Used Games and Heavy Rain

For years game developers and publishers have been trying to come up with a way to gimp the second-hand gaming market. PlayStation LifeStyle has an interesting article where the Quantic Dream’s CEO (Heavy Rain) asserts that the used game market cost the developer over a million units in missed royalties.

This is all according to Quantic Dream CEO Guillaume de Fondaumière, who said that, by judging PS3 trophy stats, they can see that a million people who didn’t pay, played the game.

From a pure black and white perspective, that is true. You could also assert that in general gamers didn’t appreciate the game even with all the critical acclaim Heavy Rain received with the majority of mega sites. Look at the Metacritic score and you will find the user rating is significantly less than the critic rating: 6.7 (1300+ user ratings) to 87 (100+ critic reviews).

I could guess what happened next, but it would be just a guess. While I did buy the game on release day, I may not have without all the pre-hype buzz that showed Heavy Rain as a potentially different experience, which as I have written many times, draws me into a game. I want new and different experiences.

For many gamers, and I put myself in this category, it all comes down to value – if I am on the fence, I will wait until a price drop. If I don’t think a game is worth the full original MSRP (usually $49-60 depending on the publisher, with some Move games starting at $39 and Greatest Hits titles clocking in at $29.99), I wait until the inevitable price drop.

I will disclose that I never by second-hand games for currently support consoles. This is a personal preference, and it also has to do with my software development background. Like I said, personal choice, but I also wait for sales, price drops, etc.

PSN Pass – Embrace The Trend
EA and now Sony (PSN Pass) are now offering one-off use codes for online play. I believe this trend will be adopted by more and more publishers as a way to curb second-hand sales.

One possible side effect may be the return (or at least the demand for) better single player experiences. This console generation has certainly seen the rise of online gameplay focus, which is fine if you have a ton of gaming buddies, join clans (or whatever the cool kids call clubs these days), or do not mind playing against random opponents. Color me different. I am an older gamer and really do not enjoy random gaming jaunts and the vast majority of my friends gave up on gaming long ago to concentrate on family and career aspects of their life. Yes, growing old sucks on a lot of different levels, but I refuse to grow up and I am starting to digress.

At any rate, embrace for more and more one-off included codes for special content, including online play, some of which may be required to complete a game.


5 thoughts on “Used Games and Heavy Rain”

  1. By coincidence, came across this link in another forum:

    So it’s not big money (a real tiny fraction of what they gross on Madden every year) but it’s a little icing on the cake for them.

    Reason why there is a secondary market is that the product is priced too high and a lot of people can only afford second-hand prices. I’ve bought a couple of games second-hand, older games long after they were released.

    Plus single-player games which are more like interactive movies are going to be traded, because once you play through and see how the story plays out, there’s no reason to play again. Why do people sell games? To recover some of the costs because $60 is a significant cost for a few hours of entertainment.

    Years ago, I sold games as I bought new ones because of financial reasons. Now I don’t have to but still probably have that mindset. No reason to accumulate games that collect dust once you had your fill of them.

    On the other hand, I know a lot of developers are struggling. For every hit like COD, there are probably at least a dozen games which don’t turn a profit and studios go under. Of course developers don’t have much say in pricing and they have to pay licensing fees to the console manufacturers and pay off various middle men for distribution costs.

    This model works for the blockbuster games but not for the rest. It’s not unlike the movie business, where studios will subsidize some smaller films with those blockbusters.

    But if a game like Heavy Rain just can’t sell enough units at $60, that’s somewhat regrettable but there are always injustices. Van Gough made very little if any money from painting during his life time but now his paintings have been traded for millions at a time — cumulatively the money could be up in the billions. Plus his paintings have probably resulted in tourism to where he lived, where his paintings are displayed.

  2. I agree about the prices of games being too high – in my opinion it comes down to value. Do you get value from spending $60 on a day one release? Do you wait for a holiday sale? Greatest Hits release? Eventual price drop two years later? Second hand … etc.

    For me it depends on the game – most sports games I go day one. Same for any JRPG (they often have limited production). Racing games like Gran Turismo of F1 will are day one candidates. The recent run of NFS are now wait and see titles. As I wrote a few day ago, I picked up Pure for under $10.

    I guess I do not practice what I preach. I certainly only purchase new games, but I do flip them on eBay, so I guess I am what you would call an enabler. This is another reason I tend to go physical media vs digital purchase. If I can recoup $5 on a physical game, that is a $5 discount on my next purchase. As you indicated, I don’t really need to do this, but it makes good ‘business’ sense.

    Anyway … well thought out response. Thanks for sharing.

  3. You know, it’s funny, being a musician (and performer when I was a younger man), I would never “tape” someone else’s CD or cassette based on the same principal – I didn’t want to short-change the artist. I see the similarity in video games, however I feel that in most cases used games hurt the publisher more than the developer (not sure about that, though).

    I buy both used and new; I prefer new games, but that doesn’t always make sense, economically. Availablitly can be an issue, too. I guess I’ll feel more strongly whenever I write my own game (ha!). That will be digital distribution only, though, LOL…

  4. first off I always buy my games new. secondly games like heavy rain i rent. WHY? simple it is a basic story. no matter how good it is. once you beat it it is over. with no online there is really no replay value after the plat. which if i remember right took me 5 days. and after having to sog through the diffrent endings i was happy to return this game. Yes it was new and inventive. but thats not enough to make me want to play it again.

  5. Makes sense on Heavy Rain. One of these days I am going to get around to playing it again. Having kids … I just hate the opening part of the game. I just never get around to it at night, but do want to fart around with it and the Move.

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