Friday, December 10, 2010

DLC - Force for Good or Force for Evil?

A few e-mails I have received in response to my interview on Epic Battle Axe 098 focus on DLC as a negative, or a money grab by publishers. Frankly, I have a really hard time feeling the pain.

Rick wrote:

Since DLC came into our lives, gamer life has been in some sort off turmoil. Nowadays you never know if a game has that full value of an entertaining compelling story that it follows through till the end. Game developers too gladly release DLC with the attachment of “full gaming experience” and tie- in the story that’s not embedded in the game itself on release.

We pay a lot off money on release to see what happens to our favourite characters, only to find out that the story just doesn’t end there.

Compare today's games to the games developers worked on just six years ago when I was at Naughty Dog and the original XBox and PS2 were on the shelf. The scope and scale is almost incomparable! Budgets have doubled at minimum, tripling or more in many cases. Teams have doubled, and outsourcing is a must to keep up with production needs. Projects are taking far longer to complete. Yet the price on the shelf is roughly the same. Taking inflation into account, games may actually be cheaper!

I also fail to see any evidence that developers are removing content from the games they release in order to sell it later. DLC currently sells to a small subset of the gamers playing the full game. To risk bad reviews, a feeling unfulfilled expectations, or other negative response to the full game because important parts of the game were removed would be a bad strategy. It simply isn't being done.

To my knowledge, most DLC content is created after finishing the full game. In other words, if the developers were including the DLC, the games might have to be delayed. If there weren't a possibility of increased revenue from DLC it wouldn't be rolled into the game... it simply wouldn't be done.

Admittedly, there is certainly some strategy being deployed in creating plot "holes" and other opportunities to work the DLC into the game's universe. But again, I don't see this as a strategy to decrease the value proposition of the full game so much as create an opportunity for the DLC to make sense in the universe the game plays in. "I didn't get the full story" is about as fair a complaint for DLC as it is for sequels. The Death Star was destroyed, how dare George Lucas build it again... over 2 movies no less... and make me pay for two more tickets to get the complete story!

And there are cases of truly inspired DLC that obviously are wholly new experiences. I submit the Red Dead Redemption's Zombie expansion as an example of this.

As I responded to Rick:

DLC itself is not causing the problem. Certainly we can imagine a world in which every game fully completes the story and DLC is just added on top. Think the Zombie addition to Red Dead Redemption. That was clearly an optional add-on and not a plot addition. So if DLC is being abused then that is a decision of the game creators. In this case you are correct that gamer revolt (not buying DLC) is a fair response. I am pro-market. If you feel you are being ripped off, then don't buy. At the price offered, I thought the Zombie addition to Red Dead was a GREAT deal, and a wonderful way to get more of a game I loved.

I don't think on average Games are being shortened by DLC. If anything, games are getting bigger, longer, and fuller. You now often get a full 1 player game, multiplayer, and co-op for a single price. That almost NEVER happened in the old days. Having said that, development times are getting longer. So Naughty Dog used to be able to put out a game a year during Crash. Then Jak became a 2 year production. Though after I left Naughty Dog remained one of the most efficient devs out there, maintaining 2 year cycles, most other teams (especially Take 2 and RockStar) moved to 3 year or more cycles. As a fan of a game it sucks to wait 3 years for a sequel. DLC keeps the game fresh during that time. Without DLC, single team development (not like COD with multiple teams working on every other project) becomes a waiting game.

If you don't like DLC, don't buy it. But I fail to understand the agony.



  1. Hi Jason. I really enjoyed your interview @ EBA and I'm really glad some people, like yourself, have a very sober point of view on the topic of DLC. Yet, there are some caveats to this issue.

    I remember sitting down to play one of my first PS games, Crash Bandicoot 2 and enjoying it a lot. It was a fun little game that I still put into my PS2 machine (and to this day, I still think the best Crash game). Anyway, the game wasn't just about the content. It was about having fun and the fact that the game can stand up to the games of the current generation is a testament to you (and your team's hard work). Today, I feel like some games are manufactured like on treadmill. There are many examples of this and thus people might feel they are just getting bled for their money.

