Would the PlayStation 4 Not Allowing Used Games Do More Harm Than Good for Sony?
The PlayStation 4, codenamed Orbis, has been the subject of many rumors in the last few months. We’ve seen potential hardware specifications, potential job listings and even a game or two rumored to be in development. One rumor in particular got gamers’ attentions in a big way: Sony was planning on blocking used games from the PlayStation 4. Understandably, many gamers were upset at this news, as used games and game rentals have been a staple of the industry since the NES in the 1980’s; we all have at least one fond memory of borrowing that amazing game from our friend’s house or renting that one special game over and over because we couldn’t afford it. To better understand the potential such a change could have, it’s important to look at the viewpoints of all parties: Sony, the other publishers and the gamers.
Many gamers don’t consider Sony’s perspective on why they would even consider something like this; you’ll hear terms thrown around that Sony is money hungry, greedy or that they don’t care about gamers. However, is this really true? One can argue that Sony attempting to block used games from their console is Sony ensuring that you will still have games to play in the future. It’s no secret that most video game manufacturers, such as Sony, make no money off the sale of a video game system; the profit is made from accessories and their own published games. If a potential gamer buys a Sony system and then only buys used games, Sony is never seeing profit from that customer; with no profit, there is no money to place in game studios or future hardware development. When that happens, studios get shut down and systems get cancelled; imagine a world with no Uncharted 4 or PlayStation 5. So while many gamers deride Sony for even thinking about blocking used games, Sony is merely thinking about their own continued existence. If blocking used games from their system allows Sony to make additional money from their games, which then goes into making new games and hardware, is that really so bad?
In addition, many of the big name video game publishers, such as Epic Games, are staunchly against the used video game market. One can assume that if Sony took such a harsh stance against used games, many developers and publishers, knowing that they would receive extra profit since you’d have to buy their games new, would develop exclusively for the PlayStation 4. If the PlayStation 4 could reach the heights of dominance that the original PlayStation and PlayStation 2 did, is giving up used games such a bad tradeoff?
For many gamers, it is. Used games are a driving force behind the video game industry; stores typically knock a few dollars off a used game, knocking extra money off if you are in a rewards club for that store. For many gamers, trading in their used games and turning around to buy used games is the only way they can continue to enjoy this hobby. In addition, perhaps they love the used game they are playing and pre-order the next game in the series brand new. By taking away used games, you’re suddenly alienating a large part of your potential buying audience; these gamers will have to wait for price drops and sales, if they even buy the game at all. Even when buying a used game, chances are good a customer will buy some downloadable content; when you don’t allow them to buy that used game, they aren’t there to buy your content. While video game publishers and Sony look to protect their initial profits by forcing gamers to buy new, they won’t then see the profits from gamers with used games buying downloadable content; in a worst case scenario, these gamers will stop being gamers or move to a different system that is less restrictive. This is far damaging to Sony and publishers than any potential profit lost when a gamer buys a game used instead of new.
This does not even account for rental chains, such as GameFly, or used game stores, such as GameStop, as renting and selling used games is a major part of each store’s business model. Since most games do not have demos, many gamers rent before they buy; taking away rentals would cause gamers to not even give these games they are on the fence about a look. However, GameFly and GameStop have lately been integrating themselves deeply into digital distribution; even if used games were to disappear, these stores are ensuring they will still be around in the future.
However, this issue is not so black and white; one additional rumor that is circulating states that used games may require some form of an “Online Pass” to function. An “Online Pass,” in most recently released games, is necessary to play multiplayer or unlock bonus features. The “Online Pass” is given to those customers who buy the game new; used gamers have to pay $10 to $15 to unlock these features when they buy the game used. If the PlayStation 4 decided to use an online pass system for used games, you could expect to pay $10 to $15 to “unlock” the game on your system and play it. While technically this would still allow used games, the cost of unlocking them would negate any potential savings; you might as well buy the game new.
Chances are good nothing will come of this rumor; this same rumor appeared before the unveiling of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and, as you know, those systems allow used games. However, for gamers that buy a large quantity of used games, even if this rumor does not come to pass your used games are not safe; as more games are released in a digital format, it may only be a matter of time before used games are eliminated simply due to the advancement of technology.
Article by - Joshua Phillips
March 21st 2013 Update -- What Is Sony's Stance On Used Games?
Even though the company has officially announced the PlayStation 4, Sony has not yet come out and revealed what it will do with used games. While statements made by company representatives make it likely the PS4 can play used games, it is unclear in what capacity.
Sony vice president of Worldwide Studios Michael Denny stated to CVG "It's a massively important issue and I understand why it's one that keeps coming up and will keep coming up, because people want to know what the exact stance is. In relation to points like that, of course we're mindful of what the game development community wants and what the wider industry issues are with those things. I think in good time that will become clearer."
He went on to add ""It's not something that I feel I have any further announcement or comment to make on, other than to acknowledge with you that it's a massively important issue and of course we are going to do the right thing."
Sony president of Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida also had a statement on the matter, claiming "When you purchase the disc-based games on PS4, it should work on any hardware. So that's what I'm saying."
We'll keep you updated with any breaking news of this story!
Update by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 3/21/2013
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