We have a ridiculous hobby

I swear (I almost typed “I sweat”), some days I’m convinced that video gaming has forever left our planet and is firmly residing in some other universe where common sense that applies to everything else ceases to apply to games.

Case in point, today’s big internet discussion on buying used games, via Penny Arcade and others.  The discussion revolves around how it’s just not right to buy used games because it doesn’t support the game companies/developers directly, and how we’re all filthy almost-pirates for doing so.  Okay, that’s mushing a lot of arguments together without proper context, but that’s the tone I’m certainly getting.

I think this is silly beyond belief.  Really?  We shouldn’t buy used games on principle?  Listen, what you do with your money is your business.  Give it to directly to the game company, buy a used game, whatever.

People who are railing against buying used games — have you never purchased a used DVD?  A used car?  Used books?  Second-hand clothing?  A used anything?  Do you do drive-by spittings against garage sales?   Do you picket Salvation Army?

So why the heck is this a big deal?

And in our mass-consumption culture, isn’t it the smart thing to do to buy used, to stop buying everything brand new?

I don’t owe a company allegiance; I look out for my family and our household budget first and foremost.  My parents taught me to be frugal when I was growing up, not to refuse to buy used products because it wasn’t directly benefiting the company that made it.   But hey, I guess my mom was just a thief for buying us toys at garage sales because we couldn’t afford to get them off the shelves. Shame on her.  And shame on my wife and I, since about 85% of everything we own we purchased used or second-hand.

If it’s important to you to buy directly from the company, then do so.  But don’t be telling me how I should be spending my money, or trying to levy a guilt trip because I don’t see the world as you do.  Video games aren’t so special that they should be put aside in a different category than everything else in this regard.

This all is silly, and Sam the Eagle does not approve.

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69 thoughts on “We have a ridiculous hobby

  1. Maladorn August 25, 2010 / 4:19 pm

    ^ What he said.

  2. James Taylor August 25, 2010 / 4:33 pm

    It’s our right to be frugal and shop around for the best price – but giving Gamestop $55 for a $60 new game is like taking a giant bowel-movement all over the developers/publishers who also have families and mouths to feed.

    This how argument is null when publishers/devs give us a REASON and INCENTIVE to buy new (re: Steam, DLC codes, etc).

  3. Dickie August 25, 2010 / 4:35 pm

    As usual, Syp, you provide the sunshine to the vitriol that can be games blogging.

  4. Jef August 25, 2010 / 4:35 pm

    I don’t normally post on gaming blogs, but thanks Justin for throwing your opinion out there. This industry seems to be full of folks who are extremely anti-free market, and it’s beyond tiresome to see these people continually spouting their entitlement-based ignorance and forgetting the fact that private property is both private and property once money has initially changed hands.

    All of this anti-used game propaganda from developers (and bloggers who desperately want to be developers) is complete garbage.

    /tar Bio Break
    /salute

  5. motstandet August 25, 2010 / 4:37 pm

    It’s really a question of whether or not a digital entity is a “good”. The only resource used to produce the good is time (not counting the DVD the software is encoded on).

    With normal goods, there is a transfer of resources. Buying a car gets you metal fashioned into systems. With software, there is only a copy of binary data transferred. The cost of electrons to encode an additional copy is negligible.

    I am not advocating software piracy (since this is a similar argument advocates use), but it isn’t a black-and-white issue. There is a lot of ambiguity.

  6. Hatch August 25, 2010 / 4:46 pm

    It’s definitely up to you how you spend your money. I buy used games from time to time, and I’m not judging anyone who does.

    But there are some stark differences between the other industries and this one.

    A used car will not run as well or be as comfortable as a new one. A used game will play exactly the same as a new one. This is true for almost every used object you can buy – from toys, furniture, and clothes to even books. You pay a discount when you get those used, and you do so because they are not in as good condition as a new one.

    The only thing I can think of that you also expect identical quality from used vs new are DVDs.

    DVDs are only part of that film product’s profits. Movies already had a theatrical release (where they usually made back all of their investment already). TV shows already had their run with paid advertisements on TV. And both of those DVDs benefit from the marketing dollars spent on their original incarnations.

    Meanwhile, the game is released and that’s it. There is no other revenue stream (except for some MMOs, which you can’t buy used).

    Also, the DVD industry doesn’t have an entire brick and mortar chain of stores with a business model totally predicated on used dvd sales. Sure, places like Blockbuster sell used DVDs – after they’ve already made money from rentals and paid a fee to the creators to be able to rent the dvds out. You don’t just “trade in” your used DVDs, especially not in the volume that games are traded in at Gamestop. Bottom line is, used games are a much bigger problem for the games industry than they are for DVDs.

    Finally, there’s price. Game = $60. DVD = $20. Maybe you save 50% in both cases, but psychologically, people balk at spending $30 more on the game, but not at spending $10 more on the DVD. The price point of games makes used games infinitely more attractive than used DVDs, leading to larger gross sales figures.

    So that’s why I think that Video Gaming is an industry that deserves some special attention. It’s different from all the other things that we all buy used.

    Doesn’t mean I think there’s anything wrong with buying games used.

    But I think something needs to be done to compromise. To allow gamers to still get an older game cheap while still having that money go to the person who actually developed the game, rather than Gamestop. A good model is when Steam has a sale or its games go down in price over time. Used game sales wouldn’t be a problem at all, in fact, if Gamestop had to send the publisher or developer a health cut of the profit.

  7. toxic August 25, 2010 / 4:51 pm

    Not really Mot. The disc is no different from a record or a book; it’s a physical copy of data. Unless you want to ban used book stores or libraries, you have to explain what separates a video game from a CD or a book.

    For the life of me I can’t figure it out, except that books and CD’s aren’t $60 bucks and can be enjoyed for decades, whereas most video games are a strictly wham bam thank you mam experience, so there’s little reason to keep it after the first play through. So the problem is that video games are too expensive, in a pleasure per dollar sense, and so the used market thrives.

  8. Robert August 25, 2010 / 5:07 pm

    Imagine how much waste and leftover products there were be if we didnt buy used. Its Green to buy used games.

  9. Ryver August 25, 2010 / 5:08 pm

    I play used games and I approve of this message.

    I have been using a game trading site for a few years. Most of the console games I have played in the last two years have been used. This has been a much better deal than trying to go through Gamestop or similar companies.

    The reason I do this? Once I’m done with a game, I rarely play it again, so it’s time to get rid of it. Throwing it away is wasteful, so it should go to someone else. I use to sell on Amazon, but then they started requiring a bank account. I tried craigslist, but that is useless for me. The game trading site gives me a good value for the game that I can then use to trade for another title I might want later and usually means I can trade it fairly quickly with no hassle.

    A few game companies have already shown they want more money than the traditional cost of a game ($50 PC, $60 console). You can see this with all of the recent DLC that is nothing but a unlock code and no real data is transferred. If the ‘DLC’ is really required, I just boycot those game as is my right (used or new). Now, if these companies are going to start requiring me to pay for a new code just to play the game *as it was shipped to play*, I’ll have to decide where to get my entertainment from.

    MMOs are still a good value 🙂

    I do still purchase new games; Star Craft II, Red Dead Redemption, Lego Harry Potter are the most recent ones.

    I see three company models that will be directly effected by this:

    * Used game sellers (Gamestop or direct)
    * Game trading sites
    * Gamefly-type sites

    All of these have a large business model that revolves around exchanging used copies of games. If more and more games require additional money just to play, these models will either have to change or go away.

  10. Jef August 25, 2010 / 5:23 pm

    I’d have to disagree with a couple of the comments above: this is in fact a black and white issue. You either let the free market run its course or you have some third party regulator stepping in to enforce a “compromise,” whatever that may be.

