Would switching completely digital kill used games? deprive us of ‘true’ ownership? Yesika Reyes thinks that might not be the case.
When the Xbox One was revealed earlier this year, people were concerned about Microsoft’s online focused vision. It appeared to be the beginning of a completely digital and online future. Some consumers felt that it threatened secondhand games and that they would have to be dependent on an internet connection.
While Microsoft recently ‘rectified‘ most of the issues regarding the Xbox One, the discussion still remains on whether a completely digital future is a good or a bad thing.
I was part of the group who was wary the digital revolution of gaming. I grew up with stacks of video game CDs littered around my playroom. Some were new, and others were traded or borrowed. I went to the mall with my parents or friends to buy video games. There was no digital store or cloud.What if Steam, GameFly, and Origin went out of business?
I loved the feeling of holding a brand new game as I ripped the plastic cover. There was a sense of pride and accomplishment whenever I glanced at my physical collection of video games. That was my childhood, and I was afraid of seeing it all go away.
It was also the feeling of knowing that these games were yours for life. What if Steam, GameFly, and Origin went out of business? Can I still access the video games I purchased?
Origin used to have a question in their FAQ page that asked something like: “What happens to the video games I purchased if Origin shuts down?” and the answer was “That won’t be happening anytime soon.” Thanks for the comforting answer. It seems that they have taken this down from their website though.
Valve might not have directly addressed this on their website, but a support technician claimed that measures are in place to ensure users keep their games if Steam is discontinued. It’s not official and the ‘measures’ were left ambiguous, so take this with a grain of salt.
While the nonchalant response from companies can be troubling, I highly doubt that they would risk the ire of consumers by invalidating purchases. It could be solved with a patch that allows you to use Steam’s application offline seamlessly. Third party video game codes can still be redeemed using other digital distribution platforms out there.
Other companies could also purchase Steam and continue running the service offline and online. If Valve decides to leave everything up in the air for some reason, it’s a prime opportunity for any buyer to come in and ‘save’ the day for a glorious boost in positive PR.
Death of Used Games
Almost all my console games are bought through Amazon. I reserve day one and pre-order purchases for video games on the top of my wish list. Console video games rarely go on sale similar to the price cuts we see for their PC digital download counterparts. Consequently, the used games market seemed to be the only way I could play most of the games I want on a budget.
If I’m not mistaken, there currently isn’t a market for secondhand digital video games but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. GameStop CEO Paul Raines spoke to GameSpot about the possibility of secondhand downloadable video games:
There are some technologies out there in Europe, and we’ve looked at a couple that are involved. We’re interested; it’s not a meaningful business yet. Right now we’re not seeing that as a huge market, but I think we’re on the leading edge. There are a few companies, a few startups, out there that we’ve talked to that are doing this.
It is worth noting that Europe issued a ruling wherein software producers cannot prohibit European citizens from reselling software licenses. Perhaps, we won’t need to rely on a secondhand digital market if going digital allows console prices to match Steam’s in the long run. One of the benefits of digital distribution to companies is how it can potentially cut packaging and shipping costs.
PlayStation Plus is one step in the right direction. I’ve been very satisfied with the service. It’s not free, but the value is exceeds its price tag. I was able to snag recent blockbuster titles for ‘free’ or for an appealing discount. It’s like spending for one major video game when you get more instead.
GameStop can still survive through pre-order digital exclusives either way. They might have to sacrifice their brick and mortar stores, but then I bet we’ll have an entire mall on the palm of our hands in the future.
I don’t see the masses fully embracing 100% digital until GameStop and other companies figure out the technology for secondhand codes. When it does happen, I think consumers will happy to embrace this wave of change.
I grew up in the Philippines until I graduated high school two years ago. An average household in the country would have an internet speed of 3 Mbps and that’s usually the fastest. That’s not even as high as the minimum we pay for here in the United States.
Downloading DLC on my console took ages to finish.What more a full game? That’s out of the question. This makes it seem like we can’t go completely digital until other countries catch up. Well, I don’t think that’s exactly the case. I think there are ways for digital downloads to work in places where there are no reliable internet connections. Companies can actually learn from their enemies- the pirates.
Piracy is a huge industry in third world countries like the Philippines. In addition to selling pirated software CDs, vendors would sell software, music, and video files in bulk.Companies can actually learn from their enemies- the pirates. Consumers would pay a fee to have these transferred into devices like a PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, iPod and a hard drive.
If I remember correctly, the fee was at most $2 at the time. A lot of people thought it was worth it because they didn’t have to wait unreasonably long for downloads to finish. The transfer wouldn’t take more than twenty minutes. How does this relate to legal digital downloads?
Imagine if local retailers from around the world had a similar system. Consumers would go to stores with a hard drive or a console specific memory card. Retailers would transfer the video game file intro these cards and sell a product code along with it.
Companies could avoid piracy by making the file accessible only through a product code. Gamers would only need to install the game before playing. Companies cut costs and gamers get to play their games instantly regardless if they have internet or not.
Of course, this is all theoretical but it isn’t rocket science. Combine it with GameStop’s second hand digital market vision and I think people will forget about the woes of going completely digital.
Our generation might always have a special place for CDs in our hearts, but it’ll eventually be a thing of the past like cartridges. Just wait, and kids of today will soon be sentimental over digital downloads. We might not be ready for it, but I am confident of the possibilities it will bring.
- Why GameStop Is Still Relevant (fool.com)
- Why Xbox One’s used games policy doesn’t need to be the end of gaming as we know it (reviews.cnet.com)
- Game over for used games: How Xbox One and PS4 could gut gamers’ wallets (reviews.cnet.com)
- Xbox One Allows Digital Games Sharing on the Same Console (news.softpedia.com)