Yet Another Game Developer Claims Used Games Kill Innovation

rumours continue to swirl about the next iterations of the PlayStation and Xbox consoles. With nearly nothing actively confirmed by either Sony or Microsoft, one of the most popular recurring threads is that the consoles will in some way block the owners' ability to play secondhand, used copies of physical games.

Players and consumers tend to decry the idea, pointing out the ways in which the availability of purchasing, trading, swapping, borrowing, and renting used games means they play and are exposed to titles and franchises they otherwise would never touch. Publishers tend to love the idea, because they only see revenue from the first sale of a physical copy, and they equate "no used sales" with "more new sales". A number of developers and publishers have spoken out this year about the ways in which they feel used games are harmful.

This week it's Patrick Bach, who is the interim CEO of DICE, the developer behind the Battlefield games. In an interview with CVG, he makes perhaps the most strained argument yet, explaining that the existence of used games on the market actively prevents the development of new and interesting IP:

So if you think that there are too few new IPs on the market, no one can take that risk if their game is at risk of being resold too many times. ... So on the positive side you could see more games being created because of this, and also more new IPs, because there'd be a bigger market for games that don't have for instance multiplayer. There could be awesome single player-only games, which you can't really do these days because people just pirate them, which is sad.

This comes on the heels of another comment trashing used games, from Crysis developer Crytek. Last week Crytek's head of creative development told CVG that it "would be absolutely awesome" for next-gen consoles to block used games, adding, "It's weird that [second-hand] is still allowed because it doesn't work like that in any other software industries, so it would be great if they could somehow fix that issue as well." However, he had to walk back his seeming honesty very shortly thereafter, claiming the statement "was not intended to be taken seriously."

Someone representing a major publisher claiming that the existence of secondhand console games is wrecking the creation of new games? It must be a day that ends in "y." Still, this is clearly territory that gamers and studios are going to be having conflicts over for quite some time.

DICE: Next-gen used games block 'can be a win and a loss' [CVG]

Photo: Flickr user goodrob13


    And what do we do when a game is no longer sold new, eh? It disappears and can never be played again. As a game collector, that is not a future that I would appreciate.

      So the validation server is no longer running? Guess this game I legitimately purchased with real money is now a ridiculously expensive coaster.

        And this will be the next problem: "People being able to play these games forever is costing us revenue. Why would they buy new games when they can continue to play their old ones? We need to make it so no games work more than 2 years after the original purchase, to drive innovation.

        If they really want to play it after this amount of time, and we see that there's enough demand to run the authentication server, we will let them purchase a new copy."

        I wish this was a far-fetched tale. There have been examples of this already (see the Rock Ban iOS stories).

        No longer running?

        What's your scenario? "I'm living in the year 2096 and I can't buy a brand new copy Medal of Honor II because the servers are no longer running, oh phooey?"

          No the scenario is that there seems to be a push to put this on SINGLE PLAYER GAMES. So maybe 10 years down the track I try and play my legally purchased game and it's "Oh LoL we've since moved onto a different authentication system now your game is an overpriced coaster."

          Or the scenario that already happens. Buy a legal copy of a game (could be on the game's release day) and you go to play it on a non-net connected machine (or your connection is a bit shitty, or you're waiting a few days for it to be linked in at a new place) and you simply can't start the game because it needs to authenticate to some server, even though you don't want to use ANY online functionality.
          I've seen that scenario occur years ago actually with a friend, they only had a modem connection then and it wasn't good enough for the game to authenticate apparently, so they got a refund and pirated the game because they'd rather get a properly working product than one that for all intents and purposes was broken.

          Ummm. YES.

          People will probably want to be able to play some old game if they damn well want to and damn well own it. I would be very happy for people to be able to play said Medal of Honor at any time after release.

    Yeah, used buyers NEVER buy any DLC or recommend the games to their friends or any other revenue-generating activities for the publisher/developer...

      Be careful saying that - most publishers cop flak for releasing day 1 DLC or online passes, while these are measures to collect revenue from second-hand buyers.

        day1 dlc =/= all dlc

    Silly claim.
    I bought a game second hand because the reviews were poor, bit I enjoyed it enough to buy DLC.

    +1 to both the posts above mine

    Also used games are a new thing apparently, I mean it's not like the gaming industry has still pushed forward all these years while people have been having no problems buying used games! o.0

      To be fair, just because something has existed in the past doesn't mean it hasn't had a negative impact that's been slowly increasing to tipping point.

