games / Columns

Working Title 02.09.13: Worst Next-Gen Rumor Ever

February 9, 2013 | Posted by Jordan Williams

Can’t we have J.J direct a Monkey Island movie instead?

Welcome to the #1 Column to probably be proven wrong about that whole ‘No New Consoles’ thing, WORKING TITLE. So last issue I went on a really long and somewhat nonsensical rant about how I think the window is closing on the ‘New Console Announcements’ and that Microsoft and Sony really need to kick it into gear…and of course a week later Sony announcing something BIG for the Feb 20th meeting. Now while they haven’t said for sure if this is the PlayStation 4 they have also been trying really hard to get PlayStation related terms trending on social media and have pretty much been doing everything but saying it’s NOT PlayStation 4.

So with the probable dawn of the next console (and as some more cynical people would say, the actual start of the next generation) it seems like now we really are getting into the full swing of new consoles and the rumor mill once again is kicking up dust because now everything seems a bit more plausible.

I know last time I was here I ranted about how Gaming Journalism needed to get away from rumor-mongering and scoops…but some of these rumors have been around for so long and have been talked about so much that people are treating them as forgone conclusion. Some of them make a bit of sense such as the rumor that the next Xbox’s controller will split in half to work with Kinect v2 or that the new Dual Shock will have some sort of touch panel.

But there is one rumor…just one…which I think is the dumbest fuckin’ shit I have heard in the last two years. That rumor is going to be the entire basis of today’s rant.

Working Title – Working Mini-Rant: The Worst Next-Gen Rumor Ever

“It’s been rumored that the next batch of consoles will have features that will lock out used games, requiring each game to be registered to one console per user.”

That, ladies and gentlemen…is the dumbest fucking shit I have heard out of all of this next-gen console rumor lead up. The very idea that Sony or Microsoft would essentially want to commit financial suicide by locking out used games is just too goddamn hilariously DUMB for me to wrap my head around. The worst part is that this is easily one of the more believed rumors because EVERYONE KEEPS REPEATING IT.

So I am actually going to break down why this rumor is stupid, who it fucks over (spoilers: Everyone) and who it benefits even if it is true (spoilers: No one.).

Let’s just go ahead and lay all of the cards out on the table here. I buy used games primarily, unless it is a title that I am really looking forward to and it’s a developer/studio/publisher I really REALLY want to see succeed odds are I am not going to buy the game new. Why? Because I don’t HAVE to. I am not going to sit here and say I am in a position where even if I wanted to I could buy a new game every month or that I need to review games constantly. It’s because with services like GameFly I really don’t NEED to purchase a game to get my fill out of it.

And to not sound like I am just schilling for GameFly, I would like to point out that before Blockbuster and Hollywood Video went under I used to rent from both of those locations, too. Again…because nowadays you don’t HAVE to buy a game to get your fill out of it or get a feel out of it. Outside of a few choice games, most of them can be beaten in a few weeks and either have no real replay value or simply don’t warrant another playthrough. This isn’t some dig at the games industry or anything; it’s just a simple fact.

I really didn’t plan to any pictures beforehand. So he’s a reminder that this game still hasn’t come out yet.

Outside of the die-hard Assassin Creed fans out there how many people are going to replay that game once it’s over? How many people are going to replay your average RPG after a New Game + is done? How many times are you honestly going to play through Far Cry 3?

It’s not a lot.

So THAT is why rental services like GameFly exist. Beyond the obvious benefit of being able to have your fill of a game without having to purchase it also absolves you of being stuck with a game that you no longer want. I don’t know of too many people that have shelves upon shelves of games…but I am not one of those people. I dislike having game clutter around. Given the amount of games I actually buy for KEEPS those are the games that are in regular rotation on my consoles either because they have reasons for me to come back (Skyrim) or they have multiplayer which I still play (Left 4 Dead).

But let’s just go ahead and get away from my situation and most people’s situation with rentals and go ahead and point out the bigger ‘problem’ here in Used Games.

Yes, Used Games in theory are a bad thing. The developer/publisher/whomever really isn’t getting any of the profit from a product that really doesn’t have anything in the way of a lifespan. Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann put it best when he noted the reasons why Used Games are more frowned upon than other second-purchased goods. He pointed out that Houses fall into disrepair, cars eventually break down, and pets die. But in general unless you take a fuckin’ key to the back of a disc or have some other freak accident that disc is still going to work in a decade, even two.

Why do you think that everyone seems to be against used GAMES and not used CONSOLES? Because a console is finite, no matter what one day just like any consumer electronic it WILL stop working or something will happen that causes it to go into disrepair. Motherboards go bad; fans wear out, etc. etc. Not the same with a disc.

So yes, in theory Used Games are bad for business because it allows a third party to profit almost continuously on something you only profited on once.

But guess what?

When faced with the choice of buying Super Duper Shooter Bros new at 59.99 or used at 39.99 most consumers are going to buy the cheaper product. That’s how we are hard wired to shop. We week out the best deal for the least amount of risk. We understand that when we buy these used games it might not come with an instruction manual, or its original box. Hell, it might have a few knicks and scratches. We make that decision that…you know what? Yeah. This is still a good deal.

