Quantic Dream: We Lost Millions to Used Games Market

In a recent interview with GameIndustry.biz, Quantic Dream co-founder Guillaume de Fondaumiere claims that his studio lost anywhere from €5 ($6.8 million *) €10 million ($13.6 million *) due to the used games market. He softened the blow by saying that many consumers bought Heavy Rain used because of the recession and because the AAA was just too expensive.

"I would say that the impact that the recession had, especially on AAA games on console, was the rise of second hand gaming. And I think this is one of the number one problems right now in the industry," he told GameIndustry.biz in an exclusive interview. "I can take just one example of Heavy Rain – we basically sold to date approximately two million units, we know from the trophy system that probably more than three million people bought this game and played it. On my small level it's a million people playing my game without giving me one cent. And my calculation is, as Quantic Dream, I lost between €5 and €10 million worth of royalties because of second hand gaming."

de Fondaumiere says that, while he feels bad for consumers who are feeling the full effects of the extended economic downturn, he also thinks that the used games market is making it so that developers will simply have to stop making games.

"Now I know the arguments, you know, without second hand gaming people will buy probably less games because they buy certain games full price, and then they trade them in," he continued. "Well I'm not so sure this is the right approach and I think that developers and certainly publishers and distributors should sit together and try to find a way to address this. Because we're basically all shooting ourselves in the foot here. Because when developers and publishers alike are going to see that they can't make a living out of producing games that are sold through retail channels, because of second hand gaming, they will simply stop making these games. And we'll all, one say to the other, simply go online and to direct distribution. So I don't think that in the long run this is a good thing for retail distribution either."

Of course worst-case scenario, most publishers simply migrate to the cloud or other means of digital distribution to sell their games.

de Fondaumiere goes on to say that a big part of the problem is game pricing and retailers, publishers and developers should get together to address alternate pricing models that work for everyone.

Source: GameIndustry.biz

* figure based on the exchange rate of 1.00 EUR = 1.36 USD from XE – Universal Currency Converter

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  1. Shahab says:

    They didn't LOSE a single sale to used games. Every used title was purchased new by somebody. Those people still have right of second sale in this country. Can you imagine if Toyota came out and said used car sales had cost them millions?

    These people need to stop assuming that they get to control what happens to a game after they sold it.

  2. Andrew Eisen says:

    Because that shows that not every Heavy Rain player bought the game new.

    You are right though, not having the ability to buy used does not mean a gamer is going to pay full price to buy it new.  He/she may not buy it at all.

    I don't know how Fondaumiere is coming to his dollar estimate but such a wide range, to me, would indicate that he's not simply assuming that every used sale would have otherwise been a new sale.


    Andrew Eisen

  3. Andrew Eisen says:

    I've talked about the used car analogy elsewhere but here's a bit more food for thought: Honda makes a hell of a lot more money than Quantic Dream.


    Andrew Eisen

  4. Andrew Eisen says:

    Seeing as Quantic Dream is giving an estimate with a multi-million dollar range, it would appear that there is no assumption of a 1:1 ratio.


    Andrew Eisen

  5. Erik says:

    Here we go yet again with the idiotic assumption that there is a 1:1 ratio of used game sales to lost new sales. These companies need to get over themselves. Someone digging a game out of some bin wouldn’t have tossed down $60 on release if the bin wasnt there.

  6. mogbert says:

    You lost millions because you put out the single worst game I’ve ever played, and I’ve played E.T. for the Atari 2600, so that is saying something.

    Funny that I don’t hear Honda or Toyota crying about how much money they are losing on used car sales. Hey, lets make it illegal to resell the car. All they have to do is make it so that they only LICENSE the software that runs in the car, then claim that you can’t sell it, problem solved.

    Yes, I know, the dreaded C*R analogy, for you this circumstance, it fits. It is another product with a thriving “used” market, and if you think about it, a much shadier and high stakes version. And yet you don’t see company after company claiming that it isn’t fair and that someone should do something about it.

    Those millions that you claim you are missing, a lot of them are still in consumers pockets.

