Why Every Defense of Online Passes Has Been Bullsh**


(This is another edition of </RANT>, a weekly opinion piece column on GameFront. Check back every week for more. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not reflect those of GameFront.)

The online pass scam has found itself quite a few white knights lately, with high profile pundits joining developers in demonizing the used market and exonerating lazy, slapdash, methods of tackling it. While everybody is of course free to have their own opinions — and I have no burning issue with those happy gamers who don’t believe online passes are that big of a deal to them — I am certainly concerned by just how shallow, simplistic and limited the arguments in favor of online passes have been. They seem to focus on the single issue of used consumers lacking the right to complain — and therefore paint opponents of online passes purely as people upset that they cannot buy games used.

If it were true, I think online passes would be a lot easier to defend, and it might be why the defenders are choosing to focus on one thing, rather than looking at the bigger picture. Fact is, online passes have the potential to do long-term damage to the games industry while gamers, developers, and publishers spend all their time worrying about the short term.

A few weeks ago, I produced a video for The Escapist as part of my Jimquisition series, explaining how online passes are bad for everybody — whether you’re a used gamer, a new gamer, a studio or a publisher. Whether you rent games, borrow games, play multiplayer OR single-player, the online pass impacts the industry in a variety of negative ways. Those who choose to defend online passes by tackling just one portion of the argument — that used gamers don’t deserve to have a say in the matter — are quite cleverly obscuring 90% of the reason why online passes are a bad thing.

Feel free to watch the video above, or not. In any case, it details several reasons why online passes are bad for everybody, not just GameStop and its customers. The video — which I assume many online pass defenders have not watched — debunks almost every argument you could have in favor of the codes, so I certainly don’t need to repeat myself on that matter. What pisses me off is that most of the arguments in the above video have been ignored in order to focus on one thing that even I agree with — developers of good games deserve compensation, and used gamers don’t have much of a right to complain about a publisher’s treatment of them.

I agree with that argument, I definitely do. I agree that GameStop’s customers are GameStop’s customers, not EA’s, or THQ’s, or Sony’s. But nobody ever addresses the fact that brand new customers are expected to waste their time putting bullshit codes in (sometimes having to quit the entire game to unlock a multiplayer mode, as they did with Resistance 3). That’s honestly bullshit when you consider how other entertainment mediums have begun to offer instance streaming, one-click purchases, and strive to innovate and deliver entertainment on demand. Success in the entertainment industry comes down to who can provide a better service, and erecting fresh barriers between the gamer and the game they bought is directly conflicting with that time-tested truth.

Nobody ever thinks of less wealthy gamers, who rely on trade-ins so they can buy brand new games. When I was a poorer person, I used to thrive off store credit — trading in games I no longer played so that I could better afford expensive new ones. Hell, it still helps me buy copies of games I need to review when a publisher fails to send me one. For me it’s a good business move. I also consider this a very valid way of supporting the game industry, especially as it allows people who would otherwise be unable to buy any games to buy a lot more of them. One potential outcome of the proliferation of online passes is that trade-ins could be severely devalued as used games become less valuable themselves. The impact this would have on younger and less privileged gamers is something that deserves serious concern. This argument would also extend to eBay, or any other method of a gamer recouping part of an investment to make fresh investments.

Nobody ever talks of the potential benefit the used market has on allowing gamers to take impulse gambles on a series they later end up supporting. I could collect weeks of testimonies from my readers and viewers who have informed they bought, say, Metal Gear Solid or Gears of War used, then went on the buy the sequels brand new. We already know that big-name sequels typically sell better than prior entries in the series. I think the ability to try these games cheaper has had an impact on that. As with so much to do with this topic, getting solid statistics is almost impossible, but I think it’s a prospect worth entertaining.

What about people who rent games, using services like GameFly? What about people who don’t have a console hooked up to the Internet — which is still a significant amount of consumers? Sure, you can say that they wouldn’t be playing multiplayer games in the first place, but we’ve started to see online passes affect single-player products like Kingdoms of Amalur and Batman: Arkham City. Consumers are starting to get punished simply by not getting their machines online.

