Obsidian extols digital distribution

Fallout: New Vegas chief creative officer Chris Avellone hopes online releases will "stab the used game market in the heart."

Obsidian Entertainment CEO Feargus Urquhart recently spoke to GameSpot about the developer's use of downloadable content as a measure to combat the used game market. Obsidian chief creative officer Chris Avellone holds a similar opinion, telling Industry Gamers that his studio sees digital distribution as an excellent counter to used game sales.

Obsidian enjoys the flexibility of releasing DLC for Fallout: New Vegas.

"I love digital distribution," said Avellone. "One of the things I enjoyed with Fallout: New Vegas was that digital distribution of the DLC made things more flexible in terms of getting the content done. You didn't have to worry about production times for discs, and so you could take an extra week if you needed that to get things right. Of course, one of the greatest things about digital distribution is what it does to reduce the used game market. I hope digital distribution stabs the used game market in the heart."

Avellone also expressed desire for Obsidian to be able to self-publish digital releases saying, "Our eventual hope is that we can stockpile enough resources to release our own titles digitally. Smaller games can be very satisfying projects to work on, and it would be great to do that. But it's going to take time for us to get there; we want to make sure we do it right."

In addition to other projects, Obsidian is currently working on South Park: The Game, which will be published by THQ for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

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116 comments
TSMJM
TSMJM

"so you could take an extra week if you needed that to get things right" so why didn't they take a little extra time and get things right, fallout new vegas was glitchy glitchy and what else, glitchy

mhaed
mhaed

Obsidian is a lackluster developer so it's no surprise they fear the used game industry. Advocating digital distribution is their attempt to guarantee their customers buy their games and can't have their money back.

WeWerePirates
WeWerePirates

Stabbing the used game market in the heart will stab the physical retail market in the heart. They don't carry that many new games and these days retail margins are so thin every shop is in danger. That in turns stabs the game industry in the heart. Sure, they will have digital distribution but physical sales are still important. Go into a game shop at this time of year and you will see it packed with Christmas shoppers. Do you see all these people buying Steam gifts? No? Then kiss that Christmas sales bump goodbye. On the topic of Steam you might as well bow down to your new overlord now. The idea that digital self publishing can gain traction is somewhere between naive and deluded. A good digital store front is difficult, expensive and for PC gaming at least Steam is the one to beat. EA is desperately trying to claw some ground back with Origins. EA has a huge catalogue to pull from steam to force people to it's store front. What's is Obsidian going to pull? Alpha Protocol? With used games retailers are trying to increase their margin but these days they need that to survive. Digital store fronts will try and up their share as well and due to Steam's dominance there is very little developers can do about it.

it009x9281
it009x9281

So my old games have just go in the bin what a waste.

187umKILLAH
187umKILLAH

I hope piracey stabs the digital distribution market in the heart.

Unholy123
Unholy123

Sad this is like the guy from alan moore game whining about used game's and i've said it before i'll say it again if you think just because you release a game it's worth $60 your outta your goddamn mind you should have to earn that price with top shelf quality and if you don't well guess what people will buy your crummy game when it's worth the price not before. . So nut up, shut up and how about you release a game that doesnt freeze up and crash constantly hmm obisdian? do that and i'll buy something you make new not before.

nevryn
nevryn

Honestly, I don't understand why they hate the "used game" industry so much. For the most part, the individuals that buy a used game cheap weren't going to buy the game at full price in the first place. Be happy they actually paid for it at all instead of pirating it. Plus, if the game is good enough to warrent a sequel, then it actually could improve sales. For example, I didn't think I was going to like Arkham Asylum so got a used copy for cheap. I loved it, so I bought Arkham City immediately. Developers should be more concerned with making the game good enough for people to want to keep, than just making enemies out of Gamestop.

KillerJuan77
KillerJuan77

@MuffintopX But back then the industry wasn't that big and many of the games came on specially designed cartridges (Some came with additional chips, others were fairly "vanilla"). Nowadays there's a huge production of Blu-Ray's, DVD's and even CD's so why every game haves to be ultra expensive goes beyond my understandment.

