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Game Devs Using One-Time Bonuses to Fight Used Game Sales

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the thanks-so-much dept.

The Almighty Buck 229

ShackNews reports on an emerging trend which sees game publishers offer one-time bonus codes to unlock extra content for certain titles. Rock Band 2, for example, comes with a code which will allow free 20-song download, but is only usable once. NBA Live '09 has functionality to update team rosters on a daily basis, but will only do so for the original owner. "'This information and data is very valuable and it wasn't free for us,' an EA representative explained on Operation Sports. 'T-Mobile is paying for it this year for all users who buy the game new. This is a very expensive tool to use, and if you don't buy it new, then you'll have to pay for this. It isn't greed at all.'"

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Better than root kits (5, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25259899)

This is not only aimed at the used game market, but pirates as well. Personally I'd rather see this approach than a root kit and a limited number of installations.

Re:Better than root kits (5, Insightful)

Majik Sheff (930627) | more than 5 years ago | (#25259925)

Agreed. Incentives to encourage the desired behavior are much better than punishments based on the assumption that all of your customers are hostile.

Re:Better than root kits (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#25259979)

How is it? Think of how this work with a game? For example, you buy the game and get, say, one limited edition weapon with the code, your computer crashes, and that weapon is lost unless you buy the game again. Sure, the game is still playable, but you still lost something when your computer crashed (other than your saved game of course). Then the problem would be worse for MMORPGs where, if you got a limited edition item for using the thing on your own computer, and that computer crashed, it could severely mess up the economy (then again though, most MMORPGs are subscription/serial-code-account based, so the game would just be downloaded for free off the game's website)

Re:Better than root kits (4, Insightful)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260201)

The chances are pretty high that by the time your computer crashes, the items will all be packaged into a bargain-priced Game of the Year edition or whatever, or even a free download. If not, you can probably get customer service to help you out once or twice if you have the serial #.

For an mmorpg, your inventory is stored on a remote server anyway, so...

Re:Better than root kits (1)

sdsucks (1161899) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261551)

I disagree. I'm a tweaker and tend to re-install windows very often, especially when tweaking for a specific game. Anyway, addons for games are always just as easily cracked & pirated as the games themselves.

Re:Better than root kits (3, Insightful)

EvilRyry (1025309) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260291)

Ever pull the Atari/Vectrex/Nintendo out of the basement to relive some memories?

Not to mention if the game happens to be for your XBox360 you could find yourself missing that first owner bonus sooner than you think!

Re:Better than root kits (0, Offtopic)

toleraen (831634) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260309)

So backup your saved games then. Not too tough to do. Anyone that's played video games for more than a month knows to do that.

And what the hell are you talking about with MMOs?

Re:Better than root kits (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260867)

Your problem is easily solved by accounts.

I install the game, activate it to my account, register my code to my account, then any time I reinstall as long as I re-use the same credentials everything stays unlocked.

Granted once you start tying things to accounts you get into a whole different can of worms of resale prevention, but theres no reason you cant allow disk re-use.

Really I wish more things were stored based on accounts. A good example of failure there would be Call of Duty 4. In that game you have to unlock the vast majority of weapons and abilities, and even if you bought it with steam you'll lose everything you unlocked if you reinstall.

Meanwhile over in Team Fortress 2 land, anyone on my account has what I unlocked. If Valve wanted, they could very easily make a "unbound from account and re-gift this game" feature.

As for MMO's.. WoW, the most popular by a large margin MMORPG, does that all the time. If you buy the collectors edition you get a special code that unlocks a unique in game pet and some other trivial things. Again, it all gets tied to the account.

Re:Better than root kits (1)

Icy_Infinity (1313035) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261313)

for some reason i think you haven't ever REALLY played an MMORPG because they don't save anything onto YOUR computer is all on their severs where information on where you got the code for super weapon X or not. if you go over to your friends computer than also has WoW, WAR, CoX, Eve, or any other MMORPG for that matter the only thing that doesn't follow are your MODs, hell even key-bindings normally transfer from computer to computer in MMORPG's.

Games that don't connect to the internet are being releases less and less often, so in reality its more. how long will the company that put out this game support me for and less of when is my computer going to crash and completely kill this awesome weap i got from a code

Re:Better than root kits (2, Insightful)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261509)

How is this an insightful post? Honestly it would have ALMOST had a point if the examples weren't COMPLETELY incorrect.

1) the used game market is about 98% used CONSOLE games. The only way that they can even enforce this on a console game is when the console has an online component like XBox Live. XBox Live stores your account information on their servers, so if your XBox dies, you can restore your bonus "stuff" on the new console.

2) MMORPGs are an even worse example. Both of your points are wrong. a) Everything is server-based, so there is no issue with duping limited items for players who reinstall on a new computer and log into their existing account. b) Sure, you may be able to get the game free and sign up for a monthly subscription. Which is the whole point of this article - if you pay for the game/expansion/whatever when it comes out, they give you a one-time activation code for the bonus "stuff".

Re:Better than root kits (1)

ccguy (1116865) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260051)

If only they took this approach with porn...

Re:Better than root kits (1)

TehZorroness (1104427) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260975)

The only problem here is that the desired behavior is that we dont redistribute our games, even the copies that we paid for and own (FUCK EULAs, the courts have decided that the first sale doctrine prevails!). You have every right to sell or give away your copy of the game when you get bored of it. You still can't do this and keep the proper functionality intact.

