Used games 'probably' good for consumers - former THQ boss

Outgoing executive Danny Bilson says secondhand games are a good thing for users, but "probably not so good for publishers"; Saints Row 4 to have "broader appeal."

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Used games are "probably" good for consumers, former THQ executive vice president of core games Danny Bilson told Eurogamer at a pre-E3 event recently. Bilson, who left the publisher just this week to "pursue other interests," explained that while secondhand games may be good for users, they are "probably not so good for publishers."

Saints Row already has gun-toting hot dogs. What will Saints Row 4 bring?

According to Bilson, the way to "respect" users is to design projects to be "more valuable," such that gamers have a reason to hold on to their copies. To achieve this, Bilson said THQ will release additional content for its games via postlaunch digital offerings.

"This is something I'm talking seriously about now with the studios," he said. "Extended content shouldn't be an afterthought. It shouldn't in any way feel to the consumer we took stuff out of the game to sell it to them later. We can't do that at all. But if we give them an IP or a game they love, we could give them more of it over time if they choose to buy it, and that will keep them from wanting to sell it back to move on to something else."

Elsewhere in the interview, Bilson spoke about Saints Row 4. He said the new game will add new characters and points of view, on its way to having a "broader appeal." Gamers may want to temper their excitement for the project, as THQ is about a year away from officially talking about it, Bilson said.

Lastly, Bilson sounded off on THQ's recent announcement that it was seeking publishing help for Tomonobu Itagaki's action game Devil's Third. He said he was "disappointed" by the "very difficult and personally painful" news, noting he's been "deeply involved" in the project.

"It's purely a function of where we are strategically in reorganizing the company to move forward," he said. "It's not about stopping a game that had problems, or a problem project. It's not. We just have a limited amount of slots we can fund, and for various reasons--business reasons predominantly, and not about sales forecasts or anything like that--it's really about what we can fund and what we can build in this window. It became a very, very difficult and painful decision to look for alternatives with Devil's Third."

Bilson said he isn't sure if THQ will publish Devil's Third, but noted that he "wants that game to be played" whether or not his company publishes it, because he thinks it's "fantastic." For more on Devil's Third, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.

Discussion

135 comments
cephas90
cephas90

Consumer>publisher.  Nuff said.

DARREN636
DARREN636

used games good for consumer shocker.... wow. now that is profound insight. yes i like to pay less.

aussiemuscle
aussiemuscle

 @nyran125 i buy new 6 months later as well.20-$30 is much easier to live with.

 

buying used you risk getting a key that won't work (maybe there's a spot for the devs to make a little money from second hand games, by issuing replacement keys for a fee?)

mmidnigh
mmidnigh

Finally!  An exec that is capable of occasionally removing his head from his ass...  Cliffy B could learn a thing or two from this guy.

nyran125
nyran125

i wait 6 months then buy...

 

STEAM is the answer......I can buy cheap brand new games in 6 months adn the deals are amazing. Publisher gets my money, i get cheap games, its a win win.

VarietyMage
VarietyMage

Once again, the biggest cost of any game company is the personnel involved.  If you raise prices, yeah, you can make bigger, longer games...or you can make reasonable-length GOOD games.  You can do just as much with less if you take your time about it with fewer people, and if you get better tools (like a visual DirectX system that requires less programming know-how, and an auto-art interface that doesn't require the entire republic of Korea just so you can animate your game).  What is currently going on is simply greed, nothing more, nothing less.  It's a fight between the publishers, the retailers, and also the game developers, who have to fight just to keep their jobs, much less get paid.  Maybe the game development companies should put it in the contract that the publisher doesn't get any IP rights to the game or its logos until the dev team pronounces it finished (without rushing or threats).

