Want a reason to put on your rage face this afternoon? Look no further than Crytek’s Director of Creative Development, Rasmus Højengaard, who told gaming cite, CVG, that it would be “absolutely awesome” if next-gen consoles blocked used games. What. The. Fuck.
On the surface, the argument that game developers lose quadrillions of dollars on second-hand sales makes a tiny bit of sense; games bought and sold after the initial first sale bring monetary income to large numbers of people save for the original developer of the game in question. If more and more people started buying/selling used games as opposed to new games, developers could be out of a job.
The big problem, though, is that Højengaard’s statement is based on but one small factor of what makes being a game developer profitable as well as a tiny sliver of what makes people spend money on the games/franchises that they do. If someone is on the fence about a game, buying the same game used is a way for a person to see if the game in question is really all that great. If it is, the person runs a high chance of becoming a loyal fan to said game/franchise for many years and more apt to spending money on 1st-hand games/products down the road. I
Rumors have been flying around the last few months claiming next-gen consoles would do away with used games. If so, it is effectively the beginning of the end of the console market. There is zero reason a game I legally purchase, enjoy and want to get rid of cannot be sold to another person to do the same. It is a physical product. If you want to jump on the fact that it is merely a digital file on a physical product, fine. There are plenty of asinine moves that publishers have already begun using — buying new licenses to “unlock” online play.
Højengaard’s flawed rationalization is much the same as the music/movie industries. Like the aforementioned industries see a pirated movie or song, so does Højengaard see used games. That is, the former industries think each and every illegally downloaded song/movie is a lost sale. It isn’t. Many people would never buy the song/movie in question if no illegitimate means were available, hence no actual “loss”. A digital file costs nothing for the original company to reproduce and distribute once it hits the public. The public incurs those costs through their own monthly internet/data plan fees. Much the same, Højengaard seems to believe that each and every 2nd-hand/used game sale is lost money out of a game developer’s pocket. Again, it isn’t. A used game is often 25% or more cheaper than full price game (which if you haven’t looked recently, are ridiculous). If a person buying a used game suddenly can’t buy them/play them anymore, it’s not a sure bet that they’re going to instead just go buy the full version. They very well may say “the hell with this” and simply not buy anything at all.
As I said before, there is no reason game developers can’t make money on used game sales. The multiplayer online unlock license code is one way. I’m sure there are many more that have yet to be utilized. Sadly it appears game developers like Crytek are now rolling over and simply giving up or getting complacent just like the music/movie industries have in recent years. Instead of continuing to grow with digital solutions and adapt, they’re trying to cut and paste parts of their old physical-based industry onto newer digital ones. It’s a frankenstein puzzle that ultimately won’t work, and in the end will do more harm than good.
Of course, the real kicker: if game developers are really worried about losing sales to used games, perhaps they should begin making truly unique, good games instead of half-assed, incremental versions (looking at you Call of Duty) released every ~8-12 months. Spend a little more time to make something worth legitimately owning.
For gamers’ sake, I hope both Sony and Microsoft don’t follow this moron’s strategy. It’s bad for gamers and it’s bad for game developers.