        And unlike (98% of) piracy, this is a *real* loss of sale. Here’s a person who was willing to spend money on something, found they couldn’t afford it, and went home without buying anything. Most of the pirates had no intention to spend money in the first place.

        The question publishers should ask themselves is, what’s better: 40 bucks made, or 60 bucks lost?

        • Rocklin April 17, 2012 at 9:37 am #

          A publisher makes no money from a used game sale. It all goes to GameStop or the equivalent.

          It’s the same to them whether you buy it used or don’t buy it at all.

          • rainynight65 April 17, 2012 at 11:39 am #

            If the person does not find a used copy, then they’re not buying anything.

            What’s fueling used sales is the high price point of new games.

          • Robert April 17, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

            The problem with your argument is that this is not the case. If i buy game X used there are multiple ways for the company to get reimbursed. This includes buying DLC, buying the online pass(which are BS!) and if i like the game the chances of me buying the next one or another game from that company increase ten fold.

        • Ominous Fog April 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

          Check out this article that I posted in my comment below. It provides a rather valuable insight in regards to Steam’s yearly sales. The gist of the article is as follows: When a game is heavily discounted on Steam, it brings in an entire pool of buyers who were never really interested in buying the game in the first place at its full price value. Thus, the developers are making a lot of money that they never stood to make in the first place, because these new buyers would never have paid full price. It’s basically a discount or die scenario that benefits both the devs and the players. A personal example: I play and love Civ 5, but I was never that interested in paying extra for the extra maps and Civs. Along came a massive Steam sale that put the DLCs at 75% off. So, I bought every single DLC out there. And guess what, now that I’m loving all this new content, I will 100% pay full price for the upcoming expansion.
          http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/how-valve-devalued-video-games-and-why-thats-good-news-for-developers-and-p

          Devs need to stop being so fucking greedy and realize that they don’t all deserve the $59.99 retail price. Console games are NEVER discounted, until they either hit the “greatest hits”, are monumental failures, or never make any waves despite the quality of the game. I for one am happy to be turning back to the PC as my next gen console. It feels right, it feels good, and I think I’m going to have a blast. Console makers (except for Nintendo, oddly enough), and the big dev houses/publishers have grown arrogant beyond words.

  6. VRaptor117 April 16, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

    Anyone interested in the roots of the war and really great view on where it’s headed should check out this guy’s blog: http://www.the-ghetto.org/content/used-video-games-the-new-software-piracy-part-one

    Yeah, it’s long. But you won’t find anything else that comprehensive on this topic anywhere else.

    TL;DR? It’s only going to get worse, with the endgame being complete publisher/hardware controlled digital distribution.

  7. Jeff Talor April 16, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    The PC game market basically eradicated used game sales. None of the Gamestops I shop even bother selling used PC games. The industry survived. Also I can’t remember the last time I paid more than $30 for a non-wargame PC title. PC gamers have survived.

    The next generation of consoles will go the way of the PC. Gamestop will probably go out of business, but the industry and the gamers will surive.

    • CraigM April 16, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

      One key caveat, open platform.

      The PC is an open platform where all can (theoretically) be treated equally. Steam is like a constitutional monarchy, one person in charge, and you don’t get to chose who that is, but you have great freedom within the system. They do choose what games go up on steam, but otherwise creators are free to do what they want.

      Don’t like Steam? Can’t get your game listed? Try Desura, or GamersGate, or GoG and so on. Hell you want to build the infrastructure yourself you can be like Notch and do all sales through your own distribution. Point being there is no one gatekeeper for PC games. So people can price shop, get deals, and face the benefits of competition.

      Translate that to Xbox or PSN, and it’s a different game. Direct download and other factors killed second hand PC markets, but PC has thrived because of those competing factors. Kill the used console market though and I envision a different scenario. With MS and Sony being what they are do not expect the consumer friendly environment that has sprung up around PC. Expect $60 new purchases with no resale value, and games selling for $60 a year or two down the line as well. There won’t be the sales you see on Steam, like you don’t get free DLC on Xbox live now. It’s for the same reason that MS charges 5 figures for patches.

      Basically the factors that made the death of used PC sales, don’t expect that to work in a closed console environment.

    • Rindis April 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

      “None of the Gamestops I shop even bother selling used PC games.”

      Last I saw, you could cut the word ‘used’ out of that sentence….

  8. nicthaninja April 16, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    Schafer doesn’t sell cause his games suck and are way overrated by some journalist imo. It sometimes seems like the critics are trying to be hipster in liking his games.

