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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Why The Next Gen Consoles Won't Ban Used Games

So I've been talking about Sony's PS4 and their thought to ban used games. I've been harping about it but here's my thoughts on why that won't happen. As much as I used to like Sony and currently my good feelings about them have been waning, I understand that they probably won't ban used games on their new console slated for a reveal on the 20th of this month. This applies to Microsoft as well but less so as they aren't too keen on making radical decisions like Sony are famous for. This is mostly due to the fact I keep hearing people saying they'll ban the new systems, some of them my own family and friends, so this is a reassurance that there are valid reasons this can't be a possibility.

What sparked all this? Well personally I believe in fairness. If I punched someone in the face for something, sense dictates they have as much equal right to punch me back in retaliation. If you haven't known, it's been rumored that the new PS4 will ban used games through a familiar system but much more stringent. How many people like those online codes forcing you to buy a new game or a little code to play online? No one, right? Well the companies maybe. You see used games cut a big chunk of what game companies (devs and those who put out consoles) can make. The only two seeming to benefit from this are us the gamers and the game retailers who sell the game to us. In fact, the retailers are at more of a risk than benefit as their stores can be stocked with horrible games or they are forced to buy your game regardless of the current market price for said game. I like to do a thing called "Game Inflation" and here's the gist of it. I walk into GameStop, see all current games, memorize their prices and walk out. After that I see when those games came out. Through a simple equation in my brain, if a game is severely marked down and it came out recently, usually the game sucks. This is only the opposite with games like Deus Ex: Human Revolution who got a nice price cut from Square Enix (the dev of the game) to show fans how much they care. On the opposite, if a game came out recently and is still fairly priced, the game is decent or has a decent enough fan base to buy the game or the game didn't cost that much to promote/make. Apart from being a sound thought process, this is a great way for me to exercise my brain and convince my parents that video games have some merit in their eyes.
But what does this have to do with used games? Well, buying a new product is much more riskier for me the consumer. If a new game sucks, the best I can do is take it back if the packaging hasn't been tampered with and the game is in case. Apart from that, like a normal person, I played the game and didn't like it. I can now only sell it to a game company or a shifty person on Craigslist who may or may not give me what I actually asked for. So the best choice, and safest, is the game company who will give me and extremely reduced rate back for my game. You ever wondered why there's those preorder specials? If you don't know already, preoder specials are little tiny bits of content only available if you preorder the game and get it on launch day or within a decent period of time. The reason for this is games are very costly and risky to make. Just because you made a good game doesn't mean people will buy it. An example would be Psychonauts. Praised for it's design, humor and gameplay, this game was found nowhere on shelves because A) game companies felt the game wouldn't sell very well so didn't stock enough copies and B) whenever a copy surfaced it would be immediately be picked up. Those preorder things are an incentive to get a bit more money and to see how many people gave a chance to the game wondering if they should warrant a sequel or not. In the sense of used games, it's a lot better. I praise GameStop for their decision in this department. If I get a game I don't like that was used, considering I still have the original receipt, I can trade it back in for cash or store credit within seven days. When I get store credit, I also get a small bonus from the store. The only draw back to used games is that sometimes a game doesn't work at all. Even still, I have thirty days to return it for another copy. Apart from that, it's very difficult to sell a broken game as they look at the disk for scratches before purchasing it. Used game sales only go toward the retailer and not the dev so you can see how they would view used games.
To get to why used games won't be banned all together, here's a pretty simple hypothetical. Say Xbox instead of PS4 decides to go for the game ban. What happens? Naturally gamers will flock to PS4 instead of Xbox, the reverse is the same as well. I said before that Sony is famous for it's bold decisions like the Move or the Vita. It costs a lot of money to make those decisions a reality and for the actual gusto (honestly I couldn't think of another word) makes me have optimism that at the very least they tried. The idea to ban used games altogether is bold, but obviously stupid. Let's look on Sony's games. The majority of these titles are exclusives. Exclusives are Sony's biggest point with LittleBig Planet, God of War, Killzone (etc.), this is how the blunt of their money is made from their console. I don't think it's a secret that the PS3 has had less graphical greatness in comparison to Microsoft or the PC. I don't know if it's the hardware or third party games don't seem to run well on them. For a great example, see The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The game came out and was almost completely unplayable. With game breaking bugs vast and varied, the graphics were sub par and even when everyone else got three DLCs they were still working on their first. True the game has been made more playable only just now but when you think about it the game came out 11/11/11 (not too hard to forget that), almost three years ago. That's kind of bad. Nevertheless, their exclusive titles do run well and have amazing graphical capabilities. Why does this factor into used games? Well you see a lot of their games are hit and miss for some. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, which came out not too long ago, is very much a niche game playing to RPG, strategy and anime fans with little to divert from. It's like a Final Fantasy game in which if someone asked me to find a very foreign game (foreign as in where it was made) it would be a prime example due to the cultures and mannerisms show within the game. Since this is true, dropping 60 bucks on a game you may or may not like is kind of a long shot. My brother has been playing Killzone 3 for much of 2012 and still hasn't beaten it. For me, I would like to get a Vita if only for Persona 4: Golden. Whereas Sony isn't always thriving currently, their fans do love to play their older games. Not all of their titles are in their store so playing used games varying over two console generations isn't a strange thing. How will they do with playing their previous titles on their new system? Better I hope. And just to show you I'm not a Microsoft band wagon guy, the 360's line of previous games is atrocious if not more so. Case in point, I bought a game on LIVE, wanted to play it again only to find they took it off for no reason and didn't give me a refund.
To the final reason I have this to say. When it all comes down to it, the strange and questionable choices our game companies make, the two things they are concerned with is profit and the consumer. If I don't like a game, I don't play it/buy it and you've lost my money. If you block me from something good, you loose my business. Fact is, if they don't make any money they will go bankrupt and they know that. Constantly they will try to make more money via you or outside companies but in all reality, my 360 is nothing more than an expensive DVD player that just so happens to play some t.v. shows I can buy online and on occasion I can check into my social networking site with. Sure they got the initial 300+ dollars from me for buying the machine but if I don't constantly keep buying things from them, they can't pay the bills. To be honest, the only thing I use it now is for every now and again reviews and a constant check up on Netflix. After that, yes there's the initial fee for LIVE but even then that's a drop in the bucket even for my part-time job's paycheck. I could pay that three times over and give little interest.

To be honest, I'd much rather prefer the console war to this new argument (at least I can always win with my fool proof Nintendo side). Look this isn't going to happen. As much as I berate them, video game companies aren't stupid, sometimes they just get blindsided with their own fame they loose track of what made them famous.

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