Re:Better than root kits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25261097)

Probably won't be long till they stop used-sales entirely by making the "one-time bonus" be the ability to play the game at all.

Re:Better than root kits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260191)

territory
typewriter

Re:Better than root kits (5, Insightful)

narcberry (1328009) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260209)

These incentives don't work.

1. Good boys and girls get a bonus for being good.
2. Bad boys and girls figure out how to also benefit from these bonuses.
3. Devs panic and institute some ridiculous mechanism that typically only hinders the good boys and girls.

Example:
1. Everyone that purchases a new copy of a game at release will get a bonus 5 maps.
2. These maps are quickly torrented and now everyone has them.
3. Devs ban these 5 bonus maps from play with a game update. Only players that download and install a EULA-breaking crack will still be able to play these maps.

Re:Better than root kits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260431)

Note that all of these "bonuses" are for console games are are much, much harder to pirate and crack. PSN and Xbox Live keep you from ripping and sharing the downloaded content, since its usage is tied to the user.

No one suffers here but those who buy used games. If they put it in the box that there is a "one-time use code for added content!" then they're golden.

Re:Better than root kits (1)

PunkOfLinux (870955) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261041)

So just add a disclaimer - "this is missing certain features due to being used". sure, might need to lower the resale price, but oh well. Bitch to the devs.

Re:Better than root kits (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260669)

in that case I'd like my Murky please.

Re:Better than root kits (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260679)

disincentives don't work either. at least this won't alienate customers if it doesn't work. also, the end of your example demonstrates the problem with the disincentive-based approach, not with the positive incentive-based approach.

i'd much rather developers take this tact than to make it illegal to sell used games/CDs/DVDs. at least this doesn't encroach on fair use rights and doesn't take an anti-consumer attitude.

Re:Better than root kits (1)

narcberry (1328009) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261043)

It is absolutely anti-customer.

1. Customers lose value of their purchased assets. (ie, this specifically attempts to reduce resale value)

2. It increases costs. Great, I just wanted a game and I ended up buying 100 songs too? (Don't lie to me like the retail packaging and pretend it was free)

These aren't incentives to buy a product. They are incentives to buy it new vs. used.

Re:Better than root kits (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261051)

> i'd much rather developers take this tact than to make it illegal to sell used games/CDs/DVDs.

It is not illegal (in the US) to sell used games/CDs/DVDs though it may under some circumstance be breach of contract.

> ...at least this doesn't encroach on fair use rights...

Fair use has nothing to do with selling used games/CDs/DVDs.

> ...and doesn't take an anti-consumer attitude.

"Anti-consumer"? No, no. They _want_ you to consume. It's your failure to do so to which they object. _Consume_ that game, don't sell it on!

Re:Better than root kits (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25261143)

And don't forget...

4. Profit!

Re:Better than root kits (1)

Kopiok (898028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261659)

This kind of incentive clearly doesn't work for the situation you've provided. If everyone is going to be playing on these maps, it would be tough and unfair to limit them to just the initial round of buyers. What is really being done are things like free micro-transactions (Rock-Band) and that roster update tool. Completely different situation. This seems like more of a console solution since you can't easily just download the maps and throw 'em in the ol' map folder.

Re:Better than root kits (5, Insightful)

Anenome (1250374) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260513)

Problem with this is rooted in a basic economic error. The value of an item also, in part, is due to its resale value. The more publishers degrade the resale value the less the item is worth upfront. This is why attempts to outlaw used game sales, or demonize outlets that resale games don't have a leg to stand on. This method of devaluing only the resale value to the secondary market will still have an impact on the upfront price. Games will be worth less to buyers because of a move like this. Therefore, games will sell less than ever. Which will create a vicious cycle because publishers will likely conclude that they need to take even stricter measures against piracy, when the truth is they simply devalued their own product and would see more sales without the restrictions.

Re:Better than root kits (2, Insightful)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260825)

The more publishers degrade the resale value the less the item is worth upfront.

Yup. This is why people are far more willing to plunk down $24,000 for a Toyota than $21,000 for a Ford 6000-SUX, because they know that in 2-3 years, the used Toyota will fetch $5000 more than the Ford.

Re:Better than root kits (1)

Malevolyn (776946) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261091)

Well that depends heavily on the car. Not a lot of 12 year old cars will sell for nearly as much as my 96 Ford. But now we're getting off topic, here, and my car kind of has an unfair advantage. Just ignore me.

Re:Better than root kits (3, Insightful)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260855)

what you're saying makes sense, but it's more complicated than that. i mean, resale value is a huge factor when it comes to cars, homes, and other large items that people frequently resale and also put a lot more thought into purchasing (and negotiating the purchase).

with gaming, it's almost an inelastic demand. if you want a particular game, there's only one publisher. you can't substitute a competing product for it. and all mainstream game publishers pretty much have the same general anti-consumer attitude. so it's not the same as buying an Honda/Toyota instead of a Ford/GM because imports have much higher resale values than domestics. that kind of decision-making process doesn't factor into game purchases. there's also less of a market for used games, and this is due to cultural as well as legal factors.

think about diamonds and engagement rings. the De Beers cartel has launched one of the most successful (and insidious) marketing/advertising campaigns in the history of consumerism. not only did they inject their product into our cultural institutions and traditions (diamond engagement rings are a relatively new phenomenon in the history of human marriage), but they have also gone as far as to manipulate our cultural values to suit their business model.

