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Ubisoft is on a secret mission to assassinate their customers' wallets with used game fees.  (Source: Ubisoft)
And retailer Gamestop is perfectly fine with it; they say they don't care if customers are charged more

One hot current debate in the video game industry is the topic of used games.  While this may seem surprising as used game sales -- both private and commercial – have been around for years, video game makers are now turning on the time honored practice, looking to make some extra money.  Some developers have said used games are worse than piracy.

Electronic Arts unveiled a controversial plan earlier this month to lock players out of online content in used games unless they paid a $10 fee.  Now Ubisoft CFO Alain Martinez CEO comments, "Regarding ... monetizing used games or downloadable content … most of the games that we will release next year will have downloadable content available from the start.  We are looking very carefully at what is being done by EA regarding what we call the '$10 solution,' and we will probably follow that line at sometime in the future."

With Ubisoft, publisher of the best-selling 
Assasin's Creed and Splinter Cell franchises on board, many think the industry could shift as a whole to charging users anywhere from $5-$20 extra on used titles, on top of the $10-$40 they already pay for the game itself.  Publishers are also looking to use a transition to digital downloads to make customers less able to sell titles in the first place.

Some customers are circumventing these restrictions by creating one time accounts on services such as Valve's Steam and selling them to effectively sell the game.  This technique is less effective on consoles like the Xbox 360, though, where month billing is attached to your account.

GameStop's Paul Raines praised EA and Ubisoft's decision to charge customers more.  He states, "We support the creation of added downloadable content for popular franchises, as we see that as extending the life of titles and broadening the base of game players.  We do not anticipate an impact to our used margins due to this program. The amount of used game buyers currently playing online is low, and as it grows, our proprietary models will manage trade and sale pricing to reach margin goals."

He adds, "Lastly, we believe that the online pass process will allow publishers to better leverage their IP content through DLC sales to both used players and new game buyers."

GameStop owns IP related to an online billing and content delivery system for used titles.  The company posted record sales in the first quarter of 2010.

While game companies have vowed to utilize the new used game markups to provide "extra content" to the customer, they have provided no hint to what that content might be or if it even exists at all.

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carry on...
By pro5 on 5/21/2010 10:15:42 AM , Rating: 2
keep driving more and more players AWAY from buying. On a system like PS3 for example (zero piracy) we are STILL charged a lot for games, always told 'the cost of piracy does this' (yet there is no piracy on ps3). So now legit customers can't even 'invest' in games and do an easy sell on (i've sold lots of unused 360/ps3 games on and bought more games) - this won't force hard up people to cough up more money, it will just stop us buying games. And where possible, I suppose more and more will seek other 'means'. Again, turning willing-to-pay customers into either pirates (especially with stupid DRM) or into people who start to realise their rent is more important than another 6 hour so called 'AAA' game from one of the big publishers.

I've noted how game quality has taken a slide, even while production and marketing quailty has ramped up. It's not enough that barely any game comes complete anymore? DLC is fragmenting games as investments and as enjoyable single entities. And a move to pure digital distribution will certainly make me think twice before paying $50 for a download. For that money I like to at least feel like I own something that *I* can choose to sell on (even if just for a fiver at a car boot/flea market).

I don't care about the ins and outs, and rights and licenses to play versus 'ownership' - all I know is it's more and more obvious that the majority of big developers left in the industry are ONLY after our money and are not trying to create amazing new experiences with the player's best interests at heart.

Bring on a video game industry crash please, maybe they will learn not to push punters too far in future.

RE: carry on...
By pro5 on 5/21/2010 10:23:22 AM , Rating: 2
Correction: I meant PUBLISHERS not developers of course. However, the blame has to start somewhere and it's the developers who sell their souls to these mega-corps who are ruining their creative control and player's entertainment.

I think a bunch of the best devs should form a truly independent publisher and self publish. If the talent is removed from the 'mainstream' then sobeit (it's happened to music, and I've given up on mainstream music for at least 10 years). So smaller niches, more underground, higher quality - for MUSIC and GAMES. It's the future, it's all we have - thankfully the internet has made it possible in some ways to bypass the mega-corps.

RE: carry on...
By The Raven on 5/21/2010 11:31:32 AM , Rating: 2
I totally agree. These leaches claim that they are doing these people a favor by getting their games out there, but in the age of Facebook and blogs, there really isn't a need.

Go around them, a la Infinity Ward. Infinity Ward has such a strong following that they don't even need to advertise to make a gazillon dollars.

RE: carry on...
By JediJeb on 5/21/2010 11:58:39 AM , Rating: 2
I think this practice may be the thing that actually makes that happen. People get fed up with the big guys making tons of money and delivering poor games and they will rather turn to the small guy who puts out a good game at a low price. Most of the big developers got their start this way, but they lose site of how they began and the next upstart will knock them off the pedestal just as they did someone before them. Every small company that has made it big has gone through the same thing, and end up having to try to bully their way to stay on top. Eventually they will either learn to return to their roots or more commonly they just die off. Not gaming related but just look at the progression of Sears, KMart, Walmart, Costco, each starts small, runs hot, gets big, then the next small upstart follows suit and knocks the former off the pedestal.

RE: carry on...
By Golgatha on 5/21/2010 10:30:22 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, if we go to digital download only consoles, that's the day I'll be severely limiting my purchases or just finish the backlog of games I have to play and never buy another game once I'm done. If Sony, MS, and Nintendo want my dollars, my right to resell needs to be shown some respect.

"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference

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