 

And as for Saint's Row 4, they'd better not mess it up like they did SR3.  SR3 felt so empty.

o016945
o016945

I love how most of today's gamers complain about the cost of games. As if the cost is so dramatic to them and unheard of. Newsflash, the 59.99 price has been an alike price since the mid-80's. NES games were typically 49.99, with some games (like Zelda) reaching 59.99. SNES games had a SRP of 59.99, with some games at 69.99 (like Super Street Fighter). Sega Genesis games were 49.99, with one game reaching 99.99 (like Virtua Racing).

 

People speak like the 59.99 in games today don't hold their worth. Considering people of my age were buying an NES game for 49.99, and one that most likely would last 2 hours when played through with little to no replayability, I'd say that today's gamers have it much easier, and the price is much easier to justify. Minimum wage in the 80's was a mere 3 something an hour. While inflation has instilled in most of the market, the video game industry (and possibply the pizza industry), has maintained their price for over 20 years. The cost to make games is much higher today than it was then, and with online play and patches that we all expect, development costs and maintaining networks, inflates development costs even more. Neither existed then.

 

It's easy to complain about such costs, but try taking a girl out to a dinner and movie, and realize that you can nearly hit the cost of a video game, and you're night will be over quickly, and you probably wouldn't get laid either.

nyran125
nyran125

i dont mind not having used copies, then the publisher needs to make thier copies as cheap as used copies after awhile, if they did that, then id buy them off the publisher. This is again why STEAM is so friggin awesome. Im actually getting the game just as cheap as a used copy, CHEAPER than a used copy AND the publisher is getting my money win win.

digi-demon
digi-demon

Oh what a shocking revelation :P

Heres another gem from me

Stupid high retail prices are good for publisher

and not so good for the public - doh :P

darksiED70
darksiED70

I hate gamestop and the game publishers. They're both greedy cheaters so I trade with friends, amazon or glyde. If games are sold @ 30.00 new, i'll buy them without thinking twice. If it's by nintendo, who treats american consumers like sheeet, I won't buy it for even $10.00.

jamesmonkey4u
jamesmonkey4u

If games were not so expensive i wouldn't buy secondhand games but i'm not going to pay £35 for a 3Ds game when most are just remade games from previous formats.

 

 There are a few publishers/developers i like supporting so i try to buy there games new I really like Larian studios, Bioware and the team that make the witcher 1-2.

erik_wolff
erik_wolff

The solution is quite simple. Instead of charging 60 bucks for a new game, charge 40. In the end, all the people who were buying at 60 are still buying at 40 AND a whole bunch of new people will buy at 40 as well just because it's a better deal. Look at the Steam sales. Publishers often make more money when a game is on sale than they do at normal price simply because more people buy the game.

 

It's pretty simple to realize they'd sell more copies at a lower price. There's a chance they wouldn't make as much money, but they would earn goodwill from the consumers, which equals more money in the future.

Maersyndel
Maersyndel

Are this site's users a good example of what people actually think regarding this topic.?

I hope not.

 

It really doesn't take a lot to understand. A publisher sells a copy of a game once to the store, customer trades it back in, the store then resells that copy of the game any amount of times after that. Yes it's good for consumers, but the traded game market operates in such a way as to promote traded games over new games, it's always going to affect sales in some way.

 

For example, the game store near me has this promotion they are running (they're a chain), where you get points depending on what you do that you can redeem for games/discounts etc. You get the most points by trading in games, and buying used ones. They want you to buy their higher margin products, at a fractionally lower price to the consumer, but leave the publisher/developer out of the equation.

 

This is fair enough as they're a business and businesses love higher margins, but so are the companies making the games, and when a company that makes a game goes under due to poor sales, I wonder just how high the % difference in sales to reatilers might have been if people didn't have the option of buying used and whether they might still be making games.

FandomTheory
FandomTheory

Good for consumers, yes.

 

Good for publishers, also yes... that is, if the consumers sell your competitor's games to purchase yours. It's a double-edged blade.

