Let me say this loud and clear: any game console that tries to block used games will fail. And I, along with other gamers, will be happy to see it.
Over the last year or so, we’ve been hearing rumors that Microsoft’s next console, currently codenamed Durango, could ban used games. Microsoft, of course, hasn’t said anything on the matter, deciding instead to keep its plans close to the vest until it finally has the chance to unveil the device to the world. But the steady drumbeat of claims that the console won’t support used games is concerning.
The video game industry can’t stand used games. Gamers run out to buy a new title and before long, turn around and sell it back to their local game retailer, like Gamestop, to get back some of their cash. In many cases, those gamers then put the credit towards another game.
For gamers and Gamestop, it’s a great model that works exceedingly well. But the game developers have a real issue with used titles.
See, after a game is sold back to a company like Gamestop, there’s no way for the developers to generate cash off the secondary sale. That means that all of their hard work can’t be profited on, and retailers can double-dip on the games they’re investing in.
I’ll be the first to admit that I think the system is flawed. I know of several developers that can’t stand the thought of used-game sales and I totally understand why they have those feelings. Revenue sharing on used-game sales really is unfair. And it’s something that the industry should not – and perhaps, cannot – overlook; it needs to be fixed.
That said, used games have a place in today’s console space. Used games are cheaper, which makes it easier for gamers to enjoy the entertainment they so desire. For many people around the world, spending $60 on a video game is impossible when bills need to be paid and kids need to be fed. But buying a title for, say, half the price, isn’t such a bad deal.
Used games, let’s not forget, have also done wonders for the online services Sony and Microsoft offer. The more used games that customers buy, the more people playing titles online. And thus, revenue across the industry goes up. It’s a win-win.
And yet, the steady drumbeat of claims that Microsoft might do away with used-game playing in the next Xbox grows louder by the day. If it’s true – and let’s be clear, we’re not sure if it is – that would mean Microsoft’s console would be the only next-generation hardware to not allow for used titles. What’s worse, it would be the first console in history to not support such a key part of the game-buying experience.
I can say unequivocally that if Microsoft does not support used games in its next console, I will not buy the hardware. And I have a feeling there are thousands, if not millions, of gamers who will stand alongside me.
Look, I’m all for giving developers the proper compensation for what they’ve created. And I, too, think the used-game market is hurting developers. But not allowing used games isn’t the answer; stopping retailers from taking advantage of gamers and developers is.
Don Reisinger is a technology and video game columnist. You can see what he's up to each day on Twitter by following him @donreisinger.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SlashGear