411 Games Fact or Fiction 02.14.13: New Console Edition
Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s edition of Fact or Fiction. As always, I am Daniel Anderson, and I hope everyone has had a good week. We have had a lot of news breaking on Sony’s and Microsoft’s new consoles in the last couple weeks and I thought we would have a special Fact or Fiction dedicated to the new consoles (I fully expect ranting about trying to lock out used games). Anyway, this week we have 411’s Sean Garmer going up against Stephen Randle. Let’s see what they have to say, shall we?
1.) An always online console will not work well in America.
Sean Garmer – Fact: Because we all know how America works, there is always going to be enough people that choose or cannot afford high speed internet that can cause such a huge deal that it could affect the bottom line for the console makers. Always online also works a lot better with wireless internet because not everyone likes having a big Ethernet cord going through their house, which brings up another problem in that not every area has wireless capabilities yet too. The biggest issue here is that this affects gaming and that’s my problem. I really don’t feel like being in the middle of a boss battle or in the second half of a sports game only for it to kick you off completely because you lost internet for 30 seconds. I am sure they could find a way to where it lets you save, before kicking you off, but still it is going to cause a few issues. I think all they need to do is look at Diablo 3 and realize that the USA is not ready for this kind of thing.
Stephen Randle – Fiction: I mean, people will grumble, as they always do, but in the end, it will turn out to be a minor annoyance and people will buy the console anyway. Maybe it’s different in the US, but up here in Canada, I’m sitting here with Steam always connected on my PC, my PS3 running Netflix while connected to the PSN, my Windows Live Messenger always set to online, with a browser window constantly open so I can surf for information at a moment’s notice. And I’m a guy who barely plays multiplayer at all (although I am still hooked on Mass Effect 3 multi for some reason), so I don’t put a lot of weight on “well, I only play single player, I shouldn’t need an Internet connection”. I guess my point is, if you can afford a $500 electronic device that is only used for entertainment purposes, can you not also afford that decent Internet connection in your home that such a system requires? It’s an irritating thing to have to deal with, this is true, but so is all DRM, and let’s face it, none of that has ever been enough to prevent people from buying consoles and games that come with it in massive numbers.
Score: 0 for 1 - I see there being issues with an always online console. Look at what happened with Blizzard and Diablo 3. The game is always online and at release people couldn’t connect to the servers because of high traffic and no one could play their game. An always online console will see even worse things happen. Remember a couple years ago when Sony’s online accounts were hacked and they shut down their online services (and several games)? If that happened with an always online console no one would be able to play anything. I think there are too many potential problems right now for an online console to work.
2.) If a console eliminates used and rental games, there will be numerous lawsuits from companies like Gamefly and Gamestop.
Sean Garmer – Fact: Let’s include Game Crazy (Blockbuster), Bestbuy, and there are probably a few more corporations that would all band together to file a suit against the console makers. It doesn’t matter how much money Sony and Microsoft have, if enough of these companies band together to file one big suit it could cost the console makers billions if they were to lose. You are basically killing companies like Gamestop and Gamefly, so the question is why the hell would they not sue to try to keep their company alive?
Stephen Randle – Fiction: Okay, all of the following questions are going to be answered with it understood that I’m nearly entirely certain that there’s no goddamned way they’re actually going to do this, because whichever company was the first to implement it, the second company (or Nintendo, I guess) would instantly run massive marketing campaigns based around the fact that their console doesn’t prevent you from doing so, and everyone involved has to know that fact. With that said, let’s continue.
Now, I’m no great legal mind, but I’m not sure what kind of case they’d actually have. I mean, yeah, used game companies wouldn’t be able to sell or rent games, but it’s not exactly Sony or Microsoft’s jobs to ensure that the second-hand industry thrives. Just because they can sell used games doesn’t mean that game companies have a legal compulsion to make sure they always can. In fact, I’m fairly certain that Sony and Microsoft are entirely within their rights to make sure that the profit from their products goes to them instead of GameStop. I mean, I suppose they might try suing and earning some PR points, but from a legal perspective, I don’t think they have a leg to stand on.
Score: 0 for 2 - I think there will be lawsuits. Right now in Europe, a consumer has the right to resell a digital copy of a game they purchased. If the rumors of no pre-owned games are true, we will see consumers filling suits along with companies like Gamestop filing suits as well.
3.) The new Xbox will be released before the new PS4.
Sean Garmer – Fact: I think only because it looks like Sony is going to be giving out the details on their system first this generation. So, Microsoft will find a way to rush the console out at least a month or two before Sony pushes out the PS4. I’d rather both companies think about the gamers first and make sure the consoles are completely ready this time, unlike Microsoft who gave us the famous RROD until YEARS later when they came out with the 360 S. The PS3 also had the Yellow Light of death but it was not anywhere near the disaster that Microsoft’s issue was and still is for many people. Bottom line is I think Microsoft will make it such a huge deal to be first they will find a way to beat Sony to market.
Stephen Randle – Fact: Although probably not by a wide margin, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it were actually even the same day. I think people put a lot more emphasis on “getting on shelves first” than is really necessary. Sure, it’s nice to beat your competitors to market, but what really moves units is the information campaign that comes first. Namely, what’s your console do differently or better than the other guys, which is the better price, and what is the launch library, plus a whole host of other factors. Still need more convincing? Okay, in the last console generation, the 360 launched well ahead of the other two consoles, and as we all know, the Wii sold all the units that Christmas. Still not convinced? Okay, do you know which console released first, by quite a large margin, in the generation before that? It was the Sega Dreamcast, and that console actually managed to tank before the X-Box and GameCube even released (i.e. before half its competitors even hit the market)!