the whole "a diamond is forever" commercial campaign was tied into a much larger marketing campaign aimed at stopping the resale of diamonds. De Beers works very hard to control the global supply of diamonds to create an artificial scarcity which drives prices up, but that would be undermined if the market were flooded with second-hand diamonds. so in order to combat this, they came up with the "a diamond is forever" slogan to discourage people from buying or selling "used" diamonds. so instead of mothers passing their diamonds down to their daughter, or to their son to give to his fiancée, men and women are encouraged to purchase brand new diamonds as a symbol of their "eternal" love for one another.

the result of this marketing campaign is that used or second-hand diamonds have very low resale value. consumers don't want to buy used rings or jewelry. because of the lack of demand for them, De Beers is able to purchase up all of these second-hand diamonds, re-polish and re-set them, and then sell them as brand new diamonds at the artificially inflated prices. so in the end, this intentionally reduction of resale value add huge profits to the cartel's monopoly.

with games, it's not quite so extreme, but there's still a socialized reluctance to purchase used games. i mean, everyone wants the latest and greatest gaming title. no one even wants to buy a 2-year-old unused game from the bargain bin. except for legacy systems and hardcore gamers, there's very little demand for refurbished games. it's just not even a notion gamers are accustomed to. most people aren't in the habit of shopping for used games the way that people shop for used cars. so in the end, the negative impact this one-time bonus policy might have on resale value won't really make much of an impact on market demand.

Re:Better than root kits (1)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261391)

The value of an item also, in part, is due to its resale value.

I often read that the value of digital data is zero under classical economic theory, as the cost to create new copies is effectively nil. I tend not to agree with that, but the debate is never really resolved.

Perhaps economic theory hasn't really sorted out how to price digital assets yet. Until we have a solid idea of how to do that, how can we argue about resale value? Especially in a world where we can see pirated, identical versions of a game available for free.

In the meantime, I reckon people will like this idea and tell economic theory to go jump.

Re:Better than root kits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260655)

I disagree. This does NOTHING to pirates. You can bet that pirated versions of the game will end up having said "bonus" material already patched in. And what's better, people using the pirated version won't have to worry about losing their precious 1 time only "bonus" material. If it's something for the game itself, just freaking well include it on the game disc.

And for the record, there is NOTHING wrong with buying a used game. Certainly nothing that means you need to be denied the full game experience. This is just an attempt to kill off our right to be able to resell our games, just as much as having limited activations. Only in these cases, rather than stepping in to say "sorry, you can't activate this." they just make sure the game is outright less valuable.

Personally, I'm staying away from these kinds of games as much as I'm staying away from DRM crippled games.

Another such incentive... (3, Insightful)

azuredrake (1069906) | more than 5 years ago | (#25259921)

Is in the upcoming Gears of War 2 - there will be four maps available for download for multiplayer free on the day the game launches, but only if you buy it new.

This is the right strategy for publishers to take - add value to incentivize purchase, instead of making your brand new version worse than a used/stolen version.

Re:Another such incentive... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25259983)

This is the right strategy for publishers to take - add value to incentivize purchase

They are not adding value. They are removing value and then adding it back with restrictions designed to devalue the game on the used market.

This in not the right strategy this is greed.

Re:Another such incentive... (3, Insightful)

JPLemme (106723) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260115)

By your logic, if a restaurant gives free appetizers to their best customers then they're "removing value" from the meals of all of their other customers. If a casino comps a high roller they're "removing value" from everyone else who visits the casino.

Rewarding customers who give you money is a better system than punishing all customers regardless. Maybe if the used-game retailers want to share the money they make on used games with the publishers they can come to some sort of a deal so that used-game buyers get some bonus material, too. But not offering merchandise to people who aren't paying you for it is hardly "greed".

Re:Another such incentive... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260425)

By your logic, if a restaurant gives free appetizers to their best customers then they're "removing value" from the meals of all of their other customers.

Food is not resold so its hardly the same.

If a casino comps a high roller they're "removing value" from everyone else who visits the casino.

Again, wagers in a casino are not resold.

It would be more like Ford selling you a car that comes with free wheels as a bonus but prevented you from selling the car with those wheels.

Maybe if the used-game retailers want to share the money they make on used games with the publishers they can come to some sort of a deal so that used-game buyers get some bonus material, too. But not offering merchandise to people who aren't paying you for it is hardly "greed".

Thats not a very good idea. Next Ford will want a percentage of the sale price of a used car.

Rewarding customers who give you money is a better system than punishing all customers regardless.

Yes the second part is right but the first part is hardly relevant. The game has been paid for, they made a sale. Nobody is not paying for the game. If the games became cheaper as a result of this then it might make a difference. They just want more money. Its pure greed.

Re:Another such incentive... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260483)

It would be more like Ford selling you a car that comes with free wheels as a bonus but prevented you from selling the car with those wheels.

Hardly. You can play the game just fine without those extras that are being given to new sales, try driving a car without the wheels, not so much. This is closer to buying a car new and getting a key chain, car bra, and pine tree air freshener and not getting those things if you buy it used.

Re:Another such incentive... (1)

PunkOfLinux (870955) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261071)

I think it's pretty good. You can get replacement wheels... you'll just have to buy them! In other words, the wheels you were given at time of sale are not an intrinsic part of the vehicle.

