Op-Ed : You're Not One of Us

September 14, 2010 -

Bill Harris of the excellent Dubious Quality blog, has two interesting posts on used games. The latest is a rant on how game companies that make millions or billions of dollars are trying to convince gamers that they are "one of us," but when you hear them talk about used games most realize it's all bulls**t.

 

The second post features emails from readers who point out all kinds of interesting acts about used games, strange laws to make selling games at your local GameStop more difficult and even talk about what game rentals do to new game sales.

Here's a taste of the rant:

Remember how piracy used to be the number one problem for gaming companies? And remember how much cheaper games would be, said the big companies, if only they could stop piracy?

Well, that's very clever. Gaming companies never really talk about reducing piracy being enough to reduce game prices. They always talk about ending piracy.

Notice what they did there?

Did Ubisoft release Silent Hunter 5 or Assassin’s Creed 2 at a lower price because the requirement of an always-on Internet connection made piracy exponentially more difficult? The PSP GO didn't even have physical media. Were those games cheaper than their physical media equivalents?

Check out Bill's rant here and reader emails here.


Comments

Re: Op-Ed : You're Not One of Us

However much bullshit they might spew, at least they actually produce games for me to play.  I'd still rather my money went to them than to a leech like GameStop.

Re: Op-Ed : You're Not One of Us

I personally hate Gamestop/EB Games because they open game cases and have dicked me over in the past...

But as for used product, if the market niche exists, someone is going to fill it. If it weren't for used books, I wouldn't buy books period. If people couldn't sell their used books, they would have less money to buy new books. Those who don't feel new books are worth the money certainly aren't going to change their minds now, so by eliminating the used market you damage the new market (and that isn't just some boring short-term damage...)

Re: Op-Ed : You're Not One of Us

Do you describe used bookstores as "leeches"?  How about libraries?  People who sell things on eBay and Amazon?

Re: Op-Ed : You're Not One of Us

Yeah because they're obviously the exact same thing.

Do used bookstores, libraries, people selling on eBay and Amazon buy things at a fraction of the value and sell them back at nearly the new price for a disproportionate amount of profit, all this within the release window of the item and cannibalizing new sales?

Re: Op-Ed : You're Not One of Us

 

That's the same big mistake Tycho made in his discussion a couple of weeks back- special pleading for games. In at least one sense, yes, they are the same. They're goods. The markets are different from different goods, but there's nothing specifically about games that makes them so distinguishable from other goods- entertainment-related or not- that the rules should be different for them. The implications for that are terrible for any second hand market and libraries. Publishers in other industries do make those arguments in just about every industry, including books. And libraries do indeed check out games, to use the same market.  Is a library checking out a game substantially different?

Re: Op-Ed : You're Not One of Us

Used sales do not canniblize new sales, they support them.  A thriving seconds market gives the item resale value, thus inreasing the price consumers are willing to pay for it.  It also puts money back in the hands of the early adopters who generallly turn around and use it to buy more games that they would not otherwise have purchaced.

Car dealers would probably be the closest similiar model, and they do indeed buy cars back for much smaller amounts only to sell them at someting close to original price all within the release window of a new model.    I is one of the reasons car prices can be so high yet enough people still buy them.

Re: Op-Ed : You're Not One of Us

Few car-alternatives exist.  For many a car is a necessity.  That, I think, drives car prices more than resale value (pun intended).

===============

Chris Kimberley

===============

Chris Kimberley

Re: Op-Ed : You're Not One of Us

eBay and Amazon sellers certainly do.  Bookstores are a different issue because few books have the same kind of must-read-on-release demand that games do.

Regardless, in all of these cases, people are acquiring the product used and therefore not paying the publisher.  As is their right.  But the publishers sure don't like it, and they'd stop it if they could.

Re: Op-Ed : You're Not One of Us

The game industry would be much sicker if GameStop (or its equivelent) was not around.

Secondary markets cause increases in primary markets, fairly well established econimics.  The problem here is that game executives and investors are not economists, they are MBAs.. which are mostly trained on social skills not abstract mathmatics or boring statistics... so they rarely have a clue what is good for an entire industry or how a global increase helps them too... they are rarly trained to look any further then thier own first order income.

