Dennis Dyack: Used Games Will ‘Cannibalize the Industry’

In a recent interview with GamesIndustry International, Silicon Knights front man Denis Dyack says that used games will cannibalize the industry if sales continue unabated. He argues that games no longer have a "tail," referring to how games used to have a longer shelf life at retail months after launch.

"Literally, you will get most of your sales within three months of launch, which has created this really unhealthy extreme where you have to sell it really fast and then you have to do anything else to get money," he added, referring to DLC.

He also argues that used games are adding to the cost of making games.

"If developers and publishers don't see revenue from that, it's not a matter of, 'Hey, we're trying to increase the price of games to consumers, and we want more.' We're just trying to survive as an industry," he said.

"Looking towards next generation, people once again are saying we're going to have development costs that are two or three times what they were last generation … I don't think as an industry we can afford $300 million budgets."

Dyack goes on to say that "If used games continue the way that they are, it's going to cannibalize – there's not going to be an industry."

Source: GamesIndustry International by way of Eurogamer

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  1. GodBeastX says:

    Same old excuse "Seriously, our game isn't selling because people are buying it used!"

    Did they ever think that in a saturated game market people might only be buying good games and skipping garbage so they aren't spending 10grand a year?

    Make better games!

  2. Samster says:

    Make better games.

    Make better original games.

    Make better original games that aren't tied up in some ownership- and control-stripping "service".

    Release better original games that are complete and quality-tested before release.

    Make games better value for money and rethink the dated and failing games business model. Indie games are proving quite nicely that games don't have to sell at $60 on release to turn a profit. Indie games recognise the scope and value of their product to the customer, which sometimes may be as little as a few dollars a purchase, and rely on more bang for your buck and a better relationship with their consumer base for sales.


    Problem solved. Ball's in your court, games industry. The used trade has never, doesn't, and will never be the threat you describe it to be. Other industries with a 'used' trade fare quite disgustingly well in many cases, thanks.

  3. Neeneko says:

    Big budgets are sexy, they prove that you have hit the big league and are worth while, so developers push for them regardless of if the game really benefits from it or not.  They are a status symbol that people from all ranks tend to strive for, except the consumer who often doesn't really care.

  4. sqlrob says:

    ""Looking towards next generation, people once again are saying we're going to have development costs that are two or three times what they were last generation … I don't think as an industry we can afford $300 million budgets.""

    This is a much bigger threat than used games. So why are devs so gung ho about new consoles? You're digging your own grave.

    But then again, there's all the indies that are releasing better games, for cheaper. They may not look as good, but so what?


  5. GoodRobotUs says:

    We aren't the ones saturating the market with hundreds of clones of every game. I don't know how many times I've effectively played Quake with different graphics…

    Whilst I understand the concern about second-hand games, Companies cannot continue to avoid their own responsibilities with regards to the short shelf-lives of games. They wanted games to be throwaway consumables so that in 6 months time you can buy the sequel.


  6. Non-entity says:

    Replayability, and actual benefits for retail buyers rather than punishments for used buyers.  Along with game prices rising, things like in-box addins and demos have been vanishing. 

    Why should someone pay full price to buy a brand new cardboard or plastic box with a disk and a few pieces of advertising, when they can instead wait for someone else to pay full price and then dispose of it?  If people are disposing of it quickly, was it really worth the original price?  There were once fun addons that wouldn't normally make it to a copy being sold used, but now we get punishments and attempts to force used buyers to give the publisher more money directly.

    Of course, the real issue these developers have is that the used market provides a way to compare the difference between the price of the game and the price customers actually think the game is worth.  But if they said that, the only rational answer would be "yeah, that's how the free market works."

  7. tallimar says:

    games WOULD have a "tail" if developers spent more time on putting more replayability, its not always about the super flashy, shiny uber graphics.

  8. greevar says:

    Maybe the industry is having a hard time with used games because they do all the work up front and then try to recoup it later when they no longer have control over what people do with the copies? Maybe they should think about changing their business plan so that they get paid what their work is worth to the market instead of expecting people to ignore the secondary market?

  9. Truec says:

    "Looking towards next generation, people once again are saying we're going to have development costs that are two or three times what they were last generation … I don't think as an industry we can afford $300 million budgets."

    So… maybe cut the budget and learn how to make cheaper games that don't suck?

  10. CMiner says:

    Just about every industry the produces a physical, reusable product has a 'used' market.  Clothing, books, furniture, cars.  They've been able to survive just fine.

  11. E. Zachary Knight says:

    Honestly, I don't see any problem with any Nintendo games and their long tail. I can go to Walmart and still see 4 year old games on the shelf as they continue to sell. Nintendo has many of the longest selling franchises as reported by the NPD. Many games are in the Top ten month after month year after year. 

    Perhaps, rather than complain about used games killing the games industry, you look within and refocus how you approach design and marketing. You could probably learn a lot from the indie scene as well as Nintendo.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  12. Papa Midnight says:

    Ignoring the fact that RedMage pointed out, I'm going to put out one simple argument and be done with it: Madden NFL.

    The game is designed to have a shelf-life of a couple of months. By the first month after its release, they're already designing next years game. Dozens of developers and publishers do this now but I use Madden NFL because it has been the most prominent and done so for the better part of 2 decades.

    Don't worry, Call of Duty is on it's way there.

  13. RedMage says:

    When your most noteworthy game is Too Human and you accused critics of playing it "wrong" when they lambasted it, you have no right to complain about anything.  Try making games that don't suck, Dennis.

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