Heavy Rain Dev Says Pre-Owned Sales Cost it Millions

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Heavy Rain Dev Says Pre-Owned Sales Cost it Millions

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Used game sales are one of the biggest threats to the videogame industry, says Quantic Dream's co-founder.

Quantic Dream co-founder Guillaume de Fondaumiere says that the studio lost millions of Euros in royalties to people buying pre-owned copies of Heavy Rain. He estimates that three million people played the game, but Quantic Dream only saw money from two million sales.

"On my small level it's a million people playing my game without giving me one cent," de Fondaumiere said. "My calculation is, as Quantic Dream, I lost between €5 and €10 million worth of royalties because of second hand gaming." He said that pre-owned sales were one of the biggest threats to the videogame industry as a whole, and one that would affect everyone from developers, to retailers, to publishers if it wasn't fixed.

de Fondaumiere thought that the loss of money from triple A titles would eventually make them unprofitable, and - as the industry isn't a charity - they would simply disappear as a result. If this happened - or if publishers went the "download only" route - then retailers would obviously suffer as well, as one of their biggest revenue streams dried up.

"Now I know the arguments, you know, without second hand gaming people will buy probably less games because they buy certain games full price, and then they trade them in," he said. "Well I'm not so sure this is the right approach and I think that developers and certainly publishers and distributors should sit together and try to find a way to address this, because we're basically all shooting ourselves in the foot here." He said that there was a case to be made that games were too expensive, and he thought that there was a price point that would make everyone - from the consumers to the publishers to the retailers - happy.

The rest of the industry would seem to agree with de Fondaumiere's assessment of the threat posed by pre-owned sales, as multiple publishers have started incentive schemes to try and get people to buy their games news. Some of them are carrots, like offering additional content for new customers, and some of them are sticks, like forcing pre-owned customers to pay extra for multiplayer.

However, as much as de Fondaumiere might want it to be so, just lowering prices isn't going to fix everything. As it stands, the amount of money a retailer makes on a used game is significantly higher than the amount it makes on a new one. If the industry is serious about tackling used game sales, the going to have to make that not be true anymore, and that's a really tall order. Sure, cutting prices would help a little but it would really only be treating the symptoms and not the disease.

Source: GamesIndustry.biz

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Excellent to see a developer actually attach some numbers to this obvious yet debated issue. It really is something that needs to be addressed on a much deeper level, and it will likely include some cooperation on both the dev/pub side and the retail side.

Of course, I think a lot of what Heavy Rain in particularly experienced is because of the type of game it was. When you create a completely cinematic game with little depth or reason to replay, you're automatically going to be at the mercy of the predatory used market.

Alright, a little bit of mathematics here:

3 million people played the game.

Only 2 million played it new.

Therefore, 1 million played it used.

Therefore around 1 million people would likely have traded it in.

Therefore, half the people who bought the game new decided to trade it in for another game.

Your're right there's a problem there. Make a fucking game good enough that half the people who buy it don't want to sell it fucking on. Don't go bitching about what certain people 'owe' you when you quite clearly couldn't make a game that kept people's attention!

StriderShinryu:
Excellent to see a developer actually attach some numbers to this obvious yet debated issue. It really is something that needs to be addressed on a much deeper level, and it will likely include some cooperation on both the dev/pub side and the retail side.

Of course, I think a lot of what Heavy Rain in particularly experienced is because of the type of game it was. When you create a completely cinematic game with little depth or reason to replay, you're automatically going to be at the mercy of the predatory used market.

Little depth of reason to replay?
Was I the only one who actually played it over and over again because of all the endings/trophies?

Tough shit. I dont see car manufacturers whining that half their cars get bought pre-owned...

Generic_Username:

StriderShinryu:
Excellent to see a developer actually attach some numbers to this obvious yet debated issue. It really is something that needs to be addressed on a much deeper level, and it will likely include some cooperation on both the dev/pub side and the retail side.