Score: 1 for 3 - I think the new Xbox will be released before the PS4, but it will only be by a couple weeks. I think consumers will have a choice on Black Friday of either console.
4.) The new Xbox and the PS4 will both release for under $500.
Stephen Randle – Fact: The Wii U, plus the mistake of the PS3, has ensured that. Or at least it should have. The biggest reason that I believe this to be true, is that this generation will not introduce a new media format, as it did with DVDs and BluRay/HD-DVD in previous iterations. While Sony was wrong that consumers would flock to their system at 600 dollars, even at that price it was still the cheapest Blu-Ray player on the market at the time, and at the first price cut (conveniently, right after Microsoft abandoned HD-DVD), consumers did flock to the system, not just for the games, but for the movies. This time, there is no media format to support the consoles, they will have to sell on the strength of the gaming quality, and since Blu-Ray players are now cheaper than dirt (well, you know, sort-of expensive dirt, like you’d use in high-quality gardens), coupled with the fact that the Wii U is already retailing for a far more affordable price, Sony and Microsoft are going to have to bit the bullet and release the mass-market version of their consoles for a lower price. I’d wager we get a stripped-down version for 400, and a “deluxe” edition for 450, but that’s just pulling numbers out of thin air.
Sean Garmer – Fact: This is a tough question because Microsoft is promising so much with its console that I have no idea how they can offer it for less than $500 bucks. I think it will actually come down to the used games predicament. If they do decide to implement the used game killing initiative they know they have to drop the price to around the 400 to 450 mark. If you consider that both companies seem to want no part of backwards compatibility, put in the fact that the backlash from gamers will be huge, this doesn’t bode well for Sony and Microsoft if they charge 600 bucks for a console. Especially if gamers know that these launch games will be 60 to 70 dollars for a long time, I just cannot imagine how coming out with 500 to 600 dollar consoles is going to sit well with people.
Score: 2 for 4 - I really hope companies have learned from the PS3 launch disaster. The PS3 priced itself out of the market and suffered for it. My guess is a $499 price point for both consoles.
5.) If used games cannot be played on the new Xbox and PS4, Gamestop will go out of business.
Stephen Randle – Fiction: Their business model will have to change, no doubt, and the profits will likely not be as mammoth, but as long as there are still physical copies of discs to sell, there will be GameStops to put them on shelves, even if they only can sell new copies. In addition, I’m old enough to remember when GameStops (well, they were called Babbages and EBs then, but you know what I mean) were mostly PC gaming retailers, with a smaller percentage of store space going towards console games. I’m not saying they’ll return to those days, but I would definitely expect to see a bigger PC presence in stores, as well as more accessories, game guides, and, much like record stores have done, gaming-related tchotchkes and related merchandise..
Sean Garmer – Fiction: The Gamestop people are pretty smart because they’ve already figured out how to make money off of DLC. So, I would say they will figure out how to make money from this issue as well. I do think Gamestop will probably have to close numerous stores and many people will lose their jobs but I just can’t see Gamestop totally going out of business. Now, Gamefly on the other hand will probably wind up at death’s door pretty quick if this goes through.
Score: 3 for 5 - Gamestop would eventually go out of business if used game sells go away. There just is not enough profit made selling new games and consoles. Either way, Gamestop as we know it would die very quickly if this is a reality.
6.) If used games are a thing of the past on the new Xbox and PS4, new game prices will drop.
Stephen Randle – Fiction: I’m sorry, did I suddenly drop into an alternate universe where prices ever go down? They may not go up, but no, new game prices will remain at the same lofty heights they always have. I do think we might see less true “AAA” titles as game companies face budget restrictions, and, sadly, potentially less innovation as developers focus on “tried-and-true” best-selling franchises instead of taking risks on games that might not sell outside of a bargain price.
Sean Garmer – Fiction: I say fiction because the question is very vague. I do think the only good thing that will happen because of this rumored initiative is that game companies will have to get together before even making a game and decide at what point to drop the price of said game. I also think this may lead to some companies pulling a 2K and coming out with cheaper games out of the gate. However, I don’t think this is going to happen initially, I’d wager that the companies are going to wait a long time before even doing this. It really is all going to depend on gamers, if the backlash is so huge that it begins to cripple the bottom line of the industry then I am pretty sure games will probably start out at a cheaper price, or they will start giving out price cuts after three months.
Score: 4 for 6 - I think we will actually see games rise in price if used games are no more. Companies will start complaining about large development costs and we will see prices raise $5-$10 per game.
Bonus Question: How would having no used games affect your video game purchases?
Stephen Randle – Not by as much as you’d think, but I tend to be more focused on a small set of specific games that I really want and anticipate coming out, so I pick them up new. Plus, as a primarily PC gamer, I have a huge Steam-related backlog that I could work on at any moment. By necessity, though, I’d imagine my criteria for “games I need to buy” would have to get tougher, and I’d be less likely to take a flyer on something, knowing that I can’t trade it back in if it turns out to be disappointing.
Sean Garmer – If used games were to be dissolved it would make it to where I might buy like two or three games new a year and then the rest of my time would be spent either buying XBLA games or just waiting for prices to come down by at least half before I buy the game. I work part time at a Kmart and have a Daughter and Wife to support, I can’t just spend 60 bucks every few weeks on all these fantastic games to come out. I understand the industry has to make money, but they are also hurting the industry by removing used games. I think if this happens it will rapidly become “certain game companies will start to realize that they didn’t know what they had before.”
That wraps up this week’s edition of Fact or Fiction. Sean and Stephen went 4 for 6, agreeing as much as disagreeing. I hope everyone has a good week, and until then, happy gaming.