Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Almighty Buck Entertainment Games

Used Game Market Affecting Price, Quality of New Titles 384

Posted by Soulskill
from the either-that-or-it-doesn't dept.
Gamasutra is running a feature discussing the used game market with various developers and analysts. The point has been raised by many members of the industry that used game sales are hurting developers and publishers even more lately, when they're already beleaguered by rising piracy rates and a struggling economy. Atari executives recently commented that used game sales are "extremely painful," while GameStop's CEO unsurprisingly came out in support of resales. We've recently discussed a few of the ways game designers are considering to limit used game sales. David Braben, chairman of UK-based developer Frontier Development had this to say: "Five years ago, a great game would have sold for a longer period of time than for a bad game — which was essentially our incentive to make great games. But no longer. Now publishers and developers just see revenue the initial few weeks regardless of the game's quality and then gamers start buying used copies which generates money that goes into GameStop's pocket, nobody else's."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Used Game Market Affecting Price, Quality of New Titles

Comments Filter:
  • Boo f*cking hoo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:51AM (#26057267)

    In other news, used car sales are hurting car manufacturers even more lately, when they're already beleaguered by rising petrol prices and a struggling economy. Ford executives recently commented that used car sales are "extremely painful," while eBay's CEO unsurprisingly came out in support of resales. David Braben, chairman of UK-based car manufacturer Frontier Development had this to say: "Five years ago, a great car would have sold for a longer period of time than for a bad car â" which was essentially our incentive to make great cars. But no longer. Now manufacturers just see revenue the initial few weeks regardless of the car's quality and then gamers start buying used cars which generates money that goes into eBay's pocket, nobody else's."

  • Hmm.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AlterRNow (1215236) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:54AM (#26057287)

    If making a game is always resulting in a loss, it wouldn't make any sense ( business or otherwise ) to continue making games.

    Therefore, I can only conclude that making a game is *still* profitable ( despite everything ) and would just like to say:

    Be happy you are making profit and stop whining about how much.

    That goes for **AA too!

  • When I read... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by liegeofmelkor (978577) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:57AM (#26057309)

    that the used game market is affecting price and quality, my first response is GREAT! Market forces at work are driving new game prices down and quality up as developers are forced to compete with a robust substitute good: the used game.

    Then I realize its more of the same FUD campaign put on by the mega-corporations to prep us for invasive mechanisms inserted into games with the end goal of bilking us for more $$$. I think I'll avoid supporting this industry and stick to indie games until they have an attitude shift.

  • Uhuh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FinchWorld (845331) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:58AM (#26057311) Homepage

    ...yes yes, its all ther nasty consumers fault! You bundle crapware drm and we don't buy it, uhuh, thats my fault. You release the game for £50-60 quid, and somehow, especially in the current economic crisis, I find that I'd rather pay for food and shelter over GENERICFIFASPORTGAME-2009. Im even more evil for thinking that second hand at £20-30, I might just be able to afford it without sending you more money after its first sale.

    Oh, I also apologize when i decide not to buy your £50 game, because you decided you could, infact, split it into 3 seperate games and sell it that way for more than £100, for pure greed (Hi Starcraft2!). Im so very sorry. Also, do forgive me when i refuse to buy your game at all, because you decided that buying the game second hand means im njot entitled to the full game, because I also decided you weren't worthy to survive as a games company anymore (GOW2).

    And "Five years ago, a great game would have sold for a longer period of time than for a bad game-- which was essentially our incentive to make great games. But no longer. Now publishers and developers just see revenue the initial few weeks regardless of the game's quality and then gamers start buying used copies which generates money that goes into GameStop's pocket, nobody else's."

    No Im sorry, games just aren't as good as they were, because I recall buying and trading in games for second hand games more than 5 years ago. So that hasn't changed, must be the games eh?

  • here's an idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by theheadlessrabbit (1022587) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @06:00AM (#26057333) Homepage Journal

    the technology that we use to play these games has improved greatly over the past 5 years. so why aren't the games that are played on this hardware getting any better?

    rather than bitch about how no one is buying your new games, start making good games that get me excited, so I want to go and buy them right away.

    when you make a game that most likely sucks, i can't return, and infects my computer with another one of your DRM viruses, im not going to get all excited about it.

    i still play red alert 2, unreal trournament, doom, a link to the past, etc, because those are great games that i enjoy playing.

    start making games that are fun, and i will start buying. Or, you can recycle the crappy games from last year, throw in a few more polygons to make things pretty and go out of business.