Of course, I think a lot of what Heavy Rain in particularly experienced is because of the type of game it was. When you create a completely cinematic game with little depth or reason to replay, you're automatically going to be at the mercy of the predatory used market.

Little depth of reason to replay?
Was I the only one who actually played it over and over again because of all the endings/trophies?

I'm guessing that you were probably one of the few who did, yes. If the used numbers are as high as reported here, it seems obvious that many people were A.) getting tired of the game mighty quick and trading it and/or B.) seeing the game for what it was and looking to get the experience as cheaply as they possibly could because they didn't deem it worthy of a new copy purchase.

adamtm:
Tough shit. I dont see car manufacturers whining that half their cars get bought pre-owned...

That comparison doesn't work. Used cars and used games are not the same, and neither are the industries behind them.

Why don't you make more games for PC where pre-owned sales are pretty much nonexistent? Oh wait, piracy.

Again we have a situation of " At least it isn't me" ism, where who ever it be used game reseller or consumers will be the one getting another hand in the wallet, while the other one shrugs.

Sure as a consumer I hope it is the resellers end who If need be Kick up the cash to these broke developers. Instead of being the one who has to swallow expensive dlcs, subscriptions and project ten dollars.

And in the end they way they milk their bloody games it is still cheaper to buy used, subscribe, and then buy the dlc, instead of paying 70 bucks, being told you are given 10 dollars worth of content, Which is debateable, and they pay for the other third of the games content over 6 months for another 30-70 bucks.

The value just isn't there. I've yet to see games with any real staying power, and I personally just don't want to spend 150 bucks in total for a game I might invest a couple hours a week on and off for half a year.

Besides as stated above, those used games came from somewhere, so At least a million people thought, hey I payed 70 bucks for this game and Eb games, Gamestop, Game will give me 7-12 bucks for it. Those prices are why I never sell my games to them, but A million people said it was good enough to get rid of the game for.

I think it may put more people off spending money on a new game, if they don't have that 'safety net' of being able to trade it in and get some of thier mony back if they don't like it. Not everything comes with a demo.

StriderShinryu:

adamtm:
Tough shit. I dont see car manufacturers whining that half their cars get bought pre-owned...

That comparison doesn't work. Used cars and used games are not the same, and neither are the industries behind them.

Fine, use books.

The two industries are highly alike, yet you don't hear book author's complaining about used book sales or how they're losing money to people sharing books amongst each other.

What needs to be done is pretty freaking clear. It's not the fault of the people buying the used games. You cannot blame people who're just looking for a legal bargain. What we need to do is force shops like Game or Gamestop in America, to still give a portion of any profit made from a game back to their respective companies. Like some sort of royalty. Obviously they aren't buying the games from them, but it could easily be made a legal requirement that they track any games they are given on trade in and are forced to send a percentage to the games publishers.

In all fairness this would probably mean that you would get a very small amount money when trading a game in and there wouldn't likely be as good bargains to be had. And that could kill the second hand business any way.

My issue is, you play a game and finish it. What do you do if it is then useless, throw it away and add to the rubbish of the world. If pre-owned games stopped 1 million CDs getting tossed that is great and means that those Cds will be floating around for many many more years.
While it seems more dickish, a better angle to go would be to gain some profit from the resale as well somehow (and not through DLC, cause that will eventually stop and make future use of the CD impossible, thus fueling pirating), maybe by extending the royalty to include pre-owned sales but at a reduced gain.
My reason for this is, in 10 years I might feel like (as people do now) the desire to have another gander at red faction or some other game and I will pop the CD in and find it doesn't work and there is no longer any place to get it. Yes it is a small amount but take the idea of EA going under, you just bought a big title that needs their server to be up and guess what, it will not be up for another few months. Or your internet is playing up so you go play a game to pass the time but all of them NEED an internet connection.

There is a way around this issue but it needs proper thought and for people not to assume everything will work 100% for 100% of people.

Estimated 3 million? Where did that number come from?

You can't throw out an estimate when it comes to used games and expect to be taken seriously.

I can see how developers don't like this, but this is reality. You can't eliminate people selling their used games.

