Publishers Still Love Blockbuster Video

Publishers Still Love Blockbuster Video

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Blockbuster Video may be broke, but one executive is claiming that videogame publishers still love his company.

Even though Blockbuster Video is a shell of its former self, with only a fraction of stores still open around the world, it's apparently still a darling in the eyes of game publishers. Why? Because "it takes away from trade-ins."

Speaking to MCV, Blockbuster's commercial director Gerry Butler explained that since his company draws customers away from buying used games. Over in Britain, Blockbuster is starting to heavily promote its game rental service, which it's recently overhauled. Should you rent a game from the company, you're no longer charged late fees; instead, you can just extend your rental for £1 a day. Additionally, if you've rented a game and then decide to buy it, Blockbuster will discount you the rental fee you've already paid.

According to Butler, all of this means more money in publishers' pockets, as opposed to used game sales (which said publishers don't see a dime of):

"We have ramped up the rental side of our business and we have got an awful lot of support from publishers. Publishers like renting as it takes away from trade-ins. The problem with trade-ins is the publisher doesn't get any money. The advantage of renting is that they get quite a lot of money."

Butler's comments certainly seem to make sense, but I'm not sure he realizes that used games will always be a tantalizing offer for gamers. Sure, renting a game isn't a bad way to try it out, but if Blockbuster is selling the titles at premium prices (if they're anything but new) then it's probably safe to assume that trade-ins will sell for less.

Source: MCV via IndustryGamers

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which leads to the question

how can the sell a clearly USED game for full price?

I've never seen a BlockBuster sell used games for full price but I've gotten games that are $40 at GameStop for $10.

Fond memories of playing Spider-Man on the original xbox when I was like... 13. I got that game at the local blockbuster for 10 bucks, but they're shut down now :(

I think it's a great system. I know renting games can be costly, but if I'm on the fence on something, or know personally it won't last me very long, renting can be quite helpful.

Kitsuna10060:
which leads to the question

how can the sell a clearly USED game for full price?

Surely they discount them heavily... I hope.

Kitsuna10060:
which leads to the question

how can the sell a clearly USED game for full price?

Why not? They can do what they like, the more relevant question is "why buy it?" If people will pay for it, of course they'd do it...

If they want to actually combat trade ins the thing to do is lower their prices. Of course they won't do that because this is all about making more money and if they wind up stopping it but breaking even with their current profits there is no point.

With the mentality of the gaming industry there is no real solution to the "issue" because it all comes down to games being bloody expensive and trade ins mitigating the cost to the purchuser.

What's more the entire situation is fundementally ridiculous because when a game is sold the developer is pledging to support it. Selling a game used does not in any way change the number of active units out there that might say call for technical support or be online
their servers at any one time. A game being played for 10 years by one person, and being played for 10 years between 5 differant owners is ultimatly no differant. It all comes down to increasingly ridiculous levels of greed... you know when an industry making billions of dollars in profits is no longer enough.

I'm all for capitalism, but as I've said before the problem is when you get a few people who are so ridiculously greedy that they ruin it for everyone else. I mean after a certain point you wind up with so much money you couldn't possibly spend it all, nor could your kids or grandkids. New and ridiculous things have to be invented for such people with inflated prices just so they have special things to buy. At the point where a guy like Bobby Kotick has his own private Jet, where the heck does he get off insisting he needs even more ridiculous piles of money than he's already making for example?

I'm hardly a socialist, I have no problem with making a profit, and getting rich, but there is a point where people who are already rich beyond rational belief start exploiting people to make even more money, where it becomes a sort of sociopathic game of "how far can I push these people before it all breaks... lulz" more than anything. I mean when your attacking with things like used games for more money when you have billions in profits that's taking it too bloody far because it's in no way nessicary as the existing piles of profits demonstrate.

Maybe someone should tell them that Blockbuster deals in used games too...

LittleMikey:

Kitsuna10060:
which leads to the question

how can the sell a clearly USED game for full price?

