Apr 132012

Over at GamesIndustry International, former THQ executive Richard Browne has penned a piece castigating the practices of used video game retailers such as GameStop and indicting them for damaging the “the creativity and variety of games available to the consumer” and for “the death of single player gaming.”

Browne’s harangue comes a couple of weeks after Kotaku reported rumors that the PS4 will block owners from playing used games by locking titles to their PSN accounts. He condones such measures as a necessary “Nuclear Option” from Sony and Microsoft to combat the stagnation of new game sales and notes that several developments in modern gaming — including DLC and the ubiquity of multiplayer modes — are the direct result of publishers attempting to stop the “churn” created by used game sales.

“The real cost of used games has been the destruction of the mid-tier publisher and the elimination of many an independent development studio who in the past conducted work in that space. With next generation budgets leaping yet again only the ‘mini-publishers’ – such as Epic, Insomniac, Bungie – can possibly survive externally to an actual publisher. Beneficial to the customer? No,” he wrote.

Browne isn’t the only industry voice speaking out against used games – Frontier Developments founder David Braben was interviewed by Gamasutra last month and made similar comments, saying, “The real problem when you think about it brutally… [is] pre-owned has really killed core games…. I know publishers who have stopped games in development because most shops won’t reorder stock after initial release, because they rely on the churn from the resales.”

It’s worth noting, however, that digital distribution continues to grow in popularity, and many gamers opt for preloading games on Steam the night before a release instead of waiting in line at a retailer. It’s quickly becoming a matter of when, not if, future consoles lack media drives, and we could be only years away from used games being relics of the past.

Source: GamesIndustry International

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