It seems that these days you can’t go for long until someone else from within the games industry tries to attack second hand games and point out how they’re going to be death knell of the big game companies. The most recent crusade against this evil comes from Denis Dyack from developer Silicon Knights who claims that used games threaten the health of the industry.
Speaking with GamesIndustry.biz Dyack says that,
“There used to be something in games for 20 years called a tail, where say you have a game called Warcraft that would sell for 10 years. Because there are no used games, you could actually sell a game for a long time, and get recurring revenue for quite a while. Recurring revenue is very key. If used games continue the way that they are, it’s going to cannibalize, there’s not going to be an industry.”
As mentioned, Denis here isn’t the only one trying to put used games down. David Braben from Frontier Developments has railed against used games for quite some time now. Speaking with Gamasutra earlier this month he stated that its,
“It’s killing single player games in particular, because they will get preowned, and it means your day one sales are it, making them super high risk. I mean, the idea of a game selling out used to be a good thing, but nowadays, those people who buy it on day one may well finish it and return it.”
Instead of acknowledging the fact that many gamers trade in their old games so that they have money to buy brand new games, the used games market seems to be a convenient scapegoat for explaining away lackluster sales. Titles like Heavy Rain and L. A. Noire show that single player experiences can still thrive and that ultimately quality will win over most other factors. There’s also a lot of talk about lost sales. However if someone picks a game up used, chances are they were never going to buy it new, and so there’s no sale to be lost. Cheap used games do however have the wonderful ability to introduce players to new franchises for less of the cost, perhaps securing more sales in the future.
Of course not everyone is up in arms over used game sales. Bobby Kotick, head of Activision said,
“What we’ve tried to do is to really support our audiences and, you know, when you talk to players, they like the idea of having a currency. They like the idea of being able to take a game they no longer want to play and use it to get a credit to buy new games.”