 

The only publishers who are afraid of the used games market are the ones who secretly know that their games are headed for used game stores in a month or so of release.

lordquasar
lordquasar

The main thing for me when it comes to used games is that I will be a game I was not wanting to if it is cheap and if I like I will pre-order the next one. So I do not see how used game sales hurt publishers as much as they say.

q-bert39
q-bert39

IVE READ THIS BEFORE. WHY ARE YOU REPOSTING OLD ARTICLES LOL

JOKER677
JOKER677

Lmao stating the obvious.  You think we want to pay 60$ for every game we want?  GTFO

VKM7md
VKM7md

"probably" ? LOL It's absolutely!! Do we care about how much publishers are making? no!

SauhlGood
SauhlGood

yeah now that he has no responsibility to the share holders he speaks....

ED0511
ED0511

If publishers can greatly reduce the price of game rather than earning millions and millions of profit, I will be happy to buy all the games new. However, looking at those big names like skyrim, CoD, BF, FIFA, etc. All of them would like to take a BIG chunks of money out of our salaries. In this case, I believe we need to stick with second hand game atm.

Gamer_4_Fun
Gamer_4_Fun

As much as I want to, I can't buy all the games new all time the time. Give us a break!

leeko_link
leeko_link

"Used games 'probably' good for consumers - former THQ boss"

 

Not 'probably' good, it is good for consumers.

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

While I think Skyrim's DLC is taking a little too long to be released(given the assumed size of it, it's understandable), it's certainly a lot better than day 1 DLC.  Personally I'd feel just right with a healthy dose of DLC every 2-3 months for a game if I really liked it.  I don't know if that's too quick for Fallout 3 DLC-sized content but you have to find a balance between DLC size and the time to launch it if you want people to hang on to their games.  Because Skyrim's so bloated with content, it can afford to wait that long, but release a much smaller game and 6+ months for DLC is much too long.

Wula_
Wula_

Or better yet. I remember back in the day we were given free DLC for various games as a reward for supporting the game. Or wait till they put together a worthwhile expansion and charge 30% of the game's original price for it, But nowadays devs realize they can make tons of small DLC packs and charge us for every last one of those packages....

 

And some may note that I buy DLC. Which is true. But I wait till they drop the price or go on sale for what they are actually worth. None of this $3 for 2 character skins crap.

Killer6b9
Killer6b9

I would take DLC instead of a new version of a game every single year. For the Madden users you get updated rosters, for the Tiger fans you will get new golf courses, and so on and so forth. Most of the time IMO the "new" version just don't have enough true updates for a $60 price tag.

TruthTellers
TruthTellers

I think that from now until the end of gaming, devs and publishers will continue to take more and more out of games and sell it as "DLC." This will continue to happen until gamers are fed up and no longer buy such content.

wavelength121
wavelength121

This guy is retarded. NEVER imply that your company's wealth is more important to you than serving the consumer. Even if you are a capitalist sellout who adheres to that "every company is in it for themselves" garbage, at least PRETEND to be a creative artist who does what he does because he loves it. 

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

Yep, the man's a true visionary and voice of the people.

TheDudeman420
TheDudeman420

I've bought a used game only twice in my life because either I'm sure I want to play a game and I buy it new, or if I'm unsure, I borrow from a friend or wait a couple months for the price to go down.

But used games are a must. It allows for a greater number of people to enjoy a game!

The reason console makers are trying to stop used games is because the publishers don't see a cent of money from used games. But I'm sure there are other ways around it. The reason people buy used games is because they either don't want to shell out 60 bucks for a game they are unsure off or they just can't afford it.

If console makers could figure out something that substitutes the trend of used games and also benefits the publishers then we could all be happy. And by something, I mean a game distribution medium that that allows people to afford a game for less than 60 bucks.

I don't know if the logistics of this would work, and I'm sure there are a lot of economic factors to consider, but heres an idea! If publishers could figure out a way to digitally rent games over the interwebs, then maybe people won't buy used games. This is kind of similar to what OnLive does.