  • by One Monkey (1364919) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @06:04AM (#26057347)
    I gave up on console games after I read an article about how 80% of computer games bought are never finished. I don't really have much time to spare on games any more and find my gaming needs are more than catered for by browser based flash games. (Then again my idea of the perfect gaming experience is an entertaining and only mildly taxing point and click adventure.)

    Anyway, seems to me that spending so much time and energy on flare effects and 3D physics and primo voice talent and cinematic effects is draining the industry of money. But nobody can ever get enough of things like Tetris, sure you might get sick of it for a bit but one day... one day... you are looking at those old falling blocks and you can't resist one more rotate and slot.

    You want to absorb the costs of the used games market? Or damage it? Stop making vapid eye candy people bore of in seconds. With all the spare budget you have finance the production of your new more playable, less sugar frosting games.

    Pretty impresses for ten minutes. Substance makes something a keeper.
  • works both ways (Score:5, Insightful)

    by samjam (256347) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @06:06AM (#26057357) Homepage Journal

    Two facts:

    * The high price of game creates the 2nd hand market.

    * The high price 2nd hand market helps people afford new games, by selling their old games.

    Putting up the price of new games isn't going to change those facts, in fact it will raise the price of 2nd hand games making the market more lucrative and increasing the amount of trade in 2nd hand games.

    Preventing games from being sold 2nd hand will reduce what buyers can afford for new games.

    Folk only have so much money to spend on games, after all!

    I used to regularly spend about 1 GBP ($2) a week at charity shops buying books at 10-20 pence each. (They'd go back to charity shops to be re-sold when I'd finished with them)

    Then the shops went "up market" and started selling at 50p - 1 pound each and now they don't get any of my money at all.

    Games industry is going the same way.

    Sam

  • by mmcguigan (677816) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @06:10AM (#26057387)

    and you won't have this problem affecting your revenue stream.

    I think one should be asking what makes people want to trade in a game after just one week of ownership.

  • Re:Does this mean? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xugumad (39311) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @06:18AM (#26057431)

    I'm frequently amazed the games industry doesn't just stand up one day and go "Y'know, we talked it out between us, and we've had enough. We're going to all get jobs with fewer hours and better pay in something dull like spreadsheet programming."

    So far, all I'm seeing is that their business model makes neither side happy. Game developers, at least starting out, get insane hours for little pay. Games are released at price points that are uncomfortably expensive for most of the target audience. That sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, to me.

  • Re:Newsflash (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xugumad (39311) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @06:22AM (#26057447)

    Between you, and a game publisher, I think I know whose numbers on sales I'm more likely to believe.

    You may not buy crappy games, because you read reviews first, but I think the message here is fairly clearly that there's enough people who buy games based purely on refractive index of the box cover, to make even the worst movie tie-in sell.

  • A load of bollocks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gurkmannen (643368) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @06:23AM (#26057451)
    This is just plain fud. Being able to sell a game once you've played it increases the reason to buy it. Especially when the game is short, possibly bad or has no replayability value.
  • What a load. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @06:25AM (#26057461)

    The used market helps sell new games.

    Some subset of early-adopter gamers are not going to buy new games at brand new prices unless they know they can turn around and sell the game to get back some of that value. This is especially true since early-adopter gamers are the ones taking the risk on the games. In this capacity, the used market actually helps you.

    The used market is not the money factory you claim.

    If there was truly so much money to be had in the used market you would drop your prices without hesitation in order to compete. If there was that much money you should have no problem making up for lowered prices with increased sales. The fact that you do not do this illustrates very clearly that there is not that much money being 'lost'.

    David Braben, you are a remarkable idiot.

    Not only have you stated that money is your "essential" motivation for creating great games - which leads me to wonder if your firm is capable of making a great game - but you have made it very clear that your firm has no incentive (read: plan) to create great games in the future.

  • by Kneo24 (688412) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @06:27AM (#26057479) Homepage

    Exactly what I was thinking. If these games were so "great" as they assume, people would want to keep them for longer periods of time due to their replay value.

    These "great games" that they speak so highly of, are usually nothing but sequels to games, where the ideas were already done. They're not really that original and maybe just add one or two new features. The annual sports games come to mind. Most people won't keep those forever. A lot of people trade them in pretty fast when they've realized it's just like last years game.

    Instead of rehashing the same ideas so quickly, come out with new IP's. Part of the problem isn't even the gameplay or even bad plot where applicable, it's just saturation in the market. Make less shovelware and concentrate on making better games.

    Also, stop paying reviewers for high scores. It's such fucking bullshit when a reviewer calls a game "mediocre" and gives it a 7 out of 10. I would think a mediocre game would get a 5, as a 5 would indicate the halfway point. People have to rely on these reviews for the console side to try and make an informed purchasing decision. And guess what? With these skewed reviews, it's often hard to make the informed decision. If I was heavy into consoles like I was when I was younger, I'd probably be trading in games all the time too because of this bullshit.