  7. tallimar says:

    after an exhausting 2 minutes of research, i think i understand why this guy is complaining so loudly.  European companies get a kickback from used sales via a rule, droit de suite as compared to no kickback from the american first-sale doctrine. /end factoid

    imo, if this guy spent more time on his games than on whining, they might actually make something worth his false sense of entitlement.

  8. Grif says:

    Firstly, you're certainly entitled to your opinion. If you didn't like the game, that's fine.

    However, if a game sells 2 million copies while new, odds are it's not a bad game. The fact that the game sold over a million used copies reinforces the idea that at the very least, it was interesting enough to play.

    I wonder if they count the new games that don't sell, considering that they still make money whether that new copy sells or not.

    But long story short, if a game is genuinely bad *CoughBodycountCough* then the odds are it won't see many sales at all, whether it's new or used.

  9. Grif says:

    Sorry, I must be tired. All I could understand out of that was "Waaaaaahhh!".

    Couldn't make out much more than that.

  10. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Take out all the new game sales from gamestop,ect then from that number add the used game data and see if you make up your losses….. didn't think so…

  11. gamegod25 says:

    Or perhaps they lost money because their game sucks. Make a decent game and maybe more people will buy it new. Don't whine to me about used game sales, you'll find no sympathy here.

    And yes I hate Heavy Rain and will not apologize for doing so. QTE's are one of the worst game mechanics ever invented (only passable when done right) and the story is full of plot holes and stupidity.

  12. Andrew Eisen says:

    As I mentioned elsewhere, the fact that they gave such a wide dollar range would lead me to believe that they factored stuff like that into their estimate.


    Andrew Eisen

  13. MechaCrash says:

    The problem with his "we lost X money" assertion is that it's based on a hugely flawed premise: that, in the absence of rentals or used purchases, all or even most of those people would have bought it new. The fact that "shrug shoulders, buy something else" is on the table never seems to enter anybody's mind.

  14. lordlundar says:

    I've actually made those very same arguments on another blog with one exception: the buying new being more attractive than longevity. Granted there's a solid reasoning for encouraging new sales (which I think publishers are failing miserably at) but consider the longevity aspect. Games such as Xenogears on the PSN or Starcraft (not the sequel mind you, the original game) are still making money hand over fist long after they're considered dated and obsolete and then there's GoG, who's making a killing on games that have lasting value.

    That's the real issue that publishers don't want to realize. Publishers are going for the quick buck as opposed to the long profits, so the games that are coming out are flashy with little substance which results in short play terms, low quality games (and no, AAA is not a quality indicator, consider RA3 or Fallout 3 which still are buggy as hell) or a combination of both. But the publisher doesn't care until they see the used game sales shoot up as opposed to new. Then they run the money trail and stop at the first place they can blame without it costing them money, aka the used games stores.

    Instead, the need to look in house first and try to figure out why the games are being traded in so quickly and work to resolve it. And slapping in multiplayer or rapid launch DLC is not a solution because it not only really doesn't extend the longevity, it also produces a lack of trust amongst the user base because it either was ready for launch and removed for a quick buck, the launch could have been delayed slightly to include it properly, or the extra content was poorly made.

    Yu do have an understanding as to why it happens, but publishers need to have that understanding and work on resolving it properly as opposed to quick fixes and carpet blame.

  15. Andrew Eisen says:

    "…why [are used games] such a concern now?"

    Lots of reasons: the used game business is much, much larger today than it ever was in the past, games are much more expensive to make now than ever, consumers have to deal with more expensive games and (generally) less disposable cash, it's a hot button issue, etc.

    "…games are popping up on the shelves within days if not hours of release, so why is that happening?"

    I'm not saying games are never resold because they didn't float the buyer's boat but I think it's mainly because most games can be completed in a day or two.  Even if it's a game you like, once you're done, you're done.  I love video games but I rarely ever replay any of them.  There are too many new games to play and too little time.  Plus, games are expensive.  Trading them in (which I personally never do, I keep all of them) helps buy more (so does buying them used).

    "So what does the solution become then? …actually look at ways to encourage people to keep the game."

    While I think there's value in somehow ensuring consumers don't want to resell their games, I think the better bet (from a profitability standpoint) is making buying new more attractive than buying used.