    Games do not deserve any kind of special treatment, simply by virtue of the fact that they are completely unnecessary to our lives. They’re optional entertainment products. People that have chosen to make their living in the games industry may tremble at that bit of common sense, but it is what it is.

    They’re aren’t owed any sort of special compensation or treatment because they make digital products (which do degrade over time, btw). If they can’t compete in the free market, really it’s time to do something else, or do something better.

    This whole “we’ve got to support the starving artists” mentality is, frankly, ludicrous.

  11. Mister K August 25, 2010 / 5:29 pm

    I agree with both Syp and Hatch, so I am obviously confused on the matter :). The major problem to me is that all the developers put out almost every game at $60 new when only 10% of the games are worth thinking about buying for that price, so the only smart thing to do is to wait until you can get a used copy for $15-30 for a game I think I might enjoy. $60 dollars for something I might only play a couple times is ridiculous, and with console game rental very limited to Blockbuster and Gamefly, it makes video game purchase a much easier option. I understand they have to try and get the money back they are putting into those games but honestly the earlier examples of equal quality are more about quality of game experience over the actual playability of the product. Ex. you buy a used car and you expect a certain amount of use out of it dependant on the amount of money you spends on it. I feel the same way about dvd’s and video games. I will buy a movie brand new if I am reasonably certain I will watch it a lot of times, and I’ll buy a video game new if I feel it will get a ton of gameplay from me. But I will buy a used movie or game if I am only curious about it and think it potentially could be enjoyable.

  12. Chefre August 25, 2010 / 5:35 pm

    My opinion is that buying used games is fine. There have been many times where I’ve gone to a friend’s house to play games before, but did I do something wrong because I didn’t pay for the game I was playing? Two people playing one purchased game. When I buy a used game I see it this way: someone else bought it new, and invited me to buy it off them for cheaper because they didn’t want to play it anymore. 2 people playing one purchased (new) game, but in this case a middle man made a buck. What’s wrong with capitalism?

    I never advocate piracy, that’s straight out stealing. Buying a game at Gamestop is like buying a game from your friend that he doesn’t want anymore, but there’s an added middle-man marking up the price. I’m not infringing upon intellectual copywright laws by buying used. Also, I’m not responsible for making sure a game maker/dev is feeding his/her family by buying new. I don’t ask anyone to feed my family, I search out opportunities to make a living because that’s my responsibility.

    It’s clearly not illegal, and is definately not immoral, so I really don’t see the big deal.

  13. Syl August 25, 2010 / 5:40 pm

    I totally agree with you. I find it rather sick that in times where we should do all we can to be a bit more ecological, more and more industries try to find ways to make us buy more instead of less and make sharing items or services impossible.
    I will share, re-sell and buy old as long as I like – I believe the responsibility lies with them to look for alternative product models (I’m all for less hardware, more digital).

  14. Pitrelli August 25, 2010 / 6:04 pm

    Ah some sanity on this issue! Thanks Syp at least someone is talking sense on this topic.

  15. Buhallin August 25, 2010 / 6:16 pm

    I wonder what the overlap is between the people screaming about how it’s perfectly fine to deny the developers money, and those who scream about studios that don’t bother to patch once they’re past the initial release.

    @Jef: You keep using this term, ‘free market’, but I’m not sure it means what you think it means. A truly free market allows producers to sell things as and how they wish – if game companies choose to sell their games to you on a no-resale basis, and have the capability to enforce those terms in order to boost their profits, that is the free market. Companies attempting to control how their sales are used in order to maximize profits – THAT is the free market. Your vision of “once I pay for it I can do anything I want with it” really has nothing to do with a “free market”, so you might want to stop using the term. And you REALLY might want to stop challenging the game companies to adapt because, well… What do you think they’re DOING?

    Software developers believe they deserve to be rewarded for their labors, rather than GameStop! That’s just like most of us capitalists. I’d be willing to bet that if any of you faced layoffs and closed businesses because half your company’s profits started going to GameStop, you’d be throwing a fit too. The most ridiculous thing about our hobby is that people can get so utterly frenzied over such an obvious concept.

  16. Jef August 25, 2010 / 6:35 pm

    Actually, Buhallin, I’m quite aware of what the free market means, thank you for your concern though.

    I’m also all for the game companies evolving their business models in the most creative ways that they can, provided that creativity isn’t limited to crying to regulatory agencies for special treatment.

    My beef is with folks who seem to think that games should be treated differently than any other entertainment medium or consumable product.

    No, they shouldn’t.

    Prove that you can compete with Gamestop or whoever by offering a better value/product/service. That’s the free market, and the bottom line in this entire debate.

  17. Brian 'Psychochild' Green August 25, 2010 / 6:35 pm

    It certainly is heartwarming to see all these free market and green environmental types agreeing in one post, isn’t it! It’s probably not just shallow justification for self-serving behavior….

    The problem is that the current game industry is not really sustainable. The proper “laissez faire” philosophy is to not care if they go away, but it kind of puts a damper on the hobby, doesn’t it? Unless, of course, you embrace a Farmville future, because social games are the most profitable type of game right now.

    The big problem is that the industry has been eating itself for a while now. Let we forget about ea_spouse, remember that the game industry’s business model depends on being able to chew up people and spit them out to give you the relatively cheap entertainment you enjoy. Likewise, publishers care little about the plight of the developer, and will gleefully let a developer go bankrupt even if they have a hit game (RIP Looking Glass). (This assumes the publisher didn’t have a bit in the contract to buy the developer at an embarrassingly low price after the game became a hit.) But, this situation can’t continue without change.

    So, what changes? Business 101 means that you either have to increase income or decrease costs. Can they raise the price? People screamed bloody murder about $60 games, although people are starting to accept it so expect more price increases in the future. Reduce development costs? Lowering quality through production values means the hard-core will complain. So, the easiest and least disruptive way to increase profits is discourage the secondary market. Which is where digital downloads and services like Steam come in.

    So, barring something exotic, your options are:
    * More expensive new games.
    * Lower quality games.
    * Less AAA games (and not just the crappy ones)
    * Digital downloads where you’re at the mercy of an authentication server.
    * More Farmville, please!
    * Secondary sales discouraged.

    I know which I prefer… less AAA games being made so that perhaps some of you might look at independent games instead. 😛

    At any rate, putting your fingers in your ears and screaming “LALALALA I BELIEVE IN THE FREE MARKET AND AM GREEN FOR BUYING USED GAMES!” doesn’t make the problem go away.

  18. PeterD August 25, 2010 / 6:40 pm

    Thank you Syp! I got tired of arguing with Syncaine on this issue, so it’s nice to see your blog taking the sensible approach.

    I have to say that from all the comments on various blogs I’ve read, that the majority of commenters think the idea that buying used = piracy is inane. For some reason the trend is reversed with bloggers, I see more bloggers agreeing with the concept than disagreeing. Good for traffic maybe? 😛

  19. PeterD August 25, 2010 / 6:49 pm

    @Psychochild,

    I don’t see anyone saying that the current publishing/developing system is just fine a-ok let’s all dance in a circle and sing hippy songs.

    People are saying that the declaration that purchasing used games is equivalent to piracy is ridiculous. Because it is ridiculous. You can’t segregate out used games sales as piracy without making all used purchases thievery. As Syp said, do you go by garage sales and rail at the shoppers for being theives?

    Does something need to be done to improve the profitability of developers? Certainly. But that’s another topic entirely. Attempting to villainize a perfectly legitimate economic activity is not the way to do it. (And in response to your options I’d vote for A – more expensive new game boxes, B – less expensive but authentication limited digital sales, and C – perks for purchasing new).

  20. Klepsacovic August 25, 2010 / 6:56 pm

    The physical vs. digital divide isn’t as relevant as people are making it out to be. Sure a car uses a lot of physical resources, but if you were to compare the costs of a car and a game, you’d find a lot of overlap in management, production (even low-material products need to be made), development… yea, remember APB and their $100 million?