But if he thinks that used game sales are going to make games "unprofitable", he's just being ridiculous. Used games are nothing new, and the gaming industry is still turning profits.

The issue is pretty new on its own and already I am sick of hearing developers whine about it. not that i don't agree with them. It must really hurt to see someone else earning your money, i feel for them, really, but at the same time, its tough luck, its the nature of the gaming business in 2011.

i've always been a fond believer in offering people solutions based on how they use a product. Don't try to tell people how they should be using your product, instead, find a way to make it work for you.

If Heavy Rain dudes wanted to cash in on the used sales, they'd find a way to let people sell them their license key, could be done online, then re-sell these keys to new people for a lessened price. game could be mailed or downloaded. and that's only one example, im sure other people could be more creative.

Bottom line is, its the publisher's job to find a way to harness that new income source, otherwise, somebody will do it for you, like EBGames.

This just in: libraries and second-hand bookshops pose greatest threat to printing industry.

Wait...
You mean after playing a game that was all QTEs, gamers didn't want to play it... AGAIN?
That is really surprising.

Devs have to stop blaming gamers for trading in crappy games they never want to play again. They've got nobody to blame but themselves.

I'm really getting tired of hearing their non stop bitching on the subject, especially while at the same time they're trying to force us into their online-pass and pre-order gameplay content schemes; not to mention that most games aren't even worth $60... at least without spending another $30+ in dlc. They're only encouraging me to buy even fewer games and I always buy new.

Well too bad, somebody buys a DVD with a copy of a game on it then decides to sell that DVD containing the game, it really isn't anyone elses business because it's private property.

Make the games cheaper or just rent out the disk to people.

Private property doesn't just extend to corporations and business.

eniac0:
The issue is pretty new on its own and already I am sick of hearing developers whine about it. not that i don't agree with them. It must really hurt to see someone else earning your money, i feel for them, really, but at the same time, its tough luck, its the nature of the gaming business in 2011.

i've always been a fond believer in offering people solutions based on how they use a product. Don't try to tell people how they should be using your product, instead, find a way to make it work for you.

If Heavy Rain dudes wanted to cash in on the used sales, they'd find a way to let people sell them their license key, could be done online, then re-sell these keys to new people for a lessened price. game could be mailed or downloaded. and that's only one example, im sure other people could be more creative.

Bottom line is, its the publisher's job to find a way to harness that new income source, otherwise, somebody will do it for you, like EBGames.

Wow, someone gets it.

I would only argue that its not a new issue / challenge. Used game sales were around forever, its just that now you have everyone and their grandmother selling used games.

I can totally see what he means, especially in the long run of losing profits, however, I can't help but completely agree with:

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
Alright, a little bit of mathematics here:

3 million people played the game.

Only 2 million played it new.

Therefore, 1 million played it used.

Therefore around 1 million people would likely have traded it in.

Therefore, half the people who bought the game new decided to trade it in for another game.

Your're right there's a problem there. Make a fucking game good enough that half the people who buy it don't want to sell it fucking on. Don't go bitching about what certain people 'owe' you when you quite clearly couldn't make a game that kept people's attention!

That profit's only lost because of this and it's the developer's own fault when it really comes down to it. That being said, if it weren't for preowned sales, the developers would probably end up losing more if you think about it. Preowned tends to be a wee bit to quite a bit cheaper compared to brand new games (though I did get "Little Big Planet" the other week for just a fiver, brand new and all) which encourages people to actually buy the game at all. If that makes sense? I'm probably wrong somewhere but hopefully you'll see where I'm trying to come from, lol.

x

Dear Mr. de Fondaumiere.

It is with deep regret that I must inform you that I shall be crying no tears for you and your greedy friends in the video game industry.

Every other industry on earth has to deal with second hand sales.
Clothing, books, films, music, magazines and military jet figthers, to name a few.

The video game industry has never before in history made as much revenue as it does today, never before has it's market been so wast.
The global video game market is estimated to be worth around $65 billion.

