It’s no secret that game developers are less than enthused by the proliferation of used game sales in today’s market. With rumors of the next generation of consoles finding ways to prevent the play of titles not purchased new, hardware manufacturers are even beginning to take precautions against used software.
And there is good reason for it, as used games accounted for 46% of GameStop’s total profit in 2011, with none of that money going back to developers. Though there is no concrete data to suggest all of these used sales would translate into new purchases, developers are still taking a stand. Head of Silicon Knights Denis Dyack is only the latest to vocalize his opinion.
In speaking to GamesIndustry International, Dyack explained used games have killed long-term sales on game titles. “Literally, you will get most of your sales within three months of launch,” Dyack said, “which has created this really unhealthy extreme where you have to sell it really fast and then you have to do anything else to get money.”
We have seen signs recently of developers doing “anything else” to prevent gamers from buying used. Online passes frequently accompany games today, providing access to content or modes that cost someone who has purchased the game used an additional fee. Similarly, with season passes promising downloadable content over the course of a few months, developers are hoping they are giving players enough reasons to buy new and hold onto their games.
Dyack fears that the used market is “cannibalizing the industry,” as evidenced by the amount of money used games could be making for developers. With ever expanding budgets, it will be more difficult to develop a top-tier game, and the amount lost from used sales could in fact make or break a studio.
Denis Dyack is not the first to speak out against used games, and will likely not be the last. Expressing his sentiment with a bit more metaphor, Obsidian’s Chief Creative Officer Chris Avellone said last year “I hope digital distribution stabs the used game market in the heart.”
And a move towards an all-digital marketplace is likely what will be the final nail in the used game coffin. Sony has already begun to move in that direction, with Vita titles releasing day-and-date on the PlayStation Network. Until all systems adopt and commit solely to digital sales, however, it seems there is little developers can do to truly stifle the rampant sales of used games.