I am not going to go into the many better ways that publishers could be coping with used sales, nor am I going to reiterate exactly how bad the online pass scam truly is. I’ve done that many times, all over the Internet. However, I want to make it clear that the situation affects many, many more people than have been represented lately. It’s not just about people getting mad that they can’t buy games used anymore. As a reviewer, I get most games free, so this affects me less than most, and I’M still pissed off by online passes. I am pissed off because they’re a bad idea, with many negative implications, and it sickens me how gleefully the white knights have glossed over those implications to focus on the ONE issue that they’re vaguely correct about.

Don’t pretend that all opponents of online passes are angry GameStop customers. They’re f**king not.

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36 Comments on Why Every Defense of Online Passes Has Been Bullsh**

Josh Schrier

On February 2, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Totally agree. This whole system adds such a hassle to what should be a simple thing. How far does this have to go before the industry loses casual consumers and drowns in its own greed.

Josh Wittenkeller

On February 2, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Great article, Jim! I completely agree: there’s no reason games should be making things overcomplicated with frustrating codes. That’s just punishing the consumer, not “rewarding” the one that is buying it new. I also find it very interesting that it’s all of a sudden becoming positive marketing PR to say “hey, look! We DON’T use online passes!”. It’s ridiculous that someone now has to point out that their game functions normally with no extra restrictions, but at least developers and publishers see there’s a problem in the first place now.

Even the games that award at-launch DLC (like Alamur/Batman) don’t make any sense to me. More often than not, that extra content is going to be something simply held back off the disk. Good DLC should be created based on consumer’s reaction to the original game, not something tacked on from the very beginning. For example, the Deus Ex DLC was created to resolve the legitimate complaint for a lack of stealth-based bosses. Whenever I’m offered “extra missions/weapons/etc” from day one for more of my money, it just reeks of cheap, artificial add-ons.

Ben Stewart

On February 2, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Great article, but I knew what I was going to get from it the moment I read the title because I’m a regular Jimquisition viewer.

It’s appalling that only the games industry has such a bull system on certain games that wants to kill off the amazing used games market. No other company in the world does this. If they did, it would be like buying a second hand car for £600, but realising that the seller has the steering wheel at ransom and wants another £100 out of you before you can use it properly. When you realise that as soon as you bought it, the car was legally yours and not the previous owners any more, you realise you’re being cheated and scammed.

Regardless, keep up the good work!

Shikaka

On February 2, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I agree wholeheartedly for a change. it’s interesting though, how many of these same arguments are the same as when debating against DRM and decreeing some of the merits of piracy.

Not inconveniencing your legitimate customers with DRM. Players who pirated the first game going on to buy the sequels etc.

Shikaka

On February 2, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Also, unfortunately as more and more things go digital, the world is gradually transitioning to the notion of software as a service — a product that you are merely purchasing a license to use from the publisher and not buying something that you own outright.

To play devils advocate for a moment, it’s strange that people get so up in arms about these online passes, yet don’t seem to care that all of the games they buy on Steam or Battle.net or Origin are not able to be re-sold when they are finished with them.

LTenhet

On February 2, 2012 at 5:52 pm

I don’t shop at Gamestop, I’m 90% a PC gamer, and I don’t buy used; but I’m pissed at this online pass stuff, especially with all the times Bonus stuff is MISPRINTED anyway it just causes so much hassle for the paying consumer that there’s no point. And I’m a strong proponent of when you put a game into your system (or computer) it should be a FULL product that WORKS.

Tiagonal

On February 2, 2012 at 8:04 pm

I’ve seen the power the ring beholds… all this rambling about DRM, is inherent and ignored in the clouds. The ring controls everyone, yet none shall complain. The power of the ring ensues. OnLive, my precious.. o.O

A(uro)N2

On February 2, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Why are these ING MORON producers trying to stop piracy? They dont understand that pirates dont buy games anyway, and in alot of cases, pirates DO BUY THE GAMES THEY PIRATE. (like me, i download a game, test it, then buy it)
So stupid ideas like online passes and DRM IS ING
ING
ING
STUPID
AND BAD FOR ING BUSINESS
YOU ING
ING MORONS
*brath*
I hope somebody important reads this o.o

Luther

On February 2, 2012 at 9:44 pm

I’m at the point right now where I don’t buy games for full price anymore, I seem to get screwed when ever I do so whats the point, if I could wait for the game to be made then I can wait a little longer for it to go on sale for cheap!