    In general, I love the idea of DLC. I have bought several and enjoyed them a lot. I never felt I was being bled for money or purchasing something, which was taken out of the core experience. However, there is one game, which HAS taken out core gameplay at the expense of the players: Mafia II.

    I am from the Slovak Republic and when the first Mafia game came out, Many Slovaks and Czechs were fairly proud of having a triple-A developer (Illussion Softworks), which was publishing on the PC, Xbox and PS2. Well, that was 2002/2003. It wasn't until this year that we finally got Mafia II, and oh boy were we disappointed. The game was just a linear progression of missions, which took about 8 hours to complete on Hard difficulty. New characters were being introduced in almost every missions and often, the player never revisited in the storyline. If the player approached one of these characters, the NPC would just said he had no missions available. The same goes for the telephones in all the apartments. There's obviously an interface to call people but there's nobody to call.

    In a recent open panel at a small game convention here in Slovakia (NextGen expo), one of the developers mentioned, they had been working for several years on a sequel with the Criterion's RenderWare; however, when Criterion was purchased by EA, they lost the rights and had to restart from beginning with a new engine. It wasn't clear why they lost the rights; however, at that time they also had to deal with the upcoming Xbox 360 and PS3, which RenderWare wasn't optimized for. I asked why they didn't license the Unreal Engine and he said there was a fear of losing the rights like with RenderWare.

    In conclusion, I understand that 2K took a huge bet by funding a really complicated project and financing it for a long time. I also really appreciate that they managed to sell an actual product. I enjoyed about 2 hours of those 8 hours (driving around the city) I spent playing the game; however, by the end I felt cheated. I felt like I got an unfinished product. If the game wasn't released when it wasn't, I probably wouldn't have played it at all ... but yet, I still feel cheated :(

  2. Marcel,

    Thanks for the Crash Support! I loved working on those games and am always happy to hear from someone who enjoyed them.

    With regards to Mafia II, I appreciate your frustration. I have not played the game, but I understand that your displeasure is shared by many (if not most) people who have played it.

    Game making is hard work. And there are a lot of uncontrollable variables. It sounds like the development team got very unlucky with regards to their engine license. Now that Mafia II is behind them they have a clean slate. I wish them the best going forward.

    I think there are more efficient pricing mechanisms that benefit gamers and creators, but there will always be moments in which the player holds their noses and feels like they were taken - even if they have only invested time, and haven't spent any money!

    We would all like to see that happen less.


  3. Very well written Jason!! I agree game development has become far more expensive and requires more resources to complete.

    I'm also a huge fan of the Crash Bandicoot games from the Playstation some of my all-time favorites. I also would agree DLC has extended many of my favorite games such as Mass Effect 2 and Alan Wake with longer story and more overall content to experience.

    There is some DLC that is better than others but as you mentioned at the end of the day you decide whether to buy it or not.

    Thanks for the great games at Naughty Dog!!

  4. Dakinggamer

    Thanks for your support!


  5. Mr. Rubin I'm a Crash Bandicoot fan, and I really like the first 4 game that you and Naughty Dog developed.
    I want to ask you what do you think about the Crash bandicoot games after you sold the rights?

  6. Hi Jason,

    Big fan here. Crash Bandicoot was a fantastic game, and Jak and Daxter blew me away on so many levels. I was all over the recent blogposts that you and Andy did over on his blog.

    I only just recently listened to the Epic Battle Axe podcast, and your thoughts are very well thought out and insightful. So I was hoping I could pick your brains on 2 topics: DLC and Digital Distribution.

    DLC - I definitely agree with you on the fact that DLC is adding so much more, especially since games are much bigger, offer far more replayability and DLC helps keep the disc in the console longer. Red Dead Redemption lived in my PS3 for about 2 months, and then it lived in there for about a bother 2 months when the Undead Nightmare Pack came out. So I definitely agree about DLC in that respect.