        Does this tipping point of yours even exist?

        Used book sales have been around for centuries and it hasn't killed off the book market. The same goes for cars, clothes, music, practically everything expect the essentials like food.

        When profits are down, publishers often turn to one of two excuses to make themselves feel better. The first is piracy and the second is the used games market.

        While I am aware that publishers only see the first sale, I do not see it as harming the market. In fact, I see attempts to kill off used games sales as killing the market.

        The simple reason is that games are not published indefinitely. After a couple of years they go out of print. So how does own discover old gems and then seeks an interest in other games by the same publisher and/or developer? They like this used game and may decide to buy new ones.

        At the end of the day, the "used games sales are harmful" is often played by publishers who expect mega profits from their investment and get irrate when the game tanks and people buy it used instead.

          Most likely.

          However, the point is that simply saying "The industry still survives, therefore this has never been a problem" is illogical. It could have been a small problem that has gradually increased over time to something more.

          Obviously, given your multiple posts and replies to everyone here, you're of a different opinion, and that's fine. However, neither side is "right" here, and claims such as "Just make better games, gosh" aren't adding anything.

            I didn't only say that though, I referred to the posts above mine in addition to that point. Maybe you'd prefer I rewrote the posts above mine again to present a more "complete" argument, but that would have been pretty damn redundant.

            I haven't read all the posts yet, but I haven't yet seen anyone make the argument “Just make better games, gosh.” Strawmen don't add anything to the discussion either.

              Apologies, I did not mean to say you had said that in your post - obviously, you didn't.

              I was referring the to general argument that surfaces either in piracy or used game discussions often that is simply "If you made GOOD games, none of this would happen".

                "“If you made GOOD games, none of this would happen”"
                That's not what people say.
                What they say is that if they made good games then they'd have no bother to complain.
                Making good games doesn't stop used games or piracy. It makes MONEY.

            Actually the, 'Just make better games', part makes a lot of sense..... look at The Witcher 2 on XBOX360.... awesome single-player only game and a roundabout price of $69 across all retailers, yet since release day till now I'm yet to see even 1 used copy on the shelves of any of my local stores.

            Case in point, developers/publishers CAN create/ship great quality games WITHOUT Multiplayer nor DRM and make a great profit.

          Because books have the same addictive and visceral nature that videogames do to make that a totally bang on worthy comparison!

          Also that's a BS example since people who finish reading those books don't immediately sell them back the very next day.

            "Also that’s a BS example since people who finish reading those books don’t immediately sell them back the very next day."

            Cause everyone does with games? wut?

            I imagine some DO do that very thing with books. You're making a pretty sweeping generalisation there.

              Well, to make it fair, does this example exist in real life? (Hint: it doesn't)

              1. Go to Angus and Robertson. Buy a book on day one.
              2. Read it.
              3. Day two, go back to A&R. They buy it back from you at 25% of the price you paid, then put it on the shelf next to the new books for 90% of the full, new book price. The book is also somehow magically identical, with no dog-ears, coffee stains, or broken spines.

              I know people like throwing around "But in this other thing over here..." but if there's drastically different real-world scenarios. Comparing like to like is the only fair way to assess if it's a fair comparison. In this case, it's not.

                I don't know since I've never done this thing with either books or games. In fact of those I've never sold on either *shrug*

                The used books industry could possibly be said far more dangerous than the used games industry (with regards to the above example anyway), because the price for consumers for a used book is considerably lower than RRP... and therefore a more tempting buy.

                  Totally. My local used book store sells some of the books I want for $2 a pop. Much more attractive than $30.

                  Then again, the Australian book industry and pricing is a massive can of worms!

                Can you run a HIGHLY profitable store selling just new games?
                Book stores can (up until recently that is, of course it has nothing to do with used sales)

                I don't know about you but I almost never get a used game with "no dog-ears, coffee stains, or broken spines." Then again I give a damn about what the game comes in.

                  Those are for illustrative purposes that tie into the analogy.

                  To make it crystal clear: if a game does not have degraded gameplay, graphics, or other features of the actual "product", then it's "dog ear free".

                  The closest you could come to linking dog-eared or spine-broken books would be an online pass.

    "So if you think that there are too few new IPs on the market, no one can take that risk if their game is at risk of being resold too many times."