It’s time for the industry to stop cutting corners all the damn time and put out some real quality work like blizzard, don’t release a game tell it’s done, if you can’t do that then you are in the wrong industry.

No more game breaking bugs, ty drm, ty dlc, and ty online passes on release day and for pc start making your games support dx11 with high res textures, I have a pc not a console so treat me like a pc user.

ScrewTheConsole

On February 3, 2012 at 12:41 am

Publishers who wank over online passes who implement them in unnecessary situations which really dont need any online passes (ie Catwoman DLC on Arkham City). Or in general make people suffer passes should be put on Dogwatch – a TV show which could bring the situation to consumers thru national TV to light as well as the companies them selves when named. They basically give companies/organisations that give people several consumers problems a bad bad name. We have it over here in the UK I don’t know where else – but game publishers of their dodgy online pass systems should be up on their show!

ScrewTheConsole

On February 3, 2012 at 12:42 am

My bad its Watchdog not dogwatch haha!

Redmagpie

On February 3, 2012 at 3:00 am

The worst for me was Mass Effect 2 on PS3…. It contained the full ME2 content according to the box but then had the cheek to tell me (someone who doesn’t have online access for PS3) to go download a good 2-6 hours of content with an online pass DESPITE the PS3 copy being housed on a 24GB BluRay disc….. I paid for the game and then had to lug my PS3 over to my grandparent’s in order to download the rest of the game (AND the comic that was supposed to recap the plot)

However this hasn’t stopped me being extremely hyped for the 3rd game :D

lmfao

On February 3, 2012 at 6:19 am

ing dumb, the reason why publishers are using online passes is because they dont make nearly as much as lamestop or bestbuy when they sell a game.

online pass is money going directly to them.

Jim Sterling

On February 3, 2012 at 6:49 am

I love it when some genius responds to an article by making an argument that was already addressed by the entire subject of the article.

Vtepes2

On February 3, 2012 at 10:42 am

GREED…like making 500 million on a game isn’t enough…my $60 bucks isn’t good enough. No, now you got to pay to have internet service, then you have to pay microsoft to be on xbox live, then you got to pay Elite. So a $60 game is costing you about $180 to play….then they got the balls to say we don’t want people buying used b/c we aren’t getting our share….how about the player who puts down $60 and gets a piece of crap game that was put out half-assed..where’s our compensation…..can you see this….no…that was me giving all those game developers the finger….it’s us poor smucks that will suffer b/c we’re the ones that created the munster giving them the $500 million…and we won’t have any control once everything is digital content…THE ONLY WAY TO HURT THEM IS IN THE POCKET AND NOT BUY IT…REFUSE TO BUY ANYTHING THAT REQUIRES A CODE OR ONLINE TO PLAY…but they know use better then that, that we won’t ban together to boycott their products, that we have to have the new COD OR BF or whatever new “crack” their pushing. The gaming community needs to be organized into a lobbing group or union, an organized front that can communicate w/gamers as a whole, so we can act as one…perhaps Gamestop could be that facilitator…after all it seems that its the game developers that are head hunting them…is there a Martin Luther King for the gaming community out there? Anyone? Because in reality it is us that has the power not the developers our voice is our wallets and they live and die buy what we buy….but we are ind. and ind. are weak, but together we are strong, together we as gamers can dictate the future of gaming based on what we will accept and what we won’t.

Guest

On February 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm

First, I understand your frustration — no one really wants another barrier between the gamer and the game!

Second, you say that used game sales are GOOD for the user, because they buy new games — but what about all those used games that go back into circulation (thus the whole reason they are worth anything)…it’s nice that dude who sells games back can buy some new games, but the used game copies he’s returning are effectively going to replace OTHER new game sales, so it’s still a net loss for developers!