For example, if I pay 15 bucks to rent God of War 3 for two weeks over digital distribution, the I won't go out and buy the used copy. Two weeks is more than enough time to enjoy the game, and I'd be paying a lot less than what I'd pay for a new or even a used game! The game locks out after 2 weeks, and publishers get some money and gain a larger audience. The rental thing could begin maybe 3 weeks or so after the game is released so there is still an incentive to go and buy the new game!But there is still the other side to this equation; used games are a great way for people to make money of some of the old games they have lying around. I for one regularly make trips to BestBuy or Gamestop to make some moolah of my older games. Also, decline in used games would have a huge economic impacts on used game retailers! But like I said, just an idea, I doubt it would work but its something to think about. 

Ecthelion22
Ecthelion22

maybe you should think why people buy used games... ok let me tell you: because nowadays 60 bucks is a lot for a game...specialy this generation games, full of bugs and glitches, rushed..

001011000101101
001011000101101

"Extended content shouldn't be an afterthought. It shouldn't in any way feel to the consumer we took stuff out of the game to sell it to them later. We can't do that at all. But if we give them an IP or a game they love, we could give them more of it over time if they choose to buy it, and that will keep them from wanting to sell it back to move on to something else."

*clap clap clap* Looks like the guy just figured out the whole point of DLC. What a clever boy. A bit late, but that's okay.

johnny_pay
johnny_pay

its funny he says they shouldnt take content out a game to give it to us later but its exactly what thq did with SRTT. pirates cracked the game and found most of the dlc that then got released in the following months.

Killer6b9
Killer6b9

 @o016945 wow that last part was spoken from a TRUE gamer! Kudos on your comment cause you are completely correct. Gaming is not a "cheap" hobby, the only reason these people complain is cause the parents are no longer buying them for the child and now the child has come to realize that the cost is more then they imagined when they want EVERY single great game made.

digi-demon
digi-demon

Agree - most handheld games regardless of format are shameless ports/cash-ins of full size console releases - hence I am definately giving PSVita a wide berth :D

drgribb
drgribb

 @Maersyndel How do you think a used book store works??  Or a garage sale?  Thrift stores?  Geezus man.  Get a reality check.  Some people find value in new products.  Some people want a copy of a book they really love, to put on their bookshelf or in their book collection, not just some secondhand copy that, while having clearly been loved by many readers over the years, has a torn cover and dog-eared/missing pages.  Some people plan to read a book over and over again, or maybe plan to one day read it to their children.  If it's an academic text, maybe one might want a new copy on their shelf to keep as a reference text rather than someone's used copy with a random name written on the inside of the cover and notes/doodles/highlights covering some pages.  Others might not really mind all that much.  Some may just want to give an interesting sounding book a chance without paying $25 for the brand new hardcover copy.  So they either wait for the "budget" copy (paperback) to come out or they buy a used copy of the hardcover (or they make the logical other decision and take it out of the library, assuming there isn't a wait for it.)  Some people are happy to find a book- that they loved as a child, but can no longer find because it's out of print- at a used books store for 50 cents because clearly no one else is interested in it.

 

Does that really seem that unfair?  It's the way of the world man.  Now go through what I just wrote and every time the word "book" or a book-related term is used, replace it with the word "game" or a similar game-related term.  It's not much different, from my point of view.  Some people enjoy the "whole package" with their game- box art, manual/insert, etc. or are excited enough about a game that they want to truly "own" it (buy a new copy.)  Others accept all the risk of purchasing a used game and aren't interested in keeping or reusing a game.  That earlier bit about finding a "book" that you loved for  cheap because "no one else wanted it" has happened to me with numerous games (though I'll admit, through internet purchases, not at stores).  Soooo many games that were almost universally panned and are now very hard to find because of no demand, but that I really enjoyed, that I've been able to buy for $2-10 from people all too willing to get rid of their copies.

