The Problem with the Used Game Argument

In case you haven’t been following the hi-larity on the discussions about Used Games on the XBox One (aka XBO from here on out, as that at least sounds not-shit) and potentially PS4, well, there hasn’t been any.

Oh, there’s been plenty of arguments. Plenty of ranting, plenty of attacks, plenty of petitions and PR speak and all of that, but there hasn’t been any actual DISCUSSIONS.

On one side, you have the corporate monolith of Microsoft, who have been more or less outright hated for the last twenty years by the people who use their products, and have developed something of a thick skin about it. They listen, of course, because they’re a successful company with capable employees and executives, but you don’t see them shed many tears about how they’re treated.

Their attitude about the Used Game stuff more or less reflects that. They’re not trying to mollify the crowd much, and its not like there’s much they can do, since the policies on used games is almost certainly in flux.

On another side, you have Sony, which is being very mum about their plans, and generally trying to at least appear to be listening to the players, and I have no doubt that they are. They’re also almost certainly speaking to Microsoft and Gamestop about the Used Game Plans.

Then you have Publishers and Developers for console games, who… are saying nothing, as far as I can tell. They almost certainly want a cut from used games, because they’re professionals who feel they are owed some money by the people who are enjoying their hard work.

Of course, you have Gamestop, which ostensibly the good guys on this subject to the consumers, but they are almost certainly in talks with MSFT and Sony, and don’t want to jeopardize things by making any press releases about how terrible used game restrictions would be.

And you have the consumers, aka the players, the people who make the industry possible. And they HATE this notion, and want it killed immediately. There’s already stuff like the PS4 No DRM movement trying to get Sony to not have this sort of thing with the PS4, there’s lengthy diatribes out there about how the evil and money-grubbing corporations want to do anything to boost their profits.

Which is the problem. There’s no middle-ground. No dialog. Microsoft and Sony gain nothing by talking with the consumers, because they can’t answer questions about the details, and the consumers don’t care about any problems that used games might actually be causing.

The consumers, meanwhile, don’t care because they don’t KNOW. There has been no shred of evidence, no examinations of used sales patters, no attempt to justify why used games and Gamestop need a few shots in the leg.

Which is what’s saddening me about the press coverage of this debacle. This is the group that’s supposed to stand between the money-grubbing corporations and the money-grubbing consumers and help one side understand the other. In this case, why has there been no story out there trying to determine if there is any damage being done by used games?

You’d need help from the developers and publishers, of course, to check the story, but the numbers have to be out there in a database somewhere. Compare the number of XBLive accounts that played a game in the first week of release, and how many new sales there were. If you can’t get the number of accounts, then fudge it with the number of players that got the easiest achievement in the game, or something else like that.

Or try to get information from developers and publishers on the subject. Or, hell, maybe press Microsoft and Sony for evidence and justification? They can shout “It’s the Principal of the matter!” from now until the end of time, but that won’t win anyone over that doesn’t agree.

Because I’m not entirely against restrictions on Used Games on principal, but what I want is the evidence.

Show the losses. Show the Used Purchase Rate. Show how it affects different genres. Show when the used sales tend to take place. Show some bloody numbers. Right now, all we have is rhetoric, and if things keep going this way E3’s going to be an explosion of hatred coming from all sides, and I don’t think anyone wants that.

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