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Whats worse for Devs Preowned or Pirates?

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July 31, 2008 5:25:50 PM

http://www.gamersuniverse.com/en/index3_detail.php?cont...

Just reading David Brabens comments from a dev conference where he was talking about something Ive not considered before, how much the pre-owned console games market costs developers. The developers dont get a penny for a "pre-owned" sale and every "pre-owned" copy sold costs them a sale. Thinking about the number of preowned games for sale in the highstreet is this costing console developers as much as piracy is for pc developers?

David braben was taking aim mostly at stores who deliberately dont sell "new copies" of games odler than a few months prefering instead the profit margin on pre-owned games.

He referred to it as "retail piracy" basically many players are getting the benefit but the developers are only getting one "license" fee.

Now I know we are all against piracy where do we stand on this? Is it as bad as piracy if the developers themselves are getting a penny for your entertainment?
July 31, 2008 5:47:47 PM

The Dev's will only earn Real money in two ways.

- Excellent SCM.
- Horizontal Distribution.

Ok , I've said it.

On Topic:No that isn't piracy. Developers should do what ive said before, so they keep their money, and kill the 918301295601250234758973 middle men leeching between the chain.

July 31, 2008 5:55:19 PM

Im not so sure it isnt piracy. Just reading the license printed inside a game here (kotor) which says the license isnt transferable! and contains a clause saying you cant sell, rent, transfer etc etc to someone else without written consent of the authors.

So preowned games ARE robbing the devs of income per player as much piracy AND at a simple reading breaking the terms of the EULA

Im all for subscription software myself, no cash up front and pay a subscription for as often as you want to play a game, the better and longer lasting the game the more money the devs make, one weekend wonders wont make as much money.
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July 31, 2008 5:58:58 PM

but if the minimum rent is a month?
July 31, 2008 6:03:31 PM

spuddyt said:
but if the minimum rent is a month?


If the minimum rent is a month then the end user is still better off than paying a full price for a title they only play through once!

I cant imagine as a developer could charge much more than the current mmorpg rate of £10 a month, probably less, still cheaper than buying a full copy, the devs get all the money no retailers taking their slice etc.

Realistically a weekly rate of £2.50 a monthly rate of £5 and games that actually provide players with decent long term playing experience will make their money, studios could offer "package" deals offering access to all their games for £15 a month etc to enhance value and selection to gamers.
July 31, 2008 6:12:48 PM

Interesting view, however there's a key difference between pre-owned and piracy. The key term being "owned". Every pre-owned title was at least at one time a purchased retail copy. It's similar to rentals. The store had to at least buy that one copy in order to rent it out. And as long as illegal copies are not being made there can only be a certain number of copies available at any given time. If the game is good enough and there's a combination of a demand from people who don't have the game and those who own it not wanting to sell it new copies will continue to sell. Even if a game is the type the has a lot more pre-owned being sold than new the resale value of the game may make an otherwise sub-par game worth a little more. Knowing that you can atleast get some of your money back might make an otherwise iffy purchase a little more worthwhile.
Another aspect is that when people trade in their old games at a retail store there is usually an incentive and high probability that they will spend the money they get on another game. Sure it might me a pre-owned game, but it might also be a new copy.
Anyways the key difference is that with piracy there are new copies being made which dillute the market. Re-selling already purchased games just shifts copies around without changing the actual number. I often hear piracy advocates say that if developers made better games they would be less likely to get pirated. That claim is completely bogus and all you have to do is look at the numbers of good games that are pirated versus the number of bad games that are. But making games better such that people who buy it are less likely to want to get rid of it does reduce the number of pre-owned sales. Just go to any retailer that sells pre-owned titles and you'll definatly see more sub-par games than top tier games being sold pre-owned.
July 31, 2008 6:18:52 PM

As far as the EULA, that has already been covered. The developers/publishers can put whatever they want in there, but it doesn't guarantee it will actually ever hold up. Courts have already ruled that users have the right to resell used software as long as they are not making/keeping/selling unauthorized copies. So that's not really an issue. Also I doubt game companies are going to go after the retailers who sell their goods. Retailers making very little on new game sales so they need to be thrown the occasional bone in the form of pre-owned sales to make it worth their while.
July 31, 2008 6:47:09 PM

Every pirate copy that is out there was at one time purchased, people generally only play games for so long even if they pirate them. So aslong as the concurrent user rate is equal to or less than the total number of legal copies purchased the developers getting their fair share?

