You buy a car. You buy a brand new car. It’s expensive. Your friends call you an idiot, but who cares. You love cars. You love that new car smell.
But imagine if, when it came time to buy a new car, you weren’t allowed to sell your old one. That car you bought brand new a few years back? You can’t trade it in for a new model. Now take things a little further: imagine if, from the second you plunked your buttocks in the seat and gripped the steering wheel, only you could drive the car you just bought from the moment it left the showroom till the day it hit the scrap yard.
Here’s another example.
Imagine you could only buy brand new houses. Imagine if, in a moment of collective madness, the Australian government passed new legislation stating that — in response to a flagging economy, and issues with the broader building industry’s sustainability — you could no longer sell the house you own to other human beings.
If you want to live in a new house you have to leave your current property empty and build a brand new one. Because, screw you, the building industry is finding things a little tricky right now and you have to subsidise it.
Yesterday a couple of things happened. To begin with, a new leak stated the new Xbox may limit the consumer’s ability to play used games. Then, in response to this Luke Hopewell, my super cool colleague over at Gizmodo wrote this. Luke claimed he will never buy a used game again, citing the demise of THQ and great franchises like Darksiders as the reason why. When you buy a used video game, he said, you are not supporting the people who developed that game. You’re giving them nipple cripples; removing their ability to feed their starving children. Every time you buy a used game Jesus strangles a lolcat with a controller cord.
But everyone seems to be forgetting a harsh but simple truth: as a producer you only get to sell the thing you make once. You don’t get to have your cake and eat it. You just don’t. And as a producer of things you don’t get to dictate what is done with your product once you sell it.
And you certainly don’t get to punish the consumers that prop up your industry. That — again — is insanity.
But let’s take a step back. This is purely speculative. At this point we have no real idea whether or not the new Xbox actually will stop users from playing used games but if it does then your rights as a consumer are being seriously stamped on. No other consumer industry does this. And if they did you can best bet it would not fly. Not for a second.
Here is a problem: and it’s a real one. Somewhere along the track video game consumers — the early adopters, the type that queue up on launch day — have either been convinced, or have somehow convinced themselves, that it is their responsibility to help rescue the games industry. We’re passionate and enthusiastic to the point where some of us actually feel bad for buying used games, and that is being reinforced by a narrative that claims we’re somehow responsible for the continued existence of an industry that really should be taking responsibility for itself.
Here’s another harsh truth: you make the video games, and then we buy the video games. That’s where the relationship should end. If you’re not making money, we the consumer are not the ones that need to be punished. We are not responsible and we sure as hell shouldn’t be held accountable. You, the producer of these goods, need to find a way to make video games profitable. It really is as simple as that.
As gamers we’re already being asked to subsidize the industry. We’re already being asked to give back. Day one DLC, online passes, pointless pre-order bonuses, ‘collector’s’ editions. We’re being asked to pay more and content is already being withheld from us. I’m willing to forgive that. It’s a band-aid response to a gaping wound of a problem but it’s a relatively honest response and I can respect that. It’s the equivalent of a warranty you don’t need, or the extras on your car. It’s an overpriced conservatory tacked on to the back of your house. There is still an exchange of cash for services rendered. That’s fair.
But putting the kibosh on used games? Punishing the consumers that keep your business afloat? Not fair. Not even close.
Lifehacker’s Chris Jager also discussed the issue of used games here, but he has a completely different reason for not buying them.