    Translation, there are too few new IPs because publisher do not want to take risks. Period.

    Stop trying to kid yourselves publishers. Used games are her to stay and the only way to move on is to take more risks rather than be paranoid about your bottom line.

    I'd love to see a post that aggregates all these comments titled "Yet Another Gamer With No Clue About Business, Psychology Or Economics Claims Used Games Are A-OK!"

      *Places a sign next to Alex reading 'Please do not feed the troll'.*

        Are you so deluded as to think that I'm seriously just talking nonsense?? This is an expensive hobby people, one that, if you love and respect as much as you say, you should (and eventually, will) pay what it's worth.

        What is it about creative industry clients and customers that makes them think it's their right to pay whatever the hell they feel like, and that full priced games, artworks, designs, etc are essentially a rip off?

        This is people's careers you're ruining with this childishness. Buying used games is the difference between the new guy keeping or losing his job once the project is over. He may be someone just like you, hell, he may even be the future you. This is his dream and you are crushing it. The company won't go out of business, but he (or she) will be fired and all of his great ideas will be wasted.

        And don't go on about industry figures saying used games are a great thing, because 9 times out of 10 this is a Notch, or a Jonathan Blow, or some other one man development team who operates out of his apartment or small business. They have no real team to pay, or lights to keep on, or numerous other overhead costs that are a very real reality for anyone who releases physical games and has to advertise them incessantly.

        The used market is a great thing in so many industries, but in the games one, it risks taking over the REAL industry. Your used game purchase may mean that you play a game you never would have played before, but it also means you won't get the chance to play anything like it for a long, long time.

        And if you don't have the foresight or maturity to see that this bubble is about to burst... well you better hope your mum increases your weekly allowance sooner rather than later.

          "This is people’s careers you’re ruining with this childishness."

          Nice try Alex, but again you have proven yourself wrong. I know that when a developer makes a game, it often goes to a pbulisher for release.

          During the creation of a game, the developer is paid a wage. The problem is publisher only see a return in the sales of games.

          Thus, my buying second hand is by no means tied to the career of a developer. It is in the hands of publishers who favour high profit over everything else. Even if a game is good and sells well the publisher can still axe the developer's latter projects.

          Again, the used game market is here to stay and is no larger thread to the game industry than it is to other industries that involve car, books, etc. This claim is often made by publishers so are upset they are not getting their envisions huge profits.

            You keep saying that - but it's not.

            Used games on consoles are going to go the same way as used games on PCs. It's a matter of *when*, not *if*. If the next generation of consoles doesn't outright ban them, it'll take the biggest step towards it possible. It's highly unlikely that'll see the end of consoles - there will be enough things there to encourage people to come along for the ride.

            How much do you think it costs to make a game that will get a score of 8 or above? A game people will deem "worth playing"? They want huge profits because they need them.

            The game doesn't sell well and these companies don't get their bonuses, their games are put on indefinite hold (Mirror's Edge 2), the publisher stops approving new IPs, and eventually, yes, people lose their jobs.

            It's not a separate thing at all. Publishers and Developers are so intertwined that nothing affects one without affecting the other.

              Alex, I am not responsible for the actions of the publisher. I am only responsible for my own actions and consequences.

              If I elect to pay second I do so knowing I am getting the game in a worn state and possibly missing a manual. The consequence of publishers axing projects due to poor sales (Mirror's Edge 1 while unique was poorly designed so DICE has itself to blame) lies soley with the publisher.

              My buying second hand games is not tied to developers losing their jobs unless I somehow work in their HR department.

              If you want someone to blame, blame the publishers as they are the ones responsible. Not us, the gamers.

              “Yet Another Gamer With No Clue About Business, Psychology Or Economics..."
              Think you might have accidentally described yourself there as well, Alex.

          "if you love and respect as much as you say"

          That's emotional blackmail.

          Developers are making a product. There is nothing else to it. Once it's out there it is at the whim of the legal markets. People aren't stealing anything here, GOODS are being traded.

            Give this man a prize - he is 100% correct. At the end of the day, it's just trade and the relationship stops once the first purchaser walks away with the product and the reciept.

          so what your saying is if a game is old and no longer being published to bad

        *Places sign next to WiseHacker reading "Beef riblets, $3 ea."*

    What's killing innovation is MONEY.
    Would you risk millions of dollars or would you risk millions of dollars? The difference is one has some used games buyers in it. But I won't tell you which one, or how many it sold anyway, because it doesn't matter.