Don't forget (1)

The Rizz (1319) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261145)

...and barring, by law, the resale of those extra things.

If it's sold to you, you should have the right to resell it. Not just the right to resell some of it.

Re:Another such incentive... (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260465)

I don't think it is so much the used game market angle that is pissing people off,it is all this "limited activation" crap they have been trying to shovel on us. You want to give us a bonus for buying it new? Then fine,make it like Steam where I can get my stuff back if my PC takes a crap. But of course in all likelihood it'll be "Oh your PC took a crap? Well whip out your CC buddy,because we just screwed you REAL good!" and THAT is the problem.

And as for "sharing the used game money with the publishers" WTF? If I sell my lawnmower to a pawnshop you don't see Toro going "We should get paid again...Whine,Whine,Whine!" do you? That is just another case of "we want to get paid over and over for the same crap" tripe. Just because you make a game doesn't make you any more entitled to endless money than the guy making the lawn tractor. You made a product,you sold the product to me,and now if I want to sell it or trade it for something else it is MY business,not yours. It is just another spin on the old "IP is super special and should get all kinds of super special treatment" crap. It is a product,nothing more. And once you sell the product it really isn't your business what I do with it. While I agree you will win more with a carrot VS a stick,as usual this proves they just really don't get it.

Re:Another such incentive... (5, Interesting)

WDot (1286728) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260547)

15 years from now, when people are picking up the "classics" from this generation, they won't get the full experience that people today got because the game may not be being sold new.

I like this analogy better: It's like you buy an album, and you get a free downloadable track that's a super awesome track. You got it because you bought the album new. Somehow, the RIAA comes up with a magic uncrackable un-analog-recordable DRM that means this bonus track never finds its way to torrent sites. Now 15 years later the original album goes out of print, but it's a bit of a "cult classic." People download the CD from torrent sites or iTunes and enjoy it, but nobody at the label ever bothered to put the "super awesome track" in the iTunes version of the album. Well sure, you have all the tracks from the OFFICIAL album tracklist, but that super awesome free track that everybody raved about 15 years ago is lost in time and space, unless somebody at the label decides to confer the priviledge of hearing that track again to you.

Until all game distribution goes digital (and even when it does), I believe some of these little extra bits will get lost. Personally I'd prefer it if the game came with a really nice poster or plastic figure or something in the REGULAR version of the game. Not the $100 "Collector's Edition," I mean the $60 regular shmuck's copy. It's a nice incentive for customers who buy it new (who's going to sell it to a used game store along with the plastic figure?), and it doesn't take away from the game experience if you don't.

If you look at the average anime rack in DVD stores, new releases are packed with toys and art books and soundtracks and all kinds of stuff to convince you to pay $30 for 4 25-minute episodes. That's the way to do it.

Re:Another such incentive... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260691)

In fifteen years, if the DLC servers are still up, users get "gouged" another few dollars (saying DLC prices fall with game prices... eventually) that actually goes to the (company that purchased) the developers.

If the DLC servers aren't still up then there was no way to provide more than they put on the disk. Unless the next fifteen years involve the invention of some radical trick, like putting whatever content it was onto movable media or, God-forbid, putting up other download servers.

Re:Another such incentive... (2, Interesting)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260783)

Forget the posters and such... just give me a full manual like they used to. I remember when computer games always came with a honkin' big manual that covered every aspect of the game and even gave you some tips. A PDF on a CD doesn't even compare to having a spiral bound book with cheat sheets, stats and even a section in the back for notes. I guess I'm all nostalgic after coming across my old Neverwinter Nights manual the other day; ironically, I lost 1 of the 2 disks (although I found my old receipt with the manual) so I can't play it.

I just found out that they had a Linux version that you could download and integrate your Windows versions' data files. Perhaps it's better to be nostalgic about it than hunt down a copy and realize that it wasn't as good as I remember it being. Then again, I thought the same thing about Railroad Tycoon II and happened to hunt down a copy... it was every bit as good as I remembered it being.

Re:Another such incentive... (1)

m0ng0l (654467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260941)

Or the Falcon 4.0 manual.

Now *THAT* was a manual! Snap ring notebook, couple hundred pages, hard cover, looked almost like a flight manual for a real F-16...

Still got my copy of the manual, and the game, to boot.

Re:Another such incentive... (1)

WDot (1286728) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261395)

Heh, indeed. I remember the Mechwarrior II manual was positively fat and had a title like "Code of the Warrior Caste" to make it seem like a standard-issue guide to cadet pilots. It wasn't just a really detailed manual, it was part of the immersion. Six years old and I was already swearing loyalty to Jade Falcon, vowing to attain the rank of Khan! Plus, it made for good reading while mom and dad dragged me through their shopping trip.

I purchased Neverwinter Nights Diamond, which seems to have been designed to put as much game data (game + expansions + bonus campaigns) in a box with the lowest price. So unfortunately, I didn't see any real manual save for a brief install guide. However, I assure you the game is still fun. ;)

Re:Another such incentive... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260869)

Somehow, the RIAA comes up with a magic uncrackable un-analog-recordable DRM that means this bonus track never finds its way to torrent sites.

You must be new here.

Wrong Focus. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260901)

Your analogy fails because it focuses on items which have no resale value. Any time the resale value of an item is reduced, its initial sale value is also reduced.

