Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Kotaku and Next-Gen: Used-Game Prevention Tech Makes "Perfect Sense"?

Kotaku recently posted an article about this new rumor going around that the Xbox 720 would support some new tech in it that would prevent you from playing a used game, saying it makes "perfect sense". You're fucking kidding, right? Well, I figured I had to share my comment I posted outside of their world, so here's a copy/paste job:
"No company would lock a machine from ever letting you borrow a game, or ever trade one in. There'd be too much resistance from consumers for the former and from both consumers and retailers for the latter."
So that leaves me to ask: if this whole "lock a copy of a game to a system" actually pans out, exactly what would happen that would allow you to borrow a game or trade a game in? Used game sales definitely take away profits from developers, but everything second-hand takes money away from people. Just look at eBay or craigslist, or even a fucking surplus store or pawn shop. People will bring their shit in to a guy who runs the place, he buys it off of them then resells it at a higher price to make money off of them. This has been going on since the dawn of currency and is completely legal.
Stopping trade-ins or just selling your old video game collection isn't going to happen, but if this "anti-used-games" tech actually pans out, then where would the bar be set in terms of what we can do with our old games we don't care for? A resell program via the publishers? The tech may be a godsend for those that make the games, but completely fuck over the gamers, the people that drive these people's business to thrive.
DLC and online passes are what people have been doing to prolong their game's lifespan in the hands of the person who bought it new, as DLC gives you more for your game (don't you fucking dare release more day 1 DLC for a price) and online passes are their ways of combating used game prices. Yet why do people trade in? Because either the game sucks or there's no reason for them to go back and play it again. Making your games better is one way to combat trade-ins.
I, for one, am a collector, so this really doesn't affect me, but my little brother borrows my gamesad infinitum. If he wanted to borrow a 720 game off of me to play on his system, it wouldn't happen, because that copy has been locked to my system. There is no plausible - or easy - way to be able to allow your friends/family to borrow games without preventing used game sales; you can't let people borrow/sell games and prevent them from doing so at the same time.
If these companies really wanted to, they can keep doing the online passes. Sure, it's a shitty business practice, but at the same time, do we need to be slapping $60 price tags on every fucking game out there? Do we need to spend over a hundred million dollars for development budgets when that game (Battlefield and MW3) will rake in nearly a billion in day 1 sales?
What needs to happen is to reevaluate spending budgets on game titles and the pricing structure.
Firstly, get rid of that $60 threshold and bring it back down to $50; no game is worth $60. If PC games can get by on $50 - and Microsoft's reasoning behind the extra $10 back in 2005 was that the Xbox was a "premium platform" - then so should console games, especially when most of PC games exist on consoles in the exact same degree. Many publishers need to rethink if their game is worth $50. Activision is going to slap the highest possible price tag on Call of Duty as possible. Same with Ubisoft and Assassin's Creed and EA and Battlefield. Other games need not apply for the $50 price tag. As an aspiring game developer, I would be expected to think of my game as the best goddamned thing out there, but if it doesn't have the scope or breadth as the big boys, it shouldn't be priced like the big boys.
Look at mobile apps. These fuckers are priced at $1, and if people see a $5 price tag on a game in the Android Marketplace or iOS App Store, they wig out. Hell, when Namco put out SoulCalibur on iOS at $12, people were freaking the fuck out. People - obviously - want cheaper games. As someone who works retail, I see people all too often putting games back on the shelf because of the $60 price tag. I sure as shit would, as well, as I've become incredibly frugal with games after quitting my government job and having to step back down to retail to accomodate for school. I wait for deals, sign up for frequent buyer programs at places I shop (Reward Zone, for instance) and never buy full price; GameFly is a fucking godsend.
Make better games and rethink pricing structure. Then, you may find more people buying your games and enjoying them.