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12 thoughts to “Steam, The Next Gen, and Account-Locked Gaming”

  1. It’d be ironic (not to say kinda “great”) if they did implement some anti-used games solution for next gen, and shortly before they hit the shelves, Steam enables long rumored option to sell/gift games from your library 😀

  2. They’re taking enough control to placate publishers, but still giving enough features and functionality to users to justify giving up a little control. I think Steam is walking that line almost perfectly. The sales and convenience factor are huge, don’t underestimate them.

    This whole idea of Steam sales devaluing games is bollocks as far as I can tell. I’ve seen many developers say that when their game went on sale on Steam, their revenue increased by orders of magnitude. Even at 25% of the original price, they’re selling far more than four times the number of copies. Maybe the market is saying that their game is worth less money, but there are more people buying it, so they’re actually making more money. Sounds win-win to me.

  3. I’m surprised Origin didn’t get mentioned at all. This is about money, but it’s also about control. EA wanted control of the entire game process. Origin allows them that. It’s on everything now, PC, Xbox even iOS games. Blocking used games is another example of that.

  4. I actually have an interesting (to me anyway) story about Steam, used games, and locking content to a single user.

    A couple years back I bought a used copy of Modern Warfare 2, not realizing that it had to be authenticated through Steam. Once I found this out, I contacted Steam’s customer support to try to get them to switch it over to my account. I had everything — box, disc, original manual, everything. Their initial response was, unsurprisingly, “Sorry, we can’t do that.”

    I’m a lawyer. So, being interested in the question of digital property and ownership, I decided to take issue with this. I told them that their response was unacceptable: I owned the software, I had the right to access the software, I could prove all of it, and that if they took action to prevent me from accessing my legally purchased and owned software, that I’d be happy to take them to court for conversion (basically civil theft) and whatever else I could think of.

    Here’s the interesting part: they caved. I’m not even sure it was a particularly great legal argument on my part, but I get the feeling that somebody there recognizes this as an issue and did not want to deal with it.

    Part of me wonders if this isn’t going to blow up somewhere, maybe with Steam, maybe with Origin.

  5. Todd,
    I think you have touched on many of the things that make Steam a great way to get games. I literally can’t remember the last game I bought that wasn’t on Steam.

    I think you nailed this whole question with this line, “What it all ultimately comes down to, what separates Steam from all this industry talk about cracking down on the used games market, is that one of these players operates on a reasonably fair principle of give and take.”

    I am not bothered at all by Steam’s DRM for several reasons. First, they are honest about it. On the store page for every game it will tell you if there is 3rd party DRM and what it is. Second, there is the convenience factor and support. Steam remembers all of my CD Keys. It keeps copies of all of my games accessible to me at any time. It allows me to install my games on as many computers as I want. It keeps all my games up to date and allows easy integration of DLC. Many other, more draconian DRM schemes are harder to deal with but offer no benefits in return. They only serve to make the purchased copy of the game inferior to a DRM free pirated copy.* The last reason I don’t mind is the pricing. Steam, more than any other company, seems to get the idea of price discrimination. There are many games that I will simply never pay $60 for. So if the publisher wants to sell it at $60 forever they will never see a dime of my money. However, I would very happily spend $20, or $30, or $40 (it depends on the game). By dropping the price Steam captures sales that many other publishers seem willing to give up.

    *I do not pirate games and I argue strongly against those that do. However, this statement is true. There are games where the pirated, DRM free, version works better and runs smoother. That seems to indicate that something went horribly wrong along the line.

    1. “There are games where the pirated, DRM free, version works better and runs smoother.”

      I have no idea why this fact doesn’t have game publishers crapping themselves with fear all the live-long day. Ubisoft, I’m looking at you.

  6. Steam is fine by me, and Origin seems to chugging along smoothly on mu laptop as well.

    “Not a month goes by that there isn’t a AAA, highly-regarded title for sale for far less than $60”
    I do laugh when people talk about cheap AAAs on Steam though. I’ve never bought a AAA title directly off Steam. Why? Regional pricing is why. Skyrim is currently $60USD and Modern Warfare 3 is at $99USD. At the $NZ-$USD exchange rate that is just not worth it.

    More and more of my boxed product is going to come from online retailers who import from places like the US and UK. In the age of digital distribution I’m hoping for a stop to this regional pricing crap. But, as long as people are willing to pay….I’m not too optimistic.

    1. try “nzgameshop” some guy in the UK runs it, sells games in NZD, but at USA prices (skyrim was 60 NZD on release etc)

  7. I firmly believe that the massive Steam sales exist purely because there’s no used game market, it essentially fills the same niche, but still gives money to the developers and publishers. If you offered me a Steam console, or something similar, I’d be far more likely to get it.

    Over my many years of gaming, I have physically lost or broken far more games than I have ever resold. I look at GoG’s top seller list and I have in the past bought virtually all of them, but I have none of them in my possession now. If you told me right now I could plug in a Wii and legally play every game SNES I ever bought, or that my GoG account included the Baldur’s Gate 2 Collector’s Edition I had and never even got a chance to play (yay divorce), I would be ecstatic.

    Getting that at the cost of not being able to resell my games, or not being able to buy slightly marked down used games, would be well worth it. Not to mention that it would be better for the industry and perhaps encourage things like the Steam sales on the console side of things.

  8. The other nice thing is that Steam is free to download and the online is free. The deals are also for anyone. Compare that to XBLA, where there are deals that only apply to Gold members. I don’t have a Gold account, but I sure would love those sales, and more frequent ones at that. Sure there are games that I pay the 10 or 15 dollars for, but I have plenty on my wishlist that I would get for 5, but they hardly ever go there. Steam does.

  9. As an economist, it is my opinion that the only reason retailers are able to sell games at the $60 price point is because there is a used game market. Even though they aren’t worth full price, being able to sell your games once you have finished them adds to their value. The fact that publishers are concerned about the used games market says that a large number of gamers buy games with the intent to sell; these consumers would not buy a lower value product at the current price. I predict that publishers already know this and will bring down the price of their games significantly (this is evidenced by Steam’s generally lower prices); otherwise, I imagine they will try a $60 price, nobody will buy, everyone will complain and they will drop the price.

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