As far as impulse gambles, sure, I take your point that’s a nice to have — but I’m not under any illusion as a consumer that you guarantee that your game is perfect for me and you’re required to release a demo for me to evaluate. If I think the risk is too high, sure I’ll pass on the game. If it looks good, and I gamble and buy poorly, I’ll learn for next time — or lower my tolerance for risk in my purchases.

Your rant, while justified in the frustration against the current systems, lacks a working proposal for fixing the system. I’m aware you noted that up top, but without this suggestion it’s just a rant and opinion piece, when it could be so much more.

Wraith

On February 3, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Pffft. Same bull ridiculously naive rationale. Online passes are a response to theft from the publishers by gamers and companies such as Gamestop. That Gamestop can’t be prosecuted for what is basically copyright infringement is absolutely astonishing.

Jim, you’re a moron. The arguments you’ve assembled are absolute nonsense designed to justify the used games scam which Gamestop’s been running. If you actually stopped, took your head out of your ass and thought about the issues, you’d realise why it came to this.

I don’t blame the publishers at all. Personally, I’ve been wondering what took them so damn long.

Jim Sterling

On February 3, 2012 at 12:18 pm

All you said there is “Blah blah blah you’re stoopid because of some things.”

Great counterpoint, son.

Wraith

On February 3, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Yes Jimmy and all you said is – and yes I’m paraphrasing here -

* “WAAHHHHH, online passes are bad because people will have to play full price for games which means game sequels won’t sell as well (a mind-boggling leap of logic).

* WAAHHHH online gaming is so complicated! (I can memorise the stats of 32 different weapons but I can’t type in a ing code.).

* WAAAHHHHH it wastes my valuable time which I intend to use calling everyone else a on XBOX Live!!!

Basically if you could put together a coherent ing argument, you’d be in with a chance, but this tripe is just pitiful.

Jim Sterling

On February 3, 2012 at 1:32 pm

I did not realize they’d redefined “paraphrasing” as “making up because I don’t have anything valid to argue with.”

Wraith

On February 3, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Well if they had Jimmy, then your entire post and your little video could correctly be described as two giant examples of “paraphrasing”.

Brandon

On February 3, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I do understand the publisher/developer concern for getting their share. However, nothing pisses me off more than paying 60 bucks for a game that’s full of bugs, takes me 5 hours to beat, or otherwise sucks. I feel cheated. As a result, I stick to buying new games from only developers I tend to trust, and only experience OTHER developers via used games. If their game is good, I’m more than happy to drop money on DLC (another sore point for some, but I’m okay with it) or the almost inevitable sequel. In short, used games spur me into taking chances on new games. Take that away and you will inevitably lose my business.

This is also the reason that I rarely buy PC games anymore and have switched almost exclusively to console play – if I can’t unload my used games, return them for a refund if it’s of poor quality, or purchase a used game, I’m more likely to play the console version despite my reluctance to do so. I’m betting a lot of other people feel similarly and this is one factor on why PC gaming is tanking. I won’t take a chance and buy a buggy piece of crap that I can’t get rid of. Every other friggin’ product in the world has a return policy… except for games. At least you can sell movies to a second-hand retailer.

Now, a better solution would be making deals with retail outlets where a few dollars of every used game sale goes back to the publisher and developer. Considering that a used game over the life of a console could change hands multiple times, this recouping of costs would probably help them a lot and ultimately make everyone happy. Retailers, while taking a temporary loss, would be able to keep a market going for used games, gamers would continue to be able to purchase them, and publishers/devs would continue to profit from their work. Retailers might be resistant to this in the short term, but what’s the alternative? Online passes and other DRM like the rumored Nextbox ban on used games, which will sink their business anyway.

Jim Sterling

On February 3, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Wraith: Actually, I made arguments. I know it’s hard for you to recognize them, since you’re mentally incapable of forming one, so you’ll just have to trust me on it.

