Is this the next evolutionary step in the games console world? Well it seems that way according to sources within the gaming circles. No one reinforced this more than Playstation with the idea that you will no longer physically own games but you will have online access to play them. More proof of this is found in Playstation’s most recent creation the PSVita which has made it ever more difficult to use pre-owned content. Of course, Sony hasn’t confirmed any of these supposedly leaked details, but is it really out of the realm of possibility?
All we have to do is look at the evidence of from any EA game sold for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 recenlty as they have an anti-used-game components built in. New games ship with one-time use codes that give the original owner access to online gameplay and features. If you try and play one of these titles without the code on a different console or gamertag, it’ll cost you extra to get online.
The most shoking display of this was with one of last years top selling games “Batmans: Arkham City“. Players who bought the game pre-owned missed out on the entire Catwoman campaign, as it required a unique code upon playing the game for the first time. Game reseller GameStop eventually made good on the incident by including codes for those who bought the game second hand.
This concept of “piracy paranoia” could simple kill a whole sector of the gaming industry virtually overnight. Take the rental gaming market where with services like GameFly and sites that organize game trades between consenting players. What about those guys? It all funnels into a core concept that used games are ingrained in the entire video game marketplace and ecosystem.
In my eyes perhaps the most important and yet overlooked element of this entire debate is that the idea of selling a game back plays such a necessary part in the psychology of game buying. Customers feel much better about buying a brand-new 50 or 60 pound game that turns out to be awful because they know there’s a safety net in place that will most likely get them at least half their money back — or more if they sell it in the right marketplace. In a world where selling back games is no longer an option, would games sell as well as they do now?
What about the social aspect of removing the used game sector? Surly this means that friends won’t be able to share a new game with each other unless they play the game on their own console. Where’s the fun there? This means kids won’t be able to go to a friend’s house and show them the great new Portal game they just bought. But in this brave new world, that act may be considered trying to play a used game.
So what does the future of gaming look like? I think a good indication of what might be on its way is how Activision has approached Modern Warfare 3. Encouraging gamers to hop on board a subscription-based gaming experience not only shifts focus away from those who might want to sell a game back, but also increases overall play value.
Modern Warfare 3 offers a one-year subscription price that includes any and all downloadable content over the course of a year. Which makes it cheaper to buy the membership up front rather than picking and choosing which DLC you want?
Is there an upside to this dilemma? I think there is! Just think this could drive the cost of games down. By removing the physical content you remove a lot of the other production costs; such as packaging and export costs, bringing overheads down.
So the real question being, “Is this a Bad Thing?”
At the end of the day this is only an observation and there are no facts that suggest these are the true intentions of these gaming giants. All we have to go on is what is going on in the now and the early signs certainly do point in that direction.
What do you think?
Thanks For Reading
MD Game Pro