It is greed, and I say this not because it MUST be greed, but because it is stupid. Stupid coming from people who should know better is often indicative of greed.

Used buyers will remain completely unaffected. They are going to pay a fair market price for the used game without the bonus content.

New buyers will remain unaffected as well. They are going to pay a fair market price for the game with crippled "bonus" content.

Unless developers lower the price to reflect the reduced value, they are going to see fewer sales. Some number of people will not be willing to pay the same amount of money for reduced value.

So the end result? Fewer sales for the developer. More power to them.

Re:Another such incentive... (2, Insightful)

TehZorroness (1104427) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261053)

No. There is no sence in selling already-eaten food. There is a market for used games. What game developers aught to be doing is giving their games a longer term value. I still play doom because it has no DRM which prevents me from doing so. (hey, every time I want to play I pirate it, but I had bought and lost/destroyed two copies back in the day so I beleive I am rightfully entitled) There are still all sorts of interesting single player levels being made, and there are all sorts of interesting people to meet and play against online. The game still has value. Now look at Halo 2. You are stuck with their levels, you have to pay for xbox-live (acceptable, but how long will xbox-live exist now that xbox is obsolete), and they made the game itself obsolete by releasing Halo 3. I bet many Halo 2s ended up on the used shelf when Halo 3 came out. Microsoft can't complain about this. It is their own fault.

Also, game developers don't diserve shit from used game dealers. The game was already paid for. Lets not start acting like the EULA has any legal standing whatsoever. The courts have already decided that EULAs don't stand up against the first sale doctrine. The game is YOURS. You can do whatever you want to it. This is capitalism. Businesses are supposed to cater to their customers, not the other way around.

Re:Another such incentive... (3, Interesting)

BPPG (1181851) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260229)

I agree, the game industry is becoming more and more unaccomodating to the used and rental game retailers. I could totally see EA or similar releasing games that are effectively demos unless you had bought it brand new. How successful that would be is another story.

Re:Another such incentive... (2, Insightful)

samkass (174571) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260419)

This in not the right strategy this is greed.

It's neither. It's business. If something costs too much to sustain it given the game turnover and the fact that the publishers only make money on the original sale, they have to find some other way to get paid for it. Subscription could work, but it's a hassle and most people won't subscribe to more than a few services. This seems like a pretty reasonable way to be compensated for valuable content to me.

Re:Another such incentive... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260649)

Sure, it's greedy. That's fine. Companies are supposed to be greedy.

What makes this wrong is that it's a violation of the doctrine of first sale, and EA deserves to be fined, oh ... say, all revenues from this game, plus the same again as punitive damages.

Re:Another such incentive... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260963)

You sound like my kid brother, "uncle Jim gave my brother a toy and I didn't get one -- waaaa!"

Life isn't fair. There's no such thing as 100% equality. People play favorites, that's just the way it works.

Re:Another such incentive... (1)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261329)

It's a positive reinforcement for the behaviour they want to drive. It won't satisfy everyone, but it's a lot better than more punitive DRM as a means of driving behaviour.

Step back a moment: if you were a game developer who receives money only from first sales of your games, how would you try to drive those numbers up for a game about to be released?

Re:Another such incentive... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25259987)

As long as they don't start making the one time bonuses something important to the main game, like downloadable endings or downloadable entire second half of the game.

Re:Another such incentive... (4, Insightful)

narcberry (1328009) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260139)

What good are multiplayer maps that other players don't have access to? Isn't the point to play with others?

Re:Another such incentive... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260259)

Play call of duty 4 sometime. Join a group of your friends, you don't have the maps. Now you're the asshole keeping your friends from playing the new maps. Guess who's going to either get out of the network or run down and buy 1600 point card tomorrow? Effective.

Re:Another such incentive... (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261067)

Wait, that game has multiplayer maps that you have to pay for separately? You can't just auto-grab every new map from someone who has it when you join a server using it?

Seriously?

And people still play it?

Damn.

Re:Another such incentive... (0, Troll)

narcberry (1328009) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261587)

hint: Call of Duty 4. If the community is dumb enough to buy the same game 4 times, they probably are willing to play a game with such frustrations.

LOL! No One Gives A Fuck About Gears of War (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260195)

Shitty Unreal Engine 3 graphics - ohh! look everything is covered in shiny crap!

Networking code that is so sucky it can only handle 5vs5 players at a time - oh wait that was a 'design decision'

And a campaign with a story and dialog that would make Steven Seagal go WTF is this shit?

Re:Another such incentive... (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261745)

why not make the game with 2 levels free, and have all the rest of the levels priced at $5 ea or something....

Or if you like the first two, pre purchase the rest at $39.

This also can bypass the 200% markup the non-usa markets give to software, ie country importer margins, local shop 50% margins etc...

When is the last time you saw a 500gig harddrive sold with two 50% margins costing 2x USa price outside usa?

Those exclusive resellers offer nothing of value to the game. Wow pretty box cover made for 0.12cents with country specific text.

EA as usual (5, Insightful)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 5 years ago | (#25259933)

So consumers get jerked around when they rent a game from EA? That's been true for a long time, EA pretty much sucks when it comes to respecting the customer. Don't buy EA games, even under the Maxis title. If you do, then expect to be treated like a chump.

Okay, but an option to buy (2, Insightful)

Quila (201335) | more than 5 years ago | (#25259989)

An option to buy the extra content if you are a second-hand owner would be nice. They get the money, the buyer gets the content, everybody's happy.