Beast

On February 3, 2012 at 9:46 pm

“Online passes are a response to theft from the publishers by gamers and companies such as Gamestop” – Some Mentally Handicapped Adolescent

Ok, walk me through this here.. Game publishers put out a game, which may or may not be worth $60 (Plus Tax), which is forked over by us (the consumer). The game therefore becomes that gamers property. A Couple months from then, he returns that game for Trade-In Credits, which can then be used by that gamer to purchase other games..

you following me?

The gamer essentially sold his game back to the store in return for a sort of credit, or Virtual Currency, similarly like Microsoft Points, etc. The Store is then able to Re-sell that game used… The Publisher loses money how???? The game was purchased BY the consumer, which in turn made it his own. When he trades that game back to the store, the Gamer who is returning the game is really losing money, seeing as he is getting less than what he Initially Invested.. He paid $60 for the game, money went to the publisher for making the game, the retailer for selling it.

That trade-in credit received is the consumers left-over investment in that game… They bought the game for $60, now they don’t wish to have it, so they trade it in. The Retailer is then selling the Traded-In Game, which in no way shape or form should be still considered as the publisher’s property..

It’s like a pawn shop.. Someone buys something, they use it, they return it for a fraction of the price.. The pawn shop can then make a profit off of that Persons item… not the manufacturer of that item..

Then there’s the, “well that trade-in credit is now ripping off other publishers”…. How? The Trade-In Credit is like a Currency.. It’s what’s left of a previous investment on a game, which they then sold it back to the retailer in exchange for some form of currency.. That being said, using that credit is the same as using real money..

If you bought a game with money, then returned it and received 500 Microsoft points, that’s the SAME thing as getting 500 Microsoft Points worth in Money(what, $5?). You could then use those Microsoft Points to buy other games.. Nobody would have a problem with that though…….

Online Codes is nothing but a petty excuse for publisher’s to want to nickel n’ dime you, and to make sure that you are “paying them for what is theirs”. Used Games WERE bought New, and if they were bought, the publisher has already been paid for that copy of the game, and has no control over a company selling a consumer’s property

Bill

On February 4, 2012 at 3:34 am

Just a comment or two both for and against.

I used to pirate games. A LOT. Back in the day my crew and I would hold a LAN party every other weekend or so and not one of us paid a cent for any of the games we played except in rare situations. Between the lot of us we would frequently download games totaling thousands of dollars ($50 per game times 8-20 people times 4-5 games per party) and generally didn’t bother buying any of them after the fact. Most of us (myself included) got out of the habit by the time we got out of high school but when I think of the amount of money that we “owed” the companies in question, well…it’s pretty staggering. Online codes wouldn’t have stoppped us but good DRM properly implemented would at least have slowed us down enough to convince us to buy a game or two now and then. ;)

Now, with that being said DRM still isn’t being done right – it never has and it probably never will. This is partly why Steam is bending the rest of the industry over a chair but more on THAT later. When DRM makes it a pain in the ass to spend my money I find another place to spend it. I work 60 weeks between two jobs and am trying to take care of a sick friend, my family’s house and (sometimes) my self. If it takes too long to get what I paid for there’s no incentive – I actually own over a dozen games that I haven’t had time to play so it’s no skin off my back if I don’t get to play games when they’re still “relevent” – let’s face it, no game in the last 5 years has been so amazing that my quality of life was reduced by not playing it. Besides, I would basically have to be mentally damaged to pay anything more than $20 for any XBOX 360 game ever – anything worth playing will get it’s own GOTY / Platinum edition for $19.99 sooner or later and since I don’t have time to play it NOW there’s no point in buying games when they come out – I still buy new, I still don’t pirate, I still support the develpoer’s right to make money. I just don’t give them MY money if it’s going to be a pain in the ass.

