Friday, January 27, 2012
The death of the used game
The current generation of consoles is getting long in the tooth, and the next generation is starting to get announced. But some of the features of the next generation consoles are likely not to please gamers very much: The XBox 720 reportedly will have a system that makes it impossible to play used games.
Of course on a MMORPG blog that is kind of non-news. Or would you like to buy my used copy of World of Warcraft (without the account, which isn't transferable)? Basically a MMORPG client these days is free, and you pay an initial fee to open an account, plus a monthly fee to keep it going. Or the game is even Free2Play and you only pay for what you buy in the item store.
Most of the PC single-player games I bought over the past 2 years I couldn't possibly sell either, because I bought them on Steam. Steam has a trading market, but you can't trade used games there, only stuff like Team Fortress hats. Other PC games now frequently come incomplete, with a coupon for a free day zero DLC for the other half of the game: People buying the game used will end up having to pay for that DLC.
All of these anti used games measures rely on the internet, and work reasonably well because there aren't many game PCs left that aren't connected to that. Consoles are catching up in connectivity, and thus the system which will enable the XBox 720 to tell a new game from a used game will presumably be based on some online registration. If that is true, that could possibly lead to an even bigger piece of news, because it would mean that you can't play anything on your next XBox if that console isn't connected to the internet. I do believe there is still a rather strong demand for offline game consoles, and thus that move could backfire badly. Even on the PC there are lots of people complaining about "always online" DRM systems. It will be hard to convince people to buy a game console that doesn't work when offline.