    Andrew Eisen

  16. lordlundar says:

    The used game market has been around almost as long as the new games market has and has always been a concern from producers, so why is it such a concern now? You said yourself that used games are popping up on the shelves within days if not hours of release, so why is that happening?

    It's because people are bored with the game that quickly. So what does the solution become then? Blame the consumers for not keeping the games or destroying them after they get bored, or actually look at ways to encourage people to keep the game. Remember, pre order specials and all that crap do not carry over, so it does not encourage retaining the game, simply promotes a first sale and most of those end when the game is released.

  17. Andrew Eisen says:

    Second part of the same answer.  Plus, there are things like parts, warrantees, and services that Kia, Nissan, or whoever can still make money off of when their cars go to a second owner.

    Something else that may factor into the "why doesn't anyone else complain about this (as loudly)" question is the fact that car sellers have had several more decades to get used to the idea and come up with ways to deal with it.


    Andrew Eisen

  18. Andrew Eisen says:

    Same answer.

    And to be clear, there's nothing wrong with there being a secondary market and you're absolutely free to resell whatever you want.


    Andrew Eisen

  19. kagirinai says:

    I think you've just got a narrow focus here. What about the large secondary markets for other, similar media? Like books, music or movies?

    While we've all heard lots of inane bitching from the MPAA and RIAA, I have never heard of a film producer complaining about people purchasing DVDs second hand.

  20. lordlundar says:

    I agree, but the approach is "let's throw it to the wall and see what sticks" then blame other parts of the industry for the stuff that doesn't. There's not a lot of thought process being used in what the consequences of their efforts will result in. Meanwhile, the results are customers leaving because they're tired of being treated like sheep. It's not a good or terribly successful business model and the results of it are coming out.

  21. Andrew Eisen says:

    My point was that the game industry is trying a bunch of different things.  How effective or liked they are wasn't part of it.


    Andrew Eisen

  22. lordlundar says:

    I'm not sure how many of those actually qualify as "encouraging" people to buy new as opposed to "discouraging" people to buy used. As in the past that tends to have the effect of discouraging purchasing the game altogether.

    I still say the best method is by making a game that people want to keep beyond a few hours or days. The used game market cannot go away without some serious heavy handed adjustment of the legal system so the best bet is to mitigate it without offending the consumer. Just wish more producers would look at that last part more closely.

  23. Andrew Eisen says:

    And preorder exclusives, removing the ability to erase a save (maybe), adding multiplayer modes, appealing to the consumer, etc.


    Andrew Eisen

  24. Zen says:

    Sadly the only answer they have is to limit and force a new purchase through removing parts for day 1 DLC or locking out entire modes unless you put in a code.  

  25. Neeneko says:

    Speaking as someone who spent many years in the game industry… it is no more a 'problem' then used cars, used books, or used CDs.  

    When you take away the used market the ability to charge high prices decreases because you have just decreased the value of your own product.  It also makes the market more rigid, money does not flow nearly as freely since the volume of transactions drops drastically AND the smaller number of price points creates a situation where people go in with 'all or nothing' purchasing, which meany people will simply choose 'nothing.

    The industry on the whole, and individual studios/publishers would be in much worse shape if not for the used market.  Their complaining is similar to whining about having to put gas in a car.. all they see the the surface cost and not think about how once you take away that lifeblood it doesn't work as well.  

  26. Andrew Eisen says:

    I'm sorry you don't like the definition of that word.  But, as I've said elsewhere, as long as you understand the specifics of what we're discussing (and I believe you do) I don't give a flying falafel what you call it.


    Andrew Eisen

  27. kagirinai says:

    That's like saying the fact that I can't fly is a problem. I mean, it may not be a problem to you, but it is to me, right?

    There's all sorts of annoyances and inconveniences in the world, but just because something gets in your way doesn't make it a problem. Again; they KNEW that this is how the world worked. Complaining about it is just silly. They're not being stolen from, they're not losing money on those sales. They're bothered that they didn't make $60+ on EVERY gamer who played their game.

    That's a problem like not drowning in money is a problem.

  28. Andrew Eisen says:

    No, it's a matter of the word's definition.

    Just because it's not a problem for you, doesn't mean it's not a problem for someone else.


