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.