    Being able to resell a game means added value for the initial buyer. If the producers feel that is being stolen, then they should charge more to compensate.

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  22. Mark August 25, 2010 / 7:49 pm

    I don’t understand why anyone would want to save all of 5 dollars to support an awful gaming company like gamestop rather than pay full price to support the studios.

    Other than that I don’t think it’s a huge deal to save a good chunk on a used game after it comes out. Usually that’s 5 or 6 months down the road anyway and for the most part games seem to be judged by their first few months sales anyway.

  23. Machination August 25, 2010 / 7:55 pm

    I’m just suprised that so many people are taking such a vehement and hate-dripping stance on the issue.

    I didn’t think that buying used games was killing the developer’s children or anything. I seriously wonder how much of an impact it even has on the company, if very noticeable.

    If it’s really a big problem, just switch to digital download.

  24. Kemwer August 25, 2010 / 9:26 pm

    The problem with this argument is people saying that if you buy used games you are not giving money for the company. Now, why should I?

    Suppose you bought an used Battlefield Bad Company 2. They already got money for that exact piece of plastic I’m holding in my hands, the $60 that is required to play the entire single player experience. They got payed for what is necessary to support one player over their online services, and my buying an used version doesn’t require more resources from them; it’s still a single person logging in their servers at a time.

    If you forget about GameStop for a second, you will see that you’re not really buying the game. You are just buying the right to play that game. That specific copy was already sold and payed for. You generate no more costs for the developer/publisher that if the original owner was still playing it, so why is it necessary to pay more to “re-activate” the game, or why would it be wrong to buy the used game at all?

    If you want to solve this problem, just institutionalize resale through digital distribution. Give me an option on Steam to sell a game I don’t want anymore to a friend, and send 20% (or more) to the developer. That allows me to recoup some of the money I spent, my friend to spend less on an “used” game, and the developer to get some money out of the transaction.

    Give people a way to resell games which is easier and more convenient than going to GameStop, and you kill this second-hand market. That still won’t cost a single additional penny to the developer, and they even make some extra money per copy. Problem solved, everybody happy.

  25. Jef August 25, 2010 / 9:38 pm

    “At any rate, putting your fingers in your ears and screaming “LALALALA I BELIEVE IN THE FREE MARKET AND AM GREEN FOR BUYING USED GAMES!” doesn’t make the problem go away”

    See it’s not a problem though, especially for the consumer. The current economy is a problem, oil spills are a problem. Gaming business models? They’re developing into an annoyance, from my pov, but labeling them a problem is vastly overstating their importance.

    I read a lot of posts by developers who label anyone that doesn’t want to subsidize their continued employment as “self-serving” and frankly it makes me chuckle. Of course it is self-serving. We buy games because they bring us pleasure, not because we need them, and certainly not because we have any obligation to prop up the career path that you chose.

    And yes, the laissez faire attitude of not caring if they go away is exactly the point. Not caring is a strong term, I do care because I enjoy games, but do I care enough to continue paying escalating costs while being forced to become a renter instead of an owner (DLC) and having to accept ever more draconian levels of proprietary restrictions (not to mention sub-par games)? Nope, sure don’t.

    As you said, it’s a hobby, which by definition is non-essential and in many cases easily replaced with something equally enjoyable. That’s a rather large part of the disconnect here I think.

    Why is it that developers think they’re any more important or worthy of continued employment than the factory worker who has been let go, or the teacher that’s grossly underpaid?

  26. Sven August 25, 2010 / 10:46 pm

    So, do Devs hate reselling used games or is it just Gamestop specific?

    I’m selling some of my games at a garage sale this weekend. Anyone going to get pissed about that? I also sometimes lend my games to my friends who then play them WITHOUT PAYING THE DEVS TOO! oh noes.

    I guess I’m wrecking the game industry left and right.

    My bad.

  27. Buhallin August 26, 2010 / 12:35 am

    You know the REALLY funny part at this point? I’ve read the original article (as linked via PA). I looked at his quotes. I even had Firefox help me look. And guess what? The words “pirate” and “piracy” appear… never. Well, in the comments, but that’s the community reacting.

    What he actually said is that someone who buys it used isn’t their customer – you’re giving the company not a penny, so they feel no obligation to those players. That hardly seems like it should be a revolutionary statement. But look out gaming “community”! You’ve been wronged! Pfft.

    Let’s try a little thought exercise. Consider each of the following, and answer whether you think it’s wrong or not:

    1. Chinese pirate burns copies of a game, sells 5 copies.
    2. You burn 5 copies of a game for your friends.
    3. Gamestop resells the same copy of a game 5 times.

    From the view of the producer, all of those are essentially equal. Each of them involves people getting the game and making use of it without having done anything to pay them for their efforts. Is it morally equivalent? Of course not. I think a lot of people would be indignant and think #1 was wrong. Some people might feel uncomfortable with #2, but lots of people seem fine with #3. Even though the impact to the developer is IDENTICAL.

    That’s what nobody getting all defensive seems to be willing to consider. Would you expect the developers to cater to group #1 there? If you called up and said “Yeah, I picked up this copy of your game in a street cart in China, can you help me out with it” what would you expect?

    Finally: MANY of our current standards and expectations are shaped by what currently is. Libraries make books available for loan, so we expect books to be available for loan. DVDs are transferable, we expect them to be able to be sold used. But does anyone expect me to sell or loan my ticket stub to a friend so that he can see a movie in a theater after I’m done? Where’s the difference?

    Emerging technology is forcing us to challenge our assumptions and views of the way things work. This is hardly the only area – it runs everywhere from public information to automated law enforcement to DRM. These are hard problems our entire society has to deal with. Saying otherwise is either ignorance, selfishness in action, or flat-out denial.

  28. Kemwer August 26, 2010 / 12:45 am

    @Buhallin: according to THQ’s newest comments, yes, all of those are the same. The flaw on that logic is that GameStop cannot sell THE SAME copy of the game 5 times. They sell 5 different copies of the game, each and every one of them bought through legitimate means, the money for each went to the publisher and developer.

    They already made the money for those copies. They are complaining that companies like GameStop are making MORE money out of those games, and they are not getting their cut, which sounds a little pathetic to my ears.

    A car reseller doesn’t give a cut to the manufacturer, a used book or CD store doesn’t send a cut to the recording company, why should game publishers and developers be treated differently?

  29. Dblade August 26, 2010 / 1:04 am

    There’s a justification with Gamestop in that it’s okay to buy used console games if they are out of print. Good luck trying to buy new copies of zone of the enders, for example. Gamestop is good in that they can act as a clearing house for titles you wont be able to get anymore otherwise.

    However, used games do cannibalize sales from recent games. One guy buys Halo 4, trades it in. Other guy buys that same copy. That’s a direct, lost sale, with only Gamestop profiting. That’s gonna hurt any developer, especially the small ones, and that’s why Xbox live Arcade and the various online services have risen for many games that would ordinarily be sold at retail.

    The worst thing is that this is on top of existing piracy, and can worsen slow sales of a game. I’m really starting to get annoyed with the entitlement mindset of net culture: yeah you are poor, so am I, but developers need money to make games. They are not going to make them if net culture keeps trying to get their work for free or in ways that the devs never see a penny of it.

    Get used to the future being digital downloads.

  30. Buhallin August 26, 2010 / 1:11 am

    Actually, GameStop CAN sell the same copy 5 times. You really don’t think the same copies cycle through multiple times?

    But even then, the original purchase is irrelevant. The end result, in terms of real dollars lost, is the same. If 5 people acquire the game through piracy rather than buying, that’s $300 that didn’t go to the developer. If 5 people acquire the game from GameStop rather than buying new, that’s $300 that didn’t go to the developer.