Surely they discount them heavily... I hope.

How it works is you take the rental copy back and you pay for a brand new copy minus the cost of the prior rental of the game.

vansau:
Butler's comments certainly seem to make sense, but I'm not sure he realizes that used games will always be a tantalizing offer for gamers. Sure, renting a game isn't a bad way to try it out, but if Blockbuster is selling the titles at premium prices (if they're anything but new) then it's probably safe to assume that trade-ins will sell for less.

He says it "takes away" from trade-ins. He doesn't say it eliminates them, or even that it should. Used games will always be a draw, and they should be. But I don't blame publishers for wanting to continue to find ways to compete with the secondhand market by 1) making new games worth more by including single-use content, and 2) lowering the gate-to-entry for new games (through rentals, for instance)

Tallim:

How it works is you take the rental copy back and you pay for a brand new copy minus the cost of the prior rental of the game.

Have you actualy been there and found out or are you making wild assumptions? I ask this because they did not say that in the article.

Satsuki666:

Tallim:

How it works is you take the rental copy back and you pay for a brand new copy minus the cost of the prior rental of the game.

Have you actualy been there and found out or are you making wild assumptions? I ask this because they did not say that in the article.

I've done it personally *although* that was some time ago when they first did it so can't vouch for it now.

Where I live the only places that sell games in town are the supermarkets which sell mainly top 10 stuff and Blockbuster.

Maybe someone should tell the more retarded companies like EA and Sony so they'll stop locking the most interesting parts of their games behind online passes and crap like that.

GonzoGamer:
Maybe someone should tell the more retarded companies like EA and Sony so they'll stop locking the most interesting parts of their games behind online passes and crap like that.

Oh, they'll still lock 'em. No question there.

Zachary Amaranth:

GonzoGamer:
Maybe someone should tell the more retarded companies like EA and Sony so they'll stop locking the most interesting parts of their games behind online passes and crap like that.

Oh, they'll still lock 'em. No question there.

Then they're pretty stupid. Had I been able to play the multiplayer when I rented Battlefield 3, I might have actually bought it. The campaign on the other hand was completely lame.
They really shot themselves in the foot there.

GonzoGamer:

Then they're pretty stupid. Had I been able to play the multiplayer when I rented Battlefield 3, I might have actually bought it. The campaign on the other hand was completely lame.
They really shot themselves in the foot there.

Don't most of these games have a "trial period" intended for rentals?

Besides, Battlefield 3 was TOTALLY invested in the single player. >.>

Zachary Amaranth:

GonzoGamer:

Then they're pretty stupid. Had I been able to play the multiplayer when I rented Battlefield 3, I might have actually bought it. The campaign on the other hand was completely lame.
They really shot themselves in the foot there.

Don't most of these games have a "trial period" intended for rentals?

Besides, Battlefield 3 was TOTALLY invested in the single player. >.>

Were they? Then it's really too bad it still sucked. Maybe next time they should be totally invested in not being greedy pricks who shoot themselves in both feet.

I don't like the concept of an online pass at all. In fact, for companies like EA who always manage to make a ton off every release anyway, it just seems like a dick move that will (over time) lead to their user base shrinking even further. If it was only practiced by struggling "indy" devs, I might be more tolerant but it's been Sony & EA who have been loading it onto every game. Even for an indy it would be stupid for them to lock a whole gameplay mode; especially if it's the most interesting. I like the idea of an online level cap over a trial period if it needed to be done...but it doesn't.

GonzoGamer:

Were they? Then it's really too bad it still sucked. Maybe next time they should be totally invested in not being greedy pricks who shoot themselves in both feet.

I don't like the concept of an online pass at all. In fact, for companies like EA who always manage to make a ton off every release anyway, it just seems like a dick move that will (over time) lead to their user base shrinking even further. If it was only practiced by struggling "indy" devs, I might be more tolerant but it's been Sony & EA who have been loading it onto every game. Even for an indy it would be stupid for them to lock a whole gameplay mode; especially if it's the most interesting. I like the idea of an online level cap over a trial period if it needed to be done...but it doesn't.

