Volition developer blasts used game business

Design director at Saints Row studio warns industry could "fall apart" due to used sales, says an Xbox that blocked used games would be "fantastic."

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The used game business is a contentious issue. For companies like GameStop, sales of used games are big business, but those who actually develop games don't see a dime when people purchase their titles secondhand. One developer recently vocalized his take on the used game market, and it paints a less than lovely image of the business.

Durall is far from pleased with the used game business.
Durall is far from pleased with the used game business.

In a recent entry on game developer blog AltDevBlog titled "I Feel Used," Volition design director Jameson Durall lambasted the used game market and noted that change is needed or the industry will crumble.

"In the end, I fully believe that we have to do something about these issues or our industry is going to fall apart," he said. "People often don't understand the cost that goes into creating these huge experiences that we put on the shelves for only $60. They also don't seem to realize how much they are hurting us when they buy a used game and how pirating a copy is just plain stealing."

Durall, who is currently working on a secret project at Volition, laid out a plan for combating used game sales. He said supporting games with downloadable content will encourage users to hold on to their games longer. However, Durall warned that this tactic only will work if the DLC in question is "compelling and a good enough value" for consumers.

Durall also pledged his support to the online pass schemes being used by publishers like Electronic Arts, THQ, Sony, and others, whereby parts of a game are available only to those with a new copy of a game.

"Some consumers complain about this method because the precedent has always been that it's included in the price and should come with it," he said. "It did for the person who actually bought it first…so was saving that $5 at GameStop worth it for you?"

Looking ahead, Durall said he also embraced Sony's plan to offer digital copies of PlayStation Vita titles--which cannot become used units--at a discounted rate. He said he expects gamers to be enticed to buy digital copies because of their lower price rate and this will in turn lead to fewer used copies in the wild.

Durall also talked about the rumor that the Next Xbox would prevent gamers from playing used titles. Durall said this kind of mechanism would be "a fantastic change for our business," while admitting gamers would not be excited about it at first.

That said, Durall said he believes gamers will "grow to understand why and that it won't kill him."

As for how Microsoft might go about preventing gamers from playing used titles, Durall said the company already has a system in place. He suggests that Microsoft would need to only use a code to tie a copy of a title to an Xbox Live account and make the game playable only on that account.

Durall admits that a system like this would hurt the game rental business and that there are several "faults that would have to be ironed out," but nevertheless, he contends that it is certainly possible.

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