    I’m not sure why the idea that people should pay you for your work seems pathetic. I’m not sure what you do for a living, but I’m sure you could come up with a scenario where people are taking your work without paying you for it, and finding some justification. Try it – ponder it in your life, where someone is taking your work and arguing some great moral authority for why they shouldn’t have to pay you for it…

  31. Jef August 26, 2010 / 1:21 am

    Lol.

    They got paid for it the first time it was sold at retail (or actually when they sold it to a publisher).

    The end.

    No one is saying devs don’t deserve to get paid for their work, of course they do.

    Once.

    You don’t keep getting paid for physical products that you sell to other people. Subscription services are a different story. Physical games though, sorry devs, people own them, so I guess the hope of continual paychecks for no extra work rests on converting everyone to DLC.

  32. Kemwer August 26, 2010 / 1:30 am

    @Buhallin: I don’t know why this seems so hard to understand. The developer DID get payed for it, the same way my clients DO pay for my work. But after they payed for it, it’s theirs. I’m not leasing my copy of Modern Warfare, I bought it. It’s mine. If I want to put it in a shelf, I can, but if I want to sell it to my friend since I’m no longer playing it, it is within my rights to do it, because… it is mine.

    This concept you seem to have so much trouble conceiving happens with every single consumer good in existence. I can resell my car, my TV, sofa, table, CDs, DVDs, my entire computer… why does it seems so alien to you that I could resell my games? All those companies, Ford, Ikea, Sony Music, Warner Bros, Dell, they got the money they charge for their products, and if I decide to sell the products I payed for, I don’t need to send them a cut.

    So why should I send it to Activision? The product was payed for, and it doesn’t cost them a dime extra to attend to the new owner (since the old one is no longer using any possible resource that would cost them), so exactly why do they deserve special treatment?

    And if I have this right (and you could check with a proper lawyer if you so desire; it is my, and your right), so is the right to establish a business that does this in a larger scale.

    Please don’t fall into the fallacy that this is “hurting business”. Sure, MAYBE someone did opted for an used copy instead of buying a new one. But there is absolutely no evidence or way to prove that the same person did not buy that BECAUSE it was used, and within their means. It is not a lost sale if the person was never going to buy it. Unless someone can come up with hard evidence proving it, it’s a pointless argument.

  33. Dblade August 26, 2010 / 2:33 am

    Kem, if he is going into a store to buy a game, he can afford it. The gap in used prices in Gamestop is five dollars or less from the new. If he can’t afford it he’d not be in the store in the first place.

    The thing about gamestop is it sells used copies on a massive scale. Normal used sales don’t hurt because you need to seek them out. Gamestop puts a large number of used copies right within the reach of new ones, sells them for less, and pushes them aggressively. It’s also the only business in town for a lot of obscure games.

    Gamestop actually wants you to buy used because they have better markups, since they can pay how they like for it. ANd they get a lot of supply, compared to something like FYE where most of the floor space is still new copies.

    If you don’t think that hurts sales where the devs stand to profit, you’re mistaken. And you are short-sighted because eventually they are going to stop making physical copies.

  34. Kemwer August 26, 2010 / 3:10 am

    Look, I’m not saying I approve of Gamestop. Hell, I’m not even saying I have ever bought or sold used games before (I haven’t). What I am saying is that they are within their rights, even if their prices are abusive.

    Sure, I don’t think that a company that sells NEW games should be allowed to sell USED games, because there is a clear conflict of interests there, but that is a discussion meant to be dealt directly between publishes and resellers, and solved through proper channels. What I believe is just BS is telling me, as a customer, that I need to pay more for a game I legally bought, and that the developer got payed for. Their price tag is $60, and they got that, it doesn’t matter from whose wallet that came for.

    As I said before, nobody is really trading games. What is being traded is the right to play with that particular copy. You are forfeiting your right to play the game, right you acquired by legally paying for it, and giving this right to someone else. You could do it for free (i.e. a gift) or you could sell it for 100x more (i.e. a signed copy on eBay), but after you payed for it, it is yours to negotiate for the price you desire. I personally wouldn’t do it for such little difference on price, but I defend their right to do it.

    COULD this hurt sales? Sure, it CAN. But that is only a possibility, and I don’t base my arguments on possibilities. The way they make that case implies directly that EVERY second-hand sale means a lost sale, and that is a fallacy. You cannot even argue that MOST used games hurt sale, because there is no way to gather those numbers, so my understanding is that any argument resting on this “fact” is completely devoid of value.

    Will this lead to digital-only distribution? Personally I will welcome that day, since Steam was the thing that made me begin again to buy more games, instead of just one every couple of months. I take big pleasure on owning an original copy, so I have no problems with this future.

  35. Ayane August 26, 2010 / 5:04 am

    Lots of comments on this topic, so let me try and keep this short.

    As a game developer and (sorry Yahtzee) a gamer I don’t begrudge anyone from buying a game used. In fact, it seems quite smart to me; you pay less and get exactly the same quality product as someone who buys new. The option is there, it’s completely legal, so as a smart consumer you’d be stupid not to make use of it.

    But on the flipside, as a used game buyer, I feel that you then also don’t have any right to complain when a developer starts to do things to make their products (artificially) less valuable then used. No multiplayer in used games? Well, sorry, but that’s the choice you make when buying a game used. That’s the same as any used physical product; a used car isn’t of the same quality as a anew car.

    So buy your used games with a clear conscience, but then don’t turn around and complain about online passes and project ten dollar. That is the trade-off you make when buying used.

    On a slightly different note some people say that they buy used because they can’t afford new (as easily) and that doesn’t quite seem like a good argument to me. After all, you can wait for the price of new games to drop or wait for a Steam sale or such. Instead people seem to say “I want the full game, I want it cheaper than full price, and I want it right now” and while I can understand that desire, that doesn’t seem quite fair to me.

    I hope that all makes sense. 🙂

  36. Dblade August 26, 2010 / 5:06 am

    That’s not the point. You are not paying more for a new game, and the article is not about paying more for them. I don’t know where this “pay more for new games” is coming from. If you buy new, its the same price. It’s just if you buy used, THQ is not going to let you play online with that copy.

    The reason why is people who buy used from them aren’t THQ’s customers.

    As for lost sales, if we restrict it to the single game, it’s a lost sale if you buy used over new. You can argue in general about new prices being something that drives people to buying something different, and that the sale is not lost then. But once you buy a used copy over a new one, it’s lost. We are restricting the argument to a person making a specific choice to buy used over new.

    As for Steam, I dislike it because I like physical areas devoted to gaming, and physical artifacts. Netflix killed the video store, Steam killed PC gaming at retail.

  37. Snafzg August 26, 2010 / 8:43 am

    Here’s a question no-one’s asked (that I’ve heard of). Why aren’t developers making games that people want to hang on to?

    DLC (paid or free)? Multi-player? Story depth with multiple endings or hidden secrets for replayability? Mod tools to expand the content? Insanely fun gameplay and customization options so you can play the game through differently the next time through?

    Mere days after a game comes out you’ll find a used copy sitting right next to it priced $5 less.

    Personally, I’d never pay $55 for used when I could pay $60 new because it’s not much of a discout (and I’m a big “sale” shopper — rarely buy anything regular price). But obviously some people do.

  38. Mordiceius August 26, 2010 / 8:49 am

    I think a lot of people are missing a major point with this.

    If you buy a used game, it plays just as well as a new game. If you buy a used car, it will not run just as well as a new car.

    Nowadays, companies are making it so that if you buy it used, the online play is free or you get DLC for free. Used players won’t receive those items. I support this. Now, a used game will NOT be as good as new game. And that is how it should be.

  39. Snafzg August 26, 2010 / 9:21 am

    I think this is fair enough.