    On the gamestop issue as a former 3rd key who made $9.50 an hour I’d always ask if the customer wanted the used copy if we had one available. If they said no I’d sell them the new one. I also asked if you wanted a subscription to Game Informer so they could save 10% on all used game purchases oh and preorders and if they had trade-ins. It’s how the business works. You are walking into a glorified pawn shop.

  9. tgb April 16, 2012 at 8:10 pm #

    I would just like to say that I’m doing my part for the industry by only purchasing items during Steam sales at an 80% discount. But they’re not used games.

  10. Snwbrdrgnu76 April 16, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    Currently, a game fails in profits and the customer gets blamed because we don’t want to pay retail price. After used games go bye-bye I see you, gaming journalism, becoming the next punching bag. Without the ability to sell back games, many consumers will rely even more on game reviews. When their game fails developers will point at the reviews and say, “Look how you screwed us Game-review Site X. Gaming journalism has to much power.”

    • My Opinion April 17, 2012 at 5:05 am #

      I predict that will happen too. I don’t know what it is, either the industry is unwilling to recognise its own failings or the higher ups are really out of touch but execs are constantly looking for someone else to blame. Maybe it is just corporate culture but these people are only convincing themselves with these statements.

  11. Molinon April 16, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    “The real cost of used games” sounds suspiciously like “the real cost of publishers’ profit-maximization strategies” to me, notwithstanding debatably accurate GameStop anecdotes from all sides.

    Not that publishers are necessarily wrong to maximize profits — that’s their job — but if he thinks that goal is conducive to creativity, variety, mid-tier publishing, and single-player campaigns… He’s nuts, and I don’t care how many games he’s developed over how many years.

    Let’s call it what it is: Retailers and publishers are in a war to see who can make the most money and create the dominant position in the supply chain. Quality, creativity, and expression are probably in some kind of tertiary position to those concerns.

  12. bob fett April 16, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    Spot on bill. This guy is a tool. Its all about self interest.

    And lol at the notion that a gs employee would refuse to sell a new game. It makes no sense.

  13. Comrade Beep April 17, 2012 at 2:43 am #

    I’m starting to get the feeling that these used game lockout rumors are coming from failing publishing houses and not console manufacturers. And let’s be clear this is about artificially limiting the supply of games to keep prices inflated. Joe Gamer doesn’t give a shit about new or used. He’s looking for value for his gaming dollar.

    Four or five years ago Sony and Microsoft may have been able to get away with locking down their consoles, or exercising the “Nuclear Option” like this guy is suggesting but I just don’t think the market would support them at this point. Not with the rise of very low priced games independently published directly through digital distribution. PC gaming is once again entering a golden age, and the availability of smartphones and tablets that are quite powerful has undermined the positions of Microsoft and Sony to the point that if they did aggresively lock down their machines consumers just wouldn’t buy them.

    I think Barnes was spot on with his assessment of the industry over-spending on development and exaggerating sales assumptions. Every indication in the market is that $60 is just too much for a video game, and I don’t see any reason for that trend to reverse. Used games or new games, the prices are on their way down.

    On a more positive note it is very cool to see self-funded/published developers like Almost Human annoucing that they were able to completely recover development cost of Legends of Grimrock within days of release and are firmly in profit territory. A fine example of a developer budgeting and pricing their product correctly for the market.

  14. Bill Abner April 17, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    Beep, this is absolutely the issue at hand.

    I have been saying for years, going back to seeing the over-spending at game conventions over a decade ago, that the game industry wants to feel it’s far bigger and more important than it is.

    “We are bigger than Hollywood!” was ALL I HEARD from various companies. Well, no, they’re not.

    Games today are clearly more mainstream than they used to be but that’s also for a select number of products. The majority of games remain stuck in the closet. Which is fine when you budget accordingly.

    The development budgets and overpaying for licenses for a lot of these games simply cannot support the demand for them. It makes no sense at all and publishers keep pushing the bogeyman on us as if it’s our fault. This annoys me and hell I don’t even buy used games all that often.

    Piracy, the technology bubble, the INTERNET, and now used games — all of these were going to cause the ultimate destruction of the gaming industry.

    There are simply more ways for games to get their fix — iPad games for $5 a pop. Mobile phone games. Cheaper options on XBLA/PSN and Steam.

    Browne has Homefront on his list of credits. Need I say more? Overspending, under developed and a massive misstep for THQ. Look at what the company did to Red Faction. That our fault, too? I guess used games are to blame.