Last point, a partial solution / rant / point worth mentioning: Steam does it right. For all you console-only types, a quick review – you download the Steam client, set up a free Steam account, purchase, install and play games through the client and have complete and total access to all of your games literally any time and place that you have an internet connection. You could put Steam on every computer in the world and install all of your games on every computer and hey wouldn’t really care because only one computer can be logged in to your account at a time. Is there potential for abuse? Sure. The actual monetary cost to Valve? Minimal – since you can’t both be playing (anything) at the same time very few people will share a Steam account. DRM is completely irrelevant because you HAVE to install and play through the client(which is extremely minimilist and unobtrusive if you tell it to be). You never need to touch physical media and can redownload an unlimited number of times. You can easily purchase and install DLC and peruse Steam’s store which is easier and better looknig than anythnig any publisher has done so far(EA, I’m glaring at you.) And the icing on the cake? Steam has ferequent sales whereby games can be 15-80% off – even new games. Want to pick up a copy of something older for nostalgia’s sake? $2.50 and you can own a copy that doesn’t need a disc, is already fully updated/patched and will alays be there for you. Yes, it requires an internet connection that many people don’t have but this model could be reproduced on consoles VERY easily and would work to everyone’s advantage.

Now that that’s over and done with, let the flame wars be renewed! My trolli-I mean, work is done here!

:p

The Divine Holy Turd

On February 4, 2012 at 7:34 am

You’ve listed a bunch of benefits to the gaming community, to gamers with less money to spend, and also how even developer benefit when these gamers buy the sequels. So your saying perhaps developers should think of the loss of sales caused by the used game market as an investment in future titles? For the sake of argument lets say this is indeed what happens. There are two problems: 1) studios often live and die from project to project – if Game I doesn’t sell, there’s a good chance there will not be a Game II, and 2) we don’t know the rate of return on that investment – if a loss of, say, 25% of the market to used games does not result in at least 25% greater sales on the next game (again, assuming there is a next game) then developers are in trouble. Ok, but what about the community benefits you listed then? True, these are benefits. But why is it the developers’ responsibility to subsidize them?

olanmills

On February 4, 2012 at 6:57 pm

I’m a spinelessly complacent fool.

Why are you comparing game purchase to streaming movies and the like? Those are purchases/subscriptions with which you have even less usage rights than when you buy a game (new or used).

The only sort of killer point you have is #3. Online passcodes (and really they’re not that different from age-old registration keys) incovencience users. I’ll agree with you there. I wasn’t too happy about Uplay when I started playing the latest Driver.

Point #1 not clearly damning. You need evidence to support it. You said that some people trade in used games to buy new games. The only reason publishers/devs would care about that is due to sales. So what I think you’re saying is that more new games are sold than otherwise would because people can trade in games for credit. I understand that you are also saying that online passcodes will cause trade-in value to drop, which will effect the decision to trade in and the amount of money earned to buy new games. For this point to be convincing, you have to show that
new game sales when a trade-in/used game system is available
>
new game sales when such a system is not available

Surely, in the extreme case, if there are no used games available, then there are at least some people who, on some occasions, would buy a new game when they would have otherwise bought it used if it was available?

It is not clear what is best for publishers, and as someone mentioned, developers can sometimes be very dependent on the game sales of their most recent release.

Point #2 is somewhat fair. Adding another feature to the system also means you’re adding something than can and will go wrong. But that’s tre of anything. So if publishers find value in this online pass code system, and they think that value is worth the risk of whatever potential problems that might arise, then they’re going to do it.

GW

On February 4, 2012 at 11:34 pm

What gets me in all this is the “well, they don’t count” treatment of folks who have NO broadband access or online accounts (which, as noted is a LOT more than every publisher out there is willing to admit). Sure, Steam is great, but it’s useless if you’re stuck with limited bandwidth (or worse, a dial-up connection).

Additionally, it almost makes no sense to buy some new retail titles because if they do well enough, you’ll get a Game of the Year edition later on that’s a better deal (barring stupidity like an online pass that blocks you from getting that extra content).

Of course, this idea of packing reissues with everything will come to an end simply because of the enforced evolution that doesn’t at all take into account that not EVERY gamer is as up to speed as any publisher or developer thinks…

Omni461

On February 5, 2012 at 5:19 am

Gaming is my personal hobby, if I don’t have enough money to buy a $60 game, then I simply do not buy it. If a game has any form of a one time use pass of any kind, I do not buy it. Period.