Well, they said they were serious about single player. The end result is all the more comical for it.

Without buying used, I never would have supported half the franchises I currently do. It's funny, because it makes the entry to a franchise a lot easier, but with online passes, it brings the barrier back.

It's probably telling that I've only bought one retail game this year.

Yeah, shame it's actually customers you want to love your company.

While I'm still tentatively on the publishers' side when it comes to used games, Blockbuster rental charges are fucking extortionate. I can't imagine they keep used sales down that much when you're financially better off buying used in the not-that-long-at-all run. LoveFilm offer much better rental deals with their packages, and you don't have to leave the house.

Therumancer:
If they want to actually combat trade ins the thing to do is lower their prices. Of course they won't do that because this is all about making more money and if they wind up stopping it but breaking even with their current profits there is no point.

With the mentality of the gaming industry there is no real solution to the "issue" because it all comes down to games being bloody expensive and trade ins mitigating the cost to the purchuser.

What's more the entire situation is fundementally ridiculous because when a game is sold the developer is pledging to support it. Selling a game used does not in any way change the number of active units out there that might say call for technical support or be online
their servers at any one time. A game being played for 10 years by one person, and being played for 10 years between 5 differant owners is ultimatly no differant. It all comes down to increasingly ridiculous levels of greed... you know when an industry making billions of dollars in profits is no longer enough.

I'm all for capitalism, but as I've said before the problem is when you get a few people who are so ridiculously greedy that they ruin it for everyone else. I mean after a certain point you wind up with so much money you couldn't possibly spend it all, nor could your kids or grandkids. New and ridiculous things have to be invented for such people with inflated prices just so they have special things to buy. At the point where a guy like Bobby Kotick has his own private Jet, where the heck does he get off insisting he needs even more ridiculous piles of money than he's already making for example?

I'm hardly a socialist, I have no problem with making a profit, and getting rich, but there is a point where people who are already rich beyond rational belief start exploiting people to make even more money, where it becomes a sort of sociopathic game of "how far can I push these people before it all breaks... lulz" more than anything. I mean when your attacking with things like used games for more money when you have billions in profits that's taking it too bloody far because it's in no way nessicary as the existing piles of profits demonstrate.

It's not greed, it's desperation.

The current gaming business and design philosophy does not work.

They're spending increasing larger amounts of money, needing increasingly larger numbers of sales to break even, on increasingly generic games.

They're running a red queens race of they're own design, and they're losing.

They feel they must do this to remain competitive; so instead of cutting costs, toning back graphics, increasing output, lowering sale price, focusing on more creative and unique game concepts to draw in buyers, and waiting till it's fiscally sensible to continue pressing the hardware capabilities; they whine about the secondary market.

The industry is probably going to fail soon.

I actually made it through quite a few games by renting them from Blockbuster (Smackdown vs RAW 2007, Force Unleashed, Star Wars Battlefront, Destroy all Humans 2, Kessen). Ironically the reason I stopped going was because they had such a poor in house selection. That's why I shop at Gamestop for the variety. I wonder how many people still rent video games?

Should you rent a game from the company, you're no longer charged late fees; instead, you can just extend your rental for £1 a day.

So there's still late fees, but we're just calling them something different. But when you add on another pound to the bill each day the game hasn't been returned, that's called a late fee Blockbuster.

Nazrel:
[
It's not greed, it's desperation.

The current gaming business and design philosophy does not work.

They're spending increasing larger amounts of money, needing increasingly larger numbers of sales to break even, on increasingly generic games.

They're running a red queens race of they're own design, and they're losing.

They feel they must do this to remain competitive; so instead of cutting costs, toning back graphics, increasing output, lowering sale price, focusing on more creative and unique game concepts to draw in buyers, and waiting till it's fiscally sensible to continue pressing the hardware capabilities; they whine about the secondary market.

The industry is probably going to fail soon.

