Exec: THQ Anti-Used Game Initiative Could Make Everyone Happy

THQ Executive Vice President of Core Games Danny Bilson (pictured) stated in a recent interview that the company is working on its own measures to thwart the used games market but indicated that the solution just might make all involved parties—publishers, retailers and consumers—content.

Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Bilson was tight lipped about specifics, but stated that the ultimate objective of such a movement is to stop gamers who purchased a title new from trading it in at all. He said of that goal, “That’s the war we’re in – that’s really tough for us.”

While emphasizing that what follows is not official, Bilson alluded to one solution that THQ might be working on:

With this one we’re not going to lock out the multi-player to the used gamer, we’re not. We’re going to let them experience some of it but not all of it. And then he’ll have to pay a nominal fee to get all the maps and all the stuff. That’s not official, I’m saying that today, that’s just what I’m thinking.

Bilson offered a few more veiled thoughts on how THQ might tackle this “problem”:

We have to show the used gamer that new is premium, because you get everything for free in there. We actually have some other programmes in the works that aren’t as punitive as locking out the used guy, that are more positive.

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  1. aIM hERE says:

    "Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Bilson was tight lipped about specifics, but stated that the ultimate objective of such a movement is to stop gamers who purchased a title new from trading it in at all. He said of that goal, “That’s the war we’re in – that’s really tough for us.”"

    Did I get that right? The head of a games publisher has just said that he’s in a war with his customers who use their explicitly-granted legal rights to buy and sell used games? I do hope that his customers reciprocate in a suitably warlike fashion. Refusing to buy his games unless they are used would be a good start.

  2. Frommonday says:

    How does this make consumers happy? In fact, how is this functionally any different from just locking people out?

    The only way to bring in new games buyers is to offer them content that is premium. Include a code which unlocks a new skin for the character model. Or, if you launch with DLC, include a code which gives people who buy the game within the first month that DLC for free. Or throw together a theme and picture pack which normally costs 600 MS points and give that away for free.

    Or anything but damage the secondary market which supports the primary market.

    Twenty to one Gamestop and EB Games are going to be pointing out to consumers that games become gimped if they are registered, meaning that returning the game for a trade-in will reduce the game’s value. I’d that gamers buying anything but Madden will choose to buy another game instead when they plan to trade it back later on.

    Good job, THQ, you just made the decision between your game and another game for that guy buying new. And hey, I’ll still be buying your game… When it drops to $20 new at Walmart.

  3. Doom90885 says:

    I just love how its piracy that ruins their PC game sales and then they turn around and blame used game sales for ruining their profits. While they can make a valid arguement about piracy simpy for the fact its illegal, condemning used game sales truly exposes these people for the whiny crybabies they are. Unless it becomes illegal to resell ANYTHING in this country (which will never happen), they have nothing to stand on in terms of condemning used game sales. Make a game that is worth a $60 ourchase and maybe less people will prefer a new game. I buy most games used because while I like many games, many are not worth a $60 price tag and I’ll buy used or wait for a big discount. I swear to God I feel that game limitations, DRM, etc will not be a PC exclusive inconvenience for long. These guys will push and push to see how far they can get away with screwing the customers. PC and console gamers need to end their pointless feud and hang together or we WILL be hanging seperately.

    "Its so amusing how so many people want the government to keep out their backyard, yet upon seeing or hearing the slightest thing that offends them on TV, the demand the government be their on call censors."



  4. hellfire7885 says:

    …. Well, I’ll be buying Saint’s row 3 used then. I bout Saint’s row 2 brand new, but now, if I want to play it I’ll play it used, IF I can now.

  5. ZippyDSMlee says:

    I don’t get it if they want more charge 5% more per new game to make up supposed loses on old games? Or strike up a deal with the used retail chains take 10% off their new games for a 2% cut of the used game thats under their IP hey sale used. There are many ways to do this were neither side is harmed any. And the publishers are the ones who are goign to have to get off their feet and offer a new program or something to get the retailer interested.


    For games not under X or Y super mega publisher offer that service to any game dev/mini pub but give 25% of the amount to the super mega publisher for use of their service.


    It seems rather fool proof to me to take a 10% hit on over all new sales but gain a 2% influx over a longer peroid of time. No need to bring in frist doctrine no need to rise rates on either side. The consumer still sheels out 49-139 a game whatever  they sale the title to a used item selling retialer is they knock off 10% but gain a 2% influx from itemized used sale of items that are under the contract.