    Andrew Eisen

  29. kagirinai says:

    That's a matter of opinion. I don't see a problem in the secondary market, and I'm sure I'm not alone. I think you've got to be a fool to expect people to only buy your product new — it's short sighted and, frankly, delusional. 

  30. kagirinai says:

    It's not a problem, though. It's a reality.

    They went in to the market knowing with absolute certainty that Gamestop exists, that people rent and sell their games. If it was a problem, then they totally failed to even approach it with a solution.

    This is very clearly a studio who is realizing that if their game NEEDED to be purchased to be played "would have" earned more money. I put that 'would have' in quotes, because the chances are good that only a portion of those who bought the game used would have ever bothered if they had to purchase it new at full cost.

    In fact, you may question the number of people who DID purchase the game new if it had no secondary market value; I'm sure there's no small number of frugal gamers who trade in many of their games after beating them once or twice in order to get discounts on something they haven't played yet.

  31. Andrew Eisen says:

    Publishers are making less money then they would otherwise.  That's a problem.

    "using the '2 million new copies were sold, 3 million people have played our game, so we lost 50%!' math makes it even worse."

    It would if anyone had actually said that.


    Andrew Eisen

  32. Neeneko says:

    My issue with calling it a 'problem' in the first place…. calling it a problem just shows simplistic and direct thinking, and using the '2 million new copies were sold, 3 million people have played our game, so we lost 50%!' math makes it even worse.  People have real trouble leaping from "A=>B" logic to "A=>B=>C".. all people like this see is they are not getting "A=>C" and missing the intermediate steps that benifit them…

  33. Sajomir says:

    No. The issue of used games affecting developers is like a medication that has bad side affects on 1% of its users. It doesn't necessarily cause them to die, but it does affect their day-to-day life.

    The people who need the medicine are a specific population (aka game developers vs any other industry), and the amount of them who genuinely are endangered, or are bothered+vocal by it is relatively select.

    Now tell me, is there any reason that people shouldn't come up with a way to help the 1% of those who are having a harder time? If your meds seriously made your hands shake all day, that's not a world-ending emergency, but who should have to live with that? There's nothing wrong with addressing the issue and being vocal about things that bother you, and asking for a solution. That's what the game companies are doing.

    Are there some who are trying to over-emphasize their loss for personal gain? (aka those suing the medication company over something stupid) Yep. Those are the game stuidios that you should be watching for.

  34. Andrew Eisen says:

    It's absolutely newsworthy among the people who care.  My point is that the number of people who care (a decent percentage of the folks who read IGN and the like, I'd wager) pail in comparison to the total number of gamers.  And even then, I'm not convinced that the news caused a significant (or even notable) number of those who cared to refuse to purchase the game.


    Andrew Eisen

  35. Sajomir says:

    So it's not newsworthy among its own audienc because I read on it from sources where it was relevant? You don't see medical journals posting their findings in the NYT on a regular basis, unless something gets totally revolutionized. Games rarely make mainstream media unless:

    Something really weird and new around Christmas

    School shooting

    Jack Thompson

  36. Andrew Eisen says:

    "If that's true, why was it so newsworthy when Nintendo announced Metroid Prime was being developed by a third party?"

    It wasn't.  That's why you only read it on IGN, Kotaku, GameSpot and the like and not in publications like USA Today, the NY Times, or the Wall Street Journal.


    Andrew Eisen

  37. Andrew Eisen says:

    I don't think most gamers know or care who made the game.  Same with film.

    Just my thoughts and I've no stats to back them up but I certainly don't agree that any film (or game) has ever flopped because no one heard of the director.

    IP or franchise?  Sure.  Creative team.  No.


    Andrew Eisen

  38. Sajomir says:

    If that's true, why was it so newsworthy when Nintendo announced Metroid Prime was being developed by a third party?

    Personally, I care more about game reviews and trailers than I do about the dev team. Just like a good movie trailer and reviews will bring in viewers, the same is true for games. Good IP always helps, and a familiar name or studio is great. Pixar or Disney, for example, are instant attention grabbers. Same is true for Square-Enix, Epic Games, or Capcom.

    However, a good IP being made by a good company that I've come to love will always attract my attention. Why do you think people care about Rage for example? It's a new awesome looking FPS by the guys who made Doom, Quake, Wolfenstein, etc etc. If it wasn't by Id, it's seriously just another apocalyptic-looking FPS at this point. There are promises about feature X and Y, but those exist with every release.

