The Xbox One will require pre-owned games to be ‘re-activated’, that is, you will have to pay a fee (split between a retailer, Microsoft and the developer) in order to play games previously owned by someone else.
This is crazy. The games industry has spent some time going on about how piracy is killing them and the used games market is killing them, and it’s rubbish. Firstly, the games industry is thriving. More people are gaming, games are more mainstream than ever and it looks to continue working that way. The idea that the games industry is dying is a clear lie invented by greedy developers and publishers that just want to keep inflating their profit margins - not by producing better products, but by increasing the price for the customer.
That’s the real crux of this - this is a hidden price increase for the game owner. When you buy anything, the resale value is a part of what you pay for. If you can’t resell something, it is worth less in the first place. At the moment, that £50 game is worth the enjoyment you’ll get from it, plus £25 down the line, or £10 way down the line. With this kind of system, it’s only worth the enjoyment of the game. If they want to take away part of the value they are giving us, the game should be cheaper, but it won’t be.
This is an obvious attempt by the industry to try and mislead consumers into paying more for the same product.
The games industry needs to stop thinking it’s special. When you buy any other product you have a right to resale. Just because it’s a licence to use a piece of software does not mean the rules should change. So long as a given person ceases to use the software once they sell it on, they should be able to do so.
Companies like EA, Activision and Microsoft are showing that they are the type of company that would rather increase their profit margin at the expense of the consumer, than try and create good products and treat the customer well. That is partly the fault of gamers who are willing to buy things regardless of the mistreatment they get, but it’s also massively stupid on the part of these companies.
Producing media is all about the customer in the end - they have to enjoy what they pay for. These companies are trying to set a new precedent for how much value customers should expect for their money, and set a much lower bar than before. This might well have worked in a world where they still held monopolies on gaming, but they don’t. In today’s world, Steam exists. Indie developers exists. The Humble Bundle folks exist. GOG exists. The internet exists. These people will continue to set the bar higher, and there will come a point at which the consumer turns around and refuses to pay for the rubbish they are being shovelled, because they can get better.
The upcoming game developers who want to make great games and have real ideas and innovation won’t go to the companies that they loathe and who mistreated them as customers, they’ll go to the devs that treated them well, that inspired them. They’ll form their own studios that care. Hell, that’s how EA was founded.
In time, these companies will change their tune, or they will have no franchises left to milk, and nothing new of value, and they will die the slow death they deserve.