    Though, over time, while the absolute quality of a used game will not decrease, it’s quality related to newer graphics, gameplay elements, and other technologies will.

    E.g., First gen Wii games weren’t as good with Wiimote integration than later gen titles.

  40. Mordiceius August 26, 2010 / 9:57 am

    It is the same thing with cars though. The feature set of a car from 10 years ago is not like the ones today. You can say that about ANY technology.

  41. Buhallin August 26, 2010 / 9:59 am

    I do understand the argument, Kemwer. But it’s not that simple. Do you have the right? Sure. But for a product which is 99% intellectual, should different rules apply? The physical portion of software is insignificant. Claiming full rights to redistribute a $60 game because you hold the 2 cent piece of plastic isn’t terribly convincing.

    Ayane hits the nail on the head as well. Developers are well within their rights to control how you use your product, and what is provided. Since everyone is so fond of car analogies, this is common – many warranties that you originally pay for are nontransferable. As are many services – I cannot walk out of a movie halfway through and give my ticket stub to some random guy to let him take my place. Nobody argues that one ticket stub to a movie theater should be resellable over and over.

    The little bit of plastic you end up with is not the game. It’s the envelope the game comes in, nothing more. There are clashing paradigms at work here, and the reality of it is still expanding. Both sides are lining up behind a paradigm that benefits them. Since like Ayane I straddle both worlds, I see both sides. I’m sad (although utterly unsurprised) that the gaming community is so selfishly one-sided on this.

  42. Scott August 26, 2010 / 10:44 am

    First this is Syncaine now at two blog posts trying to stir things up with heated debate, which fuels his traffic. Mere blogger or not, there’s truth to that on some level. Remember back in the PDF (Pre-Darkfall) days when Syncaine actually posted well-written and *gasp* thought-provoking articles? In the past year+ of Darkfall, he’s pretty much become a dick with extremely few posts of his former quality being written. Everything else has been childish and trollish flamebait at best. Coincidence?

    It’s been 10 years since I knew anyone in the game business but at the time there was a shocking amount of piracy *within* the business. And it was as small, if not smaller, back then, with plenty of studios sharing copies legitimately yet there was still all these devs pirating others’ products then turning around and complaining about piracy of their own product. You can’t have it both ways.

    Also so many of the commenters are up in arms to “feed the poor developers!” That’s not what got this started, it was a *PUBLISHER* making the comment. THQ is a publisher. EA is a publisher. Ubisoft is a publisher. Yes, they have acquired development studios and may or may not give that studio credit, but at the end of the day it’s the publishers (just like in the music and film industries) with the loud mouths complaining about “lost” sales. Hey, if a developer wants to sell me their game directly (like Trent Reznor has done with his music) great! If I like it, I’ll buy it. Problem is they need the publishers to pony up the cash to create the game. In the current business model you’re don’t get a Mass Effect or whatever blockbuster game without the publisher funding it.

    We get on our high-horse over how “evil” Gamestop is, but how many aim that same vitriol at Walmart or Amazon or whomever has recently gotten into the completely legal used game market? Again, we can’t have it both ways.

    As has been noted, the gaming industry itself is rather small. The “community” of fan(atics?) who actually pay attention to the industry or all the details of individual games or the effects of used game sales on the publisher (then further down the line, the developer) is fairly small as well. To the much more vast audience known as the “general consumer” all they care about is the price. If the BP station has gasoline at $2.97 per gallon while the Raceway across the street is $2.87, guess where they’re going to buy gas? Take a wild guess why Walmart is as huge as it is, or why most cinema-goers see a movie during matinee hours. Most people don’t care — hell, *most* people don’t even *know* — about is something a product, a license, a one-time consumable or reusable… they simply don’t care. What does it cost? That’s what they care about.

  43. xXJayeDuBXx August 26, 2010 / 10:45 am

    Well said Syp.

  44. Tesh August 26, 2010 / 11:43 am

    I haven’t paid full price for a game for… at least five years. I haven’t paid more than $50 for a game for fifteen years. I wait for sales. If a game never goes on sale, I get it second hand.

    (Though notably, I rarely resell them myself. I get games I intend to keep.)

    Bottom line, as a consumer, games are not worth $50 or more (and yes, this includes sub fees). $20 is my max for all but the best games, for which I may go as high as $30.

    That said, I’ve spent hundreds if not thousands on “first purchase” games. I’m supporting devs willy nilly, and am happy to do so. I just do it at a different price point.

    It’s the same old demand curve concept; sales exist to capture other price points on the curve, and they work.

    It’s no coincidence that I have more Steam sale games and XBox Live games than AAA titles or MMO subs.

    I’ve also spent good money at Good Old Games. I love that I can get older great games as “first purchases” without prowling around for a used, scratched copy. The “Platinum Hits” line of PS2 games is great, too, reselling “legit” copies of older hits for $20.

    If publishers/devs (yes, two different groups) want money from me, make a product that I get good value out of. I *don’t want* resale value as part of the calculation, since I don’t want to resell them, but at the $50+ price point, it’s inevitable that I figure in how much I can resell it for when I’m done, to get the ultimate cost to me down to what I want it to be.

    Oh, and speaking as a dev (artist working on XBox Live games), it’s pretty obvious to me that selling smaller, more innovative games at that sweet $15 price point is better business. Yes, I’m not working on Dragon Effect 2, swinging for the fences, but honestly, the hit-driven nature of the industry of late *sucks* for devs and investors anyway. I’d rather make a series of fun smaller games than put all my effort into a $100 million crapshoot.

  45. Kemwer August 26, 2010 / 1:40 pm

    Actually I don’t agree Ayane hit the nail in the head, because while even I talked about used cars here to drive the point, a car is a completely different kind of product, since the media IS the product. You go to a store and buy half a ton of metal and plastic because that is the product you want.

    You don’t buy games because you want a paper box and a rounded piece of plastic. While I understand those that prefer that media, no one will say that this is the product itself. The product is data inscribed on those discs, just as (in a better analogy) the product is the text on a book, not the paper pages. Or again the movie or music ON the disc, not the plastic CD or DVD.

    On those more adequate analogies, the data does not degrade, just as on games. Sure, the media itself can degrade to a point where you can no longer access the data, but if that happens to the game you will no longer install it at all; it won’t just “disable internet access”. That is why saying some features will be disabled after buying it second-hand is ridiculous.

    And again, there is a very health and live market for used books, CDs and DVDs, which doesn’t seem to bother anyone from those particular industries. Do you also think every new reader of Guttenberg’s Bible should send his family money to allow him or her to read past the Genesis?

    Of course it would be better for them if these people bought new products instead of used, but that doesn’t make these customers outlaws or “bad people”. It might make them “not very clever” if they prefer to save $5 on used instead of buying new, but that’s their problem, not the companies. If these companies have a problem with how Gamestop handles business, then deal with Gamestop, and stop putting the blame on the consumer.

  46. Buhallin August 26, 2010 / 2:41 pm

    First off, I can’t find anything in Ayane’s post that even mentions cars, so I think you may have misidentified who I was agreeing with.

    “And again, there is a very health and live market for used books, CDs and DVDs, which doesn’t seem to bother anyone from those particular industries.”

    If you believe this, then you just haven’t been paying attention. There are numerous efforts out there to make media products nontransferable. Kindle books cannot be resold. Music companies are still looking to DRM, and while Apple’s largely relented on DRM, they’ve done it as a seller, not as a producer. Companies came out a few years ago with DVDs that would essentially self-destruct after a week. Content creators have ALWAYS wanted to ensure that the consumption of their product resulted in revenue for them, and have been pushing to expand their ability to enforce that for a long time.