You are living in the golden age Mr. de Fondaumiere, so stop whining and be glad that 2 million people gave you their money for your game in the first place.

adamtm:
Tough shit. I dont see car manufacturers whining that half their cars get bought pre-owned...

This, I find it incredible that game manufacturers somehow expect for their industry to be different from every other industry ever. They should just be thankful there isn't a video-game equivalent of free public libraries.

Abandon4093:
What needs to be done is pretty freaking clear. It's not the fault of the people buying the used games. You cannot blame people who're just looking for a legal bargain. What we need to do is force shops like Game or Gamestop in America, to still give a portion of any profit made from a game back to their respective companies. Like some sort of royalty. Obviously they aren't buying the games from them, but it could easily be made a legal requirement that they track any games they are given on trade in and are forced to send a percentage to the games publishers.

In all fairness this would probably mean that you would get a very small amount money when trading a game in and there wouldn't likely be as good bargains to be had. And that could kill the second hand business any way.

Droit de suite usually only gives back 2-4% of a sale back to the creator. In this case, that would be $2 or so on a used game at $55. In turn, they would have to cut out ALL the online passes/extra DLC stuff to people who only buy new. Else, they ARE making even extra money off of it. Which they'll never agree to.

-Axle-:

StriderShinryu:

adamtm:
Tough shit. I dont see car manufacturers whining that half their cars get bought pre-owned...

That comparison doesn't work. Used cars and used games are not the same, and neither are the industries behind them.

Fine, use books.

The two industries are highly alike, yet you don't hear book author's complaining about used book sales or how they're losing money to people sharing books amongst each other.

Thank you, that's the best comparison I've heard yet.

The mans an idiot. I can guarentee you 100% the ONLY reason that I am buying skyrim and MW3 new is because of EBs deal where if you trade in 2 games worth more then $8 credit each while preordeding they will give you $50 credit total instead. So I took a half a dozen games off my shelf I will never play again and traded them in getting a little over $120.

Plus if developers dont want people trading in games then they should make better games. I have plenty of games that I doubt I will ever play again but I wont trade them in because I really liked them. Plus when you suspect that 50% of the people who purchased your game traded in back in then the problem is on your end.

I can see where this is coming from but surely once you have purchased the game it is technically YOUR property and you can do what you want with it.
Also would you rather pay £40 for a 5 hour game *cough*medalofhonor*cough* or would you rather wait for it to go down to a reasonable price so you don't feel quite so cheated out of your money.
Or quite simply MAKE DECENT GAMES THAT ARE WORTH £40!

Zhukov:
This just in: libraries and second-hand bookshops pose greatest threat to printing industry.

This just in, books are really REALLY cheap to make and most second-hand bookshops exist to support charities anyway.

As for libraries, they're basically rental shops for books. Really, this is the direction video game sales should have gone down all along, where we can all play loads of games on the cheap and the creators still get paid for it.

This is not "lost money", Quantic Dream. This is money you never earned. You should not treat it as if that amount of money was yours and someone took it from you.

Cry moar. Those aren't "lost sales". They are customers for whom the price of your product was too high. If they can't buy your game used they would buy something else, or do without.

Also dude is delusional

he thought that there was a price point that would make everyone - from the consumers to the publishers to the retailers - happy.

This is of course totally wrong. Consumers want great products for free, retailers want to make infinite money while making no investment and taking no risk, publishers want infinite money and total, cradle-to-grave control over "their" products. These are zero sum calculations and there is no way to increase the happiness of one group without decreasing the happiness of another.

I can't wait for the future where all the parasitic middle men, by which I mean publishers AND retailers, die off and there is no longer a barrier between the creators and the customers. It is on the horizon and it will be glorious.

Abandon4093:
What needs to be done is pretty freaking clear. It's not the fault of the people buying the used games. You cannot blame people who're just looking for a legal bargain. What we need to do is force shops like Game or Gamestop in America, to still give a portion of any profit made from a game back to their respective companies. Like some sort of royalty. Obviously they aren't buying the games from them, but it could easily be made a legal requirement that they track any games they are given on trade in and are forced to send a percentage to the games publishers.