KillerJuan77
KillerJuan77

@Alexrmf You just reminded me of a fight I had with some people because I said that I preferred retail games instead of downloadable ones. Hell, I've bought many PC games on day 1 for 20-40 bucks less just because I get them from India, UK or US (I do have to wait 1 or 2 weeks 'til the game arrives but I actually get the game on my hands, with it's box, manual and key, even coupons at times). Also, my max download speed is 500-600 kbps so even something that's 5-10 GB can take a while to download so games like Rage, Dragon Age Origins or even Mass Effect 2 are a nightmare to download. I just hope developers stop being insanely greedy.

s_h_a_d_o
s_h_a_d_o

I notice that despite all these claims about the benefits of digital distribution, nobody is talking about reduced cost to the consumer. :|

Smokescreened84
Smokescreened84

I prefer to have the physical copy of the game in my hands from the box to the manual to the game itself. Much in the same way as I prefer to have an actual book in my hands than read one on a screen. Like a book, a physical copy of a game has a scent that tends to be regarded as the 'new game scent' which to me always smells like freshly made popcorn. Having the physical copy in your hands is true proof to three of a person's senses that it actually exists - touch, smell, sight - and can mean more to the person than in having it as some digital copy that has no tangible experience. Digital gaming as a whole is a terrible idea, console hard drives can't take a lot of games without deleting games and other content. Also ther is internet connections to consider, many internet exchanges are still outdated or are too far from rural areas, causing the net speed to be a lot slower or barely functional.

KhanhAgE
KhanhAgE

A hobby of mine is collecting boxed games from 1995-2005. It's a shame that developers and publishers no longer want to release physical copies of games. The day they stop selling physical copies of games will be the day I stop buying them. But I'm old school like that...

Alexrmf
Alexrmf

@KillerJuan77: I agree.. and what's even more puzzling for me is how digital distributed games are sometimes more expensive than the retail versions, even though there's no sales force behind the sale that would justify the same price, not to mention storage space or distribution.

liam82517
liam82517

Hmmm If you want people to buy your games new, may I suggest you start making games that arnt buggy as hell? Or in the case of alpha protocol, absolute trash! Lazy devs blaming used games and piracy for poor sales, sorry but at $60/£50 a pop not many people are gonna gamble on a game that looks like crap. The best games obsidian ever made were off the backs of other peoples work(ie bioware and bethesda)

MuffintopX
MuffintopX

Games have been $60 since Nintendo, the prices will never go down.

KillerJuan77
KillerJuan77

You know how devs should fight used game sales? LOWER THE PRICES! I know gaming isn't a cheap hobby but come on, 60 dollars is way too much for most of the games out there.

vega13mv
vega13mv

i dont like for my games to be soulbound, cuz then i can't mail them to a friend or auction them, only sell to a vendor...wait, i can't even do that!? what kind of witchcraft is this?

jkeplinger
jkeplinger

I hope the used game market drives a knife so deep that it kills Obsidian and all other studios that release buggy garbage, nickle and dime you to death with DLC, and just plain don't give you $60.00 worth of game. I don't buy Obsidian products for the reasons mentioned already. They need to learn to achieve a higher level of quality before allowing their games to go gold.

jamyskis
jamyskis

So many publishers and devs want to both have their cake and eat it. One of the promises that was made when digital distibution was in its infancy is that reduced distribution costs would trickle down to the customer. As it has turned out, distribution costs have not fallen - the platform operator always wants their meaty share of the profits - and no real benefits have trickled down to the customer. The unit sales success of PC games is attributable to heavy mark-downs in Steam sales and the like. Digital distribution itself brings in very little revenue, a fact confirmed by more honest industry reps like Strauss Zelnick. The majority of people are simply not willing to pay $60-70 for nothing more than a download. Of course, you'll have the technology freaks who extol the virtues of any new tech, regardless of how practical or sensible it is for them, but eventually digital distribution will be reduced to a second-rate channel for low-quality titles, film licence games and indie games, while physical media will continue to be the media of choice for major titles. Indeed, retail releases for indie games are being seen as a "badge of honour" by many indie devs these days.

rasputin177
rasputin177

Are Obsidian Devs on the forum? Would any of the 5 people who gave me a thumbs down care to explain? I have become used to getting at least a few thumbs down and never ask why but with this topic I am honestly curious why? Are there some gamers who actually want to "stick a knife in the heart of used games" Or prefer giving their money to gamespot then the Devs?

Bench_Scientist
Bench_Scientist

"his studio sees digital distribution as an excellent counter to used game sales" Read: It's great to reduce publishing costs and still be albe to charge retail price for a product (and never have to reduce prices due to stocking issues) "One of the things I enjoyed with Fallout: New Vegas was that digital distribution of the DLC made things more flexible in terms of getting the content done" Read: It's great to charge full price for an incomplete game and then charge for DLC that we "needed" another couple weeks to "complete"

santinegrete
santinegrete

Worry not Obsidian, you'll always get my money thanks to steam. Just never expect a 50-60 buck purchase with all the bugs that plague your games on release date. PS: paid 2 bucks for alpha protocol.

caketoo
caketoo

Most games are not worth the 60$ tag they get. I have no problem saving money and keeping it out of the devs pockets. Im no fan of gamestop but im also no fan of paying full price for a game then seeing DLC thats not free being offered within 2 weeks of me buying that game, or in obsidians case playing a very buggy game. When they make a product thats deserving of my 60$ then theyll get my 60$ until then they wont.