    And while you claim to realize the content is the product, and not the disk, I’m not sure you really do. Should I be able to pass an XBox live title on to a friend when I’m done with it – transfer it from my account to his? What about a game I buy over Steam? What about DLC? Why can’t a friend and I download one copy of a map pack and share it back and forth, as long as neither of us use it at the same time (as we might with a book)? Each of these methods of delivery has far greater no-resale limits than THQ is including, but it’s resulted in remarkably limited outrage – and even as this has turned into a storm of nerdrage, nobody’s bringing them up as something that needs to change. Heck, many people in this discussion are suggesting that the developers MOVE TO DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION, which is perfect enforcement of what everyone thinks they’re disrespectful monsters for trying to do with a physically-purchased disc!!

    The only real difference is the physical media. That touchable object creates a sense of ownership which people cannot divorce themselves from.

  47. Jomu August 26, 2010 / 2:57 pm

    companies should be happy that places like EB takes in used games; EB normally has those trade 3 get it for free, or trade 2 get it for 15$. If they didn’t have such offers, people wouldn’t have the money to buy new games, they’d be more careful buying games and less games would be bought overall. Thats just one of many reasons why we shouldn’t be guilted 😉

  48. Kemwer August 26, 2010 / 3:28 pm

    About Ayane’s comment, I quote: “That’s the same as any used physical product; a used car isn’t of the same quality as a anew (sic) car”. And check my first comment on this post to see my thoughts on digital distribution.

    Please do not confuse my disagreement with your arguments, with support for resale. I said it before, and I’ll say it again: I never sold or bought an used game in my life, and I probably never will, but that doesn’t mean I think consumers are wrong to do it. I specially don’t think consumers should need to pay extra because companies don’t like how Gamestop run their business.

    A guy selling his used game is a matter of ownership transfer, not lost sales. If Gamestop is making this in such scale that is indeed hurting sales, then DEAL WITH GAMESTOP.

    For as long as people need to pay for products, there will be market for cheaper products, so it’s not the consumers fault for looking to pay less, for their own personal reasons.

    But now you tell me that because publishers don’t like how Gamestop runs business, they are going to charge me more so I don’t want to do business with Gamestop… and you think that is OK? Sorry, but no, it’s not ok.

    In resume, my point is this:
    * Should developers be payed for their work? Yes.
    * Do they NEED to get payed every time the product change hands? No. Would it be nice? Sure, but that is a special treatment among all markets and products that I don’t see why they would deserve, when people making essential products don’t get.
    * Does a game degrade with time? No. A car gets older and runs worse, a game looks and plays the exact same later in life (likely even better, when you are running it on better computers than you had at release). Crippling it through artificial means is not the same, and if they want special treatment because it would be the nice and fair thing to do, this definitely doesn’t qualify as “nice and fair”. They kick me in the nuts, and I’m supposed to say “you’re welcome”?
    * Is Gamestop right to sell used products for little less right next to new ones? No. Is it my fault, and should I pay for it? Hell no.

  49. Buhallin August 26, 2010 / 3:47 pm

    Sorry, missed the car bit in Ayane’s comment. My bad on that.

    “Do they NEED to get payed every time the product change hands? No. Would it be nice? Sure, but that is a special treatment among all markets and products that I don’t see why they would deserve, when people making essential products don’t get.”

    This is baffling. “Yeah, it would be nice for you to get paid for everyone who uses your product, but nobody else does so you don’t get to be special even if you can”? And it completely ignores that THERE IS NOTHING SPECIAL about what they’re doing. There are MANY nontransferable goods and services out there, and more coming with the use of technology. I’ve listed several, repeatedly, which is why I find it baffling that you continue to argue that it’s somehow special treatment they want.

    “Is Gamestop right to sell used products for little less right next to new ones? No. Is it my fault, and should I pay for it? Hell no.”

    How exactly are you paying for it? If you buy the game new, it doesn’t affect you at all. If you buy it used, you get a lesser version. You make a decision as a customer whether the missing feature is worth the reduced cost, and you either buy it or you don’t. Poof – done. I’ll flip your own statement on you – if Gamestop insists on charging the same for a lesser version of the game as they do the full version, then that’s an issue between you and Gamestop. So why are you mad at the developers for it?

  50. Kemwer August 26, 2010 / 4:40 pm

    Because it is not a lesser version. I can still play games I bought 15 years ago, and there is nothing “lesser” about them. It is only becoming a lesser version because developers are forcing them to, after they decided they cannot go against Gamestop. The game is the same, it runs the same, it plays the same, they even got the money that costs to allow one person to login to their servers with that particular copy. Why would it be a lesser version?

    It is the same as with a book or a movie. Is The Lord of the Rings naturally incomplete because you bought it used? No, unless the publisher decide that every time it is resold, they need to remove some pages or movie minutes from it which you can only get if you send money directly to the publisher. Tell me if anyone would accept that.

    You listed many non-transferable goods… all that either are digital downloads (which is a different discussion, we are talking about physical media here, things that are possible to resell), or attempts to block physical media resale that, look at that, didn’t catch on because they cripple proper usage even by first time users. It is a special treatment when you say I cannot sell a product on a physical media, when all other products on physical media can be resold without problems, and without need to pay additional fees.

    Like I described before, you are just transferring ownership. You cannot compare this to digital distribution, since there is no way to transfer ownership unless the publisher creates a way, which is what I dreamily suggested on my first comment.

  51. Ayane August 26, 2010 / 4:49 pm

    “You don’t buy games because you want a paper box and a rounded piece of plastic. While I understand those that prefer that media, no one will say that this is the product itself. The product is data inscribed on those discs”

    You’ll get no argument from me on that. 🙂

    I used the car example for two reasons; second hand physical products are often used (by both sides) for comparison (“you can do it with a car so you should be able to do it with games too”) and it makes for an easy to understand analogy. I believe that when compared to other digital media the reasoning still stands, it just becomes a whole lot more complex.

    To give an indication, I don’t believe that the comparison to music or movies holds 100% true either. For one, as I understand those forms of entertainment don’t have cd and dvd sales as their primary income. And secondly, people tend to buy cds and dvds to keep (most people I know buy cds of music they’ve already heard and dvds of movies they’ve already seen; almost nobody buys games that they’ve already played). Once a person play a game it tends to lose all value to that single person, but the value remains 100% for the next person.

    Now, we can continue to argue on about this and discuss the differences in various business models, but in the end I still feel that on the one hand people are perfectly in their right to buy used games and publishers/developers are perfectly in their right to try and decrease the value of second-hand games. And I don’t feel that those who buy second hand have really any right to complain about that since that is the choice that they made.

    “Is Gamestop right to sell used products for little less right next to new ones? No.”

    Actually, I feel that GameStop or any store is in their perfect right to do just that. In fact, it sounds like a very smart business strategy to me.

    I think that the most important thing to understand here is that there is nobody in the wrong here; there are no bad guys. There is just an ever changing landscape as each party adepts to the situation. Right now the publishers/developers are adjusting most strongly and that is fine, that is natural. Consumers will adjust too, as will retail. And this happens in all industries, constantly.

    The only thing really ‘bad’ here, in my opinion, is all the finger pointing of who is supposedly doing wrong. Either adapt or shut up. 🙂

  52. Buhallin August 26, 2010 / 5:25 pm

    “Why would it be a lesser version?”

    Because they chose for it to be. They are perfectly within their rights to do so. It is their product, after all.

    “Tell me if anyone would accept that…didn’t catch on”

    The fact that customers don’t like it doesn’t make it automatically wrong, and it certainly doesn’t support your idea that the games industry is looking for some sort of special treatment. Plenty of industries are trying this at one level or another. So far they’ve decided it’s not worth the hassle, and given in to the demands of the customer base. That has absolutely nothing to do with the ethical/moral question of whether or not companies are right to do this, or whether they deserve the payments they’re seeking.

