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Good vs Evil: Xbox 720, PlayStation 4 Could Make Used Games Extinct

By Jon Ireson in Original Pieces

In this original piece I takes a look at what it means for used games to exist in the gaming community versus the appeal of eliminating them industry-wide.

In the old days, everybody shared video games. Gaming was a rare thing typically, but when you met people that played video games many around them found their way to becoming gamers themselves as well.

This created a lot of families sharing video games, friends and neighbors would share games and tell each other about them. As gaming became more and more popular this habit and trade has increased so much that it has spawned businesses such as Play N Trade as well as earlier shops like FuncoLand.

Back in these days sharing games wasn’t considered a crime, nor was it taboo. In fact it was pretty much the norm and made life as a gamer very diverse. You could always find out the latest fighting games from friends that ran a collection of them.

Whenever you sold or gifted a console, all the video games that came with it was considered worth its weight in gold back in these days. There were no digital incarnations of games like what you see today, the games were the holy grail or key to the system’s enjoyment. The massive amount of word of mouth that video games rely on to maintain popularity could be hurt by harming any of the aforementioned gaming culture rituals.

Next came the digital revolution, as everyone now is clearly informed about. Mobile gaming through phones has become a very lucrative and dense industry boasting Apple’s App Store and Google Play amongst many other successful breakthroughs in the marketplace. The Nintendo DSi, 3DS, and PlayStation Vita continue to remain relevant in giving gamers a dedicated gaming hardware and experiences that are more reliable than the average phone manufactured equipment.

However, the digital era of downloading apps at the tap of a finger has definitely changed the landscape. Now gamers can pick up a lot of games that would have in the past never been available digitally on the 3DS or Vita as well as PS3 / 360 and Wii / Wii U.

With this digital innovation came a price to be paid. The innovation of digital piracy meant theft for thousands, potentially millions of hypothetical sales that didn’t happen because of people downloading copies of games for free off the web. An immense hacking community grew alongside the positive benefits of digital media such as mod developers, user-generated content creators, and easy for customers to buy from any place at any time. The large amount of profits being lost is the reason a game company would consider removing a second-hand market from the industry.

It takes real people to make the games you play. They work on real equipment in real studios and offices. Many times, a good game been looked past because it failed to meet the high corporate sales targets. Many good games and even entire IPs and series have died mid-lifecycle from this.

Part of the reason sales sometimes go amiss is because the jaded gamer is waiting to give the game a second chance. Something they may have not liked about a new direction, in a comeback, or a remake, and they boycott purchasing the game instead opting to pirate a.k.a. bootleg the game first. Many never end up giving the game a purchase later.

Instead of doing this, if everyone purchased the games they love (even single player games you could easily steal for free online) then those games would in turn become produced more often and the games these players love would still be going strong in the first place. Ignoring this obvious benefit of funding the games you enjoy via voting with your money would be negligent of next generation gaming console manufacturers.

As video games go further and further viral in our global society, more and more indie developers will emerge amongst the majors. The quality and technological level of games will further increase in both marketplaces.

As those on non-gaming dedicated hardware grow increasingly aware of tools like JailBreak and Root Hacking, the piracy level will increase just as it has on the Desktop PC. These growing indie empires will look to more secure markets.

The console manufacturers are attempting to provide these markets using bleeding-edge video game rights protection and powerful brands consumers are gravitating to.

In the end the argument for used games is still open to discussion. Many game stores including GameStop make a great deal of their money through used games. If the future game consoles don’t include the capability for games to be shared, neither digitally nor physically, there will be no more renting or selling of games second hand.

New game sales will support game developers more directly, however, retail market margins would be the only profit seen, cutting off a large intake of funds for used games (especially yearly sports titles).

In the end the consumer may win from the loss of used games (if it really happens). Games could become better, living products with automatic updates and more longevity eliminating the need for a second hand used games market altogether.

Although heavy speculation looms, there has not been an “all digital” game console announced for Nex Gen yet. Digital versus physical medium debates have been the topic of discussion for some time now as the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live both came into maturity with digital sales on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 bringing in a hefty profit for publishers and indie developers alike. It remains to be seen if any large console manufacturer will be comfortable enough with these early markets to utilize solely digital technology in the industry of physical medium innovation.

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