Well, yes and no. The reason why I frequently go on about the industry as a whole, as opposed to just attacking the publishers is that those rising costs are due to the developers themselves getting greedy. In the end the technology might have improved, but the job is still basically the same thing it's always been. In the end you need office space, and some computers, everything else goes towards paying the human resources. In comparison to these budgets the cost of materials (the computers and space) are nothing, when you see someone spending tens or hundreds of millions of dollars on a game, that's because this is what the employees are cumulative demanding, and the prices go up because they continually demand more and more money, probably due to the increasing profits of the publishers. There is this presentation that game developers live hand to mouth and do this all because of how much they love the work and nothing else, but that's hardly the case, of course like everyone they might genuinely think they are underpaid or could do better elsewhere (unlikely in reality with so many people with computer skills and in this economy). When you look at the perks of developers like the Valve snack bar, or how they hire all these celebrities to do bit parts for voice acting (which I suspect is just to meet them half the time) it rapidly becomes obvious that your looking at a ridiculous situation. Some will argue that it's a handfull of studio heads that get all the money, but even so, that's still a ridiculous payday.

The developers play a role here, as much as the publishers do, and your right those costs DO have something to do with it, but I still maintain it's primarily greed over the desire to produce worthy products or advance gaming. There is simply put more money to be made from the lowest human denominator than dealing with nerds and intellectuals, even if those nerds and intellectuals are the foundation the industry was built on. The problem is that the publishers will universally go after the biggest profits they can right then and there, as opposed to the best games they can or support niche titles, and try and advance/improve their audience along with the product by getting them to strive to meet the demands of the games.

I don't think it's an issue of the gaming industry being in any kind of trouble due to a situation they created themselves. If it was that kind of a situation you'd see a lot of money bring thrown around but no real perks. When guys like Bobby can afford private Jets it's obvious that they are coming out ahead profit wise, and the industry is hardly near any kind of self imposed collapse.

Ideally youd see salary caps on game developers, basically take a fair wage or GTFO since these people really have nowhere else to go. Lower costs would mean a lower price for the product, and you'd also see the publishers becoming more interested in gaming and what's good for it, as opposed to what makes them the most money right then and there, and being content to come out ahead. Of course that's not liable to ever happen, it's a self-supporting system where everyone is greedy, and if it collapses it's going to be when they have finally pushed things to the point where their consumer base can't afford to pay at all, no matter how addicted to gaming they might be. At which point things might collapse, but the industry won't give a crap because everyone involved made their fortunes, most will just go on to invest in other things.

LittleMikey:

Kitsuna10060:
which leads to the question

how can the sell a clearly USED game for full price?

Surely they discount them heavily... I hope.

your clearly more of an optimist then me.

Jadak:

Kitsuna10060:
which leads to the question

how can the sell a clearly USED game for full price?

Why not? They can do what they like, the more relevant question is "why buy it?" If people will pay for it, of course they'd do it...

that is a good question .... but given what people will pay for a game, they very likely will

Zachary Amaranth:

GonzoGamer:

Were they? Then it's really too bad it still sucked. Maybe next time they should be totally invested in not being greedy pricks who shoot themselves in both feet.

I don't like the concept of an online pass at all. In fact, for companies like EA who always manage to make a ton off every release anyway, it just seems like a dick move that will (over time) lead to their user base shrinking even further. If it was only practiced by struggling "indy" devs, I might be more tolerant but it's been Sony & EA who have been loading it onto every game. Even for an indy it would be stupid for them to lock a whole gameplay mode; especially if it's the most interesting. I like the idea of an online level cap over a trial period if it needed to be done...but it doesn't.

Well, they said they were serious about single player. The end result is all the more comical for it.

Without buying used, I never would have supported half the franchises I currently do. It's funny, because it makes the entry to a franchise a lot easier, but with online passes, it brings the barrier back.

It's probably telling that I've only bought one retail game this year.