    “Like I described before, you are just transferring ownership. You cannot compare this to digital distribution, since there is no way to transfer ownership unless the publisher creates a way”

    Seriously?

    A) Company releases media on a physical medium with system to restrict features if transfer of ownership takes place
    B) Company releases media in a way which does not allow transfer of ownership

    How is that any different from the POV of the content?? You haven’t been able to transfer any part of a game bought on Steam, ever, and everybody loves it. But if they suggest putting a restriction on part of a game transferred via physical media, everyone goes nuts.

    That’s because everyone’s perception if based on what they already know. Digital download is new – it has no parallel, so while there might be some occasional grumbling about not being able to resell the game you bought on Steam, it’s minor. But if it’s physical, everyone has a paradigm for how physical works – you can transfer it, share it, sell it, etc. Everyone thinks in terms of discs for movies or books, which had their rules set out hundreds of years ago. People expect for books to work the way they always worked, it has nothing to do with whether or not the way it works is RIGHT, or whether it is denying the author the fruits of their labors.

  53. Kemwer August 26, 2010 / 5:26 pm

    @Ayane: Now you got to the heart of the matter. The problem I have with the discussion is not really with the positions each side is taking.

    While I don’t agree with Gamestop (as in: I wouldn’t do it that way, if I was the owner of store), I don’t think they are wrong or out of the law. I don’t agree with developers crippling games that are bought perfectly within our rights (I bought a disc with content, I should have the right to access all that content), but I can’t disagree that developers have the right to pursue all ways to maximize their profit and make their business viable. And I don’t personally don’t buy used goods, but I believe it’s our right to buy and sell goods we payed for.

    My problem is with these arguments. To say that crippling the game is ok because “all goods degrade with time” is BS (not digital goods). To say that paying for re-activation is OK because developers need to be payed is BS (they already did; they might think they should for every player, but that’s an assumption without parallel on any industry).

    In the end, I think it’s a very simple matter: if you want to charge players extra, go and do it. But don’t try to mask it as a good intention, because it isn’t. It’s companies trying to squeeze more money, which is what companies are about. Say that just the box isn’t paying enough, since it is the main source of income for this particular industry, and you need to find other ways other means of compensation, but don’t put the blame on the consumer, and specially don’t put the blame on the stores and THEN charge the consumer for it.

    And just to add: yes, you are right about music and movies. The music industry is about concert tickets, and movies industry about theater tickets, not CDs and DVDs, which is just additional income on both cases. But books I believe are a valid analogy. It is the main source of income for the industry, the media is not the product, the product doesn’t degrade with time, and they can be freely resold without losing value for the customer.

  54. Kemwer August 26, 2010 / 6:07 pm

    @Buhallin: You cannot compare A to B, because B is derivative of A. That is like criticizing a Ford T because a Ferrari runs faster. One only exists because it is an evolution of the other. It’s pointless to try to compare both on the same scale; of course A will lose by default.

    As I said above, it is not a matter of if they have the right to charge more or not. They decided how much they want to charge for it, it’s $60, it said so on the box, and they can change that if they want. The problem is deciding to charge more for something that was already payed for, and saying that is my fault.

    As Ayane put it, the only thing wrong here is all the finger pointing. If you need to charge more, then charge more, but don’t try to extort money for things that were already payed, and don’t try to push the blame my way.

    Think of it this way: instead of trying to blame resellers or customers, and trying to charge customers extra for an online service that was already payed by the first customer, wouldn’t be so much easier if the game was sold for $50 instead of $60, and getting online cost $10 to create an account (which would be needed for all customers, 1st, 2nd or 3rd hand)? Wouldn’t this have the exact same result, but without all the blame game, and without exploiting users to pay the $10 extra for an online service they might end up not using?

    Damn, even sell the Create-an-Online-Account Card on Gamestop if that’s what it takes to make all three sides happy. And if I don’t want to play online (like me when I got StarCraft II), you even get a discount of $10 compared to what it used to be. Exactly the same result, and suddenly it’s nobody’s fault, it’s just a new way to buy a game. THAT is how you evolve the market without pissing people off, and without abusing of your customers.

  55. Buhallin August 27, 2010 / 1:14 am

    It really has nothing to do with which one wins or loses. I’m not presenting resale-limiting vs. digital delivery as competing options – I’m presenting them as an example of how utterly schizo the gaming community seems to be on this issue.

    And if I read your last post right (it’s very late, and I’m tired) you don’t even seem to have a problem with the money. You’ve just got your panties in a twist because the mean company guy said you aren’t one of their customers. You present a scenario which is the same end result, and say you’re fine with it.

    And all of a sudden I realize we’ve been arguing about different things for the last two days. I’ve been trying to take a serious look at the moral and ethical issues presented by emerging technology. The gaming community has been throwing a tantrum over their hurt feelings. No wonder we’re not getting through to each other.

  56. We Fly Spitfires August 28, 2010 / 5:20 am

    It’s a funny concept that I’ve never actually considered before. The odd thing is though, I can see where the arugment against second-hand games comes from. It’s effectively giving the cash to the shops and not to the developers and, yeah, that does suck a bit.

    But honestly, I don’t really care that much 🙂 If developers are upset about it, all I could suggest is that they lobby to get it so that stores are banned from reselling secondhand games.

  57. Kemwer August 28, 2010 / 3:55 pm

    @Buhallin: what I have a problem with is being charged extra, even as a first-hand customer, because the developer think I’m to blame for their downfall, when in reality is just them getting greedy. You might think they deserve it, but this is where the “it never happened in any industry” comparison comes from: if no one else in the history of mankind ever got payed for something like this before, game publishers and developers desire for that is simply greed.

    My proposal doesn’t change much, but first, it doesn’t in principle blame anyone, because everybody pays the exact same for the services they are complaining to be unpaid; and second, it doesn’t overcharge customers for services, because it gives us the option to not pay for something we won’t use, so my $50 (without the $10 for online access) box of Starcraft II wouldn’t be just subsidizing another guys access, as it happens today (please don’t tell me that Blizzard’s game cost a lot to make so they need the extra money 😛 ).

    The difference might look subtle, but it sends a very, very different message to customers.

  58. Buhallin August 30, 2010 / 3:08 pm

    That’s quite an interesting formulation there.

    “Paying them might be right, but nobody’s managed to do it before, so they’re just greedy.”

    Does it cost you more? Yes. Paying people properly for the work they do often does. Now, we’ve got a word somewhere that describes someone who takes the work others do without compensating them for it… What WAS it…

  59. Kemwer August 30, 2010 / 3:19 pm

    Dude, if this discussion is already this hard because we don’t agree with each other, it just won’t work if you start distorting what I’m saying, and trying to make me sound (just as Tycho on Penny Arcade) as if I’m pirating games.

    They ARE being compensated, they ARE being payed. They want to be payed MORE. It is this simple.

    The difference between this re-activation concept and my idea is just that: they want to be payed EXTRA by each new buyer; I suggested they could be just payed ENOUGH for each player, despite being a new or used box customer. If this continues to be so impossible to understand, I believe we should just let this argument go.

  60. Buhallin August 31, 2010 / 1:55 am

    I understand what you’re saying just fine. You’ve got a ton of excuses as to why it’s OK for you to save yourself some money even if it means you avoid compensating the people who created the product in the process.

    Do they want to be paid more? Yes. But the relevant disagreement here is whether they DESERVE to be paid more. You don’t think they do, because other content creators have a hard time with the same issue (ignoring the many counterexamples where they do manage it) You say they want to get paid more like it’s a bad thing, and they’re somehow just greedy for it, but I think it’s anything but.

    What they are doing is attaching the cost value where it belongs – the entertainment. That’s what they make, and it’s what they sell. Despite your continued assertions to the contrary, this is neither new or unique. Movies are the prime example – when you go to a theater you pay for the experience of the entertainment. You do not forever after have the right to transfer that movie viewing, and you can’t resell your ticket stub.