    What I wanted to know is what your opinion on on Console exclusive content? Stuff like playing as the Joker on the PS3 only with Arkham Asylum. How CoD and Fallout release their DLC a month before PS3 and PC? Instead of MS and Sony trying to grab exclusives, I feel more and more that we are heading towards the path that there will be 2 types of games - console exclusives that are generally developed by first party studios, and multiplatform titles that will have some DLC tied to a particular platform in a specific way. Your thoughts?

    Secondly, Digital Distribution. I agree with your thoughts on the podcast that the next generation (next next gen, or whatever they call it) of consoles will be when Sony and MS really start to make the push for PSN and XBLM and will likely take over retail sales, but will Digital Distribution ever fully take over and kill off the disc? For me, I always prefer to have a physical copy. One that I have to keep, to show off in my collection (I have all the Naughty Dog games and a sweet Jak II statue :). But at the same time, I haven't bought a PC game in over 5 years. Steam is just so easy, so manageable and convenient, but there is the knowledge that I'm not actually buying those games: I'm buying the right to play them. If for some reason my Steam account is banned, I lose all my games. But are they my games? I wouldn't say they are. So I feel we are starting to head towards a future where retail discs die out, and we'll have subscriptions, similar to OnLive (minus the play over the internet thing). And this is a future I really don't like. I want to own my games. *I* want to own it. I want dust building up on its case, I want to lend it to my friend if he/she wants to try it out, I want to be the physical owner of it. Anyway. Rant over. What do you personally prefer, a digital game or a case, manual and disc? Do you think subscriptions will take over the model for digital distribution?

    I'd love to hear what you say. Also, because you very clearly voice out your thoughts and present a fairly compelling argument, you should totally do an Irrational Interviews podcast with Ken Levine. That, I'd love to hear!



  7. Randeep,

    Thanks for your support!

    I don't know what to say about console specific content. While I certainly understand the eco-system, and how the publishers and console manufacturers use it in trade, I don't know that it makes much of a difference in the grander scheme of things for gamers. It seems like more inefficiency is caused by the lack of porting good content to all available platforms than is offset by the "decision changer" in terms of purchasing one console or the other. And in cases when both major platforms get their own exclusive content it seems like a distinction without a difference. In any event, it is well within the rights of the publishers and hardware manufacturers to keep negotiating console specific content, so I imagine that it will continue to happen whether it makes real sense or not.

    In the long run that the disc will indeed be phased out. The Disk Drive went. The CD/DVD drive is on the way out (look at the latest Mac Airs). In the "long run" the Console disc will die. I cannot predict when this will happen, it could be a decade or more, but I am comfortable saying that it will.

    I understand your fears and concerns regarding digital downloads vs. hard copies as well. There will always be pros and cons associated with changes in distribution.

    I am old enough to remember having the same type of discussions with people who couldn't imagine living without cartridges. Their arguments most often included the better "weight and feel" of cartridges, the fact that the boxes could be read better when stacked vertically (thickness), and the fact that they couldn't scratch. I know this sounds silly now, but back then it was all important to them.

    The scratching commentary regarding CD's is relevant here. Digital downloads don't scratch. Nor can they be stolen by a burglar. My entire CD and game collection was stolen in college. I haven't forgotten the pain of paying to replace them.

    Your fears about distributors going out of business are fair. But I believe that is less likely than the cumulative odds of flood, fire, theft, scratching, loss, angry girlfriends, dogs, etc. on your hard copy collection. And I think things can be done to make the digital stores even safer for customers in the long run.

    And in the long run, I think digital distribution will allow different pricing platforms that make "loaning" a thing of the past. Ownership of titles will move to ownership of your characters and personal content. You would never loan someone Farmville because they can just play it for free. Nor would you loan Angry Birds. They can download the free copy, and buy the ad-free version if they like. There is no reason to believe that a lot of game content won't go in similar directions. When distribution becomes next to free (bandwidth costs alone), publishers will be more willing to give players a chance to taste the games before buying. So loaning won't matter.

