The Vultures Circle To Pick At The Carcass Of Used Game Sales

Responding to a report last week that claimed Microsoft would be taking a cut from all pre-owned game sales on the Xbox One, Take-Two boss Strauss Zelnick chimes in with the inevitable follow-up.

It's equally hard to imagine used game sales surviving attitudes like this. Even if they technically make it past this generation of console launches, this kind of attitude is either going to price them into oblivion or send GameStop broke. Or both.

GTA parent publisher talks next-gen used games [GameSpot]


    Zelnicks definitely correct on that one.

      Agreed. You want to take an extra slice of the pie? Then you damn well better give a bite of that slice to the developers.

        Development teams move on to different projects long before a game goes into publishing. Used game sales happen long after that. The shareholders decide where to better utilize this income for companies.

        If anyone thinks that the creative artists and developers get to reap direct benefits from this new revenue stream you are sorely mistaken. They will still have to fight over it.

        If you think you get better games from this strategy in the long run, that is all up to the kind shareholders, financial strategists and CEOs to decide that. The same people that brought you online-DRM and Micro-transactions.

        In essence you ask them for permission every day for the rest of your life to play the game you bought.

        We've heard all the sweet talk and the convincing arguments against used game sales and how it can make your games better. Let's try not to be too knaive. New financial strategies are implemented with the shareholders consent and most CEOs own shares of those companies. Actual game creators and designers rarely have control of financial aspects of gaming, they are pretty busy trying to deal with a strict budget and an ever evolving field of technology.

        Last edited 04/06/13 8:17 am

          you misunderstand, the Developers are the ones who create the game. The Publishers are the ones who fund the development of the game, box and advertise the game, and negotiate for it's sale conditions. The owner of the console license, in this case Microsoft, is trying to make a profit out of used game sales without paying anything to the Publisher and the Developer. No royalties, nothing. Does that sound like a reasonable business situation to you?

            I don't think @manu was trying to say what's 'right', but what's the reality. At the moment, the Developers just count themselves lucky to have been in paid employment for several years of not actually producing any revenue, and when the big payday comes, it's all back to the publishers who've been paying those wages for all those years. They consider that their return on investment - their reward for their risk of paying people to produce something with no garaunteed result. Some developers get royalties in their contracts, but many don't.

            For developers who work under a publisher, the only benefit is: Yay, you get to get paid while you work. Independent developers who don't have publishers bankrolling them or a successful kickstarter to fund their wages while they work? They don't even get that. Many of them work contract work on other peoples' games in order to pay the rent and food bills, then work on their own games in their spare time.

            Once a game is done, the dev studios typically get either moved to a different project or split into bits and moved to other studios, depending on how big they were. Take recent re-emergence of Black Isle, for example. It's technically the same studio that made all the games we loved from the 90s/00s, but no-one actually works there who was invovled in the making of the game. It's a construct, a label slapped on top of a tin the publisher collects money in. Just like any developer when its staff get moved around.

            THAT'S how this shit works.

            So when used game sales come in some five years from now for GameX developed by ABCDeveloper, there's a real chance no-one actually working at ABCDeveloper is still there - so what's the HR department going to do? Split up the drips of royalty money and send $2.50 cheques off to everyone who was involved in the project at completion? Or at the point just BEFORE they fired all the contractors? Or anyone who ever worked on the thing at all, with a percentage royalty split based on duration worked on the project by seniority of position? Nah. It's much simpler for them to say, "GameX has continued to yield xyz returns, ABCDeveloper can have a bigger budget - allowing them to work for longer before we slam the ruler on the desk and demand: Pens down, papers in, QA fired, game shipped."

              I understand the reality, but the license owner is not paying anything to the publisher, either. Take-Two is a publisher, and they are objecting to Microsoft taking payment for THEIR game, even used, and not paying them anything. A fair argument for them to make in my opinion. Do I agree with the developers not seeing royalties from the publisher? No. They came up with the idea, they did the work, even if they didn't fund the games themselves. Often the Developers don't even get to keep the damn IP, which is just plain wrong. But that is not what this is about. What this is about is Microsoft selling off their game, the publisher's game, from one user to another without any financial recompense to the owner of the actual software, transferring the license and not paying them a cent.