    I have a dream, break the chains of copy right oppression! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/cigital-disobedience/

  6. lordlundar says:

    I think he’s reffering to the first wave of mass acceptance for gaming, where it went from niche market to mainstream, which did occur because of the playstation release. This created a massive influx of games and subsequently game copies into the market.

    So while it’s true that used games shops predated the first mainstrem wave, it’s only more recently that it’s become big enough business where publishers want to either cash in on or stop altogether.

  7. Baruch_S says:

    Time to add another company to the Do Not Buy list, I guess. I’m sick of these game companies thinking that they’re entitled to destroy the used market. No other business does this. Publishers don’t try to destroy used book sales, car manufacturers don’t try to destroy used car sales, clothing companies don’t try to destroy thrift shops, garage sales, or consignment stores. These other businesses have all adapted to coexist with their used market, so why can’t game publishers?

    These CEO and VP idiots can’t seem to understand that the used market isn’t simply cutting into their profits. The used market supports the new market and puts more money into it. Cutting used sales won’t equal more new sales; it’ll just mean that less money will change hands more slowly through fewer sales as people have to scrimp and save up buy $60 new games.

    Someone needs to slap some sense into these idiots in charge of the game industry. The "premium" of a new game isn’t full content. Full content is what a game is. Getting the game right away is the "premium" of a new game. You pay $60 to play it on release day instead of waiting a year or two to get it. What these companies need to do is make sure that the games are good enough and long enough that you don’t see a dozen used copies in a couple weeks. If the companies can start making awesome games that most people can’t finish in an afternoon and actually want to keep for future replay, they won’t have a problem extensive used sales.

  8. gamegod25 says:

    Exactly what I was going to say. How is paying $50-$60 for something "free"? And it may not be a complete lock out but making only a portion of MP available is still a lock out. Is this guy even aware of the words coming out of his mouth? It’s this kind of thinking that is hurting the game industry. If they want people to buy their games new then make a quality product instead of wasting their resources in a futile attempt to stop used game sales and pirates.

    Seriously fuck this guy, fuck THQ, and fuck every one of these idiotic execs. I’m a spiteful consumer, if you spit in my face or piss me off I’ll purposefully make a point to NOT buy your product. But if I really want to play the game then I’ll only rent it or buy it used so you don’t see a penny of my money. Treat me, the consumer, with respect and I’ll do the same. Take a dump on me and I’ll send it right back.

  9. Roh02 says:

    "stop gamers who purchased a title new from trading it in" make it a good game then idiot

    "new is premium, because you get everything for free in there" free other than the fact you paid for it

  10. Baruch_S says:

    But that would require them admitting that they actually benefit from used sales, and that makes it harder to villify and crusade against them. If basically all the money isn’t going directly from the consumer to the company, the company isn’t going to recognize it as benefiting them.

  11. vellocet says:

    I’m not against used games.  I’m in the industry and my argument is that publishers ARE getting a cut.  They’re getting the $15-$20 that people trading in games are getting in the form of sales towards NEW games.

    Where is that money coming from?  Gamestop, EB and other game retailers.  They’re buying new games in return for people old games.

    I bet Modern Warfare 2’s sales numbers would be half or less if people couldn’t trade in games towards it.

  12. Neeneko says:

    Not as hypothetical as you might think.

    This is actually one of the core concerns when it comes to 3rd party mods, homebrew apps, and other things that can get on to closed devices like consoles or cell phones.  Marketers have found that if you allow substandard applications to run on your device and people see it (even if it is user installed) it can give enough of a negative impression that it can result in a lost sale.

    One of the more insidious versions of this was after-market mods like replacing the hard drive of our game systems with unvalidated models.  Even though the owner made the change, people still saw our game and our logo, so when it preformed erraticly people would wake away thinking our product was crap and would not spend money on them.

    Crippled versions of games (outside the carefully crafted and presented demo versions) are very risky since they risk bad word of mouth advertizing.  It has little impact on that coveted first month of sale, but it can have catostrophic effects on a game that you want a long term return on. 

  13. Overcast says:

    With this one we’re not going to lock out the multi-player to the used gamer, we’re not. We’re going to let them experience some of it but not all of it. And then he’ll have to pay a nominal fee to get all the maps and all the stuff. That’s not official, I’m saying that today, that’s just what I’m thinking.


    Hypothetical situation:

    Joe goes to the store, buys a used game. He’s on a very tight budget, as he can only work a few hours due to school and the fact that his dad, who’s a disabled vet is on a fixed income. Joe has some physical issues that further hamper his ability to work, but he does the best he can.

    Joe takes said used game home.

    Joe’s uncle and aunt come over with their kids, they are all playing Joe’s game. Joe’s cousins think it’s a GREAT game and pester dad to buy it.