    We all suffer from what economists call Familiarity Bias: a strong tendency to prefer what we know. The arguments that you are making are all against change and new, unknown things. There ARE arguments in favor of change, like the fact that digital downloads can't be broken or stolen, or that games might become easier to try for free, but they are harder for us to imagine and believe in because we have little experience with a future that doesn't exist yet.

    There were people just about marching in the street in defense of the record against the tape and CD. Sure, you may know someone that uses records still, but you know they are just old school (and a little crazy - the things hiss like a gas leak). In the same way, you might miss the Disc when it goes, and fight for it to stay. But your kids won't care, won't miss the disc, and will likely think we were all crazy for driving somewhere to get a copy of what can be played immediately from the comfort of home.


  8. Hi Jason

    I also love the crash games and recently bought them again on PSN store along with the jak and daxter trilogy, about the DLC and saying developers release DLC after the game has released, there are a few developers who have DLC on the store before the game even hits the shelf, I also feel like for games like tiger woods selling clubs and stuff and other bits should already have been in the game, I think that dlc was on store almost straight after tiger woods released, its as if EA are just wanting to make more money off the game, but then you have like what you said rockstar and the undead addon now that I agree with, thats how addon content should be, but there is lots of DLC I dont agree with that could have been in the game from launch but is on the store to make the company extra money


  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Lisa,

    I understand your frustration. Again, I think the problem is one caused by being caught transition and inexperience, not by the mal intentions that people read into the situation. Perhaps in the long run the entire game of Tiger Woods will be free, and you can buy only the green time and equipment you want. Kind of like real life.


  11. Hi again Jason

    yea I guess thats possible in the future with golf games, pricing would have to be right for that to work tho. I noticed something else you hit on that was about, disc's eventualy phazing out, yes a thief can steal all your CD's DVD's etc, but its much easier for a thief to pick up your console and walk out of the door with everything you bought inside it on your HDD, films games everything, Im also a victim of disc theft and even console theft, we've had a PS2 stolen and a PS3 stolen, both were launch models too and all the games stolen, luckily we only had 1 dlc game on the PS3 at that time and we weren't able to get it back when we got a new PS3 as the account had been hijacked passwords changed etc, I believe we should be making it harder for thiefs to get to our content, I also believe that we should be given the option to have a hard copy of a game, Id rather be able to see and touch what ive bought, having a stack of games and a console is much harder to steal than just the console alone with everything you've bought downloaded on to it :/

    As for pricing im seeing games on the store for £50 yet theyre £37.99 in the high street and come with a box, manual and the disc itself, if they want digital distribution to do well they first need to sort the pricing out, digital content should be less since your not getting the physical items that you do on the highstreet, and I dont need to leave my home to get a hard copy either I can order online for delivery, so there isnt much difference there, you just get the game quicker downloading it thats the only benefit aside from digital download content not being able to be scratched like you said, Id still rather own the hard copy, but once digital distribution does take over that will spell the end of special collectors editions of games where you get collectors items, DLC cant realy be classed as collectors items physical items you can touch and hold and keep in your home are collectors items, like stamps and coins. Anyway I think I went on too long about this :D


  12. Hi

    I thought I'd better try explain the point I'm trying to put accross, most game players are also collectors, they collect games and have them on display and also collect items associated with the games they buy, like uncharted 3 collectors edition for example, you got a treasure chest and some other things, all this will be lost to digital distribution of games the same for films and music we will all be buying vitrtual media not real media we can put on display in our homes, virtual media also takes away the fun of going out and buying a game or film, im not saying virtual media is bad I just think people should still be given the option in the future to either own a hard copy or download a virtual copy. I dont find downloading a game fun, I usualy go off and do something else if I download a game, there is a feeling of emptyness too since you cant pick up the box for that game or flick through the manual, I honestly dont think a digital distribution only world is the right choice for the future I think its going to put alot of people off buying games and films especialy those who like I said are collectors, anyway I wish you well in the future im enjoying playing your games again thnx for giving me the best platforming experience, its a shame platformers arent around now as those were my fave genre of game.