    The Country of Ni being developed by Level 5 in coordination with Studio Ghibli is a fan's wet dream if the game turns out to be good.

    I will admit that I know the studios/teams better than individual people. But tell me the minds behind a familiar title like Portal/Narbacular Drop are working on a new project somewhere else, and I'll definitely check it out.

  39. Andrew Eisen says:

    You're wrong about Coraline but I understand your point.  Yes, names do help sell games and movies but I doubt very much that a significant number of people would turn their noses up at a movie or game simply because they don't recognize the creative talent behind it.  I still maintain that the vast majority don't know and don't care.


    Andrew Eisen

  40. GrimCW says:

    you'd be amazed.

    hence why so many movies use the directors name, or an actor to sell it. Take Coraline for example, they used Tim Burtons name to sell it, but he didn't direct the movie itself, he just did the art direction, and people flocked to it.

    same goes for some games, many CoD fans will buy anything IW makes, but have refused Treyarch as CoD makers. EA throws DICE's name around all the time to sell the new BF games, more than they do the games actual title. Ditto for Valve or ID stuff. I recall many even flocking to things Raven made after Elite Force was such a hit, maybe not a high end hit, but a hit, and then they looked gloomily at EF2 since it was developed by someone else.

    People do look to the makers of the games they play, and will size up quality with the development studios involved before even considering the publisher at times, or the games reviews. ATM look around at the Halo 4 stuff, one of the biggest questions is "will it be good now that Bungie isn't involved" above almost anything else.

  41. tallimar says:

    i try to at least pay attention to what studios make the games i like to play, though it's possible im part of a minority.  once in a while ill even find a nice gem hidden in a studio's game history.

  42. RedMage says:

    I'm of two minds on this.  On one hand, I appreciate the tremendous creative effort that goes into games and I firmly believe in supporting the game makers when you enjoy something.  Especially when that money affects what the game makers do in the future.

    On the other, it's difficult to stay sympathetic sometimes when we have people like Bobby Kotick casually quipping that "Oh, I'd charge more for games if I could" or David Jaffe saying that the consumer has no place in the used game sales debate, and then both of them turning around and going "WAAAH, USED SALES!" Asking people to buy your game new because we should feel sorry for you is arrogant and disingenuous.

  43. Andrew Eisen says:

    "Asking people to buy your game new because we should feel sorry for you is arrogant and disingenuous."

    Doing so would also be ineffective.  What publishers need to do is figure out how to make "buying new" a more attractive prospect than "buying used."  And that's what many of them are trying to do now, to various levels of success.


    Andrew Eisen

  44. Neo_DrKefka says:

    I am sorry but this is bull

    For one the game is hard to find and most stores are not even ordering the game now. Best Buy doesn't have it at all and you can't buy it online. Also this game had a problem with the replay value.

    The thing that really hurt the game was it stopped producing DLC. They spent a ton of money added features for the Playstation Home instead of releasing new content which would have made the game better.

    I know trying to find this game new again is hard because I recently re-bought the game "New" at Game Stop which means it was open with scratches and finger prints. I would of loved if they released this game on the PSN in fact this would have been perfect since its so hard to find this game now.

    If he is whining about profits he shouldn't of used everything in QD budject for Move when they could of used it for more content

  45. kagirinai says:

    Well, regardless of whether you love or hate the Wii, it won't stop medium and large studios — especially those who outsource hiring to a third party — from requesting "AAA Game Developers" when hiring, for or from the Wii devs market. It's just a buzz word that means something specific and nonsensical to them.

  46. kagirinai says:

    You'd think so, but that's not the case.

    See, because the Game Dev industry is still fairly infantile, and is populated by a lot of people who assume they are always right, there are lots of terms that get described in vague, often meaningless ways, despite having a definite meaning. Even right now, the job descriptions for 'Game Designer's is often completely different from one company to another; where one may mean a creative programmer, and the other may be a graphic artist — neither of whom would actually contribute to a game's design.

