Muses: EA Online, PSN Pass, and Used Games

Today I’d like to briefly talk about my thoughts on services like EA’s Online Pass, the upcoming PSN Pass Sony is implementing, and Used Games sales on the whole.

First off I’d like to set the stage with a few pure facts.

Game development costs are at the highest they’ve ever been. Blockbuster games are costing hundreds of millions of dollars to make, an almost absurd number until you look at the credits for one of these games and see just how many people were involved.

Game prices are close to the lowest they’ve ever been for mainstream titles. I remember paying 99-119 for games back in the Super Nintendo era – or well, I remember my parents paying those prices as I was too young to have that kind of money at that point. But the prices were definitely in that range. Now they’re 59 or 69 for a blockbuster game, that is quite a bit down.

Piracy is effecting developers more and more as generations go on. It’s hard to prove, but you see things like the lawsuit between Sony and Geohotz, or the constant DRM measures being implemented more and more by pc game developers… and you can’t deny that it is having a bigger and bigger impact.

Used game sales are at an all time high, games can pass through a used games seller 2 or 3 times being sold at pure profit for the used game store, with no money going to the developers.

 

Now that we have a bit of a groundwork laid…

I want to say I completely support both EA and Sony in the use of an online service to help encourage people to pay them. We don’t know all the details of Sony’s, so we can’t make too much of a judgement call on how fair it is, but I assume it will be like EA’s. That is to say that any game published by them that has a multiplayer component will have a one-time use code for multiplayer. If you buy the game new, you get that code, and get to play multiplayer at no charge. If you buy it used, chances are that code will be used as well, so you have to pay 10-ish dollars to get access to multiplayer.

It’s a very good business decision, it helps to support the game industry, and it helps to ensure that the publisher and, hopefully, the developer get their cut when a game is sold used.

Common arguments I hear when I say this:

1) It’s greedy!

How can it be greedy? They put a lot of money(possibly hundreds of millions of dollars) to bring this to you. For your enjoyment. They’re letting you buy it used, getting the game for less and giving nothing to them if you just want to play single player. However, if you want multiplayer, you have to pay them a tiny chunk of change to get access, ensuring they at least benefit SOMEWHAT from you playing their game. Remember, they ARE businesses, and a business needs money – it’s why they exist.

2) What about people who can’t afford new games?

They can buy used games. Used games often sell for 20-30 dollars less than the new game, so even if you have to pay the 10 dollars for multiplayer – that still adds up to a savings of 10 to 20 dollars. And the multiplayer really extends the life, delaying them needing a new game so they can spend even less on games.

3) It punishes loyal customers!

If you are loyal to a business, you are willing to give them your money for products they make provided those products have value to you. That is what it means to be loyal to a company… it means you like what they do and give them your money. A company exists to make money, as I said before. So if you’re not giving them money, you’re not loyal to them. That means that if you’re a loyal supporter of the company, you’re buying your games new. Which means this has no impact on you, at all. The people this hurts are the people who are loyal supporters of the used game stores. And since they’re using the developer/publisher’s products without paying them a penny, as I said above it seems completely fair for them to pay 10 bucks if they want to use it online.

 

And just a brief word on used games. I have nothing against used games. They serve a definite purpose – to allow people to save a bit of money if they’re on a budget, or to trade in a game they’ll never play again to get money towards purchasing a new title they actually will. It does bother me a bit that stores can sell the same game 3 or 4 times and only pay the developer and publisher once. That means that in some cases a game can make more money for the game store than for the people who made it. But that’s the business they’re in, and they have just as much of a right to make a profit as the game makers do – so it’s fair game.

 

Written by: Sean

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