Do you buy your games second-hand? Then you are a complete cheapskate and the scum of the gaming industry. You’re worse than any sailing going the high seas of warez. Or at least, that’s what publishers want us to consentrate. Whether you have the right to sell the products you have purchased is immaterial: the sale of used games is damaging the games industry.
When a new game is traded in in or sold to a game store, that money is then kept by the retailer rather than reaching the hands of the hardworking developer who spent blood, sweat and tears on creating their pride and joy. The same game Skydom could be bought and sold numerous times and it can be suggested that those purchases are a potential sale which has been thieved from the game companies themselves. It is true you don’t hear the music or film industry whining about their second-hand losses, but does creating an album or a movie compare to the amount of money and effort spent on developing a Triple-A game title? As always, it is the consumer that decides whether a game is worth its $50 price tag, and often they decide to go with a pre-owned price instead.
Rubbish Rewards for New Purchases
Game companies already utilize a number of methods to gain more money after the release of their games in the form of down-loadable content (DLC) and these day there are rewards to buying new. Pre-order bonuses seem to be popular right now with many games including codes for additional DLC or specific in-game bonuses.
Exclusive DLC & Pre-Order Bonuses: Gamers aren’t new to the idea of receiving bonuses within collectors features etcetera, but more recently we’ve been seeing a lot of extra giveaways within new games or as part of pre-ordering a title. Most of this is in-game DLC, such as new tools and armor, new maps or various other cosmetic additions which don’t actually add very much to the game. In fact, most of these items you could probably live without. I don’t really need the Blood Dragon Armor in Dragon Age Beginning and I can live without a skin image occur Myth 3, thank you very much. I would go as far to say that DLC armor is one of the most unnecessary examples of a DLC bonus, ever. Although perhaps significantly less unnecessary as the Horse Armor from the Parent Scrolls INTRAVENOUS: Oblivion.
In some cases, the DLC offered is a little more substantial. Some games offer missions or quests, and this feels as though more of a ‘thank you’ bonus. Bioware have taken this one step further by offering a DLC delivery service in Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age 2. This service allows players to download a series of free items, as well as access paid DLC. In Mass Effect 2, this included a few extra side-quests and exclusive armor/weapons (Groan). Player’s can also add a new character to their game team, Zaeed, and he sported their own loyalty mission and a few small areas to explore plus a new weapon. Whilst this is a better bonus and adds more to the game, if you didn’t purchase Mass Effect 2 new, then getting a hold of Zaeed would cost you 1200 Microsof company Points ($15). Yikes.
The cost and worth of DLC is something to discuss at a later point, but to evaluate the standard of future DLC, compare it to the Undead Nightmare pack from Red Dead Redemption. For only 900 Microsof company Points ($10), a whole new single player game is revealed which opponents the original game. It’s a stunning example of quality DLC.
Online Passes: Now this seems to be an interesting/worrying trend in recent games, eliminate as appropriate. It all started with EA as they introduced the idea of an ‘Online Pass’ for some of their major titles, such as Dead Space 2, The Sims 3, Madden AMERICAN FOOTBAL 11, etc. This online pass is a one-time code gives access to online multiplayer functionality in their games. Therefore that you are restricted from playing online if you do not either buy the game new, and thus have a pass code, or you may spend $10 on acquiring this pass if you’re unfortunate enough to buy the game second-hand.
A few companies formerly started to fight it, including Ubisoft, Codemasters, Warner, THQ and now Sony. Sony will be following the same trend by offering a code at $10 for second-hand gamers and this effort begins with the release of Resistance 3.
Whilst online passes are a good method to create profits from potential lost sales, they’re also rather worrying as they penalize second-hand gamers, effectively draining away a amount of game content from the player. In some cases, the online area of the game is much bigger than the obligatory story mode and if you’re already paying for services like Xbox Live Gold or Ps3 Plus, then it just adds on an extra fee.
Un-resettable Game Saves: Now this ‘incentive’ really does take the cake. In the recent Kama’aina ( Evil Mercenaries title by Capcom on the 3DS, players are avoided from getting rid of their save data. This means that the game cannot be started from scratch and appears to be a primary attack against second-hand games. Now, it isn’t a big deal in Mercenaries 3d, as this data roughly translates into high scores and some unlockables, but imagine if it was used in other games, such as an RPG? What if you bought a second-hand game which was already completed? As a result for this move, most rental stores are not willing to stock Mercenaries 3d.
Club Nintendo: Nintendo offer some of the more interesting rewards for new purchases. Each new game includes a card which can be redeemed for points within the ‘Club Nintendo’ service. Here, gamers can spend their points on a wide variety of collectable Nintendo merchandise, ranging from paper prints to clothing. There are loads of items which can be saved for. Never mind that some of the better items require a handful of points and probably ten hundred Wii’s, getting physical items for your loyalty is a pretty neat idea.
Imagine if you could be honored with Microsof company points to spend on XBLA games? Or maybe you could spend those points on real life items, such as control pads, or paper prints? I would like to see real rewards as an bonus rather than some poor in-game armor.
Casual & Digital Games: There is a reason why digitally down-loadable games, such as those on XBLA or PSN as well as mobile gaming, have become so popular. They offer a great gaming experience for a cheap price. All of these services have cultivated over the years, from selling small retro games to fully-fledged gaming experiences which are big enough to make many full-priced games be sad. I know I would faster have Limbo on my Xbox than some fake Kinect version of Carnival Games, and it’s really much more affordable too.
Mobile and indie games are continuing to grow and many game developers are already aware that smaller games are an alternative to big budget titles. This doesn’t mean we’ll see the end of Triple-A games, but it does re-evaluate the value of such games.
Lower Those Prices: Simple truth is, not everyone can afford to buy a full priced video game. We’re living in tight times, and with some titles selling for as much as $60, for many it’s a case of buy cheap or lose out. Some games may be honestly not worth $50 and are reduced to half price within just weeks. Even digitally distributed titles can cost the maximum amount of if not more than their retail counterparts. Pre-owned games are popular because they are cheaper. Simple, really.