Yea.
Since I started renting, I only buy about two a year.
...
Same with me, I used to not have a lot of money; good thing back then, Gamestop had still yet to gouge the used market into being close to new prices: the other real reason used games have all of a sudden become a problem - a used game is no longer an impulse buy on top of a new game, it's become what you go to Gamestop to get since a new game has to be ordered ahead of time.
But when I was poor, I mostly just bought used games. However, when I really got into a game I would usually save up and get the next one at launch. I also got new games as gifts so this idea that used purchasers are of no worth to the industry is totally pants and it's only going to stunt the growth of the industry in the long run...hell, it's already happening. Most of the people I know who have a ps2, never got a ps3 or 360. If you look at the sales records (believe it or not wikipedia is pretty accurate on that) you'll see that EA & Sony (especially) just have a smaller base of users to sell their games to than they did last gen.

However, even though most of the problems seem to be caused by the retailers (by making used games the primary goods) & platform developers (for not making their consoles appealing to people who bought them last gen), publishers would rather take it out on the consumer and try to squeeze more blood out of us. Now I understand why people boycott them. At this point, I personally refuse to buy (new) any game that has online pass.

vansau:

Should you rent a game from the company, you're no longer charged late fees; instead, you can just extend your rental for £1 a day.

How is this not a late fee? a fee is still a fee no matter what spin you put on it.

vansau:

Speaking to MCV, Blockbuster's commercial director Gerry Butler explained that since his company draws customers away from buying used games.

Right... about that...

I just got back from my local Blockbuster no more than, say, ten minutes ago. I walked across the street to it after lunch mainly for funsies because I've been gradually picking over the store's slowly dying carcass when I get the chance. While I was looking over the store's very anemic "pre-owned" games section, which was just a folding table, one of the clerks eagerly informed me that on any game priced at $15 or under I could buy 5 of them for $30.

Oh yes, I just had to take advantage of that.

Okay, I can appreciate Blockbuster's tenacity when it comes to trying to fight against economic Darwinism, but it's pretty clear that the company is doing everything in it's power to just keep afloat. Granted, my local store's knock-off Gamestop counter disappeared years ago so these are probably old rental copies and therefore not "trade-ins", but is it really worth nitpicking? Used sales are used sales, and can Gerry Butler really say his company is a deterrent against buying used games when his company just sold me a used copy of New Vegas for practically nothing?

~V

So... how do they get around the online pass thing? If publishers are getting money from rentals, aren't they still screwing each renting customer by having a one-time-use online code?

GonzoGamer:

However, even though most of the problems seem to be caused by the retailers (by making used games the primary goods) & platform developers (for not making their consoles appealing to people who bought them last gen), publishers would rather take it out on the consumer and try to squeeze more blood out of us. Now I understand why people boycott them. At this point, I personally refuse to buy (new) any game that has online pass.

All while pretending that they're doing it for our good and only going after the second hand industry.

Okay, I'm confused.

The used market means, say, 2-6 people playing the same copy of the game.

The rental market means about ten times as many people playing the same copy of the game.

Are the companies selling the game actually getting a cut of the rental fees? Because if not, I'm really not seeing how this is a better model.

Zachary Amaranth:

GonzoGamer:

However, even though most of the problems seem to be caused by the retailers (by making used games the primary goods) & platform developers (for not making their consoles appealing to people who bought them last gen), publishers would rather take it out on the consumer and try to squeeze more blood out of us. Now I understand why people boycott them. At this point, I personally refuse to buy (new) any game that has online pass.

All while pretending that they're doing it for our good and only going after the second hand industry.

That's the thing. I could see gamers supporting this if it really led to bigger and better games.
And besides renters/borrowers being tarred with the same "used" brush, as someone who used to primarily buy used but can afford to buy new now, I think they lowering their own worth by marginalizing those consumers. All types of consumers are starting to feel "used" and as a result, even some of those who always buy new. Not only do they have a few codes they need to punch in and download when buying a new game but the value of that game drops $10 or more the second they redeem that code.

 

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