There have been many games I wanted to buy that had annoying online passes. Because of those passes and my dislike of them, I completely skipped that game. (Take BF3 for instance. I own and love BFBC 1 & 2, both of which were purchased new) With so many great games it was not difficult to find another $60 game to spend my money on. Which in this case turned out to be Skyrim.

In the end it was their loss, not mine. If more of you gamers out there did the same, in a few months we might not have to be bothered by this “one time use pass” inconvenience anymore.

As consumers, what is successful and what ultimately fails in our gaming market is completely up to us. Lets band together and show these companies that we will no longer be supporting any of their titles, which make use of this, or any similar technology.

Lets hit them where it hurts most, their bottom line.

Ron Whitaker

On February 6, 2012 at 6:17 am

@Wraith: Here’s a question for you: Let’s take GameStop out of the equation for a minute. If GameStop wasn’t around, and people were selling their games on eBay to raise money, would you have the same opinion? How about if I was selling movies that I bought and didn’t want anymore to raise funds to buy newer movies? Maybe I want to sell a book that I read to buy another book. Would you have the same objections to those practices, and would you call me a thief?

Prior to GameStop’s existence, would you have been in favor of prosecuting pawn shop owners, people having a yard sale, or a college kid selling his PlayStation to make some extra cash?

All of these things are exactly the same in principle as what GameStop does. It’s become fashionable to hate on GameStop in recent years, and sometimes they deserve it. However, hating on them for this is not only intellectually dishonest, it’s flat out wrong.

Luther

On February 6, 2012 at 11:55 am

@Beast
The point was someone paid 60 dollars for a product, then traded it in for store credit which is fine but the kicker is when the next customer walks in the door and he see’s a used copy and a brand new copy sitting next to one another the chances of him picking up the used over the new is really high when you start looking at the price.

Buy New for 60 dollars or buy used for 39.99? once that New copy starts jumping around to other people it only gives money back to gamestop.

Also don’t forget this isn’t only gamestop that’s doing this one of the main reasons these things started happening is because of video game renting sites like gamefly which gets the latest titles into peoples hands for a small monthly fee, they don’t give back to the gaming community’s at all, so in my opinion there far more damaging then lamestop or any used game seller im aware of.

Brad

On February 7, 2012 at 8:51 am

@Ron: I believe his argument is based strictly on the current laws on the books, which, as I understand them, assumes that any second-hand selling of a creative work is thefts or pretty close to it.

That said, just because a law is on the books doesn’t make it just. Much of what we’ve been seeing from game, film, and tv studios in the past ten years or so is an attempt to push unjust laws through so that they can “prevent theft” when, in fact, they are attempting to crack down on behaviors that have been considered normal up until now.

Case in point: Who here has put a cassette tape into a radio and recorded music from the radio? If you have done this, that’s technically copyright infringement. However, it has been considered normal behavior by society to do this up until a few years (10-ish) ago.

Many of the restrictions that the gaming industry is trying to place upon gamers are restrictions that, as said, are not being used by any other industry in the country (perhaps the world). For instance, if I were to buy a car, and a few years later sell it, the automotive industry isn’t asking for it’s cut. Same with film, music, tv.

Now, inevitably this comparison is going to draw fire from those that support the online passes. You know who you are. You’re going to say,”Games aren’t cars or movies or music, etc,” as though games are the only creative works that could possibly exist. The truth is that ANY creative work, regardless of source, is protected by law, and if we were to research these laws, we would no doubt find some that would be considered unjust in a saner time. I’m quite certain that many of the people reading this article and comments now are against SOPA or anything remotely like it. I’m sure that many of us who were against SOPA would agree that SOPA itself was unjust, even though the desire to stop piracy itself was a just aspiration.