elbert_b_23
elbert_b_23

@rome_tx some companies have been trying to get gamers to stop supporting used games since the1990ies Nintendo for one said a few times back then that they do not support used games and its hurting the game market

firehawk998
firehawk998

One thing you notice here is how the devs and publishers never talk about how the video game retail market works. The shops has to buy the games from the publishers based on demand. Once the store buys whether the game sells or not its the stores responsibility and that end the publishers already made their money. So the publishers aren't losing anything. This is just another scam from the gaming industry to get more money.

rasputin177
rasputin177

I don't care but I also don't understand why I got thumbed down. There are some gamers out there that don't want the price of games to drop? Or would rather have there money given to gamespot then the Devs? Please explain.

rome_tx
rome_tx

I said it a few times and I'll say it again. It's downright hilarious that used games turned into a "problem" this gen.

Yulaw2000
Yulaw2000

Used game's are a good thing for us, and the industry. They are a fantastic way to bring in new players and give the good games a edge over the bad ones. If a game is good people are less likely to trade it, therefore there are less used copy's to cut into new sales, but bad games get traded in fast. So having used as a option keeps developers/publishers in line and the quality of games good.

richten71
richten71

One thing bad about digital downloads is that they take up space. If all games are released this way, that Xbox or PS3 hard drive fills up pretty quickly. So not only are you paying $60 for a new game, but you're also paying money towards hard drive space, which is now another expense towards gaming. Also, I'll buy a used game here and there when I don't think a game is worth the $60 they are asking for. I know every developer wants their game to be a $60 game, but they're not. Not all of them. They should know when their games are not up to the same standards as a BF3, MW3, Skyrim, Uncharted 3, Batman AC, Assassins Creed, etc., and price them accordingly. If Duke Nukem, Homefront, Need for Speed would have been priced $39.99, I would have bought those games brand new. Instead, I purchased them used. And the developers can charge those prices if they wanted to, they choose not to. Look at Nintendo. Their top games sell for $49.99 brand new, Skyward Sword, with their other games going for $39.99, like Mario Kart 7. Did the developers of Zelda spend any less time or resources than Lucasarts, Kaos, Black Box, or Gearbox (which had most of the work already done for them on Duke Nukem). I'm not paying $60 for a new game when it doesn't deserve that amount. When they fix their pricing, more of my money will go to them.

rasputin177
rasputin177

@ arther la blunt. Great point. I would rather the developer get my money then greedy gamespot but at the same time you can't charge 60 dollars for every game regardless of content and except the consumer to not try and save money where they can. You try and charge the consumer as much as possible so why shouldn't they try and do the same but finding the game as cheap as possible? If you really want to stop this lower the price of your games and I will no longer need to ever buy a used copy.

Cenerune
Cenerune

The problem with used games is that its abused by a few retailers. It must be really frustrating from a developer perspective to see a game, which sold new, cost $60 while being sold used for $55 by Gamestop.

elbert_b_23
elbert_b_23

i do not support the used game market for trading in games or buying used games it has been hurting the game market for years now for a few reasons, and big one is that used game money goes 100% to the store while buying new games most goes to the developer and publisher, and trade credit also the store gets the money new or used. and i am in favor for digital its great for handhelds to have games on the system and not needing to lug around hard copies and for consoles its good time saver for not needing to swap out disks.

Arther-la-Blunt
Arther-la-Blunt

I love the free market when I can charge $60 for a new game. I hate the free market when the market dictates the price.

Dumachum
Dumachum

Trying to kill the used game market is stupid. New and used titles have a symbiotic relationship. Hundreds of thousands of new game sales are made each year because you can trade in old games for credit. I can't think of another industry with as much anti consumer belligerence as the gaming/software industry. No one goes to the lengths of defying logic and being as smug as they do.

kkxtrouble
kkxtrouble

Well people are saying that is their right to sell their games to whoever they want - And you ARE right. But... if they want to sell only online is their right too, if you dont want to buy it, dont buy it. The thing is, the trade off will still be beneficial for them, if just one out of four people who were buying used games starts downloading them they are already winning. The main problem with game is that they are "temporary", once you beat it you sell it, its different from cars or furniture.