    What do these devs do to get so upset? Do they go into a Gamestop, see someone buy a used copy and shed a tear?

    dont like 2nd hand game sales? develop for the PC market. no second-hand sales on that platform.

      That's all well and good but they are trying to MAKE money, and no second hand sales due to developing for PC is just jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

    Here's what will happen, as far as I can see it.

    - Games move to physical + digital concurrent release, downloadable through platform systems (PSN, Steam, Origin, XBL). A lot of this has already started (hello, Vita!)
    - Physical copies need to be "registered" to play. While you can initially trade them in, Used copies require a license to be bought to work (aka: ability to register). This will significantly devalue the used game market to the point of it stopping.
    - Games going "out of print" is no longer an issue - you'll be able to obtain old games via distribution platform, just not hard copy versions.
    - "Used games" cease to be profitable for anyone, effectively killed without direct blocking.

      Also, like others have pointed out, this is the way the Used Game PC market was effectively killed.

      It stands to reason that the Console market will follow the same route. People will kick up a fuss, and eventually everyone will forget about it.

        It's not just the used game market that is being killed on PCs. It is the new game market because teh DRM being used is often invasive and how DRM is even being used on demos.

          The new game market is doing perfectly fine on PCs, by all accounts.

            Depends on the game. Take Assassin's Creed II. An absolute disaster because Ubisoft desided that all users had to have a perminant Internet connection.

            And before anyone tries to play that one side card, irrespective of Internet being cheap or not that is an additional expense on the end user that is unjust.

      - so many problems could arise from this, did we see what happened to the PSPgo?
      - Oh dear, now the consumer thought police are commissioned. "Did you buy that game sonny? Oh you might have borrowed it from a friend? Sorry but you gotta pay!"
      - You'll be able to get old games as long as they *let* you get old games.
      -It's collusion.

        It's not really worth the time, but:

        1. We're talking digital AND physical co-release. Like everything on Steam, like everything on the Vita. Doesn't seem to be tanking, does it?
        2. It's already happening with online passes. Won't be long before it happens for other games. As discussed by industry people plenty of times, having it tied to your account simply means logging into your account on a friend's console when you bring the disc over in order to play.
        3. Somehow, I think we'll be fine. No-one is going to stop you buying a back catalogue.
        4. Good heavens no. If you need to pay a registration fee for used games, it'll only survive if game shops discount the used game purchase by at least that much. They won't - look at online passes. That'll mean the value of buying a used game is removed. Also, if they DO discount it, they'll discount their repurchase price by the same amount. That'll remove the value of selling a game.

        You should probably look up "collusion". This is all perfectly legal.

          1. I apologise, I did not read that first point properly.
          2. I don't understand how explaining it is better than what we used to have, nor how people with doubts are supposed to feel better about it... I mean WHY do ANY games have to be tied to accounts? If you bought it, you bought it!
          3. I find it amazing that people have so much trust in industry and business. No-one will stop me from buying/playing back catalogue? Well why not? I mean why in the world will they want me to buy/play old games when there are newer, more profitable ones available?
          4. Please point out another industry that removes built-in functionality when it is traded privately? and before you mention that online functions cost devs money, it makes it even harder to excuse paid services like xbox live. Or even the existence of things like transferable warranties.

          I should have clarified: I didn't mean 'collusion' as a horribly illegal thing that they are clearly all doing. I meant it as a business strategy which is designed to benefit all business parties who have an interest in it, while causing harm to those who don't (second-hand retailers and consumers respectively).

    Does not affect me. I'm a PC gamer and the used market doesn't exist except for games from the 90s and early 2000s. DRM, Steam and all the other bullshit has killed the PC used games market.

    I buy everything I can from now, DRM free kicks ass.

      ooooh, oooh, yes! listen to Mr James Wilson. He has a good point. the introduction of locking games to a specific account has just increased the number of pirates. Already, people can hack their consoles and play dloaded games for free. Only really good games which people want to play online are bought new.

    Calm your hollywood blockbuster game budgets down a bit maybe?

    Is it just me or do most of these statements (no not all) come from people who aren't making very innovative games to begin with : /

      That's the thing that got me, battlefield hasn't really innovated since their first game. All the newer games have just built on what they know the public wants, which is kind of the opposite of innovating.

      Sure, 2142 might have been different, but futuristic shooters had been popular in the past, so even that wasn't a super innovative venture.


