For the past several years, the sale of used games has been talked about by game developers as “harmful” to the industry. Needless to say, companies like GameStop and EB Games have continued to sell used games at a discount to buyers, giving them a reason to trade games in when they are done and purchase new ones. At first, this sounds like a pretty harmless process, unless of course, GameStop and other companies like it are ripping buyers off by paying them extremely low prices for their games and selling them for a huge profit. This does happen, though, but that’s the sellers decision, and if someone is dumb enough to pay $60 for a game and trade it in for $11.50 of in-store credit a month later than that is their fault. This constantly runs through the minds of gamers as they endlessly by and sell their games, looking for the best deals and the easiest ways to get new games for low costs.
However, there is a bigger issue to the sale of used games, says Richard Browne, the former VP of Core Studios at THQ. Richard is saying that used games are not only hurting the game industry as a whole, but are killing off single player gaming as we know it. Gaming companies have long been criticized for the addition of things like online passes (yes, EA, I’m talking about you) and other means to trap players into not being able to play their game fully unless they have used their one-time code they receive when they buy a new game. This will obviously create an incentive for gamers to buy their games new, but it also costs your company’s name in criticism, as many gamers will unite and possibly vote you the worst company in America (yes, I’m still talking about you EA).
Either way, used games are still being sold, and people like Richard Browne and many others are looking to put a stop to that. Much of the time, this enrages gamers, but if you look closer at what some of these people are saying, they do have some legit points. I am a huge gamer, and I play all the time, so obviously I want the sales of used games to continue because it benefits me to buy them at a cheaper price. But as Richard Browne states in this comment, the sale used games may actually be hurting my game experience as well:
“The real cost of used games is the death of single player gaming. How do I stop churn? I implement multiplayer and attempt to keep my disc with my consumer playing online against their friends. It works wonderfully for Call of Duty – no doubt it can work wonderfully for me. The problem is, at what cost? Countless millions of dollars would be the answer.”
When I read this quote I immediately thought of single player games that have added multiplayer experiences for no other reason than sales, and in turn it hurt the single player experience. Games like Assassin’s Creed, Dead Space 2, BioShock 2, Mass Effect 3, the Uncharted series have all added in multiplayer modes to games that otherwise would just need their stellar single player experience. Meanwhile, other big hitters like Skyrim and Fallout have retained their “single-player-only” game type, but at what cost? I for one, love multiplayer gaming, but I love multiplayer gaming on multiplayer games. By this I mean, I love Call of Duty, Battlefield, Gears of War, and even NBA 2K12 for their multiplayer experiences because those are what the games are designed for. While they have single player game modes, the multiplayer doesn’t feel like it was just thrown in to give buyers a reason not to sell their game. If developers of single player games have to start spending tons of extra money and time developing a multiplayer mode that isn’t even necessary, it is bound to take away from what they could be doing in the single player game modes. While this may not be every case, there is plenty of these cases now, and there will continue to be.
When a game that was designed for single player gameplay is losing what could be an awesome single player experience because companies feel like they have to add in some time of multiplayer, it hurts the games that we know and love. I hate seeing this happen because of used sales (although there is sure to be many other reasons this can happen), but I also don’t want to see used game sales go away just yet. While Richard Browne is telling Microsoft and Sony to give all games a “one-time” sale somehow with next-gen consoles, I still believe that gamers will pay for a single-player game without multiplayer if it is good enough. Take the Mass Effect series or Batman: Arkham City for example–people will buy good games. This leaves the question of whether we should get rid of used gaming or not. Is it killing the single player experience? Richard Browne and many other big-name game companies think so, but I’m not sure stopping the sale of used games will necessarily fix the problem. Shout out and let us know what you think in the comments or on Twitter–@ElijahIsMe.