BF3 Producer Talks Anti-Used Console Tech Rumors
One of the more persistent rumors in video games right now is the thought that next generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft will include tech to limit or altogether stop the playing of used games. Our own Lawrence “Blog-jammin’” Sonntag has weighed in on the subject, explaining why he thinks the whole thing is a load of hooey.
Over on CVG, Patrick Bach, interim CEO of DICE and executive producer of Battlefield 3, has offered his own opinion on what such an addition to consoles would mean for the industry.
“I think that can be a win and a loss,” Bach is quoted as saying. “I think it’s a loss if it only means that you will be able to get fewer games for the same money. But in theory you could see it the other way, because a lot of companies making games today are struggling based on second-hand sales.”
Bach’s opinions seem to put him firmly into the “pro-tech” camp, arguing that used game sales are curtailing innovation in the industry.
He elaborates thusly:
“…if you think that there are too few new IPs on the market, no one can take that risk if their game is at risk of being resold too many times. Therefore you see a lot of online games being the most popular. You mentioned that you feel like a lot of [online shooters] have the same formula and this is one of the reasons, which most people seem to not realize.”
What about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3? That game sold tons and tons and tons of units last year—brand new—and it was essentially the exact same game that’s come before. Companies aren’t afraid of new IPs because of used games—they’re afraid because they know that people will go out and buy what they know already. You’d think the dude who produced Battlefield 3 would recognize the reason why EA even made that thing.
“So on the positive side you could see more games being created because of this, and also more new IPs, because there’d be a bigger market for games that don’t have for instance multiplayer. There could be awesome single player-only games, which you can’t really do these days because people just pirate them, which is sad.”
This doesn’t make any sense to me. How do used games prevent good single player games from coming out? In fact, there have been some great single-player games coming out as downloadable titles on the PSN, XBLA, and Steam—Fez comes to mind as a recent example. Bastion, which was a huge success, is another. Is it that single player games are often sold back to stores once gamers finish them? Maybe the makers of these games need to offer more replay value—or cost less initially, so as to make it seem less like a rip-off when they’re finished in eight hours.
“From a gamer perspective, if you want to buy as many games as possible then this could be a problem, but if you want more diverse games then it’s a more positive thing than negative. The only thing I know is that people are not doing it to be evil and stupid, it’s about trying to create some benefits for consumers.”
I’m sorry—I don’t buy it. The idea that limiting the options a consumer has in terms of buying power wouldn’t be beneficial to consumers. I can understand why a publisher or developer would want to curb used game sales, but there’s a perfectly good platform for that, and it’s called digital distribution. It’s been almost completely accepted by consumers on just about every platform, and it even cuts out the overhead associated with manufacturing physical media and shipping it to stores. Sure, there’s digital piracy, but, to my knowledge, there’s little to no digital piracy on consoles, at least when compared to that of the PC. Let me know if I’m crazy on this point.
Frankly, I feel as though there’s more diversity in games now than there ever has been—I don’t find myself hoping and wishing for diversity in games, since every few weeks or months there’s an announcement about some crazy new puzzle game that defies genre or something–games like Portal 2 or Catherine for example. Maybe it’s just me. The only kind of repetition I tend to see in gaming these days are, uh, games like Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty. You know, the ones where you run around and shoot dudes with guns over, and over, and over…
What do you think? Did I misunderstand Bach’s argument here? Are used game sales really hurting creativity in the industry?