Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Game Industry Fighting Back Against Used Sales, says Epic

The Gears of War developer thinks digital downloads and extra content will be key to "make strides against the second-hand market," Epic's Mike Capps said.

by James Brightman on Monday, November 10, 2008

Game Industry Fighting Back Against Used Sales, says Epic

The used game sales market continues to bolster retailers while at the same time irking the gamemakers. Frontier Developments' David Braben recently said that the pre-owned games market is "defrauding the industry." Now, Epic Games president Michael Capps has weighed in, telling GI.biz that this secondary market is definitely a "huge issue" for the industry, but that publishers are starting to take action against it.

"The secondary market is a huge issue in the United States," he explained to the U.K. website. "Our primary retailer [no doubt a reference to GameStop - Ed.] makes the majority of its money off of secondary sales, and so you're starting to see games taking proactive steps toward that by... if you buy the retail version you get the unlock code."

He continued, "I've talked to some developers who are saying 'If you want to fight the final boss you go online and pay USD 20, but if you bought the retail version you got it for free'. We don't make any money when someone rents it, and we don't make any money when someone buys it used - way more than twice as many people played Gears than bought it..."

Of course, gamers who care about the industry don't have to buy used titles, but Capps isn't placing blame on the gaming community. "I'd hate to say my players are my enemies - that doesn't make any sense! But we certainly have a rule at Epic that we don't buy any used games - sure as hell you're not going to be recognized as an Epic artist going in and buying used videogames - because this is how we make our money and how all our friends in the industry make money," he said.

It seems like digital distribution and extra downloadable content is fast becoming a way to incentivize gamers to pick up new games. Purchasers of Rock Band 2, for example, recently received a code for 20 free downloadable songs. GameDaily BIZ doesn't believe developers should go as far as to make key components of a game – such as a final boss fight, as Capps suggests – something that needs to be downloaded, however.

Capps is a huge believer in the digital model, though. "We're able to respond immediately. That model's so wonderful from a developer perspective, not just making money, but knowing where my customers are and being able to make them happy," he noted. "With retail, I just don't have that - I get 'Oh Europe came back with this many numbers,' and I get that 60 days after we ship. And I think DLC will be increasing in scope just because in the U.S. we really need to make strides against the second-hand market."

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Gears of War 2 is the highly anticipated sequel to the 4.7 million-selling blockbuster third-person tactical action game, and one of the most popular Xbox 360 games in history. Gears of War 2 picks up six months after the events of Gears of War, and thrusts you back into a deep and harrowing story of humankind's epic battle for survival against a nightmarish force of underground creatures known as the Locust Horde. (Screenshot 1 of 36)
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