This day and age in the gaming industry more and more companies are becoming aware of the increasing “problem” associated with used-games sales. Sony took a huge step forward this past week with the patent filed for the technology that would not allow for users to play used games. As originally spotted by NeoGaf user “gofreak” this patent could potentially eliminate all used games sales by attaching a contactless “RF tag” with each game, and has the ability to work offline by remembering if it has been used with another user.
What does this mean?
There are a ton of factors to take into account here, particularly the rental business. Most developers these days are gun-hoe about making their money by not buying used games, and fully supporting the development companies. However, IF this process was to be included with the next generation of consoles from Sony, it could possibly ruin rental companies entirely, mainly companies such as GameFly, RedBox and some more.
Why would they do this you are more than likely asking? Simple… money. If Sony could effectively eliminate companies such as GameFly, and partially eliminate companies such as GameStop, then they can control their own market. They could go to 3rd party developers, and publishers and say: “We have this technology in place, we want a bigger cut of any profit from every game sold, that way we get money, and you get more money”. This here is a huge problem for both consumers and the industry as a whole.
It puts the developers in a both good and bad situation, while they can potentially make more money from higher new game sales; they are paying more to develop for consoles. While potentially growing the industry, it has a bigger chance to ruin it and causing more and more studios to close down.
So now this leaves us with another question… why now and how could they do it differently? The main reason, is because more and more people are buying used games. The economy is bad, very bad and the used game market makes up a vast amount of game sales worldwide. More and more companies are closing their doors to studios, and the independent market is emerging; which hurts the console market as most popular independent games are PC based. Sony (speaking from in-house developers) are losing anywhere from $20-60 / game with each used game sold, so it is only logical that they try out this new technology.
What could they do differently?
This one is simple as well: allow PlayStation users to rent their games directly from you. Think about it, Sony is so hell-bent on killing the used game market and rental companies, it is only logical. A player can rent a hard copy of a game, or download a digital copy for say $14.99 / month or include it with a PlayStation Plus membership (after-all, it is not worth it anyways). Instead of potentially killing your revenue, and vast loyal fan base, why not cater to that market you could never tap into?
You have one other option… a buyback program. A player purchases a game brand new directly from Sony, and 3 months later the new God of War comes out, the player can then contact Sony who would then send a box to ship back them the game and offer them a premium (more PS Plus members) and credit towards the new God of War. This is a win-win for Sony as they can then turn around and sell the game the consumer just traded in for a lower value, thus making even more money to the developers.