    Napster, Netflix, the invention of the VHS, all were supposed to cause the demise of various industries when in fact you have people in charge who are human and humans make mistakes.

    Until publishers can at least consider the fact that they themselves are to blame for failing sales then …we’re at a impasse.

    • McKay April 17, 2012 at 10:43 am #

      ““We are bigger than Hollywood!” was ALL I HEARD from various companies. Well, no, they’re not. ”

      While they were comparing themselves to Hollywood it seems like the CEOs have also decided to take up the budgeting and PR tactics of Hollywood, ie. losing money due to terrible management/marketing tactics even on good-selling titles, not pricing for reality, overestimating the importance of their provided entertainment, blaming the customer/used markets/rental/piracy for every ‘lost’ dollar, etc.

      I’m kind of with Ominous Fog — consoles (and specifically big game companies) might be finally pushing me out with the next iteration. I don’t even buy used games (although I do rent), but why should I put up with their bullshit? I’m 32 (on the 24th anyway), I don’t ‘have to have’ any game at this point for the most part. I’ll just wait for the Steam sale and/or start playing tablet games; if their next tactic is to refuse sales prices, well, then I just won’t play.

      Hopefully enough people do the same and companies like this will just die and go the fuck away. This industry needs a fucking purge in the worst way, because people like Browne clearly haven’t been in the real world enough to understand games aren’t important.

  15. Ominous Fog April 17, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    I’ve said it here before, I’ll say it again. I’m going back to PC gaming.

    The war on used games is utter horse shit, and guess how many used games I’ve bought this gen… ZERO! But you know what I have done? I’ve traded in my games! Do you know what that does? It gives me more money! For what, you ask? To buy more NEW games! And the guy who bought my AC2… well maybe he enjoyed it so much that he bought ACBro new! Or maybe he bought all the DLC.

    How can they not see this? How can they be so naive and fucking greedy. It’s a model that has worked since the dawn of consoles!

    And so, rather than paying $400+ for a new console, which will probably overheat and fail on me… so I’ll end up paying $750 for a new console, I’ve decided to go back exclusively to PC gaming. I’ll keep my PS3 and run it into the absolute ground, buying the greatest hits and playing the back catalog I’ve always wanted to play. And all those great next gen titles? They’ll be on Steam. Even better, they’ll be on Steam at a deep discount not too long after launch. That’s another problem, too. I just don’t feel like PSN and XBL will ever give me the same deals on downloadable titles. There are never sales on anything worthwhile. And the only disc based titles that go on sale shortly after release are shit titles that aren’t selling. So fuck em. Reap what you sow when you wage war on your consumers.

    Also, this article shed some light on the issue of Steam. Valve is doing it right, people! Wake up!
    http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/how-valve-devalued-video-games-and-why-thats-good-news-for-developers-and-p

  16. Caralon April 17, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    I just can’t get worried about this. There’s too much money to be made selling videogames, and there are too many people who are interested and have unique skillsets that aren’t transferable to another industry – it’s not going to go away. Even if there is some kind of apocalypse and THQ, and whoever else, actually goes down. Even if EA or Activision or both goes down – . . .

    What actually happens then? Somebody else starts up and makes videogames. Some smaller developr hits big, makes a lot of money, and becomes an industry giant.

    I do worry that a lot of people stand to lose their jobs. And that’s sad, because a lot of what they are making is good stuff, and I don’t want people to suffer. So, I understand the worry about individual people in the industry. But I don’t understand the worry about the “industry” itself, as if the whole hobby and business of videogames was bound up in the success or failure of two or three huge corporations.

    When Ford and Chevy were making crappy cars, people were worried about the American economy and were worried about Ford and Chevy going out of business. But they weren’t worried about the “car industry” going down, and about there not being cars anymore. Because there’s money to be made in making good cars, just like there is money to be made making good videogames. It might even be better for videogames if part of the “industry” blows up a little bit.

    Sorry, that became kind of a screed. I have trouble connecting to these stories about used games sales, and some of the discussion about them. Who cares? If a videogame company can’t stay in business because people are selling their products on a second-hand market, JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER DAMN THING IN THE WORLD, then maybe that company is just going to have to fail and get replaced by someone who has it figured out.

