Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Used Media

So of course after an extended period of having nothing pop into my head to talk about here, I thought of two things in relatively short order. But I'm gonna only talk about one of them now. Cause I'm a punk like that.

This is mostly applicable to the game industry but is kind of there for all media and that is MSRP and Used media. In the game industry, used games sales are a "big problem". A 10 hour game that costs 50 dollars and has no reply value is a big problem. That it's developer can't profitably produce that game, if not everyone who plays it paid $50 for the privilege isn't a problem.

I may not sound at all conflicted about this issue, but I am. Having standard prives for games that very greatly in quality and value to the consumer is unfair. I'm unsympathetic to an industry that has pretty much participated in price fixing when that bites them in the ass. However I understand that there are some amazing games that are only 10 hour games, and in an ideal world the reward to their creators for their work would far exceed what some people get for horrible games, because the used game market is so active. Of course when companies start to take draconian measures to make games not re-sellable, it's again hard to be sympathetic.

To reward artists in the long term I think the middle men are going to have to be taken out of the equation. If your involved in bulk upfront sales to retailers then at some point you are going to sell at a fixed price, and not be able to reap the rewards of any supply/demand mechanisms that are put in place. This I think is coming as evidenced by steam, the apple app stores, and on console purchases.

In the short term I think the games industry would be more successful if they cut down the initial price of games. New Console games normally cost around $50, which is twice the initial cost of then next tier of entertainment products which are Hardback books and new movies. If you reduce the initial price you take a lot of the steam out the used game market. And if you reduce the initial expectation of income from a game and budget accordingly then what used sales there aren't won't be as big an impact. If you are worried you won't be able to cover salaries, then just look at the successful mobile game market and see that people will pay for cheap games, so the way to retain top talent isn't with high salaries that are hard to meet, it's with a percentage of profit.

And this of course is just another case of entrenched business models causing problems. When will they learn that as your industry, consumers and your product change your business model must too.

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