Kingjames11
Kingjames11

I've never bought a new car, and yet I have owned 4 cars and a motorcycle. The manufacturers of these products received their money for said product on delivery to the dealership. They do not continue to make money on the third and fourth sale. And why should they? They didn't re-deliver the vehicle. They didn't rebuild the vehicle. They had no part in any secordary or tertiary transactions pertaining to the vehicle. They are paid for the original product. End of story. The same should be true of any other product in the market, but for some reason the entertainment industry gets to play by another set of rules. Why? It's not like someone copied the game and then sold the copy to me. They played it, they finished with it. They got rid of it. I just don't get how the games market should be different, nor do I understand gamers who support this guy.

syafiqjabar
syafiqjabar

"I hope digital distribution stabs the used game market in the heart." I am a straight guy, but this sounds very, very sexy. Especially coming from a smaller developer.

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

@viruscarrierxxx Yeah I hear the PC gaming market gets all the big games.... Get over yourself. The PC community is rife with pirated games and developers know this. Why are you guys always so far up your own arse? We're all gamers buddy. Get off that not so high horse of yours.

gamingfrendly
gamingfrendly

such a stupid idea killing the market of used games = piracy hell opens its gates plus not all people can afford a new game they dont cost 60$ every where some slaps an extra 20$ on them

GriffinBalls
GriffinBalls

I don't care about physical copies, manuals, anything like that. In fact I downright like Digital Distribution. HOWEVER (you all knew that was coming right) I do not like the video games industry stopping me from having the possibility to go out and buy used games, its stupid that developers have now started caring more about this than piracy. All it does is make me want to pirate, games devs are just too damn greedy, I mean ffs, Modern Warfare has topped $1 billion in 16 days. And these people want to moan about used sales? why, you get s*** loads in new sales. F*** you Avellone

Sohereiam
Sohereiam

Well I hate digital distribution. Why? 1. if there is something easy to pirate is digital distribution, if the company says that DD helped, its a lie, because I tired to see rip off of every single movie, game, manga, anime, series on internet, if you say your site has a lot people who pays, there is ten times more who doesn't, stop deluding your self. 2. if the company suffer damage for their ignorance, they blame on the first thing they see, just like a cheating husband, and what is the first sign of a cheating husband or wife? Its when they start loving something they originally disliked on work street, or just a sudden change on behavior, just like a company cheating on their consumer with incomplete products. 3. To sell a retail product you need, a factory to produce, a store to represent and people to sell, in another words it gives people JOBS, in a time o crisis your first thought is to create a product that don't has a physical form and making a lot of people lose their jobs( personally to me this is the same as theft, as you are taking away their salary , but that just my opinion) what kind of product a unemployed person obtain... pirated or used.

Daian
Daian

I fail to see how digital distribution can stop used sales, as long as there are still retail copies of the game used sales will continue and it's completely legal and normal, u can buy any other product used so why not video games? Because of big publishers' greed? Sometimes we don't think a game is worth the full price or we can't afford buying all the games we want at full price so why should we not buy them used if we don't mind that they're used products? This will only increase piracy so these greedy bastards still won't get any extra money ( if people can only download a game at full price or "borrow" it off the internet guess which one they'll pick if they don't plan on paying full price for it?).

nurnberg
nurnberg

People thinking that digital distribution will kill the used game market are so wrong. This will only backfire. People will just buy less new games than they did before. The sales on consoles will just end up like the low sales on PC.

spOOoOOn
spOOoOOn

I get this non-fact based use of piracy as an excuse to screw PC players over with DRM... But trying to argue that they have any right to revenue beyond first purchase of a game is just pathetic. You see washing machine manufacturers hooking their machines up to the internet+DRM because they're missing out on second hand sales? Pathetic...

viruscarrierxxx
viruscarrierxxx

So much butthurt. Seriously, if you like used games, whatever. But the baseless insulting of Obsidian just because they attacked your chosen way of purchasing (which is proven to be as bad as piracy) is just lawl worthy. As Digital Distribution increases, the used games market will die. PC has dealt with it for years, deal with it console babbies

MAST3RBLAST3R
MAST3RBLAST3R

Used game sales as a whole have a worst impact on the industry than piracy, you can't blame developers for wanting to be rid of it. Look at it this way, someone pirates a game? They probably just don't want to spend the money, but there's a chance they would have if they couldn't pirate it. If someone buys a used game? There is a MUCH bigger chance they would have bought the game new if they couldn't have bought it used. Essentially, a pirated game is sometimes a lost sale, a used game is nearly ALWAYS a lost sale.

mrzero1982pt2
mrzero1982pt2

i understand that used game sales hurt the market, but for some, used games are the way to go. in 2010 i was unemployed and had a tight budget and would sometimes buy older versions of used games with my gamestop card. but when i got a job again i went back to new. but what they are saying too is that even talking to a friend/co worker/classmate/etc and trading games for a few days is classified as used games!

SpaceV
SpaceV

@Cactusgod: I completely agree. And they even describe used sales as a threat to the industry... When actually the lack of it is a threat to the consumer.