Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Opinion: New vs. Used

Opinion: New vs. Used Games
My Beef with the Xbox 720 Rumors and Colin Moriarty
Written by Philip

One of my main sources for gaming news and reviews is I have been going on that site daily since the late 90’s for any and all things video game. And ever since I’ve owned my PS3 I’ve started to listen to the IGN Podcast Beyond! starring Greg Miller, Colin Moriarty, and Ryan Clements. I think all three of those guys are fantastic writers and game reviewers, and I respect their points of view and inside experience in the industry.
On last week’s episode of Beyond! (Episode 224, aired January 26, 2012) which you can listen to here they address the new rumors of the Xbox 720, Microsoft’s next gen console. In case you haven’t heard, the three main points of the rumor is that the machine will be seven times more powerful than current gen consoles (RROD’s will now be able to physically harm you instead of just bricking your console), it will be out Fall 2013, and finally that it will not allow the use of secondhand games. In the podcast Colin strongly voiced his opinion that this is for the better, that the ability to only play new games is the way of the future, and that it will save lower and mid tier developers because they will get more money from more, full price, sales. I love you Colin, but you’re horribly wrong.
I predict the Xbox 720 will sound like one of these when it boots up.
For the sake of my rant and fairness to all, I’ll pretend Colin has a regular job like the rest of us and not use the fact that he gets to play and review games for a living against him. The truth is if this rumor proves true, sales will not increase, but they will drop worse than ever before. If buying used is no longer an option, there is still a third option, and that is not buy anything at all! If this is what next gen gaming is about then I will not be an active participant and it will kill gaming and those developers we’re trying to save along with it. Not because I won’t want to or out of spite or anger (okay, that might play a tiny part) but mostly because I straight up can’t afford it.

Last year saw the release of hundreds of games, and many of them were fantastic. In 2011 alone reviewers (including IGN) gave many games an 8 out of 10 or above. Mass Effect 2, Portal 2, Dragon Age II, Forza 4, Batman: Arkham City, Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, Skyward Sword, Uncharted 3, Skyrim, and the list goes on and on. If you were to force people to buy all of those games new, no, actually let’s say just pick 5 you’d really want to try. At $59.99 each (push up glasses, punch into calculator) you’re looking at $299.95 + tax. For just 5 games! Last year alone I played probably around 20+.  I haven’t spent $300 a year on games in my entire life (unless I bought a system that year). I can’t afford that. And if I could I would expect to be able to play a lot more than 5 games. What if one of them sucked? What if one was offensive? Tough luck. $60 bucks gone and no one can play it ever again. I can’t give it to a friend. I can’t trade it in. Worthless. Throw it out like rotting fruit.
13 weeks of mowing lawns can get you 5 hours of fun.
If I had to pay full price I would be a lot pickier about the things I played, and I wouldn’t risk my money on up and coming middle of the road, could be good, could be bad, innovative new games. I would save it for the 9’s and the 10’s. You know, the ones made by the EA’s, Activision’s, and first-party producers? Leaving those poor little indie devs to die out all the quicker.

Sharing now can result in sales later. There is a difference between sharing and piracy. I do not participate or advocate at all illegally downloading or stealing games in any form. That takes money away from game creators. But sharing is spreading the word and can result in more sales. I borrowed Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare when I first bought my 360, I thought it was incredible. Guess where I was November 8th 2011 at midnight? I was in line at the store waiting to shell out full price for my copy of Modern Warfare 3. I would never have even cared about the Call of Duty franchise had my friend not let me borrow that game. Another time I borrowed a copy of Darksiders made by THQ, specifically mentioned by the Beyond! crew as suffering due to us sharing games, it was fantastic, and I will be buying Darksiders 2 when it comes out.  Darksiders got mediocre mixed reviews, and if I had to pay $60 for it, I, nor any of my friends, would have even given it a chance.

Someone in the favor of new games may say “well that’s what demos are for.” To an extent yes, but demos are not only misleading, they are incomplete. Seeing a movie trailer can encourage you to go see something you know nothing about. But there isn’t nearly the investment risk (time and money) as there is with a game. Game demos are short and controlled. I played the demo for Ninety Nine Nights and fell in love. Then reviews came out and trashed it and they were right. How could this happen? I played the demo! Demos are meant to sell you the game, not show you what it really is about. Do you think a demo of Castlevania: Lord of Shadows shows you the monotonous and lengthy puzzles with awkward controls and poor conveyance? No, of course not, they’re going give you 30 minutes of sweet combat, a mini-boss fight and some intense horse chases. I would ask Colin how he’d feel if he had to pay full price (or any price) for Amy. Waste of money right? That’s what we “used gamers” are trying to avoid.
CAUTION: Objects in screenshot are less awesome than they appear.
Ryan Clements mentioned in the podcast that he likes to spend the extra $5 - $10 to go for a new copy to make sure that it is in good condition. I can understand that and have even done similar things, and if my only source of used games was GameStop then I’d probably do the same. But it’s not (for the record I loathe GameStop), and I can get the game in fantastic condition for not just $10 cheaper, but often $30 to $40 cheaper.

The solution isn’t in the hands of the consumers, but rather in the game creators themselves. Want to sell a lot of games? Make good ones! And make them be worth the price tag, bug free with enough length and content so I don’t feel ripped off at the end of a 4 hour campaign. Give us all the content on the disc. Don’t punish those who are buying new by making them buy your DLC and map packs a month after release. (Grrr. Don’t even get me started on DLC!)

So before Microsoft goes off and does something rash under the false assumption of more sales, I hope they will consider the ramifications of leaving the majority of their potential customers out in the cold. I beg of you, don’t make me buy a Wii U!

Oh, and Colin, BEYOND!

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Wanna play our used games together? First let me buy an online pass, and then find:

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