    OR WAIT!! Do they?

    If the game was half-gimped, because it was a ‘used’ copy – would Joe’s cousin’s have thought it was ‘cool’ – or would they say, "oh, that sucks, well what other games you have?"

    I suspect the second statement would be accurate.

    And it’s not hypothetical; ‘Joe’ – who’s name was changed is my nephew and is really on a fixed income, but buys a used game here and there. Really can’t afford $50.00+ for a new one, as used can be $5.00 plus, if you only have $50.00 to spend you may not want to blow it all on a single game, right?

    And I’m the uncle who’s kids pester him for games. I usually buy new.

    But… I won’t buy new from a company that wants to slap customers who buy ‘used’ in the face.

    Keep your crap, you snob.


  14. Baruch_S says:

    Too bad they’ll never think of this idea because, in their minds, the problems lie with the consumers and not the fact that the companies try to sell overpriced crap.

  15. tallimar says:

    you know what, THQ?  i have the best idea yet for this "problem".  since you don’t want people trading in their games, how about making your games better so that they won’t want to trade in those games.  i know what your thinking, Mr. Bilson, ‘but tallimar, that’s crazy!  we’d actually have to pay people to work!’, but look at the bright side, you really can make everyone happy with that method.

  16. Bennett Beeny says:

    Basically, the publishers and developers want a free lunch here. They don’t want to do any more work, but like a mafia thug, they want a piece of the action. If they don’t get their cut, they get to put the screws on us. Nice!

    What I see it doing is forcing customers to rely even more on pirates. Right now we’re forced to go to pirates if we simply want to play a game without the DVD in the disc drive, or if we want to play a game that’s region-coded. After this we’ll be looking to them to unlock games we’ve paid for.

    This might drive the second-hand market underground, but it won’t kill it. If anything, it’ll make game piracy even more accepted than it already is.

    The other thing it will do is make people really investigate games before they buy, and I see them being a lot more suspicious and reticent to buy over-hyped games. I see a lot of developers going out of business over this. Let’s hope Bilson is one of the folks who reaps the whirlwind.

  17. Weatherlight says:

    Not so worried about not being able to sell my games, as I never do, however it should be my right to do so. That being said, I have purchased a number of games on Steam, that cannot be sold to another party but the difference is I paid a fraction of the cost as if I were to buy it from a retail location. If the ability to sell your games is taken away there should be some benefit to the consumer IE costs less.


  18. Neeneko says:

    Ahm, used games shops predated the playstation.

    I can recall going to my local funco-land to get used NES cartridges and they always had plenty of stock.

  19. ecco6t9 says:

    It’s clearly Sony’s fault why we are here today.

    They expanded the market with the Playstation to include people who do not keep games but would rather sell them, think about there were a lot more used PS1,PS2 and now Xbox 360 games flooding the market.


    It’s time to make less games for the MTV Cribs/Frat Boy market and more for the Soccer Mom and Classic Gamers.



    See you can make any kind of arguement logical.

  20. Neeneko says:

    Ack.  My comment got eaten….

    There is no ‘somtimes I belielve’ here…. or at least, there is none needed.  Many execs have gone on record as this being their expliciticly stated goal.  They have some misguided idea that removing used game sales will somehow improve thier bottom line.

  21. PHX Corp says:

    Sometimes I believe that they want to pull Used games out of the equation forever

    Watching JT on GP is just like watching an episode of Jerry springer only as funny as the fights

  22. nightwng2000 says:

    Danny "Double dipping, greed is good" Bilson not only wants the money from the original NEW product, but wants a piece of the used action, being paid a SECOND, or more, time for the specific product.  The specific product was paid for and is now the property of the purchaser.  The purchase price went to those it should have, such as the developer.  Yet, Bilson would either have the product then disposed of in a landfill or make ADDITIONAL income of that specific item, even though he and others have ALREADY received income from it.

    Additionally, Danny "Double dipping, greed is good" Bilson pretty much spits in the face of EVERYONE on EBay, who have yard sales, and participate in flea markets.  Perhaps they should all be spitting back.


    NW2K Software


    Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

  23. Neeneko says:

    I doubt there is any solution that makes ‘everyone’ happy here.  Not unless games become so inexpensive that there is no motivation for consumers to try to get money back when they are done.

    For the most part, whenever CEOs or other high level management types talk economics, ignore them…. the fact that they have risen in ranks and made money tends to make them think they understand economics when in reality all they really understand is people and diplomacy.. and generally do not have a clue at how any pieces beyond their immediate domain fit together.

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