And unfortunatly since they make lots of money, they feel they are smarter then all those specialists..

Re: Op-Ed : You're Not One of Us

Nice strawman argument.

Or maybe I just missed it when the big companies solemnly declared that they would a) eliminate piracy and b) reduce prices when they did so.

Re: Op-Ed : You're Not One of Us

Considering a number of companies have claimed that piracy was one of the driving factors of the increase in costs needed to make games, you must have missed it.

By increasing cost, you in turn increase price.

So it may have been an implied meaning that prices would decrease if piracy was eliminated, but that meaning was passed onto consumers.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: Op-Ed : You're Not One of Us

So yeah, he substitutted a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition to the original one and refuted it. That's what a strawman is.

Re: Op-Ed : You're Not One of Us

No, actually, many companies have claimed that game prices had to climb due to rising costs. They also claim that piracy is driving their costs up. I'd say his evaluation was quite fair.

Meanwhile, you didn't do your research and spoke out on a subject you don't seem to know much about. I'll let that speak for itself.

Re: Op-Ed : You're Not One of Us

Hey, that's awesome, gold star, have a trophy. Except that's not what he said.

"And remember how much cheaper games would be, said the big companies, if only they could stop piracy?"

"Gaming companies never really talk about reducing piracy being enough to reduce game prices. They always talk about ending piracy."

He's accusing game companies of acting in bad faith for using semantics to get out of an alleged engagement. That's not an implied meaning. He is saying that companies have said, litterally, "We will reduce game prices if we eliminate piracy". Forgive me for not providing you with a quote from them never saying that.

Re: Op-Ed : You're Not One of Us

Seems to me you're the one focusing on semantics at the expense of a larger argument.  Regardless of the difference between "curbing" and "eliminating" piracy, would you deny that game publishers have claimed piracy is driving up prices, then added increasingly inconvenient DRM, and not lowered prices any?

Re: Op-Ed : You're Not One of Us

I will deny that anyone has claimed that the price increase was only a direct result of piracy, yes.

His point is that companies "always talk" about reducing prices if piracy was eliminated.

Uh, no, they don't.

Re: Op-Ed : You're Not One of Us

You're right that they dont literally spend every second of every minute of every hour saying that exact thing.  However, if you could be less literal for a moment, you might grasp the point that is being made behind the admiteddly exaggerated rhetoric.

Even you cant deny the extremely frequent talk of how much piracy "costs" the games industry.  The clear statement is that without piracy, video games developers would have more money.  By extension there are three outcomes: they could just casually trouser the extra millions or billions that piracy "costs" and therefore be worthy of our contempt, they could invest even more in the games or they could reduce prices.  Prices arent going down and I'm seeing no evidence of huge increases in development investment over and above what would be expected otherwise.  That only leaves the first option, unless of course the "costs" were a fabrication in the first place.  In either case, a damning indictment.

 

Re: Op-Ed : You're Not One of Us

That assumes three things:

1) Piracy represents a major portion of the production costs and price increase in this generation (If you're going to argue that, don't use Assassin's Creed II as an example of a game that should somehow cost less)

2) Piracy has been eliminated or significantly reduced by intrusive DRM in an handful of games, enough so that we should already, right now, be able to observe the effects.

3) Saying that developpers are worthy of contempt for earning money for a game that they've worked on is not a spectacularly inane statement.

Re: Op-Ed : You're Not One of Us

1) No, it doesnt assume that piracy is an increase in outgoing costs, it assumes that piracy is a decrease in income.  But I suppose you could say that amounts to the same thing in the long run.

2) A very good point!  So, why haven't we?

3) You have failed to understand the emphasis.  What is contemptible is not simply making money from your hard work.  It's gouging customers with excessive prices and making ENORMOUS profit margins at their expense.  Which, by the way, I dont think anyone is currently doing.  I'm just saying, they WOULD be making those insane profit margins, if the reports of massive losses to piracy were based on anything approaching reality.

 

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