  13. Lisa,

    I feel your frustrations with the change from physical to digital, but I don't see the issues you are bringing up as strong arguments against it.

    I have been here before. I watched the transition from Cartridge to CD in the mid '90's and heard many of the same type, if not the exact same arguments back then. The arguments were heart felt and numerous: Cd's scratch, Cartridges are forever, I collect Cartridges and CD's are harder to display, Cartridges feel more solid, Cartridges boot instantly, Cartridges have more residual value, etc. These statements may seem antiquated now, but back then, the people saying it felt as strongly as you do.

    As it was back then, part of the problem is simply misunderstanding exactly what the change brings.

    For example, you are applying old experience to a new world when you suggest that running away with your console would lead to a loss of digital games. Quite the opposite is true. Just as losing your kindle doesn't mean losing your digital books, losing a console would mean nothing more than you have lost a console. All your digital games would still be yours to re-download. We have left the days of losing game saves in the past. The cloud spares us this frustration. The same is true of digital downloads. This is a big win for digital over physical.

    The "slow download" is also a past experience being projected on the future. Besides rapidly increasing broadband speeds, preloading big titles or games you might like to buy (itunes genius for games), and changing development (download a part of the game to start playing) easily solve this problem. I'll race you: My new MW4 was downloaded a week ago but unlocks the moment the game launches. You have to be inline at the store at midnight...

    The best argument you have made is the lack of collectability. However, I would disagree that there is no value in a digital collection. I would point out that this argument has already kind of been disproven in music and movies.

    But I too would like to collect something related to my favorite games.

    So I suggest that the publishers continue to make physical goods to collect. Perhaps that continues to be a disc. But I think they can do better. I'd rather have an action figure or some other collectable. Maybe that's just me.

  14. Hi

    Thnx for your reply again, just a few things I wanted to say, you said "My new MW4 was downloaded a week ago but unlocks the moment the game launches. You have to be inline at the store at midnight..." I can reply in 2 ways to this, the first: I will be inline at midnight meeting new people and having fun. you should come down here, I think the developer is showing up to sign some copies for us" The other way is: I pre-ordered the game it should arrive a day early since they need to make sure the game arrives on time for launch"I always recieve games a day early its actualy very rare I get a game the day of launch :/ so I am actualy playing games before launch day and as for the arguments between 2 hard copy mediums (cartridge/CD) thats different to the transition between a hard copy and a virtual one that after purchase can leave you feeling short changed since you dont have anything physical to show for the money you spent, you just payed out £50 for something that you cant touch or put on display kinda like buying a virtual antique and only being able to view it online :/ I know what you mean though about past transitions, but those have all been hard copy transitions we have always bought a medium we keep at home, not something invisible stored on a HDD


  15. Hi

    I forgot to mention yesterday, when you buy digital media on the store shouldnt that media then belong to you to trade or sell to someone else? I dont seem to be able to see any trade options or give away option or sell option, when you buy a house or a car are you expected to keep those for the rest of your life and just buy another car or house if you get bored of the one you have? since there are no trade options that to me seems like you dont actualy own what you bought, its more like you rented the game for a 1 off fee which is the actual price of the game, I would rather buy a game I know I can give away or sell to someone who is less fortunate than me, not everyone can afford full priced games, ive seen kids taking up to 3 games into game stores to trade just so they can get one of the latest games out, with digital distribution you either have to have the money to buy (rent) it or do without, this is certainly going to hinder sales of new games, not everyone has deep pockets, kids, students, low income families etc... with digital distribution its like trading has become a thing of the past, trading has been around for centuries, buying a new car or house most people sell their old one to put the money towards buying a new home or car, this is the same with most things, kids trade their games so they can get new games, its like were being told your not allowed to sell your games which is wrong, you bought those games they belong to you, your probably going to say something like well selling on your games doesnt make the developer any money, which yes thats true but the same applies to everything that people buy and sell.

