Think back to a time before metareviews, arguments about games not being art, and whether or not Heavy Rain sucked (which, it did). Look inside your mind's eye to an era when gaming wasn't a socially chained community of people, complaining to their heart's content about how everything is terrible and how much they hate the critics who tell us just how terrible said games are. most important of all, remember that time in your life when you lit up inside, internally shouting "Ooh!" when you felt like a smart consumer at such a young age (and suddenly, when saving money for things later on starts to make sense to you).
Think about the young gamer in you. I don't mean the young kid who had to take what he could get in terms of games, whether it was getting Mario Bros. 3 or Cool Spot. I mean the young gamer who formed along the way who had a few years of experience in smart game buying, but still had no true way of monetary backing. Remember that kid well. Because if the gaming industry had their way, that kid's bright eyed excitement and wonder would be dead.
What brought this about? Blame a stupid comment, an even stupider comment by those who should know better, and Megaman.
I love buying used games, I won't lie. Blame this fact on years of being a slave to my parent's wallet. When the time finally came that I had control of my financial gaming destiny, I realized just how expensive a hobby gaming could be. Around that time I started to realize that buying used games (as long as they were in good condition) made a lot of sense. Of course, this wasn't always the case. If the difference between new and used was a mere five dollars, I'd typically go with new (especially if said game's original box and manual were missing). But, you better believe that if I have to choose between a new and used title with a difference of ten, fifteen, or even twenty that I would go with used.
This exact scenario was upon me over the weekend while milling about in the used Gamecube game section at my Gamestop. After digging through sheer disapointment I came across an extremely cheap, used copy of Megaman X Command Mission. A great game? No, but not bad either. Much like the young gamer I was, a lit up with excitement at not only a cheap find, but a game I knew I would enjoy. I walked away happy, with yet another example as to why I like buying used. Who wouldn't?
Well, game publishers and their ever awe astounding greed would like to have a word with you.
A lot of "Mrphhrhr"ing has been going on as of late on the debate of buying used over new. The game industry has been trying to garner some of that same sympathy that the music and film industry have been using for years to keep profits well above the median. So, of course, one publisher would eventually say something stupid to cause a raucous in those that point them out: internet journalists.
Who did the Wheel of Stupidity land on this time? Why, THQ of course. But, as an added bonus they were followed by an unlikely source of stupidity.
THQ, by saying that buying used is cheating the developer, is admitting to the fact that they aren't going to make AS MUCH MONEY as they typically would by every copy of "WWE Crappy Game That's Been The Same Every Year 2010" being bought new. They are trying to steal the music and film industry's mojo by saying it's "like piracy". By now, we all know that, much like the secret word of the day on Pee Wee's Play House, any time "piracy" is uttered everyone must panic and pay attention.
Wait, comparing piracy and buying used sounds stupid, you say? Who in their right mind would try to make that reach (besides public speaking 101 students, of course)?
Why, none other than…. Penny Arcade?
There has been much confusion over exactly what Jerry "Tycho" Holkins statement was supposed to mean. Most took the statement of saying that he felt buying used was no better than piracy as meaning exactly that. Commence the panic. Of course, he is talking about this in a financial and business sense, but even this line of reasoning is stupid and wrong.
If a game is pirated, no money is made. If a game is bought used, no ADDITIONAL money is made. Following me?
I would think that the public relations team over at Penny Arcade would have flown a red flag up over this kind of thing, but once again I have to remember that this is the internet and we must draw attention to ourselves in any way we can.
So, how exactly is the gaming industry going to try to combat this loss of additional money? Good news! They've already been doing it, and nobody has noticed!
You know all the shiny DLC and snazzy pre-order bonuses everyone likes so much? Just another way to make sure publishers are getting as much money wrung out of you as possible, just as if you were a human rag dripping with sweet, sweet liquid money.
The fact is that DLC and pre-order bonuses are nothing more than additional content that could have probably came with the initial release of a game that was held back for the pure fact that publishers know in their heart of hearts that more money can be made than the additional sixty dollar entry fee. Of course, this fact was hidden behind the newness of digital content transactions, but cracks in the armor appeared. Gamers began to scratch their head when they noticed that some DLC was only a 1000kb download or an unlock key, or that some publishers were charging money for cheats or cosmetic adjustments.
You are being sold pieces of a game you've already paid for and it's only going to get worse. In fact, with the creation of these "online passes" and "premium content releases", this grim future of paying far more for a game than what said game may be worth is already the present.
Why should we be punished for wanting to save some money?
This is why I say the game industry wants the young gamer in all of us dead. That kid in us who lights up at a smart purchase. At that time in our lives every game is a new adventure waiting to be unearthed. You could even say that the early stage of being your own financial master is a lot like being an archeologist: new discovery.
One could argue that the reason this is a problem only as of late is because this simply wasn't an issue fifteen years ago. I would also say that this is why our friend at Penny Arcade doesn't quite understand. They are from a day when the only choice you had was to buy new, or not buy at all. Mostly every game was bought new. Right around the time used game stores started popping up was also around the time that Penny Arcade took off, thus eliminating the financial gaming equivalent of Sophie's Choice for Mr. Holkins.
Not all of us are so lucky, good Sir.
The game industry wants gullible consumers with no choice but the one placed in front of them. Soon enough, you'll be paying double the price for game content that is only equivalent to one full retail game.
Because smart shoppers are bad for business.