Does my purchase of crysis which has sat on the shelf barely used since completed it in the first weekend help make up for a whole load of pirates out there one at a time as far as the devs are concerned? After all the full price was payed to allow a copy of the game to be played 24-7 legally, so am I in the right to let my brother and my 3 brother in laws and my dad all install it as long as they only play it one at a time? (I dont do this - they havent got suitable pc's :D  ) People playing without the devs getting their cut is what the devs are getting upset about again here, just like traditional piracy.

The argument that the used game may be used to make a new purchase surely holds no more water than the argument that people want to try before they buy when downloading a game from bit torrent?

Im mainly playing devils advocate here. I dont pirate games, I like to have a genuine cd and nice packaging and the ability to reinstall easily etc. Im also very suspicious of the potential for security threat from hacked versions etc. I have a HUGE collection of legally brough games, dvd's and music, and no pirates around. I dislike preowned games for the chances of duff copies and damaged packaging etc, but I dont actually object to them being sold. (although I do object to the fact that they wont allow it for pc's but do for consoles.

However, I dont believe the piracy is theft line at all, its a copyright infringement and not a physical loss, its a BIG legal difference, and I dont believe every copy pirated represents money lost to a developer either. I HATE obtusive DRM, especially the stuff that forces me to use piracy hacks to play legitimately own games under vista... (Star wars lego is a good example of this) I hate having to put wear and tear on my drives and disks by constantly swapping them in and out of the drive.
July 31, 2008 6:58:46 PM

While I do think that pre-owned sales hurt these companies - any dealer which is selling pre-owned games (such as EBgames, Blockbuster video) already has a license to resell used games; so it doesn't hurt them as much as it might at first seem.

Piracy on the other hand.. well yea; I buy my games and I really don't have time for thieves.
July 31, 2008 7:22:22 PM

Quote:
Every pirate copy that is out there was at one time purchased, people generally only play games for so long even if they pirate them.

I'm not sure what kind of logic you used to come to that conclusion. If 1 person buys a game and then makes 100 copies which they give away or sell to others, then only 1 game was paid for but as many as 101 are being played. If somebody buys a copy then resells it there is only 1 copy bought, but never more than 1 being played. That's the difference. You can get into all the fancifull things about how long you actually play the game and how long somebody else who pirated it does and whether that constitutes one full use or not but you'll never solve anything because there are just too many variables.
Ultimately though this is a BS whine by a developer because the game companies are right in bed with those selling pre-owned copies. Sure there individuals selling their old games on Ebay and the odd private business selling pre-owned games but any real impact from pre-owned sales is coming from the guys ovaltineplease listed who the gaming industry is tied to the hip with.
July 31, 2008 8:00:58 PM

A clarification may be in order. For the majority of cases, developers make a pre-determined amount of money for each game they make, regardless of how they perform once the title goes on sale. It's the publisher that lives and dies by the the sales numbers. Of course, each title's commercial performance affects how valuable the developer's next title will be. Hence, the better your last game did, the more money a publisher will be willing to pay for your next title.

That said, the argument against pre-owned sales for games is the same argument that home video distributors made here in the U.S. during the advent of the VCR. Most movie studios were totally against rentals and used sales. Lo and behold, the studios and distributors eventually figured out a way to make the economics work in their favor. The same evolution occured with the automobile makers decades agao, who originally declared that used cars would destroy the business. Looking back at those claims now, they seem so silly.

Plus, I know the equation isn't this simple, but what the hell, here goes: if I were a developer/publisher, I'd rather have someone pay once for my game and then go to the previously-owned section at EB Games than have someone pirate it and not pay at all.
July 31, 2008 8:12:35 PM

Quote:
Plus, I know the equation isn't this simple, but what the hell, here goes: if I were a developer/publisher, I'd rather have someone pay once for my game and then go to the previously-owned section at EB Games than have someone pirate it and not pay at all.