In all fairness this would probably mean that you would get a very small amount money when trading a game in and there wouldn't likely be as good bargains to be had. And that could kill the second hand business any way.

Do you realize what kind of precedence that would set in courts for every other industry in America?

If the video game industry, then shy not book publishers?
Why not film companies and car manufacturers?

Besides, after a product is sold the manufacturer/publisher no linger owns it, and is not entitled nor deserves any money of that product is resold.

Sell the games at a cheaper price, more people will jump on a $30-40 price tag than $60. If you sell it cheaper, more will buy it and you won't be bitching. There is a logical solution to this probably just the marketing suits want to see the numbers with a $60 price tag. It's not the consumers fault they want to pick up a game for $6-10 cause it was complete and utter trash at the $60 price tag, when the value isn't there the value isn't there you can't force someone to like your shit and pay for it on your price terms. After mindjack I stopped purchasing obscure games at full price. That game was maybe at best worth $20 and should have just been just downloaded format. All it takes is one ripoff to make a sour industry.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
Alright, a little bit of mathematics here:

3 million people played the game.

Only 2 million played it new.

Therefore, 1 million played it used.

Therefore around 1 million people would likely have traded it in.

Therefore, half the people who bought the game new decided to trade it in for another game.

Your're right there's a problem there. Make a fucking game good enough that half the people who buy it don't want to sell it fucking on. Don't go bitching about what certain people 'owe' you when you quite clearly couldn't make a game that kept people's attention!

Heavy Rain isn't exactly a replayable game though, it doesn't matter how good your game is, it'll still get passed on once its original owner has finished playing through it.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
Alright, a little bit of mathematics here:

3 million people played the game.

Only 2 million played it new.

Therefore, 1 million played it used.

Therefore around 1 million people would likely have traded it in.

Therefore, half the people who bought the game new decided to trade it in for another game.

Your're right there's a problem there. Make a fucking game good enough that half the people who buy it don't want to sell it fucking on. Don't go bitching about what certain people 'owe' you when you quite clearly couldn't make a game that kept people's attention!

There are two problems with this argument. First, at MOST half of those who bought it traded it in or resold it. But this likely isn't the case since people who buy used may still trade it in when they're done. I know a lot of people who keep almost none of their games unless they have a lot of replay value. And while Heavy Rain has multiple choices you can make throughout the game, and several endings, I have to admit that the experience that is the game has less replay value than a lot of other titles out there.

Also, you assume that people who traded in the game did it because they didn't like it or the game wasn't good enough. I'm sure this was probably the case for a portion of those, but like I said, there are a lot of people who just don't hold onto games, especially single player ones. They play them, then get some money out of them towards something new.

I'm not trying to say you don't have a point, but your numbers are a bit exaggerated, and you can't really say for sure why people traded the game in. It'd be worth it for Quantic Dream to try and find out, but it's all just speculation. Other games that are a lot more main stream get traded in just as often as Heavy Rain did, if not more (at least from what I see on the shelf of the local Gamestop, even factoring in sales differentials). Are you going to argue the only reason people trade other games in is because they aren't good enough?

-Samurai-:
Estimated 3 million? Where did that number come from?

You can't throw out an estimate when it comes to used games and expect to be taken seriously.

Well, in theory if Sony can see trophy data for every PS3 that is registered and active on the PSN then they could have a pretty reasonable estimate of how many people played it. It may not be exact since there may be multiple accounts on a single system, PS3's not connected to the internet, etc. But it's going to be a pretty good estimate of the overall number.

I have no idea if that's where he's getting his numbers from, but it seems pretty likely.

Oh fuck you.

The gameing industry is so behind on customer benefits/rights it's just disgusting. And they seem to keep trying to take away the very few that we actually have left.

What's fucking more disgusting is that they seem to be convincing gamers that what they're doing is right. And people are actually believing them.

Just fucking horrifying.

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