    What they are doing is taking a product which has typically been bound by physical delivery media – which has essentially confused everyone into thinking they deserve to resell it – and moving it into an entertainment-delivery paradigm – which is what it really is. Again, not new or unique in itself, just new in this specific arena.

    So are they wrong to be attempting to make that transition? Is an entertainment-delivery model somehow inappropriate for gaming? If it is an appropriate model, is there some actual reason they don’t deserve to be able to apply it?

    Because while I do understand what you’re saying, I don’t agree with it. “Nobody else gets to do it so why should they?” is not only inaccurate, but, to be honest, it’s just not a very good argument.

  61. Kemwer August 31, 2010 / 3:55 am

    So according to your movie analogy, not only they deserve to be paid for each person that plays the game (I hope you don’t let a brother or friend touch your computer or video console), but they also have the right to completely kill the concept of replayability on video games, unless you want to pay to play again?

    So, you know, for someone who seems to desire so much to advance the market, you seem very eager to drive us all the way back to arcade machines, paying for each session, and shoving more coins down the slot if we hit the Continue screen.

    Where you are completely wrong is that games are not like a movie theater at all. Consoles where made exactly to allow players to play how much they wanted in the comfort of their homes… like a DVD, which you can watch how many times you want, have you friends borrow, and resell if you wish. So your analogy is just as flawed as the paradigm you suggest to establish.

    Well, I think this discussion ran its course. You obviously don’t understand that I do believe developers must be compensated (maybe you should read again my suggestion on how to compensate them in a way that is fair for everyone), so there is no point in continue with this. Thanks for the exchange.

  62. Buhallin August 31, 2010 / 12:29 pm

    So you admit then that we do at least have some industries that get paid on a per delivery basis? I’ll call that progress.

    The hyperbolic strawman you follow with is just silly. You really see the only possible destination of “sell as entertainment” as “insert coin to continue”? There couldn’t POSSIBLY be some middle ground, where the developer deserves a portion from each player to allow unlimited use by that player? If we’re really going to dream big, we might even throw in the capability for letting friends play on your system, just out of the goodness of our hearts.

    And then we’d wake up in last year. Because that’s exactly what Steam and XBox Live do. And they even manage to do it without causing the mobs to grab torches and pitchforks, or making me drop quarters into the side of my PC every 2 minutes. That’s what’s so pathetic about this whole thing – someone said some mean things about gamers, and they went ballistic, throwing a fit over a 10% suggestion when the 100% solution was reality.

    “Consoles where made exactly to allow players to play how much they wanted in the comfort of their homes… like a DVD, which you can watch how many times you want, have you friends borrow, and resell if you wish.”

    Your first part is pretty accurate here, but then you veer off into complete baseless fantasy. If consoles were DESIGNED to let you loan and resell games, how in the world did we stumble into a situation where content and even entire games are delivered digitally to those very same consoles, where you CAN’T loan or resell them?

    Consoles were designed to let you play games at home, yes. But the loan and resale is an accident of the delivery mechanism, nothing more.

    If you choose to be done with the debate, that’s fine. But you’re mischaracterizing pretty much everything I’m saying. I’ve never claimed that you don’t think devs should be paid – but you ARE trying to set yourself up as the arbiter of what they deserve to be paid, and whether or not they’re nothing but greedy bastards for wanting more for what they’re doing, and you’re doing it with the weakest sort of arguments imaginable. You’re always entitled to vote with your wallet, but if you’re expecting to convince others to do the same you’ll need something a little stronger than a (demonstrably false) “Well, nobody ELSE gets to do this!”

  63. Kemwer August 31, 2010 / 4:40 pm

    Ok, I’m gonna have one more try at it, but I grow really tired of this debate, since you seem so eager to counter my arguments that you don’t seem to have noticed that despite my opinions, I have already offered the compromise you seek three times. Read this with calm, because it’s the last one.

    Before anything else, yes I did make a strawman out of you analogy, because the analogy is, if you forgive me the term, ridiculous. Video games have nothing to do with movie theaters, and I don’t even know how you thought it could be similar. As I discussed with Ayane before, the only media that can be really compared with video games are books (you can read why above), and those allow reselling.

    Now, if you think I’m mischaracterizing what you are saying, you should see what you have been doing with what was said on this thread. “If consoles were DESIGNED to let you loan and resell games”. Who said anything about being designed FOR that? What I said… is what I said, you can also read it there. But once you are selling physical goods, that is an implication. Once you buy an physical good, be it a book, TV, radio, cartridge, CD or DVD, this media is yours and you can loan or resell them if you want. Not by accident, by design (of the capitalist market, not the console, before you try to relate this sentence to the one before). You cannot change that without changing the very concept of “ownership”, and that is a much larger discussion.

    So how did we stumble into a world of digital distribution? Convenience: buying without leaving home or having boxes taking space on your desk, selling without mass producing physical media and having instant feedback on your customers (I at least think that’s very convenient for both). Oh, but now you cannot loan anything, how about that? It’s a different market, operating on different rules, selling different goods. One is selling media that carries software, another is selling software without media. Different markets, different rules, and of course publishers can enjoy the benefits of this new market.

    Does the new market make it impossible to resell or loan games? No, Steam could offer ways to do it, if for some odd reason they wanted to (should anyone expect them to? No. But even I suggested one earlier). If you want to keep the analogies, you might say that with books there is also the new market with eReaders that don’t allow reselling. But funny enough, there are functions on both the Amazon Kindle and the B&N Nook to loan books, where the owner gets unable to read for as long as the book is borrowed. So it’s not an intrinsic limitation to these systems, it’s just something that must be directly implemented, if the platform owner sees the benefit of it. Just because there isn’t one today, doesn’t mean it never will.

    But what developers want here is to cripple the experience of the old market to make it resemble this new one, when you are still paying full price for a media that by design gives you the right to access everything that comes within it. Did they want to change the rules, they got it, there is this new market for that. But they cannot change the fact that on the old, still existing market, they sold a media with the entire content, and they got the cash for it.

    It is my opinion (even if you disagree with it) that if the media changes hands later on, it’s none of their business, because doing it by reselling is not obligatory. If I gave my used game as a gift to my friend, no money got exchanged, so there is none for them to complain they didn’t get a cut of (which is the essence of the case here). As I described before, money is not being exchanged to buy the used game, but to buy my right to play with it, which can also be freely given. You don’t agree, ok, I respect that, since this is more a philosophical concept than any fact.

    But even if I am of that opinion, I still offered a compromise, the middle-ground you want: extract the price for the online component from the full price, and sell online access aside, once for each player. They get paid for each person playing, allow players to not pay for content they won’t use, and don’t charge twice for things already paid for.

    But if they continue selling for $60 a media that offers access to the complete single and multi-player experience without limits, they already got paid for our right to use that media to access that content, no matter how many people put their hands on it. Just… like… a… book.

    If you still think, after this wall of text, that you are correct in you facts (your opinions are your own, I don’t claim to have better opinions that you) and I’m saying wrong, possibly idiotic stuff, than pat yourself on the back and ride to the sunset with pride in your victory, because I think I ran out of different ways to explain myself.

  64. Buhallin August 31, 2010 / 6:16 pm

    Very tired of this now.

    There’s a fundamental disconnect here between the way software professionals view their product and the way you do. That’s obviously not going to change, because you really don’t care about it. I get both sides, as Ayane does. That’s why I’ve said from the beginning that it’s a complex issue.

    This would normally be the point where I throw up my hands and go “You win, I give up.” Except you don’t. Everything’s going digital, and it’s just going to keep going that direction. So I can take comfort in knowing that software distribution is well on its way to overcoming such selfishness with the insidious poison of convenience, and know that you have, indeed, already lost.

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