Great point. Since those selling the pre-owned games are also the primary source of revenue for the developer/publisher wouldn't their successes be tied together? It's not like an EB store can buy 1 copy of a game and plan on selling it over and over again. The more new copies they sell the more pre-owned ones they'll take in and resell. The more profitable a game is for a retail store(even if a lot that comes from secondary sales) the more they will order from the publisher. Correct?
July 31, 2008 9:11:22 PM

robwright said:
A clarification may be in order. For the majority of cases, developers make a pre-determined amount of money for each game they make, regardless of how they perform once the title goes on sale. It's the publisher that lives and dies by the the sales numbers. Of course, each title's commercial performance affects how valuable the developer's next title will be. Hence, the better your last game did, the more money a publisher will be willing to pay for your next title.

That said, the argument against pre-owned sales for games is the same argument that home video distributors made here in the U.S. during the advent of the VCR. Most movie studios were totally against rentals and used sales. Lo and behold, the studios and distributors eventually figured out a way to make the economics work in their favor. The same evolution occured with the automobile makers decades agao, who originally declared that used cars would destroy the business. Looking back at those claims now, they seem so silly.

Plus, I know the equation isn't this simple, but what the hell, here goes: if I were a developer/publisher, I'd rather have someone pay once for my game and then go to the previously-owned section at EB Games than have someone pirate it and not pay at all.


But David Braben is a developer not a publisher and hes the one complaining about used sales calling it "retail piracy" clearly some within the industry do see it as "piracy" of course this is the same guy whos first game sparked off the whole intrusive drm debate by using the legendary lenslok system... I wasnt aware that the old royalties per copy agreements had gone out of favour. Although with the number of disagreements over that system I guess its not surprising.

The pre-owned market however doesnt work the same way as the rental system eventually did, What David Braben is calling for is to move it onto a similiar system. From what I remember video rental places didnt buy a retail copy of a game and rent it out - that was illegal (over here) what they had to do was buy a rental licensed version - which was substantially more expensive to cover the license for renting. At the moment games companies have no such protection in place. Also the same people who are selling pre-owned copies are NOT stocking new copies of the same cames cutting of the publisher \ developer after a certain period of time. David Brabens speach was a call towards redressing that situation.

Hmm well I have been a developer in a small time a long time ago,(a small splattering of games and a really quite nifty operating system and some industrial machine control software for a system called z88) I would actually be more annoyed about the situation where the distributors stocked my software for a short time then STOPPED selling it new and relied exclusively on used copies, cutting off my potential customers for new software from contributing to my income, whilst lining their pockets with sales of my software. Of course with the pittance I ever made from software my opinion doesnt really count for much :lol:  I would always be more annoyed about corporate abuse of my hard work than private abuse of the same.

Talking of which back when I wrote for games magazines (printed ones), People used to pay to read my opinion (or what my editor told me my opinion was in some cases :(  ) on the industry. These days people get it for free (even if they dont want it :D  ) Ever since this internet thing came along and people can get all the opinions the want for free its hard to make money selling an opinion any more... Actually I ducked out of the industry before the internet appeared on the public radar.
July 31, 2008 9:29:18 PM

Reading your last post dtq and thinking about this a bit more something just popped into my head that publishers have been doing to EB and the likes (those who sell lots of pre-owned games) for some time. Ever notice how when a new release, especially a big one, comes out you have to get pre-orders to get the game at say an EB and even that doesn't guarantee they won't run out before you get a copy. But Best Buy and Wal Mart (who don't sell pre-owns) get seemingly endless supplies? I worked at a Best Buy for several years and I can't ever remember any game being in short supply where as smaller retailers have trouble keeping hot new releases in stock. So don't they lose initial new sales because publishers favor mega retailers over them? Maybe they aren't pulling the titles like they are accused of but are rather just having trouble keeping them in stock since their supply is limited in favor of larger retailers?
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