    Gamestop only helps the industry by having a one stop shop for a console gamer needs, so to speak. Biting the hand that helps feed you, a lot, isn't a wise move. It's not hard to dream of ways that would net you a little slice of their uses sales pie while benefiting Gamestop in other ways.

  • Re:Marketing lies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MadKeithV (102058) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @06:36AM (#26057533)
    It's exactly the same BS the various recording industry associations are trying to feed us. They want to be liberated from the shackles of the free market, so that the extremely elastic demand and highly competitive market for games (music, movies) is turned into an inelastic demand government-sanctioned oligolopy.

    To which I'd say "buzz off and go into a different business if you don't like it.". Note: I am a musician and a software developer. I still don't think the market should be controlled.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @06:36AM (#26057539)

    ow publishers and developers just see revenue the initial few weeks regardless of the game's quality and then gamers start buying used copies

    And where do those used games come from? Those high quality games, that people are going to keep playing for years, how did they get into the used game store a few weeks after release?

    Maybe this is not really "regardless of the game's quality", but rather that NONE of the games you make have a replay value of more than a few weeks.

  • Re:Uhuh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NexusTw1n (580394) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @06:40AM (#26057561) Journal

    Games with replay value don't get sold, gamers want to keep them to play again later. With no second hand copies available, people will have to buy new.

    Games that are good enough get relaunched at half price as Platinum Games, which will see another boost in revenue as 20 quid is a price point where most gamers are prepared to buy new.

    Games that have a long completion time - eg 30+ hours, or excellent online gameplay, result in gamers keeping them for quite some time before being sold back to game stores, which keeps that initial sales stream lasting longer than normal.

    Games that have a short single player experience, or turn out to be not as good as the paid for review claimed, get sold back to the store as quickly as possible, and the publisher's revenue stream dies.

    Gamers sell games to buy more games, they know you always get a better store credit price than cash price.

    Gamers who buy second hand games, can't afford to drop 50-60 notes on the latest games. If these poorer gamers weren't keeping the second hand market strong, the price the richer gamers would be getting when they sell their games, would drop. This would mean they'd have less money to buy new titles.

    50 - 60 notes is a lot of money to most people, even those that can afford it, can only justify it, because the game retains value and some of the cost can be reclaimed by selling it.

    The market is working correctly, and any attempt to try and grab more market share by the publishers will back fire.

  • Re:Boo f*cking hoo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MadKeithV (102058) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @06:42AM (#26057571)
    No, it would make sense if the depreciation of a used car was practically zero. That's obviously not the case.
    The "problem" the industry sees with used game sales is that, given enough patience from the gamers, a very limited number of copies could conceivably be passed around the world LEGALLY for everyone to play in turn. Newer games end up on the used shelf in days, so not that much patience is needed.
    The proper solution (as mentioned in other posts) would be to make games that take longer than a few days to get bored of. I'm still playing Civ4 regularly.
  • Re:Boo f*cking hoo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HungryHobo (1314109) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @06:50AM (#26057607)

    Discs get damaged.

    Sequels come out in the same way that new models of car come out.

    Yet if a manufacturer tried to cripple their cars in such a way that they could only ever be used by one person and never sold on then you can bet people would get pissed of real fast.

  • Re:Boo f*cking hoo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anenome (1250374) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @07:58AM (#26058139)
    These developers, etc, are completely ignorant of economics to even think of making this claim. The fact is that resale value in the mind of the buyer is a major portion of the original purchase price (whether he knows that consciously or not). If you make resale illegal or difficult enough to kill it off what will happen is that gamers will find the same approximately $60/game prices to be even less worth-it than before, since you've destroyed the intrinsic resale value the game had and there's now no way to dump a game that isn't worth keeping to recover a portion of your investment. If the resale value of a game is worth ~$20 then the entire game industry will have to lower their prices by that much on average to see the same buying activity, because a $60 game is now only worth about $40. But they aren't imagining they will have to do that. If the consumer thinks your game is overpriced they will not buy it. And making resale impossible will contribute to that perception. The result of this will be even more conservative behavior when gamers shop for games. Meaning that only triple-A titles will do well, and the A-material games will have fewer buyers and the B-games will probably price themselves out of the market. I'm sure Detroit's auto-industry and many other manufacturers would love to outlaw buying used cars to force you to buy new, but that's not how it works. That would only create a black-market for goods. So, think about this a second time, developers and publishers. You got your cash up-front when you sold that game brand-new and part of the reason buyers paid your price is because of the intrinsic resale value, you have absolute zero claim to second hand sales and the existence and ability to sell game second hand actually results in buyers taking more chances on new games and therefore more people buying new games. In fact, if your game does well second hand it's usually because your game is doing well in any case among first buyers. The answer isn't restricting 2nd hand sales. The answer is to get off your a$$es and make f***in' better games the people want to buy in the first place.
  • by clickety6 (141178) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @08:16AM (#26058275)