    The term "AAA" is one of those words. I believe it was around the beginning of the PS2 era when it because a messy term. It used to refer to, like you assume, games which have done phenomenally well, either critically or commercially, though generally both.

    However, in hiring ads, studios started to trying to specify that they wanted serious talent on their teams by asking for "AAA Developers" — meaning people who were behind huge products. Unfortunately, what "AAA" means isn't clearly defined anywhere. Games aren't awarded AAA status by any organization or anything; it's just a claim made on successful games. So soon, AAA meant any game that did well, then any game that didn't flop. Shortly after that, because of the ambiguity of the term, AAA eventually came to mean "current or next gen".

    And that's where it is right now! If you have worked on a game for disc release on the 360, PS3 or Wii, you've worked on "AAA" games. Doesn't matter if they were crap, total failures or shovelware.

    This is another reason why I don't work for big studios.

  47. GrimCW says:

    it can be AAA and still lose alot.

    as above, i think it was because the game, and developers, were a relatively unknown factor at the time.

    people wouldn't think twice before buying a game made by DICE, or Infinity Ward, let alone ID or Valve.

    but who is Quantic-Dream? what have they done before?

    its not like Grin where they were known for making crap (thanks mostly to Ubi's timelines IMO) they just weren't known at all. now they are, so now they might make money.

    its like those movies where no ones even heard of it or its director, so it flops in theaters, but becomes a massive hit on DVD.  so any followups are given more attention by the consumer and make more money usually.

  48. GrimCW says:

    now heres the catch folks.

    now that people equate them to a quality title, if they'd make MORE, they'd sell MORE.

    most buy used not solely for the price, but due to not knowing if the product will be any good. so they got their name out there, alls they need to do now is make a Heavy Rain 2 and watch half those used buyers buy it new! pull some BS new vs used code lockout and i'll avoid it though and buy it used for that fact alone personally, the extra content is RARELY worth the extra money.

  49. Andrew Eisen says:

    Because unlike other second hand markets (like the one for used power tools), used video games are a huge business and games are widely available used within days of their initial release.


    Andrew Eisen

  50. Snowgrog says:

    Why do game studios, developers, etc. see secondary markets so negatively?  Dewalt doesn't seem to have a problem with me selling a tool that I'm done with.  Why shouldn't I sell a game that I'm done with?

    Most discussion seems to be around people buying used games, why don't we see anyone discussing why the previous owner sold it?  What proportion of trade-ins were completed by the initial owner and what proportion were traded in without playing through the game?

  51. Andrew Eisen says:

    It's not an imaginary problem, it's just not an unexpected or unfair problem.  There are certainly better solutions than "stop making games."  Publishers just have to find them and that's what we're seeing now (with varying levels of success).


    Andrew Eisen

  52. Neeneko says:

    Please stop making games then.   It will open up space in the industry for a company that does not seek to 'fix' this imaginary problem.

  53. Andrew Eisen says:

    "Not all of those extra million players got it used."

    Of course not.  That's why Quantic Dream is estimating and providing a pretty wide range of the amount of extra money they would have had had those players bought new.  How accurate is their estimate?  No Earthly clue.

    "Why don't I hear about them whining about the rental market?"

    My guess is publishers are lumping the two together as there's really not a lot of difference between the two.  Plus, I imagine part of it is they are simply used to that market by now.

    "How much is that "stealing" from you?"

    It's not.  Where are you quoting "stealing" from?  I don't see Fondaumiere using that word anywhere.


    Andrew Eisen

  54. CyberSkull says:

    Not all of those extra million players got it used. Some of them rented. Why don't I hear about them whining about the rental market? One copy played by dozens, if not hundreds of players? How much is that "stealing" from you?

  55. ecco6t9 says:

    I think that more people did in fact rent this game then bought it.

    It was critically acclaimed, it was good, but not for everyone. Pay $6 at Blockbuster or just GameFly it and it saves you from finding out that it isn't your style of game.


    Furthermore if a company always has to have a project or AAA Title in the works or the collapse and take 500 jobs with them, what the hell kind of industry is this?

    Secondly on that point, lets just say that digital downloads become 100% tomorrow, well now you have all Game,GameStop/EB Games, and video game department jobs cut so now you have roughly 1,000,000 jobs cut.(Speaking on a global level.)

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