This is the latest in an ongoing saga between publishers and companies like GameStop that resale used games. In the latest case, Quantic Dream says it believes it lost between €5 and €10 million of royalties due to the second-hand sales of Heavy Rain. Quantic Dreams co-founder Guillaume de Fondaumiere says he thinks the recession forced consumers to seek out cheaper deals in the overpriced AAA market. He went on to say:
“I can take just one example of Heavy Rain – we basically sold to date approximately two million units, we know from the trophy system that probably more than three million people bought this game and played it. On my small level it’s a million people playing my game without giving me one cent. And my calculation is, as Quantic Dream, I lost between €5 and €10 million worth of royalties because of second-hand gaming.”
de Fondaumiere said that while he sympathizes with cash strapped consumers, he thinks that developers will just stop making games if they can’t recoup a profit, which harms all areas of the ecosystem in the long-term.
I respect de Fondaumiere’s position but it is flawed. In his assumption about loss of revenue due to used game sales he presumes that those extra million people would have even picked Heavy Rain up at full retail price and I’m not sure that is the case. We can’t just single out Quantic Dream though, this is the delusion that several other developers and publishers are suffering from. I get that they feel some kind of way about people playing their game and them not getting a direct cut of the proceeds, but blame their own blindness and inaction, not the consumer. If they have such a big problem with used game sales, then to make a point they should stop shipping their new games to resellers like GameStop. Of course they won’t do this because GameStop is now firmly entrenched in the video game ecosystem and they need GameStop to help drive NEW game sales.
So what can do they do? Well for de Fondaumiere’s part he thinks that video games are too expensive and for that part I agree. Currently, most games retail for $59.99 which forces consumers to make some hard decisions, if publishers would reduce the price to somewhere around $39.99 I think that could make a big difference. With true AAA titles, they should more than make up for any lost revenue with the increased volume sparked by the lower price. Short of that they need to institute some kind of loyalty program that saves folks a few bucks when they buy games new from a certain publisher. Yearly sports titles like Madden and NBA 2K could probably benefit from this the most but you could do this across publishing brands like Ubisoft and Activision. The used game rabbit is out of the bag and it’s not going back in but developers and publishers can do more to make buying new retail copies more appealing to consumers. Honestly, until I see a publisher or developer get off their butt to give cash strapped gamers a reasonable alternative to the used game market that is as convenient and economical I really can’t have any sympathy for them.