The methods employed by the games industry, and, to a lesser extent, the film, tv, and music industries, in order to fight theft and piracy are the result of a type of fanaticism. This fanaticism, like most types of fanaticism, usually results in the harm of other, innocent people in order to pursue a specific goal. As a result, we end up with draconian DRM schemes and SOPA, methods which, being made with the best intentions in mind (or perhaps not), are often too dangerous to be considered logically. To borrow someone else’s expression: The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

In short, I agree with Jim’s rant completely, and I believe that many of the methods used by the games industry are getting ever more ridiculous. I also agree that gamers need to start rallying around the idea of hitting the games industry where it hurts and boycott their products. Additionally, I think ScrewTheConsole’s suggestion was a sound one: We need a show like Watchdog here in America to help fix these problems.

Ron Whitaker

On February 8, 2012 at 5:52 am

@Brad: But see, that’s the issue. Current law DOESN’T assume that selling a creative work second-hand is theft. If I buy a DVD, no one complains when I sell it, and the MPAA, as bad as they are, doesn’t expect a cut of the money. Neither does Warner Bros or whoever made the film. Same thing goes for selling a CD, a book, a painting, or anything else. The game industry is standing alone in claiming that they have some sort of divine right to the money being spent on gaming, regardless of the source, who owns the product, or anything else.

Of course, if they’re successful, you can expect the other industries to fall right into line behind them.

Brad

On February 8, 2012 at 2:43 pm

@Ron: I just double checked. My apologies. You’re right. I was recalling the “no game returns” law and I extrapolated that to include the other industries.

But you’re absolutely right. The games industry is trying to push all sorts of crap to get you to pay more for your games, as well as having you jump through the required hoops to play those games.

If this keeps up, the games industry is going to eventually require that all gamers pay $50-$60 to purchase the game, plus an additional $10-$20 just to purchase the key to play it. I’ve read somewhere that in some parts of the world gamers are having to pay a total of $100+ just to play a single game (taking into account internet fees, a some other costs).

The way I see it is that the games industry itself is attempting to mimic the tabletop gaming industry in that several of the higher profile tabletop games require you to purchase a $50+ core rulebook followed by up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars of extra purchases just to be able to play. In this specific example, I am referring to the Warhammer games specifically. Not all tabletop games are that expensive. The argument many Warhammer fans throw around is that if more people would purchase the gaming products brand new, the price would go down on the products themselves. I’m sorry, but everything I understand from economics suggests that the price goes up as the supply goes down, not the other way around.

Now, it seems, the PC and console games industry seems to be adopting the tabletop gaming business model, namely that the consumer should be grateful that the game companies aren’t charging more and that more people should be paying for brand new games rather than purchase used games. Eventually, someone is going to use the same argument: “If you bought new, the price would go down.”

Scott

On February 14, 2012 at 12:24 pm

You are totally wrong Jim. Used stores like Gamestop are killing the industry and here’s why. As most people know by the sales figures, only a select few franchises earn the mega bucks from gamers. Madden, Call of Duty, and similar franchises. Now recently we had THQ go on record after their poor sales figures and come out and say that they wanted to focus on the IP’s that sold well only. In other words, all we’ll get is more of the same stuff. Video games won’t evolve when it’s not feasible to do so. Kingdoms of Almur is a bit of a risk. If it bombs, you think they’ll make another? Of course not. Not when COD and Madden crank out millions yearly on each franchise. Gamestop and companies like it hurt the market as video stores have done for years. I feel that demos are the way to go, but used/rentals only hurt the industry.

The people that buy new games deserve the bonuses like the pre-orders and online content. Those that want to play used games don’t deserve the same experience. I want my games to evolve and get better. We have Hollywood budgets now for video games. Look at Mass Effect 3 and all those celebrities. Or Uncharted with it’s 50gig of content plus those real motion performances by the cast. It’s not cheap, yet this truth is never explored. If you’re poor or can’t pay $10.00, play the old COD or Madden, you clearly don’t need a new one.

MrPointyHeads

On July 14, 2012 at 1:26 am

I completely agree with what’s been said in this article! I don know if anywhere else is doing this but in the UK you can now buy a new game cheaper than a used! I bought Max Payne 3 yesterday and brand new it was £29.99, second hand was £38.00! I know it doesn’t use an online pass to play online but this price change system only came into effect after the introduction of online passes!
That just shows what online passes have done to the market.
Its a ridiculous system and should be gotten rid of.