        Crytek should talk to writer Richark K morgan. I borrowed a mates copy of Altered Carbon, fell in love. since then i bought every other novel he has made except for market forces

    Somebody forgot to capitalise the very first letter of this article.

    Necessity is the mother of creation, and 500 million dollar budgets for games aren't necessary.

    MW3 was a used game when released. too many games are reycled, rebranded copies of eachother. i wont pay for that

    If someone sold a decent freespace/wingcommander/mechwarrior game i would buy it on the spot. I miss quality sims. I also laught at the RPG RTS as a 'new thing', even when blizzard did it. Mech commander 1 did it in 1998

    Games I have bought new on the spot AND liked are:
    Dawn of war 2 because they where originalish.
    Fear 1-2 love the concept
    Trine 1-2 retake on the side scroller, awesome
    Ass creed and mass effect 1-2 new take on RPG with compelling stories
    dungeon defenders

    took back the moment I played them
    fable 3 - sorry guys i got over hugging people to progress the story. its like a rail shooter 'open ended rpg'
    MW3 -went back to BF3 and blackops

    But ill by new copy of a old game if it reviews badly but i think it has promise. then i might buy the sequal.

    Please! Second-hand games in no way affect the amount of money made by developers. All second-hand games have been bought as new at one stage. Therefore, that game has already been bought from the publisher. Therefore, the money has already been made from that sale. So the problem is not second-hand games. The more second-hand games there are, means the more games which have been bought as new. Even if second-hand games weren't allowed, people would still wait for the prices to come down then buy the new game cheaper. If someone is not going to pay the opening day price, then they never will. If a person is prepared to pay the opening day price then they will do just that.

    Also, arguing that people would choose to buy second-hand over a new game is also crap. If 2nd hand was not allowed and a person couldn't afford to buy a new game, they would just play the plethora of free games out there. If you're talking about the PC, some really good games are free. Quake Live and Team Fortress 2 are some prime examples.

    In short, 2nd-hand games are helping to keep afloat the game traders who are selling the new games. 2nd-hand games are also giving money to people who sell the game to a friend, who are going to take that money and buy a new game.

    If developers want some good advice, they should support 2nd-hand games. The more 2nd-hand games sold will mean the more new games which are sold.

      And to add to my rant above, 2nd hand games DO NOT kill innovation. If a game has been made in the past and is still around 10 years later, then developers need to make a game that isn't like that game to be considered innovative. Innovation is all about an original concept. 2nd-hand games drive developers to make something different. If a game is similar to another game already out there, its not innovative. 2nd-Hand games therefore drive developers to make something innovative, something different. It sounds to me that developers are having trouble thinking of innovative ideas.

        Maybe they're looking to find innovation from the whole "old is new again" angle: if people aren't picking up older games second hand, after a while the ideas already used can be marketed as "innovations".

    So basically they make it a chore for legit buyers, and a breeze for pirates. The modern game industry is run by accountants, not gamers.

      Agreed. They are helping to turn people against the developers and into a pirate. I paid $20 2nd-hand for Red-Dead Redemption on the XBOX 360. I would never have bought it otherwise. I would have downloaded it instead. Turns out I bought the new Batman game while I was in the shop, for full price.

    Until it is cheaper than a dollar to move 50GB of data digitally. Than Bluray disc ain't going anywhere.

    And all this unofficial internet hype about consoles that no-one has a clue about, is ridiculous. Whatever happened to wondering about what the next-gen consoles Could be capable of?

    I just love how many that profit from this industry think that it is special and somehow should have different rules.

    You wouldn't steal a car....YOU ALS O WOULDN'T STOP ME FROM RE-SELLING MY CAR!

      yes I know that is the film industry, but it's not like these guys don't think the same way ; D

    Personally I feel its the opposite, if your game is shovel ware or just another generic fps it gets traded in, dev makes less money, if you make a unique game someone keeps it, more profits for you.

    You'll often notice alot of the games in the pre-owned bin are games that suck, Nintendo games are rare to find in the bin and generic FPS are the most common, in conclusion:

    1) Good games are less often traded in

    2) Generic games are more often traded in

    3) Both of these benefit gamers and are bad for crappy devs

    One problem no one has brought up. What if you damage a disk or something? You don't want to spend another 70-120 dollars to replace one disk. You go scoop up a cheap second hand version.

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