    If you want me to buy "Megagame 2" but don't want me to sell my copy of "Megagame 1" in case it creates competition for your Megagame 2 sales, then offer me a voucher for my copy of Megagame 1 (you only need to match or slightly better the price places like Gamestop would pay me). Said voucher to to be used when purchasing Megagame 2 )or another of your product line).

    Then when you have my copy of Megagame 1, you can destroy it so it never threatens your future sales again.

  • really? painful? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DragonTHC (208439) <Dragon.gamerslastwill@com> on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @08:26AM (#26058337) Homepage Journal

    first, I've been playing PC games for over 2 decades.

    Quality has dropped drastically. Technology increased which gave the illusion of high quality. Games today are a horrendous value compared to just ten years ago. Content has dropped from an observed average of 25 hours of gameplay to around 6 hours. Half the budget is blown by publishers on marketing. Publishers have also gotten quite complacent about their position in the industry. When you have more than 3 sequels, it's easy to forget about innovation.

    Since games are so short these days, people go through them faster. Thus they go to the retailers what sell used games.

  • Re:Boo f*cking hoo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vrmlguy (120854) <samwyse@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @09:01AM (#26058651) Homepage Journal

    The main depreciation of a used car isn't because newer and cooler cars come out (it only plays a small part), but actual mechanical wear.

    Googling the phrase "drive off the lot" returned the factoid that "With a hybrid car, buyers do not always immediately lose that 30 percent of the value the minute they drive off the lot." People who aren't extolling the virtues of hybrids quote slightly lower numbers, some 10-15%, some 15-20%. Still, do you really think that there is that much mechanical wear associated with driving 500 feet?

    Every car I've ever owned was purchased from the used-car department at a local dealer's. My current car was a year old and came with the remainder of the manufacturer's warranty. I saved a lot more than the percentage of its lifetime that had been "used up". My wife is a bit more paranoid, so her cars are purchased at year-end clearance sales. The savings aren't as large, but she gets a car with less than a hundred miles on the odometer.

  • Re:Boo f*cking hoo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KDR_11k (778916) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @09:11AM (#26058753)

    When I buy a game, I play it and sometimes beat it the day I bought it.

    Wouldn't you say that's more of a price-value disparity? You paid ~50$ for a game and only got one or two days of enjoyment out of it. That sounds like the game fails to deliver much for its price.

    Also, if you beat the games that fast, shouldn't you try renting? That's about 1.50$ per day rather than 30$ per game.

  • Yep (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @09:21AM (#26058879)

    I have a large collection of games that I'm never selling. I love them and periodically replay them, just like favorite movies. Baldur's gate 2 would be one. Ya it's an old game but I still like it. I replay it maybe once a year or every other year. I probably will for a long time too. You could compare it to the Princess Bride. Ya I saw that movie when I was 10. Guess what? I own the DVD. I like it. I don't watch it every day or anything but I watch it now and again. I'm not selling either game or DVD because I want to have them to replay.

    Funny thing is truly good games DO seem to sell well for a long time. An example would be Oblivion. It took forever for that game to go under it's $50 opening price, and it is STILL on some shelves as a standard box title at $20-30, not in the budget isle. Reason is it is an excellent game and sales remained strong enough enough to justify the higher price. They drop the price when sales start dropping below a certain point.

    The problem is for companies that make games that have no depth, no replay value. They may be entertaining, but only for a very short while. So someone will play them and go "Huh ok, done with that," and then get rid of it. Well sorry guys, but that's life. Don't like it? Spend time making sure your game has lasting appeal.

    Same deal with movies. There are plenty of movies that I've watched rental or from a friend that I've said "Ya ok that's entertaining," but had no interest at all in owning. Once was enough. I'm sure those movie companies would really like more money but too bad, I'm not interested in it. You want me to pay the higher price to own it? It's got to be good enough I want to rewatch it.

  • Re:Does this mean? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geminidomino (614729) * on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @09:40AM (#26059077) Journal

    So far, all I'm seeing is that their business model makes neither side happy. Game developers, at least starting out, get insane hours for little pay. Games are released at price points that are uncomfortably expensive for most of the target audience. That sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, to me.

