2nd hand games destroying the market? No! Abuse of prices and DLCs are!

Posted: 24/04/2012 in Gaming
Tags: , , ,

It’s something that you hear often nowadays “company x blames the 2nd hand game market”, “company y attributes a fall of revenue to 2nd hand games”. The developers and publishers of this world are quick to turn around and point the finger at us, the gamers. It’s our fault that they are considering only online downloads, it’s our fault as one publisher said “there is no longer a tail in selling games” (will explain later). Have they ever considered just why the 2nd market had grown so popular? Or are they, becoming like every other entertainment media in that they feel they can charge the same for less and people won’t notice?

As I said above, you hear rumours almost on a daily basis how publishers and developers are considering going to a download only model so that their games can’t be sold 2nd hand (you also hear how both Sony and Microsoft might also go down that same route with their next generation game consoles). Why are they considering doing this? Well in their eyes there used to be a time when games were released and they would make some fast bucks before slowly tailing off and after a few months become a steady stream of cash (hence the phrase “the tail”), however the claim is now that because the 2nd hand market is so profitable that the “tail” is no longer there. Therefore games companies are having to think of other ways to generate post-release sales (hence their reason for DLC’s).

Now I don’t buy this, and if you work in the gaming industry I apologize but as someone who is looking at it from outside the core of industry then I have one word to describe what I think about this … Bollocks!

In my opinion the real reason why the 2nd hand market has taken off is because the majority of game publishers/developers are disconnected from the general player base themselves and how an underlying mistrust has developed between the two groups of people. First up, and yes I’ll admit it’s a regular one for people who play games, is the pricing of games. As a rule, new release games cost between £40 and £50, and at this moment in time, with the current economic situation that’s a lot to shell out. I know there have been reports about how the gaming industry has “flourished” during the global recession but the question still has to be asked. If there the gaming industry is flourishing why are developers and publishers complaining. They are complaining because quite a few people nowadays are waiting for them to appear in 2nd hand shops, such as CEX, Game or online on Amazon, Hot Deals UK, Ebay or any other site like it. Basically once a game has been released, the title itself stops making money after a few months.

So what’s the problem I hear you ask. Surely they have a right to be unhappy about this and it’s understandable that they want to clamp down on this. Right? That’s all well and good but then you come to the mistrust part which I think is starting to play a bigger part then anyone anticipated, even if the bigwigs at EA, Activision etc, can’t see it.

With a few exceptions, games nowadays tend to feel shorter. They tend to feel as if “well this is lacking somewhat” or “I thought this was supposed to have this feature? Where is it?”, then all of a sudden, a DLC appears .. LOOK AT ME! I BRING SHINY EXTRA STUFF!

The publishers and developers might claim that they are doing this because of the booming 2nd hand game sub-industry but I would argue that it’s because of the attitude towards the release of DLC’s, is what in turn is causing the 2nd hand gaming industry to boom. I find it myself. I’m wary of buying a game as soon as it’s released because I know within 2 months time (sometimes as early as the same day of release), there will likely be a DLC that comes out with “extra maps” or “extended missions”. I look at this and I think, “why should I pay £40 for a game, and then almost immediately after have to fork out another £15-£20 for a DLC that should have been in the game in the first place? Why should I now pay £60 to make a game complete that 3-4 years ago would’ve cost just the £40? I’m sorry but I can’t see it as anything other than blatant profiteering.

Those who disagree with what I just said sometimes argue back that the cost of games are lower as digital versions then they are as hard copies and therefore people will save money. That’s not really the case though is it? Let’s give a few examples. The first price will be the digital copy price, the second price will be the hard copy price. Yes I’m using Amazon for the hard copy prices. 🙂

Look at the difference in prices there and tell me where the consumer benefits by buying a digital copy? The short answer is that they don’t. Digital copies in theory should be cheaper than hard copies and the cost of manufacturing discs and covers and the man power is requires to sell them isn’t there. Instead what you get are companies blatantly ripping people off on their online stores. This is why I don’t believe the real reason why a shift to digital downloads is due because people are buying 2nd hand games. The shift to digital downloads is for one reason, and one reason only. Pure greed.

I would like to say at this point though that not all DLC’s are bad. You have independent game companies who release a game for between £5-£10 and then every now and again will release a DLC  for between £1 and £3. These people are tiny independent companies, sometimes just with a minute team. When you consider the amount of hours they put in per head compared to the major companies listed above, they are probably putting in more effort too. Unfortunately because of the way the major developers/publishers are using and above the digital download system and the DLC system, it’s tainting that entire sector which in turn could make it more difficult for the independent companies to get their games out.

To sum it up. I don’t believe that the 2nd hand gaming industry is the reason “the tail no longer being there”. I believe that it’s the attitude of the developers and publishers in their general pricing and the way they treat the digital download sector and their attitude towards DLC’s, who are causing gamers to no longer trust them, and thus they are holding back, thus allowing the 2nd hand market to boom. It’s not the gamers that have allowed this to happen, it’s the people who make and distribute them!

  1. lucas leach says:

    seriously mate thank you and in my case i just don’t have the interest to buy new games. not since the disappointment that was ff13. mw3 was also a huge disappointment just reinforcing that it was a bad idea. in fact, i haven’t been excited about a game since ff13 let me down so hard. until until now dragons dogma looks amazing and if i’m wrong i think it will be my last game i seriously feel that developers/publishers no longer see us as people

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