Publishers’ War on Used Games and Why You Should Buy a PC Already

We’re seeing it in more and more titles: online passes locking up content behind an Internet connection and a 16-character password, requiring players to prove they were the first person to unwrap a game package in order to get everything the title has to offer. More often than not, if you don’t have the online code required for a title, getting access to the locked-up content will run you around $10. Players are complaining about Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning locking up content behind an online pass, and Batman: Arkham City famously did so with its Catwoman content as well.

It’s game publishers’ latest great idea, aiming at dismantling the used game market. Buying a game used from any outlet earns the publisher of a title nothing at all — so players who grab their games second are basically like legal pirates in the eyes of Ubisoft, Warner Bros. or Electronic Arts. They get the game without paying anything into the big corporate structure. Back in May, Lionhead developer Mike West even said that used game sales were a bigger threat to the gaming industry than piracy.

Used games are a big market, though. In 2010, GameStop announced that half its profits for the year were derived from used game sales — by no means a small number. Obviously, that’s a lot of gamers getting their games used and paying less than full price. GameStop is a big force in the gaming market, though, and it’s unlikely the store is excited about the possibility of publishers making a concerted effort to combat half of its business model.

The latest shot to be fired in the battle of the gaming industry against the used game market was last week’s rumor that claimed the next Xbox (lamely referred to as the Xbox 720) would carry software that would prevent used games from being played on the system; once you put a game in your Xbox, it could potentially be tied to that machine forever.

Before we go into the greater implications of that idea, let’s go ahead and talk about why it’s not going to happen.

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8 Comments on Publishers’ War on Used Games and Why You Should Buy a PC Already

Mark Burnham

On January 30, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Another way to think of it, is instead of buying a second console (i.e. if you already own an Xbox 360 and are considering getting a PS3), instead consider building your own PC and treating that as your second “console.”

Having one console, plus a gaming PC is a pretty strong combination. You’ve got the “media center” experience on your console and TV, with Netflix, Hulu, Zune or what have you; and with the PC, you have all the boons you mentioned with none of the “online pass” nonsense.


On January 30, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I’ll be a little paranoid…. Can you see that’s what they want in the long run, make everything digital and online. You can’t take a digital copy of game or DLCs to a friends house, unless you decide to take your console HDD with you(not sure if possible though). Game development is way too lazy if you ask me (i know is not and easy task but….) Rage, Skyrim, etc, shouldn’t have been released as they did, but because we already have DLCs and updates….. More and more games are being develop were “online/multiplayer” functions are taking the lead instead of the SP campaing, Ex gears of wars 3, anyone who played the first 2 knows what i’m talking. You have Blizzard and its “need to be online to install/play our game”; EA with origin. Finally SOPA and alikes. It’s all about greed and control no matter if you have a PC or a console.


On January 30, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Getting a PC is no better, with locked content on your drives awaiting keys, and keys tied to a gamers logon accounts and now sometimes hardware like Ubisofts new hardware monitoring DRM, activation install limits etc.
How many used PC games have you bought last few years? Oh right, NONE! Because of DRM. Pirate DRM free or find them on sale maybe.

Console users wanted the equality of having the same game experience across the platforms, hence all the lazy console to PC ports they now play with a damn Xbox controller. Now publishers and developers want to stifle console sharing of disks and/or buying of used game disk with better DRM, locking the software or keys to accounts and hardware, or install limits, like on the PC’s, and now they suddenly want to cry a river?

STFU! And enjoy the equality of having the same PC DRM experience on consoles too. Such an cruelly implemented plan by the gaming industry, couldn’t happen to a better bunch of deserving people.

Brandon J. Clark

On January 30, 2012 at 8:49 pm

I have a HTPC hooked up to the living room tv, so although there is an 360 there as well, we mainly use the media center pc for netflix, movies, music and live tv.

Consoles are toys….


On January 30, 2012 at 10:40 pm

I never understood people who complained about the price of a PC and somehow thought paying extra for games, DLC and a monthly fee just to play online is cheaper.


On January 31, 2012 at 3:34 am

I work in tech support taking inbound calls from the people ranging from computer illiterate to regular computer users. All of the people I tell who are not educated with computers are surprised to find that you can build a good machine for less that 400 dollars! Hell even the console gamers jaws drop when I tell them I built a machine for my friend from the ground up (that is including extras: monitor, keyboard, mouse, tower, upgraded psu, ect.) that plays Battlefield 3 on full settings for only $800! I’m telling every one, dump the console routine. You only will need to spend the initial lump sum once. I have been using the same system for about 8 years. Mind you I have been upgrading it about once per year, but I never spent more that $300. And when I spent the $300 I was either buying multiple parts or upgrading to the latest and greatest video card.

Also btw… What makes you think that consoles will not be effected by SOPA and PIPA or any of those foul words to describe the disgrace of the computer illiterate know it alls?


On January 31, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Please tell me how you have 800 rig that can play bf3 full.

Right now I have about 900 in computer and thats not counting cost of hd display, speakers, keyboards, mouse, legal copy of windows.

And I still cant play bf3 completely maxed(stupid mxaa kills framerate) out in 1080p. Even though it still looks better looking than console versions.

Phenom II x4 960T (unlocked x6 @ 3.5Ghz 2600Mhz HT and NB)
ASRock 870 Extreme3
8GB HyperX DDR3 1600 8-8-8-24
2x 1GB Radeon HD 6850
750w Antec High Current psu

Could have went intel route at time of build but i wanted a specific case and with the case my budget didnt allow an i5 2600. This was about august.


On February 1, 2012 at 5:34 am

Well… I’m already playing in OnLive, it represents all the evil in the gaming world, but I don’t have to care about any kind of hardware anymore, just playing. I’m willingly a slave of the ring, my precious.