    You forgot the third side, who is quite content:
    The suits:

    • pay the developers next to nothing.
    • gorge themselves on the gamers' money
    • Greenlight any derivative crap that comes down the pipe as long as it's close enough to an extant blockbuster

    Unfortunately, that group is the one with all the money, and as such, all the say.

  • Re:Boo f*cking hoo (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BenevolentP (1220914) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @10:03AM (#26059345)

    I really can't see how game prices are too high or even much higher than a few years ago.

    The content of most games today (being it story or quests like in Fallout 3 or graphics / models / textures like in... well, almost all of them) aren't even comparable to the older classics.

    Since i'm currently playing it, i'll stick with Fallout 3 compared to its predecessors as an example.

    Quest-wise, they may have the same amount of content, i guess 1 and 2 even a bit more in the writing department.

    - In Fallout 3, every NPC response is voice acted
    - Id guess that just adding a non-functional building in a detailed 3d environment takes about 10 times more (people) ressources (developer/modeler/QA) than in a isometric engine
    - 3D terrain also adds a large amount of playtesting

    These are just a few examples.

    BTW, i'm not saying that 3D makes everything harder, i would think it saves a lot of work, too (not necessary to draw 500 sprites for every possible character action, clothes etc). My point is just that game development has become MUCH more complex in the last 10 years.

    Please note that Fallout is just an example for why games are a - in my opinion surprisingly tiny - amount more expensive today, i don't really want to discuss the game itself or how it compares to its predecessors.

  • Context (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Xest (935314) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @11:04AM (#26060205)

    Just keep in mind, regardless of all the doom and gloom reports, the Games industry is still posting new record profits year on year, so it's obviously not that big a problem.

    What they really mean is they want to make even more profit and rather than produce games that are of better quality and/or appeal to wider audiences they want to keep shifting the same old crap but make more from it.

    Make no mistake, the whole Spore DRM debacle had nothing to do with piracy and everything to do with preventing second hand sales. The games industry has set it's sights on the second hand market as a way to increase profits without increasing effort, I do not think it will win, but accept consumers to have to listen to whines from the industry and take it from behind on DRM and stuff for a little while yet.

  • Re:Boo f*cking hoo (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ravenshrike (808508) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @12:20PM (#26061463)
    You're right, the quests and content in Fallout 3 can't compare to games from years ago. This is because the quests and actual content in Fallout 3 is dead and wooden compared to the first 2. Now, the shiny factor is obviously more, but really that's about it.
  • Re:Boo f*cking hoo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gr8Apes (679165) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @12:36PM (#26061711)

    and sadly that increased development cost rarely results in anything worth "more" than the previous gen of games.

    Adding more graphics to a game at this point doesn't necessarily make it better, especially if the original game sorta sucked to begin with. Most FPS's and fighting games fall into this category. They're just white washed rehashed bits of the previous generation.

  • Re:Boo f*cking hoo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @12:56PM (#26062049)

    The price has remained the same, but remember that back in the days of yore a lot more cost of the game was involved in it's medium. The ROM chips (and sometimes additional processors, batteries, etc) used in cartridges way back when were orders of magnitude more expensive than the CD's and DVD's that games ship on now (which cost maybe $0.15 per disc to produce). So yes, development costs have gone up, but that's the only reason prices should remain the same. Without that games would logically cost half as much as they do now given the reduction in media cost.

    In reality though, games, like all things, are worth exactly as much as people are willing to pay for them. That was, and still is, $50-60. What the publishers don't realize though is that the price that people are willing to pay for an item often has resale value factored in. If I can resell a game for $20-25 dollars after a week, then I might be willing to pay $60 for it. If that option wasn't available, my threshold for the initial purchase might be a lot less.

  • Re:Newsflash (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <marc.paradise@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @04:27PM (#26065273) Homepage Journal

    You may not buy crappy games, because you read reviews first

    You do realize what a farce the major game reviewers have become, don't you? As in - if a publisher doesn't pay for a nice, lavish "reviewing" trip, they're not gonna get good reviews. There are depressingly few exceptions to this among the reviewers that people listen to.

  • Re:Uhuh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rycross (836649) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:35PM (#26066301)

    Yes, they hire marketing guys. Who do you think came up with the idea that used game sales are terrible and hurting the industry? If they can convince consumers that buying used games hurts the game companies, that its unfair to the game companies, and that they should accept methods of strong-arming them into buying new for the "good of the industry," then they will, because that will make their companies more profitable. What you are reading from these companies IS marketing, make no mistake. Its just marketing designed to make you happy about the fact that the companies are trying to screw you.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. -- John Muir

Working...