FandomTheory
FandomTheory

 @Maersyndel I understand that the used games market drastically undermines the developers' and publishers' profit margins. That's a no-brainer. The problem I have, though, is WHERE that extra profit would theoretically come from.

 

Pretend I purchase a brand new game for $60.  Then I soon realize the game is crap, so I try to sell it to my friends for a fraction of the cost to minimize my losses. But no matter how hard I try, or how many friends I offer, my friends refuse to purchase it from me for anything greater than $15.

 

By basic economic rules, this means that the game was never worth $60 -- its objective worth was only $15, and I was suckered into purchasing it for $60. In hindsight, I should have waited, because the price of the game would probably have dropped very soon due to extremely poor sales.

 

Basically, by removing the secondhand market, publishers and developers hope to raise their profit margins by suckering customers into buying things they actually do not want or need and would not have otherwise purchased.

 

Wonderful business strategy, by the way. Tried-and-true by every plaid-shirted door-to-door salesman or used car salesman on the planet. It works, I won't deny that. There are always fools in the consumerist world who are soon parted with their money. I just find it pathetic that developers and publishers are attacking the used game market, thereby outright admitting that their success depends on foolish spenders.

i-like-me
i-like-me

 @jinzo9988 If you ask me Bethesda is doing DLC perfectly by creating a game with loads of content that gets people really interested and then laying out the plan for big expansion pack bits of DLC before the game launched meaning that people will want to hang onto their copies

RedLegZeff
RedLegZeff

 @Wula_ See, I have a theory. Pokemon is the biggest video game conspiracy ever. They drive into the heads of little kids "gotta catch em all". Then a decade or so later, kids grown up, video games come with tons of little dlc's that those brainwashed have to buy.

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

 @Ecthelion22 Then it sure is a good thing you can find ANY game for less than $60 without buying used (unless you want it day 1). Buying used from Gamestop is often more expensive than buying new from amazon, et al.

RealFabioSooner
RealFabioSooner

 @001011000101101 I can't remember a THQ game with DLC that blatantly looked like it was ripped off the main content, so I'm not sure if the guy is "a bit late" - it's just that he's talking what he practiced.

 

But again, I don't represent the majority as the only cases where I really felt like the DLC was ripped-off content were the Prince of Persia (2008) "epilogue" and Ridge Racer Vita (still to play Asura's Wrath and make a stand). Even in Assassin's Creed II's case I felt like the endgame flowed better without the two chapters.

 

Oh, and before someone screams "Capcom!", I don't really play its fighters much so I wouldn't know.

zype2
zype2

 @001011000101101

 I think the Call of Duty franshise is on top of that philophy about five years now...it's the standard way of marketing now.

shadow580
shadow580

 @johnny_pay that kind of business practice makes me sick. The same goes for color DLCs, which are outrageously overpriced for the little amount of work they require.

magicmonkeymatt
magicmonkeymatt

 @i-like-me I agree Bethesda's DLC is always great and it is always NEW content as opposed to most DLC which feels like it's been taken out of the original game! I loved the Fallout 3 and New Vegas DLC and I'm really looking forward to Dawngaurd!

RedLegZeff
RedLegZeff

 @parrot_of_adun  @Ecthelion22 Gamestop is usually a rip off. Half the time you save like 5-10 dollars only, and they buy them for 1/4 of the price. Amazon usually has good deals, and steam has crazy sales if you're a pc gamer. Think one reason people like used games is that they can sell games back and save say 20 bucks off of new, but they lose a game.

001011000101101
001011000101101

 @zype2 Every time a new map pack comes out for a COD game, a huge part of my friend list starts playing the game. I don't know how they do it, but damn, are they good at it!

zype2
zype2

 @001011000101101

 I agree! In the end with all the map packs, it's like buying the game for the second time!! The crazy thing is what you pointed out, so many people have done it! If anything, COD should go down in history on how they can sell a game twice.