  17. BigRed April 17, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    All of these articles against used games are ridiculous. All one has to do is look at Gears of War. Made for 10 and raked in over 100 last time I checked. I believe GOW2 did even better. You make a good game your company does well, you don’t bloat your staff with over payed slackers and you turn a profit. In the end your company doesn’t need to worry about where your games end up. Your Greedy Dick Browne, and you don’t know how to run a company.

    • Michael Barnes April 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

      You know, it’s funny you mention GoW…it was just last week that Cliff B. was saying that on-disc DLC was “a necessary evil” because the development team has to have something to do after the game is finished…which is, of course, fucking bullshit. Why did the dev team get funded for longer than the duration of development? What he basically said is that on-disc DLC and post-development work is effectively welfare for his teams, to keep them employed.

      And with the median games industry salary at 80k…

    • LGscoundrel April 17, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

      As someone said earlier, you don’t hear much of this kind of complaining from Valve, Epic, and Bungie. Wish we had more developers who just rolled up their sleeves and made good games instead of getting into marketing pissing contests.

      • LGscoundrel April 17, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

        Well, I guess I’ll have to take back Epic; just ran into an old article about Cliffy B running his mouth again. I love that guy’s games but he’s got some weird ideas about the industry works.

  18. JonJacob April 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    I heard a story from a friend of mine who says he knew a guy that went into a gamestop and they told him they had no used copies of the game he wanted. He knew at least two people who had sold them one in the last couple of days and was pretty sure they were lying to him and he was forced to buy a new copy.. so I guess it all works out in the end.

    Seriously though, I do insist on buying a new copy if I think the developer deserves it. Like Platinum games I always buy brand new.. lately I picked up SSX for half price used, I obviously didn’t care as much about the developer on that one. What pisses me off about this trend is that I’m still very much in the crowd where we share games with buddies. It’s imopssible to do with XBLA games, clearly, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they make it impossible all together on the next gen. If my new game can only be played on one system, then the age old practice of trading with people because you can’t afford every game as a kid, or as an adult really, will dissapear and people will just play less games.

  19. Helios Krestel April 17, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    I’d rather not buy used games, but there is no “industry standard” at which value of digital goods can decay for 2nd & 3rd+ sales. Valve, GoG, HIB, etc … seem to be setting their own standards, but I still consider even Valve a secondary market.

    But that story at Gamestop, I’ve never come across an employee pushing a used copy over a new. If I head up to the front with a used copy box, they get me a used copy. If I show up empty handed, they get me a new copy or ask if I would like a used copy. It’s happened a few times they’ve gotten me a used copy of something (but only for the reason that no new copies were in in stock & they stated it up front the reason).

  20. BigRed April 17, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    I also believe that is a crap answer. On-disk DLC is EA evil bullshi*. I believe however Epic made most of their money on the game alone.

  21. Bob Fett April 17, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    I wonder what this guy’s excuse would be for the millions of units Skyrim and Witcher 2 sold?

    Single player only rpgs… where’s my tacked on mutliplayer?

    • Bill Abner April 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

      Heh Brandon and I were talking about this very thing earlier today.

    • Plankton April 17, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

      *wisdom* The multiplayer is in the detail. *wisdom*

  22. McKay April 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    I think even Barnes might appreciate the tone in Kohler’s rebuttal to Browne:

    http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2012/04/opinion-kohler-video-expensive/

    Simply put: Browne = Ex-CEO, and I hope he and other like-minds stay out of CEO positions in the games industry in the future. He’s an idiot grasping at straws to explain away why he was bad at his job.

    • Michael Barnes April 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

      You know, there’s a great board game from a couple of years ago called Greed Inc. It’s pretty hard to come by and expensive (over $100). I gave it a good review a while back, and one of the things I loved about it was its subversive, anti-corporate theme. In the game, you and your cronies take executive positions at corporations and proceed to maximize profit in them and then run them in the ground. Then, you blame everybody else for the company tanking. The goal of the game is not to be successful in business, but to buy a bunch of expensive crap with your ill-gotten gains.

      There’s literally a phase in the game called “The Blame Game” where you point fingers and heads roll.

      The message of CEOs and executive leadership dodging responsibility definitely resonates here.

    • CraigM April 17, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

      Huh, well I don’t know how I missed that one. Sounds pretty interesting, and my inner cynic heartily approves.

    • Michael Barnes April 17, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

      But Greed Corp actually works here too- strip mining resources until you fall into oblivion…

  23. themanmonkey April 17, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    I think this can be summed up in few words, and that is that they can all eat sack of cocks. Of course if that falls within their particular predilection then I believe I can think of something else.

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