Doing that would show an honest monetary interest in the extra content rather than a plain desire to kill the secondary market.

Re:Okay, but an option to buy (1)

JPLemme (106723) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260127)

Fair, reasonable, and seemingly easy to implement. I wonder how the content-owners would manage to f**k it up if they tried it.

Re:Okay, but an option to buy (1)

alexmogil (442209) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260279)

Apparently EA is allowing you to buy the content for $20 for NBA Live. This is a highly touted feature of the game and is most useful at the beginning of a season. If the original owner sells the game back to Gamestop soon after release, Gamestop is going to charge $54.99 for it. So the full version of the game is now $74.99.

What bothers me most about this is eBay sellers. These people can open boxes and take codes and sell the games as new. Additionally some poor sucker who buys a game from an eBay seller doesn't know if the codes truly used or not.

Pretty shitty out of EA, but it's been equally shitty out of Gamestop to run an unchecked pawn shop business for the last 5 years.

Re:Okay, but an option to buy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260559)

How is that different then selling anything else on eBay. If people get scammed that way the seller gets bad feedback and can't as easily sell anymore.

Re:Okay, but an option to buy (1)

iocat (572367) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260373)

That would be nice, which is why EA is offering it. This EA thing and the Rock Band thing are ways to give spiffs to the first purchaser, in an effort to get more people to be first purchasers, similar to the way Infocom used to package in feelies to encourage people to purchase thier easily pirated games.

Bitching about this seems a lot like complaining that a used car doesn't come with the free key fobs, or the new car smell.

I don't entirely trust (2, Interesting)

Quila (201335) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260479)

Copyright holders have been trying to destroy the secondary market for decades. They've used various tactics, but if that is the goal this one is the most benign tactic I've seen.

Like I said, if a secondary market purchaser can buy the extras I'll be convinced this is not about destroying the secondary market. If not, I can see the slippery slope where eventually the game will be practically useless to the secondary market purchaser as most of the game is now for primary market buyers only. In the end you get a useless stub of a game, practically just a demo, when you buy, the rest unlocked only for the initial purchaser.

Re:Okay, but an option to buy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25261277)

Why should they get paid for the extra content a second time? The buyer should be able to sell the extra content when they sell the rest of the game.

Think of it differently (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261337)

It's an extra freebie given to those who buy the game in the primary market. It's incentive to buy on the primary market.

If they're sold separately to those in the secondary market pricing can be set to be an incentive. For example, $50 game with freebies included, $30 buy it used pay $20 for the freebies. You might as well buy it new, but it's the buyer's choice.

If you've paid, is it legal to pirate? (4, Interesting)

telchine (719345) | more than 5 years ago | (#25259999)

This is interesting. My first thought for this is that if I've purchased a game second hand, and by some defectivebydesign defect, I can't access the bonus content, I'll get a pirate copy of that content. Surely by buying something second hand, I've paid for the same rights as that bestowed on the previous owner, so would a judge back me?

Re:If you've paid, is it legal to pirate? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260037)

I don't know. What major publishing/media company do you own? The answer generally seems to depend on such trivial things.

Re:If you've paid, is it legal to pirate? (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260681)

If you didn't torrent it, the judge would almost certainly back you. It's called the right of first sale - basically, if you buy a copy of a copyrighted work, the holder loses all say as to who or how you can sell that.

The game companies, of course, are trying to have their cake and eat it. They claim that the 'sale' was in fact a license, but that this license conferrs none of the benefits of a license like the ethereal nature of the purchase making the actual media cheap/free, or re-downloading your 'licensed' game (like Steam).

I bet that whenever it's tested (if it hasn't been already), the game companies will get laughed out on their ass.

Re:If you've paid, is it legal to pirate? (1)

GFree678 (1363845) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260689)

I look at it with this logic (IANAL):

The pirated copy of the content would have had cracked whatever copy protection/DRM existed. Now, this circumvention is going to be illegal since virtually all EULAs disallow reverse engineering (ignoring the legally of EULAs for a moment). Although the end-user probably didn't create the cracks themselves, by using said cracks, the violation of the EULAs is extended to them since they are knowingly using pirated/circumvented software. Hence, even though you would have bought the legit version, using illegal content in the form of cracks is not going to go down very well, even if the contact is inaccessible WITHOUT the crack.

I could be wrong, I probably am wrong when compared to the laws of various countries, but since everything has been made so confusing and complicated for games, fucking GAMES of all things, it's this bullshit which makes me less interested in even bothering with modern commercial games.

Re:If you've paid, is it legal to pirate? (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260793)

I'm not sure why you argue that if you buy something second hand you've paid for the same rights as if you bought it first hand.

Suppose I sold person A car, and threw in a year's worth of free carwashes. You come along and buy the car from Person A, and claim your one year of free car-washes.

I made no agreement with you for provision of car washes. You may have bought the car, but unless the agreement I made with A specifically mentions the fact that A can transfer his entitlement to those services or that they go with the owner of the car, not A, I would not see a reason for you to be entitled to them.