    Look at the indistry today compaired to the 80's obviosly games have become more popular and still growing, I dont believe game developers dont make enough money when they sell multi million copies, look back at yourself when you made way of the warrior were you as rich then as you are now? people have been trading your games too did it realy effect you? maybe we should all stop selling our cars onto other people since it will effect the car manufacturers :/

    Anyway I dont think there is much more for me to say on this subject, so i'll leave you to enjoy your early ritirement out of the gaming industry, all the best.


  16. Lisa,

    Again, these are arguments based on your past, not arguments based on what is best blind to personal experience.

    If you get your games a day early, then clearly a digital copy could be deliverable a day early if the publisher so desired. To argue that going to a store could ever be faster than digital distribution is silly. The day the game is gold mastered it can be delivered digitally. A disc takes printing time and shipping time. Clearly, digital distribution is faster and more efficient.

    As for resale, this is a pricing issue, not an inherent right of a purchaser. There is actually a specific law that allows resale, not a global truth. You can learn about it here:

    The problem with the first sale argument "as an inherent right" is that it is tied to a physical good. No physical good, no first sale doctrine. That means that a digital copy doesn't need to allow itself to be resold. The option is there, but the publisher makes the final decision, not the user. More often than not, the decision by publishers in music, movies, books, and games has been to disallow resale of digital copies.

    While I agree that prices should come down on games to offset the loss of resale, I do not follow the "end of world" argument that many make. Can you resell your itunes library? Can you resell your kindle books? Can you resell your Zune movies? The world has not ended, but prices did come down. I believe this is where we end up in the console game industry as well.

    Just look at Zynga. It is a larger company than EA by market value, and not a single of its games are boxed or resold. Personally, I am not a big fan of Zynga's current game offering, but let's face it, the distribution methodology isn't exactly killing their business.

    Again, let's separate the past from the reality. The reality is that digital distribution already works in every single media type including games. The apocalyptic fear of console gamers just isn't born out by the day to day reality.

    You have a right to your opinion about what is or isn't a better publishing and distribution experience for the user. I can disagree, but you be right.

    As for industry profitability, I can difinitively say you are wrong. The major publishers have laid off THOUSANDS of console developers in the last few years. You can check the press releases that back this statement up. While a few games at the top are doing better, the vast majority of games have done worse.

    Two billion dollars of games are resold by GameStop alone every year. While that may be convenient for gamers, it is two billion dollars of lost revenue for publishers. This is a fact.

    The industry is growing, as you said. But the vast majority of this growth has come from mobile and casual - both digitally distributed. Console game sales are DOWN year on year for the past few years. This destruction of console game revenue caused the layoffs I mentioned.

    Whether or not this lost revenue can be tied to the boxed distribution model can be argued. I believe it did.

  17. Hi

    sorry I couldnt resist, whatever ive said in your blog please dont think im pointing the finger at anyone its just what I believe and how im trying to explain my beliefs, I only mentioned you in my post as an example nothing else, your still my fave developer and I was quite sad to hear you and Andy had left naughty dog, but anyway...

    How come the gaming industry is the only industry suffering from people trading things they buy? why are there cars still on the road? cars have been around much longer than games, yet the roads are full of them, I can go out now and pickup a magazine that is full of secondhand cars for sale, a quick search online and you find ebay with all kinds of things being traded, yet only the gaming industry is suffering from people trading... I think the biggest culprits in this are most likely the pirates pirating games, as for game developers laying off people or even closing shop, most of those were most likely to do with them not making great games, not many people will buy a bad game unless ofcourse not enough info was given to the gamer before purchase, I dont see naughty dog doing bad or rockstar games and EA will be around till the end of time they can afford for a few bad games to slip through the net and it not effect them, blame cant be put on trading since like I said trading has been around for centuries and it hasnt effected any other businesses, someone might trade in 2 or 3 old games so they can buy 1 new one, thats 1 sale to a developer on their new release that they wont get with digital distribution, the 2 or 3 games they traded were already payed for from new so those respective developers were already payed for those games, someone comes along who hasnt played those games yet and buys them since theyre low price now anyway buying a pr-owned saves them a few £'s/$'s more, developers are only losing cut price game value on their games, I believe most full priced games are bought on or around launch its only if the game is bad that the game goes back to the store, I took maybe 2 or 3 games back last year myself because i didnt like the games and there were no demo's to try them before buying, there were a couple of bad games released recently by different developers, resident evil 6 and ninja gaiden 3, lots of people bought resident evil 6 thinking it was going to be realy good but im hearing lots of complaints which makes me believe most of those people will have taken the game back same with ninja gaiden 3, its things like this that have impact on developers, all those new games that were taken back will now be bought by more people who dont know the games are bad, there is your money lost. So digital distribution looks like to me that if you buy a bad game tough you get no refund and you have to keep that game whether you like it or not so its kind of like a life saver for game developers, too many bad games though and people just wont buy from that developer again.


