jump to navigation

Side Notes About Used Games February 14, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, PlayStation 3, wii.
Tags: , ,
18 comments

There has been a bit of a controversial breeze blowing through the console news, with the rumor being that Microsoft will be putting an end to the used game market with their next generation console by simply not allowing it to play used games.

Used games and piracy are the two things that keep some big game publishing execs up at night building enormous castles in the sky with all the wealth that could be theirs if only they could be rid of these meddlesome practices.

Not that I am unsympathetic to people whose software is being pirated.  I work in software as well, and it irks.

But with the threat of a final solution to the used game problem potentially on the horizon, it was extremely refreshing to hear somebody from EA come out and say that the used games market is not 100% evil.

Basically, in their view, used games have helped prop up the traditional retail channel for the last few years, which is still an important source of game sales.

Oh, and the fact that people who buy new games can then turn around and trade them in for credit increases the likelihood that they will then buy another new game.  So the used games market might actually be boosting new game sales, at least in certain segments of the market.

Using Used to sell New

Using Used to sell New

But they still want to kill the used market because… despite the above… they still hate it and can’t stop telling themselves that every used game sale would have been a new game sale if not for that damn gray market.

At the other end of the equation there is GameStop, a company that pretty much depends on used games to stay open.  They are upset.

No surprise there.

And they have some numbers that say some gamers won’t buy Microsoft’s icky new console if it doesn’t support used games.  And while I cannot speak to the validity of their poll, they are probably right to be worried.  The end of the used game market probably means the end of GameStop in the medium-to-long term.

And GameFly too, while we’re at it.  All those game rentals would have been new game sales, right?

Microsoft dreams of having control over things in the way that Steam does.  And they have been headed that way with things like direct purchases through XBLA.  Of course, Steam itself is in a bit of a fix in Europe, where the European High Court ruled that digital content should be transferable.  The concept of used might not be going away… and Microsoft throwing in against used will probably just inflame the issue in Europe.  They like Microsoft even less than most people here do.

And I expect typical Microsoft avarice when it comes to pricing, at least initially, which will stoke people’s ire even more so.  Steam thrives in part because of their massive sales, which rope in the buyers who didn’t have to have a given game on day one for list price.  Will Microsoft relent on the $60 price tag for games when there is no used market?  I bet not.

My only solace in all of this is that it does not impact me for the most part.

While we have two consoles, a Wii and a PlayStation 3, but I doubt that we will be jumping on the next generation.  I have been a PC gamer since 1983… wow, 30 years… and will likely remain so.  Our PS3 is mostly used to play Blu-Ray movies and stream Netflix, and our Wii hasn’t been on in months.

And, even when we were playing consoles more, I was not a big spender in the used game market.

Once in a while I would buy a used game from GameStop.

But I do not buy used games to save money or to stick it to the publisher.  I buy them because a given game I want simple isn’t available new any more.

Quite a while back I wanted Tetris for the Nintendo DS.  However, it was no longer being published and so was simply not available new.  It was even hard to find used.  GameStop had a copy for me, for which I paid nearly list price.  And not a penny of that went to Nintendo.  But not because I wouldn’t have given them the money.  However, I am sure that would lump me in with those killing single player games in the eyes of some.

Likewise, I had to go looking for a copy of Civilization II in order to be able to play it on Windows 7 64-bit.  The used market was the only choice.  The same went for Mario Kart Double Dash, a Game Cube game my daughter and I wanted to play on the Wii.

Of course, with another aspect of the next console generation… doing away with backward compatibility… the out of print game issue won’t rear its head any time soon.  Still, at some point, unless we go completely to digital distribution, there will games that have had their production run and are no longer available.

So where do used games sit in your world view?

Quote of the Day – Microsoft October 28, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment.
Tags: , ,
9 comments

Like Blanche DuBois, Microsoft has relied on the kindness of strangers.

-Robert X. Cringely, in the post Steve Balmer’s Dilemma

I read Robert X. Cringely not so much because he is right all the time… because he isn’t… but because he throws out scenarios that make you think about the industry in new ways.