Re:If you've paid, is it legal to pirate? (1)

Mistakill (965922) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261159)

It'd depends where you are (county/state/country)... and which Judge you face, and indeed, if you won a case, you would likely just see the company appeal it until they had no avenue of appeal left as the perceived potential loss of income due to a judge saying that people can quite legally sell games second hand with no consequence, or fees paid to the developer, easily offsets the cost of legal feels

Some judges in the USA have been shown to be notoriously in favour of extreme Copyright enforcement (even to the point that fair use isnt fair), and some are very much against the commercial enslavement of the general population by corporations and organisations such as the RIAA/MPAA

Indeed, in some countries, the game you buy isnt "rented" but purchases, even though the EULA may say otherwise...

Re:If you've paid, is it legal to pirate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25261175)

Surely by buying something second hand, I've paid for the same rights as that bestowed on the previous owner, so would a judge back me?

Not if it's a one-time thing that's already been used.

Pre-owned movie ticket?

Re:If you've paid, is it legal to pirate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25261481)

What did you actually pay for?

Suppose a local coffee shop sells a $50 ceramic mug that comes with 10 certificate for coffee refills, valued at $5 each.

Once the certificate is drained, the owner decides the mug is worthless and sells it to a second hand store for $2. You go to the second hand store and buy the mug for $10 and then head on down to the coffee shop to get your free refills.

Why should you get free coffee when all you paid for is a mug?

this kosher with first sale doctrine? (2, Insightful)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260025)

I know the desire to promote the sales of their products but I get the feeling this sort of promo that applies only to the original purchaser of the game may run afoul of the First Sale doctrine [wikipedia.org] of the US copyright law.

I personally like "physical" promo bonuses, such as a free copy of another (older) game...or a limited edition widget/whachamacallits, etc.
Or even a game poster.

Re:this kosher with first sale doctrine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260193)

It's a service, not a product. It won't be long until all games are free (as in beer) software but are really just frontends to an online service which you can subscribe to.

Re:this kosher with first sale doctrine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260219)

No, it really doesn't. You aren't purchasing the promo, you're purchasing the game. The promo is something that is extra. That is enough to get around First Sale doctrine. It is also a good idea too. Instead of instigating draconian DRM to combat it they're adding bonus content. Now if only they would take off their draconian DRM from their other games like spore.

Re:this kosher with first sale doctrine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260587)

Not really. You know they're going to want to push the boundaries - cripple resold games as much as they can by grouping as much of the content as possible as one-time unlockable non-transferable "bonus".

Sadly, it'd probably *increase* the amount of DRM on PC games - because if you've got the bonus content already on disc, you need that content and its installer to be completely inaccessible.

It could very well kill modding, too. Think about it - if a game has pieces removed like this, it *has* to block mods, otherwise gamers could just download something that adds the missing pieces back in. No sir, we can't have that, not at all! It'll all have to be corporate-approved digitally signed material that phones home with the right keys to access.

Textbooks (1)

usul294 (1163169) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260031)

This makes me think of textbooks that come with CD's and online help, so that it encourages people to buy the book new(for like $150), also international editions usually have the problem numbers messed up and is a slight pain for Americans who buy them. Its a money grabbing move, but its much much better than DRM or anything like that.

Re:Textbooks (2, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260643)

If you think they're going to get rid of DRM in favour of this, I've got a bridge to sell you. Betting odds say we'll have both DRM and this.

How exactly does that work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260039)

I am not sure how they came up with the conclusion that this not greed at all

I mostly buy used games. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260181)

Why do these companies consider me less of a customer? Why do corporations these days seem determined to lose as much business as possible?

Re:I mostly buy used games. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260235)

They consider you less of a customer because you don't give them any money when you buy a used game. How hard is that to understand?

Re:I mostly buy used games. (1)

denominateur (194939) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260325)

It would be interesting to see how much of the second-hand earnings goes back into buying new games. Of course, a second-hand sale means less business for that particular product but a healthy second-hand market could easily translate to more business overall.

Re:I mostly buy used games. (1)

offrdbandit (1331649) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260473)

I would argue second-hand sales have little affect on the sale of new copies. Second-hand game markets are just an easy method of price discrimination. Very few people buy used copies of games they would consider buying new copies of (if I'm willing to buy a new copy of a game, I'm probably not going to settle for a used copy). Personally, I don't buy used games; if I don't want the game enough to buy a new copy, I just don't buy it.

Re:I mostly buy used games. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25261055)

As someone who buys used and new games, I'd agree with you. For games I've been waiting on, I'll buy those new so long as the price tag isn't insane. I'll usually splurge a bit for a Limited Edition if one's made available. The catch however is that when I buy new, I expect my game SEALED as well. This of course means ebgames/gamestop loses sales from me if they've already opened it and had the disc in some paper sleeve. I want to open my NEW games myself.

(Walmart, HMV, and other places have been getting more of my business lately because I can generally count on the games being properly packaged.)

For other games, and games that I'm curious about because they've been making headlines etc, I'll more likely wait until I find a used copy. I still have some expectations about the condition of the overall game, but needless to say I don't mind a bit of wear and tear. There are also the games that I end up not even noticing until it's too late to get new, at which point I'd pick it up used if necessary.

In effect, secondhand sales have just a positive effect on the net market here. I'll buy new what I was going to buy new - unless the retailers have damaged what they received from the publishers/developers (go blame them, not us.). And for the rest I'll test the waters here and there. And if I find I like what I've tested, you may get new sales from me in the future. Crippling games in the used market will certainly make me stop buying them overall (at least the ones affected by it) but I won't be instantly turning that unused cash over for new game purchases since I won't have an interest in it. I'll just buy more indie music or something.

