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Developers vs. the Used-Game Market

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3rd August 2011; By Patrick

The game industry’s frustration towards the used-game market is understandable. With retail chains such as GameStop selling off second-hand games for 100% of the profit, it’s easy to see why developers would be interested in trying to earn wages off the sales of their products. After all, gamers are paying developers to make the games, right? That’s their job, and we’re their source of income. Without us (the consumer) they don’t earn money, and without money, they can’t continue working on products for us. Seeing as they earn as much money when you buy a game used as when you download it illegally, it is pretty clear that developers have a reason, whether you agree with it or not, to counteract the ever-growing used-game market.

            

Normally we think about how Gamestop profits through trade-in's from unsuspecting consumers, but who really suffers more in the long run?

However, some methods work better than others, both for the developer and the consumer. In my opinion, the ideal method is something like EA’s "Project Ten-Dollar", where you are locked out of the online functionality of the game unless you enter a one-use code. If you did buy it used, you can still go online, but the codes cost $10. This does not prevent the game from being sold used, but it lowers the price due to lower demand. Thus, with the price of the used game plus the optional $10 code, the consumer spends less money overall, and the publisher gets approximately the same amount of profit as if had been purchased new (considering manufacturing and retail costs).

One method that I believe is less acceptable is to block your product to the used-game market altogether, especially when denying that it’s attacking that market. The feature I’m specifically talking about, of course, is the system in some 3DS titles that does not allow you to delete your save data. People started becoming enraged about this when it was discovered that Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D had this, and it lost CAPCOM a large number of sales. (I will point out that CAPCOM has no grounds to say they make games for our money if they expect us to make it then pay for it). 

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D was not the first title to support this, though. Earlier titles like Super Monkey Ball 3D and BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II supported this “feature”, and nobody noticed or complained. However, now that people are enraged and educated about the presence of this restriction, they are attacking every title that might contain it, including the recently-launched, Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions.

Even though, according to Namco Bandai, "saved data can be reset by holding the A,B,X,Y,L and R Buttons when booting up the game from the 3DS system's home screen", this is unlikely to quell any fears about titles in the future using it. 'Project Ten-Dollar' had a lot of resistance at launch, but now it has been generally accepted, and I hope the same does not happen with the 'Perma-Save' system on cartridge-based games.

Feature by Patrick
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