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How Politics Interacts With Games 81

Crispy Gamer sat down with Hal Halpin, president of the Entertainment Consumer Association, and had him explain how the games industry interacts with various aspects of the government, such as lobbying efforts, the supreme court, and particular politicians. A related editorial suggests some things President Elect Obama can do to bring change to the industry. "We also need to rein in the used games market and not with DRM. It is fundamentally unfair that developers are being robbed of profits for work that they've done. If the ESA will not offer a mandate, then we'll need the government to do so. Publishers and developers should be entitled to at least half of the price from the sale of every used game." Kotaku has a response which points out flaws in the author's arguments.
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How Politics Interacts With Games

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  • by Derekloffin ( 741455 ) on Monday November 24, 2008 @05:48AM (#25871057)
    I really have to say it, that's a darn tunnel visioned statement. I don't know a single creative work where the resulting work cannot be resold legally, and the original work's creator gets even a dime off that used sale. So, what exactly makes games the special case?
  • by Thiez ( 1281866 ) on Monday November 24, 2008 @05:58AM (#25871093)

    > So, what exactly makes games the special case?

    They might get away with it.

  • by Ifandbut ( 1328775 ) on Monday November 24, 2008 @06:02AM (#25871113)

    I have no idea what makes games a special case. If we need to rein in the used games industry then we also need to rein in used DVDs, used computers, used books, used VHS because the publishers/makers of those products are not seeing any money from the resale.

  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Monday November 24, 2008 @06:06AM (#25871125) Journal
    And used clothing, used furniture, used power tools...
  • Market Forces (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Forrest Kyle ( 955623 ) on Monday November 24, 2008 @06:42AM (#25871255) Homepage
    No one is "robbed" of profits by used game sales.

    The number of new copies sold of a game is a complex function of popularity, marketing, and quality. The number of used copies on the market is a function of the game's longevity, popularity, and quality. If the demand for the game is high, the number of used copies will be low. If the demand for the game is low, the number of used copies will be high.

    If you don't believe me, go to the local used games store and ask for a used copy of Chrono Trigger for the SNES. There might be one. It will be like $100. Now ask for a used copy of Madden 08. There are five of them for $9 each. The author is arguing that game developers should be rewarded extra money for producing games that are less desirable than successful games. If you produce a horrible game, and then have EA market the bajeezus out of it, you will find that in three months the bargain bins will be full of this game. Should we now reward the bad quality of this game by forcing retailers to pay out of pocket? It is some sort of "mediocrity tax" that goes against everything that is good about free market economics.

    Not only that, but the entire idea stinks of government directing the flow of the economy, something the Soviet Union discovered does not work so well. If I purchase something, I become the owner. Part of my rights of "life, liberty, and property" include "property", which means I own things that I buy and can in turn sell them to someone else. The author is, in a sense, arguing against the idea of ownership. You don't really own anything. You are just paying EA a fee to use it, and when you are done using it, you have to give it back.

    If game developers want to stop being "robbed of profits", they should stop making boring games that I can beat in a week, which have no further interest to me. People are bored of spending $60 on a game that has $3 million worth of graphics content and $.35 worth of game. You know what games I sell used? Crappy ones with no replay value. You know what games I still own? Kick ass games that I still play from time to time, even though they may be old. Games that I enjoyed so much that, even though I don't play them anymore, I just love having them.

    If they stamp out the buying and selling of used games, they will discover something interesting: The sales of good games will not increase, and the sales of bad games will actually decrease, because people are risk averse to something they can't sell once they've ripped through the 9 hours of expensive art content with no challenge or depth whatsoever.
  • Re:I Hate This (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:29AM (#25871427)

    IMHO, I should (easily and without any charge) be able to sell my add-ons too.

    Sure they only exist in electronic form, but when I'm finished with them and finished with the game, I should be able to sell all of it.

    Otherwise we get back to the situation of publishers selling half a game and then loads of DLC.

  • by grcumb ( 781340 ) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:47AM (#25871495) Homepage Journal

    And used clothing, used furniture, used power tools...

    Not to mention houses and cars. Poor, starving architects and designers, working for nothing but commissions.

  • Projection (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ShakaUVM ( 157947 ) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:54AM (#25871535) Homepage Journal

    Reigning in the used game market is obviously a stupdid statement. First sale doctrine, etc., etc.

    I'm more concerned about the number of times I've heard variations of this statement made by otherwise intelligent people:
    "There is no better opportunity than now to try to engage Obama in open dialogue about our industry and correct some of these mistruths. I implore ECA President Hal Halpin, ESRB President Patricia Vance, head of EA Sports/industry veteran
    Peter Moore and a journalist of proper caliber (Geoff Keighley, Rob Fahey and Dan Hsu all come to mind) to approach President-Elect Obama about having an open dialogue with the industry

    The problem (if you can call it that) with charismatic people is that we tend to project our own desires onto them. Hence all the ninnies saying that Obama will pay for their gas, and everything else under the sun, and the people (some of my friends included) sending in their resumes for positions in his administration. Because he's listening.

    Even though Obama is inexperienced, per se, he's shown himself to be an experienced politician, and the best politicians are capable of making it sound like they're listening to you and even agreeing with you while politely shooing you out the back door.

  • by damburger ( 981828 ) on Monday November 24, 2008 @09:07AM (#25871899)

    Let me go ever further. Creators don't have a 'right' to make a living at all.

    Free association is essential. Free speech is essential. Individual industries are not. There is nothing to say that an artist of any kind is owed a living, if that living requires fundamental rights to be curtailed. If we have to choose between Holywood and free speech, it isn't any kind of choice at all.

    If you want to make money as a musician, you will have to do it the old fashioned way and actually perform, instead of charging people for distributing recordings of your performances. Movies are in the shit a bit - maybe its time for the theatre to make a comeback, as a medium for actors to make a living without dangerous encroachments on their audiences liberty.

    As for books? I suppose you can make a living through signings/conventions/after dinner speaking if you are good, but otherwise you are kind of screwed. Still, it will stop WH Smiths being filled floor to ceiling with insipid ghost-written biographies of Z-list celebrities and crappy Stephen King novels.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 24, 2008 @10:35AM (#25872377)

    I think he's lying to avoid getting lynched by pissed-off customers.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"