Here’s another story of a developer railing against used video games. Although it may not seem to have relevance to e-books at first, I think this story demonstrates the way the gaming industry and the publishing industry are struggling with some similar issues in the digital age.
In an interview with GamesIndustry International, Silicon Knights head Denis Dyack states that used games are clobbering the game industry, cutting off the “tail” of sales that used to support game studios well after games’ original release. Without that “tail”, Dyack says, game companies can expect to receive almost all their sales in the first few months of the game’s release, and then they have to come up with other measures to try to bring money in. (Found via CNet.)
"I would argue, and I’ve said this before, that used games are cannibalizing the industry. If developers and publishers don’t see revenue from that, it’s not a matter of hey ‘we’re trying to increase the price of games to consumers, and we want more,’ we’re just trying to survive as an industry. If used games continue the way that they are, it’s going to cannibalize, there’s not going to be an industry," he said. "People won’t make those kinds of games. So I think that’s inflated the price of games, and I think that prices would have come down if there was a longer tail, but there isn’t."
On the other hand, GameStop’s CEO holds that a vibrant used game market drives a new market, generating $1.2 billion of trade credits around the world.
Now, I’m pretty sure that used video game sales have been around in one form or another for at least 30 years. People got tired of Nintendo games or even early PC games just as easily as they get tired of Playstation games today. And by the same token, second-hand bookstores have been around for at least as long as first-hand bookstores have. Why is it that over the last few years both of these used markets have suddenly become the Great Satan, threatening to drive game and book publishers to the brink of extinction?
Whatever the reason, it seems clear that game companies do feel threatened enough to take extreme measures. An anonymous tipster tells CNet that Sony is going to lock out PS3 games and used games from its next console, scheduled to ship in 2013.