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Next Gen: Whoever Blocks Used Games Will Die

next gen PS4 Xbox Infinity gamestop used games opinion

There's been a lot of discussion these last few weeks about how next gen consoles might have security checks in place that make it impossible to play a game on more than one console. By the way different publishers and company executives are talking, it just might become a reality. But I'm here to say it can't.

At least, if the company wants to survive this generation, it can't. Anyone who attempts to block the sales of used games or the ability to play their games on multiple consoles will not last long for a number of reasons that I'm about to explain below.

 
Before we begin, let's discuss what we've heard so far from the front lines of the next generation. On the Xbox side of things we've had Ian Livingstone from Eidos mentioning that the next Xbox could have always online DRM and no used game blocks on their discs. This is to be taken with a grain of salt due to it not coming directly from Microsoft, but we'll see.

On the Sony side of things, its all still a bit muddled. They've said its an important issue and that they'll do the right thing, but they've also said it won't block used games and it'll be up to the different publishers if they wanted to block them or not. I'm worried that they don't have a straight answer, but hopefully that means they just don't know yet.

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Now onto why having no used games would be disastrous for anyone who thinks they can get away with it. We'll start with the retail side of things. You might not want to admit it, but Gamestop is a pretty big deal. It's the main place where all the kids buy their Call of Dutys and Pac-Mans, and it is also a business that exists thanks to used sales.

If Sony and Microsoft cut out any of the places that make their money off of used sales, they're also cutting off their most used retail markets. When you see a midnight sale for Call of Duty - it isn't at a Walmart; it's at Gamestop. And those Gamestops are practically everywhere. Cutting them out of the deal would be like studios cutting out DVD sales and exclusively dealing in Blu-ray.

Sure, they don't have to deal with an older dying technology, but now they're missing out on the millions they would have made if they had just accepted that people still use DVDs. Gamestop is the DVD in this situation. If you get rid of Gamestop, you might be getting rid of used games, but you're also getting rid of the place where most casual gamers get their games. While not a death blow for the console giants, it would take a cut out of their oh-so-important casual market.

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But odds are if just one console does do away with used sales, Gamestop won't die. They'll just stop stocking that system's games or severely cut down on its stock of them. Look at the PC section in your Gamestop (assuming it even has a PC section). They don't get used sales from PC games, so they just don't stock them. Imagine what kind of damage could be dealt if the PS4 shelf was just as small as the PC shelf at launch.

 
To be fair, what I just described is more or less the doomsday scenario, and rather unlikely to happen. That doesn't mean it can't happen, but I would be surprised if things really got that bad next generation. What is more likely to happen, however, is a death by their own consumer. While losing the casual support of Gamestop would be a pretty bad deal, losing the support of the more hardcore crowd would be even worse.

We've seen it before. Companies have used stupid practices to make it harder to pirate their games, only to see sales drop because actual customers were the only ones being negatively effected by the hurdles beings placed in front of all of their games. To make things worse, if only one console blocks used games or things end up being on a company to company basis, then those locked games will be on the shelves alongside games that won't lock you out. Which one are you more likely to give your money to? The one that makes things harder for you, or the one that you're free to play on any console?

People will just stop buying the games that can't be played on multiple consoles. Why should they be locked while others aren't? The answer is they shouldn't be locked in the first place. If you lock your disc then you're locking out your consumers. You lock out your consumers and they'll stop buying your games. They stop buying your games and you die. The end.


7 Comments

Blocking used games would probably kill some niche games and would certainly raise the consumer risk factor on new franchises and purchases from people just jumping into a franchise. The way things are now, you can at least recover some of your money if you hate a game and use that money towards the purchase of a new game. If used games will be blocked by developer's choice, I think the likely candidates will be Halo, Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed. These are all games with rabid fan bases that are honestly mostly made up of people who could care less about consumer rights and morals when it comes to products. They could make in-game voice chat a paid option and I'd bet the farm that they'd pay for it. You could sell most of these people a turd with Call of Duty stamped on it!

Regardless of what happens this generation comIng up, I think they will slowly work in the blocking of used games until its the standard. It's already a huge goal of publishers to sell you the same game over and over again and it works. All of your digital purchases for the PS3 are worthless with the PS4. They are going to charge you to stream the same games you already purchased from them and no one is raising a big stink about this. I have to praise Nintendo for what they've done with the Virtual Console transition and I plan to repay their favor by buying more games from them.