And when I say ‘We’, I mean A LOT of people. Which is why Used Games are such a big problem…but I think people are missing out on some of the benefits in the long run for Used Games.

Here’s an example; when I first played Saints Row I bought it used about 6 months after its released…and I fucking loved it. I loved pretty much everything about that game and to this day I still think it is one of the better open-world crime games out there. So what happened after that? I bought Saints Row 2 brand spanking new on day one and after that? I bought Saints Row 3 on day one AT MIDNIGHT WITH a season pass. So used, where THQ/Volition may have not profited from me initially because I bought Saints Row used, in the long run they profited on me because I was now added into the install base that purchased their next games. That’s not even counting that because of how much I loved Saints Row I even bought Red Faction new because now they had a fan.

But…you know what? I’m really just beating around the bush here. No Used Games is FUCKING STUPID BECAUSE IS SCREWS OVER THE EVERYONE.

Boo-FUCKING-Hoo that [Insert Publisher Here] doesn’t get paid for the game. It sucks, I know, but that’s just something that needs to be handled and dealt with. What about the people who lend games out to friends? What about the prevalence of MLG and Fighting Game tournaments when used multi-console set ups to stream and put on matches? Are you trying to tell me that you are going to walk up to Capcom and go.

“Hey, you know that BIG STREAM of income you get from fighting game players? Yeah. We want to fuck all of that up because next generation we are going to require you to buy each and every copy of Street Fighter 5 new and to use on each and every console and keep track of those consoles because they won’t work anywhere else ever again. That means less tournaments being run, which means less games being sold to a new audience. Oh, go ahead and pass this along to MadCatz and PDP. They won’t need to make and ship as many fightsticks anymore.”

Or better yet…

“Hey, EA? You know Madden? That game that a lot of people purchase year after year anyway? Well we are going to make it impossible for players to take their copy over to their friends and family member’s house to play unless they also drag their entire console. Which means that less people are going to be exposed to the product and want to buy it for themselves NEXT year.”

It just doesn’t make sense. It benefits the big companies and helps them out…but at what cost? Not only will you have a group of consumers who are simply NOT going to do that but you now have the very publishers you are trying to help now getting mad because sources of revenue are being cut off.

It’s also complete and utter suicide for that console when you think about it. On the 20th if Sony says Used Games are locked out on the PS4 everyone is going to get an Xbox and vice versa.

Now, I’m not saying there isn’t a precedent for this model…I mean if you think about it PC Games have almost always operated on this model by way of CD-Keys and other copy protection. But the thing with that differs from the PC-to-Console Market is that those games aren’t priced like console games. Console games for the most part are agreed upon pricing between the publisher and the retailer. On the wonderful world of PC games there isn’t so much in the way of a retailer’s storefront that you have to worry about. This gives the publisher more freedoms to price games at what they feel are appropriate…or in the most obvious case–it allows online stores like Steam and GOG to run hella deals.

Pictured Above: Average PC Gamer’s reaction to Steam Summer and Fall Sales

Retailers mark games up so high because it’s a balancing act. They need to mark them high enough to make a profit, but low enough that they don’t take a giant shit when they don’t move and take up shelf space. This problem doesn’t exist on Steam or on other online retailers. There isn’t a digital copy sitting around collecting dust on a digital shelf somewhere in Steam because it didn’t get bought. This allows them to go “Oh well, we are going to make profit on this no matter what so…let’s just sell it cheap!”

So, if it isn’t clear yet…this idea is dumb as shit. It hurts the ‘bad’ consumers who purchase used games, it hurts the ‘good’ consumers which buy new games because now they are forced to buy new or not at all…even if the game is bad, has no real longevity, or if it’s only something they had a passing interest in. It hurts the publishers because it shrinks their player base and the ability to reel in new customers. And ultimately it hurts the console developers themselves because it shifts all of the momentum towards alternative means be it the direct competition (I.E the other console) or indirect competition (PC, piracy, modding).
So in a really long winded and roundabout way…I guess what I am trying to say is that amid all of the next-gen rumors about controllers and motion sensing and voice recognition, split controllers, playback, ‘share’ buttons, and proprietary Xbox discs.
The idea that any manufacturer is would even fathom to lock out used games from their console, potentially alienating a large fan base AND dooming a next-gen console that is already projected to not be earth shattering…


(Which of course means that if it happens I am fucking giving up on video games. The Second Crash will indeed happen.)

Top 5 Mains I Use In The Street Fighter Series (i.e Characters I am reasonably good with/have enterened tournaments using)

5. Guile (Street Fighter II)
4. R. Mika (Street Fighter Alpha 3)
3. Alex (Street Fighter III 3rd Strike)
2. Cody (Street Fighter Alpha 3/Super Street Fighter IV)
1. Hakan. No, really. (Super Street Fighter IV)

Until next time, I’m Jordan Williams…and if The Last Guardian isn’t a PS4 launch title then that shit is never fucking coming out. Bank on it.


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