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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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RE: Heh...
By Golgatha on 5/21/2010 10:25:26 AM , Rating: 3
Although I'm not defending this BS from EA and Ubisoft, I would just like to point out the analogy would be more fitting if it was used car dealerships selling new cars at used car prices. It's not like the bits of data on a disc are going to become used and break down completely over time.

I seriously think this issue of including codes and such should be challenged at the Supreme Court level. This is a blatant disregard for the First Sale Doctrine and it stomps all over the consumer's right to resell a copyrighted work, a right which we as consumers have enjoyed since 1976.

RE: Heh...
By naris on 5/21/10, Rating: -1
RE: Heh...
By Jaybus on 5/21/2010 12:24:09 PM , Rating: 5
You are mistaken. US copyrights, trademarks, and patents were established by Article 1,Section 8 of the US Constitution, giving federal courts jurisdiction over copyright law. Federal law 17 USC 109 codifies "first sale doctrine", and basically says that the owner of a legal copy is entitled to sell or otherwise dispose of that copy without the consent of the copyright holder. A case based on 17 USC 109 would begin in a US District Court, which after appeals could indeed be heard by the US Supreme Court.

RE: Heh...
By zmatt on 5/21/2010 12:50:21 PM , Rating: 2
owned! I look forward to the big game trust being put in their place. Not only do they sell a non essential commodity, but one that quickly becomes obsolete at that and loses it's value. if they want to make more money how about stop making bad games and make ones that I want to buy. It's been awhile since I have bought a new title actually.

RE: Heh...
By Thelookingglass on 5/21/2010 1:32:54 PM , Rating: 2
Read the whole thing. There are special exceptions for computer programs. AKA video games.

RE: Heh...
By iFX on 5/21/2010 1:33:56 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Heh...
By NullSubroutine on 5/22/2010 2:11:32 AM , Rating: 2
Wrong, Timothy S. Vernor v. Autodesk Inc

RE: Heh...
By afkrotch on 5/24/2010 12:54:38 AM , Rating: 2
They aren't stopping you from selling or disposing of the copy. They are simply making the game not play online, but it can still play offline. From a legal standpoint, my guess would be that EA and Ubisoft would be in the clear.

They are simply charging the next owners the right to use EA or Ubisoft's resources to play online. While the original owners already paid that price in the original MSRP.

I still think it's a stupid idea. I'm already shying away from Ubisoft with their persistent internet connection crap and EA seems to be wanting to move to that too.

RE: Heh...
By JediJeb on 5/21/2010 11:37:58 AM , Rating: 5
Although I'm not defending this BS from EA and Ubisoft, I would just like to point out the analogy would be more fitting if it was used car dealerships selling new cars at used car prices. It's not like the bits of data on a disc are going to become used and break down completely over tim

But that would be like saying that Win95 is just as good now as it was back in 1996. Just because the bits of data don't degrade does not mean that the software they make up does not depreciate with age. Would you even pay the same price now for WinXP as for Win7? Or even the same price for WinVista as Win7?

RE: Heh...
By chagrinnin on 5/21/2010 2:06:04 PM , Rating: 5
FOR SALE: Windows Millennium Edition, Grandmother's computer; Played Solitaire every other Sunday; Must sell; Like new! $139.99! :p

RE: Heh...
By theArchMichael on 5/21/2010 3:16:46 PM , Rating: 3
Agreed... almost all products experience a devaluation after they've been released because it is assumed that newer products released thereafter are more advanced, updated... and therefore better... unless your the lucky owner of a shelby mustang of course :-)
But for a video game I think especially with the crap they put out nowadays they should be grateful to get $10.00 on steam a year later. Its almost a novelty item since some of the games just take advantage of more updated and prettier graphics.

RE: Heh...
By fic2 on 5/21/2010 12:46:18 PM , Rating: 3
The analogy is more fitting with new and used books. I buy used books all the time. Also one of the reasons that I won't get a kindle since AFAIK they don't allow you to sell a used e-book to someone or even give it to someone.

RE: Heh...
By Aikouka on 5/21/2010 1:27:55 PM , Rating: 2
Golgatha, I don't like what EA and Ubisoft are planning as much as the next guy, but the problem with your statement on it possibly infringing upon our right to sell the product is that... well, it doesn't.

You are still selling the original product that you paid for, but the extra code has already been used. This is no different than when you buy a new game that comes with some shiny extra (like the Golden Guns with Red Dead Redemption) and you use this. When you sell the game, this extra cannot be sold with it, because you have already redeemed the code.

So in other words, the original game is still being sold as-is, but as per the usual, you are unable to transfer DLC with the game license/medium. Unfortunately now, the DLC in question is something we almost expect to come with a game.

Also, we cannot forget that technically EA and Ubisoft own the game servers (we definitely know EA does with their recent closing of old game servers). I haven't exactly gone and read any of EA's ToS/EULAs lately, but I'm fairly certain that there's nothing in them that state that you will get online play by default nor that they must provide you with it.

I think one negative aspect that has been overlooked in regard to using the online component as DLC... DLC DRM mechanics. In the case of the XBOX 360, the DLC is locked via two methods: the registering user and the console it is registered on. To actally use the DLC, you must match at least one of those credentials. If you bring the game to your friend's house, you must log in on your XBL account to play multiplayer. If you switch to another 360 in your own home, you must ensure that you use the correct account.

Some users may never run into an issue with DLC DRM mechanics (and I'm not sure what the PS3 does), but there are some people that may simply be screwed over by this.

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard

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