              That's exactly right. Thank You.

              I was trying to explain how "online-DRM" and "more money for game developers" don't lineup.

              This is a huge misconception of reality as this article goes to prove.

      Agreed, with the caveat that what really needs to go away are the publishers.

    To be honest, I don't personally care if used games sales - a la EB - disappear.

    I *do* care if I can't loan a game to a friend, or can't access a game that was released six years ago on the same console.

    Personal, small-time "sales" of used games are also fine.

    What I don't like is the idea of MS earning a revenue stream through the re-sale of a game, EB earning a revenue stream, and some gamer getting $5 for a $60 game they bought two weeks ago.

      Why should your friend be allowed to play a game he didn't pay for? It's just encouraging piracy and the developers lose a sale.
      If you truly want to 'show' the game to them; then log in on their console and play it from there.

      Have you even bought a game on steam?
      You can't lend those.
      And you've been fine with it for years.
      How many PC games can you lend to other people? Or sell back to EB?

      Why should a console be any different?

        Because I pay less than half for PC games?

        Because one of the reasons for console gaming is to avoid the hassle that can come with PC gaming.

        Actually, I'm not fine with the fact that I can't lend PC games. Haven't been able to since before Steam, due to other online authentication methods of CD keys and all that. But I live with it because I enjoy games. If the xbox one prevents me from lending games, that's yet another device that I would be annoyed with. Just because we lost the battle in one place doesn't mean we give up the whole war.

        looks like someone doesn't have friends.

        Because Steam is offering competitive prices [compared to consoles]. Remember, Steam is trying to offer better pricing than the readily available stand-alone [reusable] version of the same games.

        If all of them use the same models, [consoles as well as PC clients and all vendors] the result may be drastically different from what you are assuming.

        I find the PC more of a personal gaming device. I have my library of games on my PC but that's my library of games that I play. However a console I see more as a shared experience. The experience is taking a spare controller and some games to a mates place and playing games together.

          PC a personal experience?

          Yeah I supposed that's why MMOs are dying out on PC... Oh wait.

            When I refer to the PC as a personal experience I am not really commenting on the online portion. I completely agree that online games are a big part of PC gaming. My comment was more pointing towards you wouldn't plug in extra controllers and sit on the couch around a PC. A PC is owned by you and used by you. A console is usually used by more people and played by more than one.

    Too many middle men. Looks like the end users and developers are set to lose this fight. I get the sense this will blow up in their faces.

    this kind of attitude is either going to price them into oblivion or send GameStop broke. Or both.
    50% of new console games are sold at GameStop in the US and 70% of the value of traded games is spent on new games.Add to this the marketing,publicity,pre-order hard sell and retail footprint/mind share Game Stop supplies and you can see why them going broke may not end well for publishers.

    I am intrigued to see how Microsoft pulls this off.

    To not abolish the used game market is a good thing, we don't want to hurt retail shops anymore then we have and are going to and plus if it works out the consumer benefits too.

    It would be interesting one year from now, maybe even Valve will implement this method and bring some life back to physical sales to retail shops. Obviously the minority importing and buying keys aren't going to change but there are people still buying from Steam shop at their high Australian prices.

    If it doesn't work out, even better, more stuff to read and some ammunition for the console war going on, though I be on the sideline holding my "PC gamer's rules" sign just because I know we're awesome.

    Last edited 03/06/13 11:01 pm

    Um, wasn't it always obvious that the developer/publisher would get a piece of the used game tax?

    MI doubt Microsoft would have done it WITHOUT publisher pressure.

      Namely EA and Activision. I've got the feeling that the developers aren't going to see much of this money, it will be Micro$oft and the publisher that will take the lions share.

        you do realise that Take Two is a publisher, as well as a developer, right?

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