Re:I mostly buy used games. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260801)

By buying the game used, he is giving money to someone who bought it new. The new-game buyer now has more money to buy more games from the company.

Re:I mostly buy used games. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25261537)

probably because you ARE less of a customer to them. you now have a copy of thier content that has already been used by someone else, and they made 0 money off of the license transfer.
no doubt exists in my mind that they think of that as single copy pirating. two users of the software that they were paid once for. they're in buisness for the money, that's how they feed thier families, dont expect something you didnt pay them for.

Gimme, gimme, gimme (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260361)

No. I demand game devs give everybody all the content immediately, for free, now, because I'm torrenting the game and playing it. I deserve it because I got the game for free. This is tyranny and non-democratic.

More to the point, I demand they give me more content than the people who were dumb enough to buy it! I'm so smart and clever because I'm cheating a big bad corporation out of money for a game I want to play! Doesn't anyone understand? It is a perfect ethical solution that if you don't want to give money to somebody bigger than you (and thus a predator), you steal it!

So this is completely unfair to people like me. Change it now! Now now now!

Re:Gimme, gimme, gimme (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261323)

Since you are downloading the game for free, you already have a better version than the people who paid for it. You didn't pay any money, didn't have to wait for the CD/DVD to arrive in mail (or to the local store), and most importantly - you have no problems with DRM and your copy of the game will work 10 years from now.

The motive is disgusting... (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260369)

I wonder if the idea of 100 people legally passing the game around after each person beats it keeps them from sleeping at night...

Not really worth it... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260523)

If it's tied to one console with DRM and you can't bring it to a friend's house, it takes away a lot of the fun of the game. It also takes away a lot of the value if I can't sell it used, if I don't like the game it's a lot harder for me to get rid of it because my friends would rather buy the one with the bonus content if they like it, and it's probably more of a ripoff for me if I take it to a used game store. I'd rather just have the content on the disc.

This sums it up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25260779)

"Free market for me but not for thee".

Happy! (1)

beefsprocket (1152865) | more than 5 years ago | (#25260873)

Games these days are shite, EA know it, so they build a franchise like Rock Band and want to protect it by getting people to buy into the brand. I guarantee marketing has more to do with this than developers out to get little Jimmy Pirate. I fact, it's the marketers who are seeking out little Jimmy, he's the target of this. Now that EA have a successful platform, they can milk it with periodic updates like this for minimum cost, but still charge full price to Jimmy again. Jimmy's happy because he has a new game to play with, EA are happy because Jimmy is happy. We're happy because we're pissed that we bought into a crap company/franchise with our first copy e.g. Slashdot readers being who we are, being pissed off makes us happy too :)

Why is buyng a used game compared to piracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25261005)

The only way I can afford to buy a game is used or on clearance. I'm severely disabled so I cannot work (I wish I could) so I'm basically dirt poor. Try seeing how many new games you can buy making 6K a year, yes I said 6k. The people here saying buying used games is akin to stealing need to STFU and stop spewing nonsense. I think it's greed driving the developers. If this shit happens with all developers I'm screwed.

It is greed after all. (2, Insightful)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261307)

It is kind of funny to me that with our tech prowess we have somehow figured out a way to create products that will be lost to the sands of time long before they become useless. I can still enjoy my 80's NES games. What about my Gears of War 2 "bonus" maps? Or my DRMed music tracks? Nope those will be gone in 10 years. This is not progression folks! In 500 years our ancestors will have quite a job cut out for them figuring out how we ticked, based solely on the greed of some companies. Art will be lost in a way that is inexcusable in our modern world. Fuck you greedy bastards.

Two different situations. (1)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261317)

The two examples given are totally different. NBA Live gives you essentially a free subscription-based service, which will create continued overheads for them into the future.
This is different from Rock Band 2, where the incentive could easily have been included with the game, or on a supplemental disc.

The idea behind NBA Live's incentive will work better too. To 'crack' those features would require regular work to update the rosters and release patches.

The idea of one time codes also raises the one-time-install issue. Will I be able to call in to the company and explain how I got the RROD and had to reinstall, and get an extra activation? If so, then expect the used game market to be full of people doing the same.

INCORRECT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25261531)

'T-Mobile is paying for it this year for all users who buy the game new. This is a very expensive tool to use, and if you don't buy it new, then you'll have to pay for this. It isn't greed at all.'"

Incorect, its greed pure and simple.

Used Games? Just boycott Gamestop / EB (1)

Rog7 (182880) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261705)

Seriously, if Publishers want no used games sold in place of new ones, they could simply insist that they sell them only with distributors of new games. If they all did this, Gamestop / EB would have to make the choice to stop acting like crummy pawnshops.

Sooner or later it won't matter anyway, digital distribution and all. Frankly, as a customer, I'm tired of lame selection of new games on the shelf while the used shelves are full of overpriced resales.

Textbooks (1)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 5 years ago | (#25261739)

This is the same garbage that textbook publishers have foisted on college students.

At first, it was a code that let you onto a website with homework help and hints.

Then, they made it really super easy for professors to give you homework via their site (which is only accessible via the one-time code, or $20-$40). By super easy, I mean it's the same problems as in the book, but the computer grades your answers. They then email a list of grades to your professor.

They'll surely do the same thing with video games - it'll be a bonus at first, but if this catches on, then in a few years, they'll make it so that the used game is worthless.

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