  18. Sorry for the huge wall of text, I didnt realise I'd wrote that much, I need to remember to put paragraphs in future .


  19. Digital distribution is taking the fear out of developement and putting fear into the consumer since consumers are not going to be 100% certain what the game is going to be like that theyre going to buy and theyre stuck with it if its a bad game, the only way around this is to make sure every game comes with a demo so consumers can try before they buy.

    Im defenatley going to leave you in peace now :D was good to hear what you had to say, good luck with your current projects.


  20. Thanks for the compliment!

    I agree that games should have Demos. In fact, I believe in the long run that game should be free to play in the same way that Farmville is. Nobody has ever gotten screwed with Farmville.

    However, I do not see how digital distribution makes it any more likely that you will get screwed. If you buy new currently, you can still get screwed for $15-$20. If you buy used, you may pay less but you still might get screwed for at least some portion of the used cost. When you buy used, if you don't get screwed, then the developer and publisher is screwed because you found a good game that you were happy to pay for, but they got none of the proceeds of their success.

    As for your question about why games are the only industry that is getting screwed by resale, I answer in two ways:

    First: Other entertainment industries are getting screwed. But every industry is different.

    In the case of music, the screwing has reduced the industry to a fraction of its original size. Luckily for music, there is touring. Touring is not resellable, pirateable, or rentable. So more and more of the music business has been focused on larger tours. There is no touring in games for developers to fall back on.

    In the case of movies, a big part of the movie is the first showing on theatre screens. Again, this is not resellable, piratable, or rentable. So movies have changed in subtle ways. Blockbusters have gotten bigger, so that they draw people in to theatres. Movies have gotten more expensive (have you noticed? The equivalent would be $120 games at Gamestop). They have tried to add features to justify even larger rates for theatre (3D = +$3-5 Imagine the game business charging 25% more for multiplayer, or co-op). And then there are small films trying to eak out a living. But there are few movies in between blockbuster and the bottom. This has led to less risk taking and weakened the quality of movies overall. But ask any movie maker- their industry is hurting.

    Books, I think you can fill in the blanks. See: Borders Bankruptcy and arguments over Amazon digital book prices. In any event, the takeaway is that sharing and reselling of digital books is heading to almost nothing, so it is a bad example of the strength of a physical distribution business in any event.

  21. Which leads to non-entertainment businesses. That seems like a good question, but it is impossible to answer in a small amount of space. I think the answer in general is that what seems similar is often not when you break the surface.

    Take cars, which you mentioned. Without digging too deep there are some obvious differences that leap to mind:

    Car companies continue to make money after the sale. A good portion of a dealer's profit (often more than the original sale!) comes from repairs and parts, which is why they like to show you how nice their repair shop is when you buy a car. Even if you got to a third party repair shop, you might be using "original parts" from the manufacturer. Over time the cars get older and the parts start being less profitable to make, so third parties pick up the slack. Or hell, on older cars you sometimes have to make your own. But at not time does your use of the car actually COST the manufacturer or dealer money.

    That is not true of modern games. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours online playing multiplayer. That actually COST Microsoft and the Publisher money in bandwidth, servers, and the people who maintain it. Had I bought the game I was playing used, neither Microsoft nor the publisher would have made a single penny, but would have been paying for me to play.