What it boils down to is we are a society of gamers with no backbones. Most gamers just have an appetite for consumerism and that's not going to get any better. I truly think the group of gamers who honestly care about these issues is pretty small.
Sorry about my negative tone but I've been gaming since the Atari days and feel like the industry just gets shadier with each generation and gamers very rarely make a stand. I was honestly all set to start saving up money for the PS4, but the fact that my big library of digital titles will not transfer over is starting to make it look like a system I am going to skip. I feel more loyal to Nintendo every day to be honest. I'm no fanboy but I do like rewarding companies who do the right thing with my cash. I'm one if those weirdos who refuses to shop at Wal Mart due to their business practices and treatment of employees btw. Lol. I feel dirty any time I buy something at GameStop too!

Sorry about my negative tone but I've been gaming since the Atari days and feel like the industry just gets shadier with each generation and gamers very rarely make a stand. I was honestly all set to start saving up money for the PS4, but the fact that my big library of digital titles will not transfer over is starting to make it look like a system I am going to skip. I feel more loyal to Nintendo every day to be honest. I'm no fanboy but I do like rewarding companies who do the right thing with my cash. I'm one if those weirdos who refuses to shop at Wal Mart due to their business practices and treatment of employees btw. Lol. I feel dirty any time I buy something at GameStop too!

No I'm with you here too; While my Wii is pretty much the red headed step child of my gaming devices, I've been very impressed with the Wii U. Provided it gets some dev support (I know its early in the life cycle of the system) It could really become my go to.
Oh hey, this is what I was talking about the other day, or week, or whatever. Great writing Jared as always! I'm gonna agree with Kezins about the Wal-Mart thing, but I don't really mind shopping at Gamestop. Sure I'll prefer buying things at my store to make business, but Gamestop is a store. It's hard to explain, but I really just don't care about buying things from them. Especially when you find those cool rare items or gems that they're selling for dirt cheap because they don't realize it's worth anything.

I think it's important we address a rational behind locking out games, or what the developers are thinking. If you were stealing work from me, then I would want to stop you, and maybe make a point. Maybe that's what the companies today are trying to do, make a big enough point to their consumers. And hey it could all be an act, the blocking of used games I mean, but it's pretty obvious that they're upset. It's actually kind of neat to see companies standing up for what they believe in, even if it will hurt us in the future. But hey, maybe it's something we need to see, or realize. I may be against the notion, but as pointed out before, I am extremely biased as I work in a video game retailer. However, I definitely sympathize with their dilemma. Heck they could even just be using a quasi Big Stick diplomacy by telling the consumers and customers that if you're gonna keep doing things like pirating and stealing then we're going to show you the consequences.

Again these are just my observations, opinions, and revised opinion after talking to people. I am in no way saying I support the idea or am against it, just trying to talk haha.
Even if gamestop doesn't die they will have to close down a lot of stores. Remember most people that are casual gamers and just buy games new and as soon as they come out buy them at stores like Target and Walmart even if they are ridiculously over priced.

Also I don't think that the console that does this will die but they will fall far behind their competitors.
I don't really see this as companies standing up for themselves, but I respect your opinion. There's solid research out there that concludes used games sales and piracy actually benefit companies. I think that benefit isn't big enough for them and they want to squeeze the profit a little harder. It was just like Sony saying they didn't want to carry over PSN purchases to the PS4 because an emulator would be too complicated and might use up too much of the processing power on the PS4. Nintendo used an emulator with the Wii U and it worked out just fine and Sony has a lot more hardware engineers than Nintendo does. They just lie to you as much as they can because they want to resell you things you already bought or sell you stuff that wasn't even necessary in the first place. It's sad but true...the corporate way in the modern world is to dupe the customer. That's why super fanboys annoy me sometimes. At the end of the day, these companies want you for your cash and nothing else. I sometimes think Nintendo is a little more morally based than Sony or Microsoft, but they're pretty guilty too sometimes. I'd like to think small developers still care and I really like supporting those guys these days.

This could go either way. If used games are done away with then big time retailers become Gamestop in a sense. They don't sell used games but they sell software that's been festering on the shelves.More stock at your Walmart,Target and Bestbuy. Prices may even drop faster and your Target will become a real life version of Steam.More deals,more of the time. Hypothetical reality number two: physical games disappearing. If a game isn't selling then retailers may choose to stop buying more copies of that game. Leaving the consumer with a digital option only. Devs make more money and you get few more physical games.

 

 

 

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