The lights are on
I believe most of us publicly prosthelytize about the the value in buying new games as opposed to buying used games. We always talk about the negative impact for game developers when we choose not to support them by purchasing a video game title second hand. We all want the developers to be properly compensated for their hard work, and one of the ways to do this is to have them receive money when we purchase the title they have developed.
In reality, we can see the truth in the numbers from Gamestop and other video game resellers, whether it be online (like amazon or ebay) or in a physical store. It seems many of us, myself included, aren't quite as abashed about buying used games as we might indicate. I'll be honest, I don't make a large sum of money, and I have other financial responsibilities that prevent me from filling out my game collection as much as I would like. When I see a video game title that I can buy for 20,10, or even just 5 dollars cheaper because it is used, I am going to take that opportunity. I think that most of us would. This is not an indication that we do not care about game developers with a desire to short change them. If it were at all possible I would gladly give the money I used to purchase the game to the developers directly.
The truth is we're consumers in a market place that offers us an opportunity to buy an item at a lower than normal cost because it comes second hand. This is not immoral, and it's not unnatural. This is how our economy is structured. If you think this is the first time this issue has come up you'd be wrong. The record and movie industries have been fighting this battle for much longer. These industries use the same excuses as to why this type of system needs to change: because the original artist isn't compensated. Now that video games have become such a huge industry the big corporate players are using these same excuses in an attempt to apply immoral connotations to the used video game market.
Why isn't it immoral to buy a video game used? It's because our economy allows and even welcomes this type of trade. If you were to consider everything that you buy used, from cars to clothes to books, you can see that much of our economic enterprises have to do with used goods. A large facet of our economic welfare comes from redistribution through sales of used items. Hardly any of these sales gives proper credit (in the form of money) to the original manufacturer or designer. Obviously, new goods are the main growth of our economy, but the reselling of secondary goods is a very tangible and beneficial part of our economic system. I also believe that a second hand marketplace has a real benefit to the percentage of people who are of lower income. Those that might never have an opportunity to acquire goods that are new have a very real chance of obtaining these goods using the reseller market. This provides a lot of consumer satisfaction which I think is very important in creating healthy capitalist market. Unfortunately, corporations only see the reseller market as a means to take profit away from themselves. They don't directly care about the benefits a second hand economy provides. Until recently (within the last 20 years), there wasn't much that corporations could do about the this "evil" second hand market.
With our society going to a more digital and virtual structure it becomes much easier for technology companies to limit their products from being resold in a second hand market. In the corporations eyes an all digital distribution is the optimal solution for many media based products. Not because of it's convenience to the consumer. That is a secondary advantage for the consumer as well as the corporation. It's because the second hand market will eventually disappear, and in the eyes of the corporation, much of that money that would have been spent in the second hand market will go to the corporations instead. There's also another benefit for corporations that many people might not realize. Piracy of that media will continue to rise. I know what you're thinking. Why would a corporation want that? Well, ideally, they don't want piracy, but since there is no way to prevent piracy they can now draw a line in the sand that says we are the "good" guys and pirates are the "bad" guys. They have defined themselves to be on right side of the law. The battle they now fight has the government and business on their side. This type of war they can feel good about because they can appeal to the morally just and find support in the form of stricter laws to all digital distribution and higher penalties for circumventing those systems. We will find that, overtime, corporations will invent new rules and costs for following those rules in order to use their products. In effect, big business will dictate and regulate the growth and usage of digital media. Lower class, lower middle class, and small business will have much less representation in these markets. This will cause innovation and creativity to suffer, Dogs and Cats living together; you get the idea. Is this a bad thing? I think for the average individual it is an undesired effect. In my own pessimistic mind it's just one step closer to a corporate run government.
So now that you know my feelings on the used game market let me tell you what I think Microsoft will do with their ongoing battle against used games. I think they will incorporate the technology to prevent used games from being played. This will include tying a game disc to your Xbox live ID so that it can't be played unless the correct Xbox live ID is signed in. I don't believe restriction of the game will be enforced unless the publisher says it should be restricted. I think also that if the game is sold second hand and the user tries to play it in their console, they will have the option to pay the publisher an established amount determined by the publisher to resign that game disk to their Xbox Live ID. If this is agreed upon by both the previous user and the new user. The previous Xbox live ID's association will be removed from that game disk ID and the new Xbox Live ID will be assigned that game disk ID. It will also allow Microsoft to promote the fact that even though you bought the disk (new or used) you can just as easily download the game digitally if it's available. If your disk gets broken or unusable somehow don't fret, you can still download and play the game because you have an entry that says you own a copy. This system justifies the fact that Microsoft will require your console to be online all the time as this will prevent an Xbox Live ID from being signed in two or more places at once. It's important to note that the blocking of used games will not be decided by Microsoft. They will make the technology available to all publishers but it will be the publishers that decide to block the game. Of course, EA will be one of the first companies to jump on this idea, but I'm guessing Microsoft has already been in talks with a number of publishers explaining this system. Microsoft will spin this idea stating that you will still be able to buy used games at lower cost but the money is going to the people who deserve it. We (meaning the gaming community) will all debate about whether it is a good thing or not, but life will go on and the corporations will have started to get a foothold on the used game market. As another bonus Microsoft hopes to use this system as a carrot to entice developers to their platform.
Once Sony sees how Microsoft is doing this they will attempt to do it as well. Whether they will have sufficient technology in the PS4 to pull this off remains to be seen, but Sony really doesn't have a clue as to what is going to happen and they will be blind sided by this solution.
I leave the after effects of this change for you to decide but I think we can be certain about one thing: The first nail has been hammered in the coffin for used games sales.
Please be aware I don't have any affiliation with Microsoft or the gaming industry for that matter and it's just my humble conspiracy theory that I have worded here. We'll see what Microsoft really has up it's sleeve as we get closer to E3
Thanks, if you read the whole thing. I know it was a long read.
Have a great day.
maybe not this generation we will see this happen. but it will most likely be a reality in the one after that.
Well written. Out of my 34 games only 4 are new. Games are simply too costly. If the next gen consoles won't support used games, I simply won't buy the next gen consoles.