    How much? It adds up, which is one reason that the companies are trying to push additional passes to the hard core online players. That's also a reason that WOW could never have worked for $60 only. Those guys push an ungodly amount of Data.

    Now you could argue that it is not that much per player, which may be true. But how can you argue that publishers and developers are not getting hurt even if it is only dimes? You are literally costing them money for something you haven't paid them a penny for.

    That isn't the case with a used car.

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  23. And additionally, a used car is a used car. It deteriorates. The warranty ends. Parts break more often. Repair bills mount.

    A used game is a new game in slightly older packaging. It performs identically to a new game. If it doesn't, GameStop will take it back and give you one that does.

    That gives an unfair advantage to the used option in digital entertainment that isn't there is cars, stereos, etc.

  24. Hi

    I know I said I wouldn't be back but I will end with this.

    Thanks for making me see how these other industries keep going while now I see how games dont have any other way of making money except from the initial sale of the game, but cant the gaming industry take a leaf out of the movie industry or music industry? a game could be delayed for example from sale and have like open events or a tour where people can pay to play their game before the game hits shelves and get to meet the developers behind the games, or even an online event that people pay to get involved in and still allow the hard copy to be sold.

    The thing with digital distribution that realy bothers me personaly is im just so used to buying things which are physical items, I can pick that item up and know I have something to show for the money I spent, downloaded media is invisible and I cant pick it up or show someone it without turning on the console, you may not feel that way about it but I do, it feels like something is missing and when I mentioned about pre-owned games I dont personaly buy them, if there is a game ive missed that I didnt buy at launch I always buy new cos I like my games to be in prestine condition, I look after the games I buy, you could look at any one of my games and you wont even see a single fingerprint on them :D , I was thinking about other less fortunate people, which is what I always do with discussions like this, I dont just think about how things would effect me I think how it would effect everyone, or at least I try.

    Maybe the tour type idea for games would'nt work but I think an online payed for event would and then say a month later release the game both digital and physical, sorry but I just dont want to lose that physical aspect of buying something, but maybe thats just me.

    All the best


  25. Lisa,

    I wish there were a way for games to launch before they launch, but unfortunately we are what we are. I don't see how any of the suggestions you have could be big enough to create a difference. I like your meet the developer idea, but how many people could practically do that? Also, I don't think charging for it is fair. I was always happy to meet people for free!

    I understand your love of the box. For what it is worth, I would imagine that the box itself will be around for years. Whether or not the game can be played without a "sign in code" or some other feature to prevent piracy, rental, and resale is another question. So don't worry - your collection is safe for now.

  26. Well, I don't mind DLC depending on how it's used.

    I don't mind paying a few dollars extra or pre-order to get more guns (like in Human revolution) I don't mind that kind of nickel and dimeing (just as long as it's cheap enough for an impulse buy and it doesn't turn into a "I win" button) and I don't like paying for I don't like paying to fix broken elements in a Game (Horse Armor) and the last kind of DLC I don't like is DLC in a Saga that effects the story of future Games in that Saga. (like Mass Effect 2 DLC going into ME3)

    I'm in poverty, so the most I spend on Games is around $15 because the way I see it is, "I'm poor and I can afford to wait for it to go down to $10 on steam and I can't afford to pay the I need it right now price of $60" and for the people that have the $60 and they need it now, go ahead, charge them $60 and they'll always pay it and thanks to Steam's 75% off sales and GoG's DRM Free service, I've given up piracy. (except maybe emulation of discontinued portable games, I hate portables and If I could pay Konami directly $5 for a Window/Linux Version of Dawn of Sorrow, I would)

    I'm also not into COD because it's $60 at day one and there's another $60 worth of DLC (and another $60 a year for xbox live if you play xbox) and after all that, it only lasts one year and it's not really that good and to me, it's OK and I would pay for that game every year if it was $30 at day one because COD isn't great, but it's worth that much for me to play the mainstream shooter. (However, as much as I hate EA and Origin, I think BF3 is worth every penny they milk out of you because of all the things you can do in that Game and the gigantic Maps)