Are there parallels in the MMO and gaming world to that Cringely post about Microsoft’s future?

How Useful is the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor? October 6, 2010

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Hardware, Humor.
Tags: , ,
9 comments

Not very.

I swear, some days it is like they don’t want to sell me a new operating system.

But let me pull back and tell my minor tale.

I thought I had better do some research into another aspect of the upgrade equation.  I thought I had better look into how much software I am going to have to buy upgrades for in order to get going with Windows 7.

It is fun to talk about the hardware, and it cost there can add up, but you cannot ignore the software end of things either.

As in the past, Microsoft has a utility you can run on your system to help you with that information.

I remember past versions of that utility, used for operating systems long gone.  It was a utility of negativity.  There was the inevitable short list of items that were compatible, and then the huge, arm-length list of items of that were either known to be incompatible or were unknown.  And unknown was always assumed to be incompatible.

But even with all the negativity, the utility at least told you something.  You got a hint at what might work or might not.

So I grabbed the current utility, the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor to see what it had to say.

I downloaded it, installed it, and ran it.  It churned for about 10 minutes on my computer and then Microsoft’s Grand Software Vizier came up with its report.

The Magic Advisor Says...

Seven items total were mentioned.

Six were listed as fully compatible.

Four of those were from Microsoft.

One of them was the damn Upgrade Advisor.  Glad to know that will still work after I upgrade!

And they weren’t really sure about Steam.

But none of the other applications on my machine was mentioned anywhere.  Not a one.

You would think that World of Warcraft might have been deemed significant enough for notice.  Or maybe Microsoft Office 2003.  Have you heard of that before?  Is it going to run on Windows 7?

Yes, it told me a few other things.  It said my PC was capable of running Windows 7.  I had figured that one out myself.  And it told me it had never heard of our printer before.  Who are these Epson people?  How long have they been making printers?

Nice work there Microsoft.  Really a bang up job.

I was invited to go to their compatibility web site and search for individual applications.  You know, something you would expect this particular application to handle for me.

I tried that for a bit.  It appears to serve as a showcase for companies to display the latest version of their software with no mention of software they might have been selling up to very recently.  I’m looking at you Corel.

Well, I guess it is going to take a dive into the pool to tell me how deep the water really is.

What to do with $40 Million? May 6, 2008

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Lord of the Rings Online.
Tags: , , ,
15 comments

Ars Technica reported over the weekend (via Private Equity Hub, which unfortunately charges for their content, so I couldn’t follow up on details) that Turbine has secured $40 million in additional venture capital (bringing their total up to $88 million) and will be announcing a new project soon.

That brings up two immediate question.

First, what will Turbine’s new project be? Another MMO surely, but an original IP or will they be licensing again?

So far they have two original IP MMOs:

Asheron’s Call – success
Asheron’s Call 2 – failure

And two licensed IP MMOs:

Lord of the Rings Online – success
Dungeons and Dragons Online – still open, but hardly a smash

Which route to go?

Second, what is the cash out plan? Those venture capitalist dollars are not angel investments, they will want their money back somehow.

For the second question, there are two obvious routes, go public and sell the company to somebody bigger.

Going public for the sake of going public (to pay off the VCs) is almost always a mistake and ends up damaging the company in the end.

But selling to another company can also shake things up more than people like. Plus, my thoughts immediately stray to one big company that wants to get into the MMO market, but that has failed to so far: Microsoft.

The cash out plan is almost inevitable because of the venture capital involved. It is just a question of how and when.

On the new project though, speculation can go wild. What will Turbine do?

Is their commitment to Dungeons and Dragons and their relationship with Wizards of the Coast strong enough that there might be another IP in that domain they want to try? Say, a nice outdoors IP like Forgotten Realms?

Or will Turbine lay down the sword this time and pick up the gun or the laser?

What will be the next project?

What do you think Turbine should do?

[addendum: Turbine's Press Release]