Beluga's forum posts

#1 Posted by Beluga (17 posts) -

@Example1013 said:

So most of the new-game money publishers get is made in the first couple months, and most of the used-game money resellers get is made after that first couple months. They both make tidy profits off sales, since the market windows are fairly mutually exclusive.

You assume this is the natural order of things, and not a result of the way the marketplace works right now, but more to the point, this doesn’t prove anything, or tell us anything that isn’t already obvoious. Of course the revenue made from a game is going to decline after the period immediately following its release, and of course used game sales are going to increase as people finish the games and trade them in. Whether or not the game is being sold new at full retail price is immaterial here — even at a fraction of the original price, publishers still make money on game sales (at least until the retailer isn’t just clearing out stock).

@Example1013 said:

There are other less scientific points to make that support my position (although they don't lend specifically to the process I just outlined): for instance, who's getting all pissy over used sales? And who's implementing online passes and DRM? Is it the developer, or the publisher? Do the devs even see a dime of new-game-sales money after two months? Probably not. Bonuses are likely already paid (although I can't speak with any certainty on this matter), because money. So now what does that leave you with? It leaves you with multiple giant, evil, faceless corporations fighting over profits from the secondhand market that devs wouldn't see a dime of. Now stop de facto defending EA, Ubisoft, and Activision for being money-grubbing assholes playing off people's sense of loyalty and wake up to the fact that used game sales are a good alternative to investing a good sum of money into something you may not even like (GameStop allows 1 week for a full refund on all used games, no questions asked, so if you don't like it you can literally just bring it back, unlike new games, where they'll only exchange it for another copy).

The thing is that most developers don’t bankroll their games out of pocket — the development is paid for by the publisher. Publishers may take a bunch of the long-tail revenue, but they’re not middlemen in the same way retailers are. If publishers don’t make enough money on a game to justify the resources put into it (and funding the development of a game is no small expense or risk), they’re not going to fund more, and they’re going to get more and more risk averse. Stuff like digital distribution and crowd funding is starting to change the funding model, but only a little bit.

Treating both publishers and retailers as evil middlemen fighting over profits at the expense of developers is a false equivalency, or at least a gross oversimplification.

Also, I’m not buying the null hypothesis framing: the fact is that none of us have granular enough raw data, or the time to sit down and do a thorough statistical analysis of it. You say you have data that you went out of your way not to link to, but unless it’s of a kind I’m not familiar with (i.e. not just earnings calls and NPD data), it’s not enough to prove anything. To me, in this kind of debate, the “null” hypothesis should be the obvious conclusion, which is that when money made from a game sale goes entirely to a retailer, it’s worse for the developer.

#2 Posted by Beluga (17 posts) -

@Example1013 said:

Come back when you've spent 5 minutes researching new game sales vs. used game sales. You're the one trying to prove a point, which means the burden of proof is on you, not me. I've already taken the minuscule amount of time out of my day to help gather support for my position; all you've said is "hurr durr I have an opinyun, u disagreee so u must be butthurt".

Really? It kind of seems like you’re doing exactly what you’re accusing him of: hurling snarky, ad hominem insults at people giving arguments that you don’t agree with.

#3 Edited by Beluga (17 posts) -

I’ve only skimmed this topic, so some of this stuff has no doubt already been said:

  • The only substantive difference between buying a used copy of a game and pirating it is that the retailer gets some easy profit, and you maybe help keep a retail clerk employed. Publishers and developers would probably actually prefer you pirate the game, because at least you’re not helping GameStop/Best Buy/[retailer] keep their parasitic business model going — the consolidation and ubiquity of these retailers gives them a lot of bargaining power that warps the industry in consumer-unfriendly ways (why do you think XBL/PSN digital games are always weirdly expensive?).
  • Physical media is different than most physical goods because it has no inherent value (the physical aspect probably costs $0.04 to make) — it makes more sense to think of the disc as a license to play the game (this fact becomes abundantly clear when you install a game — the disc is just a content key). Selling a used game is more analogous to setting up a throwaway iTunes account, buying a copy of a film, then selling the credentials to the account.
  • I hate the pedantic hand-wringing about the difference between copying and stealing. They may not be exactly the same thing, but that doesn’t mean piracy isn’t wrong. “Stealing” is as good a term as any to describe it — you’re illegally obtaining something you haven’t paid for, at the expense of someone else.

Edit: Another argument I hate is “publishers are making record profits, so obviously used games and piracy aren’t hurting.” First of all, the industry is growing, and growth can hide a lot of systemic problems. But more importantly, piracy and used games can hurt in ways that aren’t just quantifiable by profits:

  • The PC versions of many games are an afterthought, because the sales just don’t justify it. Even the PC sales of PC-first games like Battlefield 3 and Skyrim just aren’t in the same league as the console versions. PC gamers complain about it, but it shouldn’t be a surprise.
  • Publishers will lean more on safe mass-market sequels when they’re the games that can be guaranteed to make money. If every used game sale was a new game sale, break-even success would be a lot easier to reach, and a lot more risk-taking, unique, quirky games would be green-lighted. This same fact applies even moreso in the film industry.
#4 Posted by Beluga (17 posts) -

I was at a get-together last week, and the topic of video games came up. I mentioned that I had recently bought a 360 after years of playing PC games sporadically, and ended up talking with a guy who only owns a Wii, but seemed to be a pretty serious gamer. I asked him the obvious question: what have you been playing? Besides the obvious great Nintendo games, I realized that he had been playing stuff like The Conduit, No More Heroes, Red Steel, Metroid: Other M, and MadWorld, was convinced that they were great games, and had no interest in what’s been coming out on the other consoles. I knew these kind of people existed because I’ve seen them on the internet, but always thought they were a small, vocal, and unhinged-from-reality fringe, but this guy was a successful, together professional.

I pretty quickly realized I needed to extricate myself from the conversation — nobody wants to hear a debate about the quality of third-party Wii games at a party — but the surreal alternate universe this guy seemed to exist in has stuck with me. Is it just lack of exposure to the rest of the gaming world, or some kind of hypnosis induced by exposure to the Wii sensor bar?

#5 Edited by Beluga (17 posts) -

Her questionable claim to fame not withstanding, her character bugs me in the same way that Miranda bugged me in ME2. Why did EA/BioWare think that what Mass Effect needed more of was attractive female characters wearing needlessly revealing outfits?

Sure, the female armor in ME1 was relatively close-fitting, but it didn’t strike me as exploitative in the same way that Miranda being essentially naked in ME2 and Chobot’s character wearing a low-cut tank top. In ME1, none of the female characters seemed designed in such a way to make their looks a defining characteristic, and the clothing/armor was more utilitarian than “sexy.” The female squad members were attractive, but their looks were relatively ancillary.

This isn’t about prudishness, it’s about games having serious female characters that aren’t sex symbols. Imagine playing through a game in which a male lead was wearing a skin-tight synthetic suit that left absolutely nothing to the imagination.

#6 Posted by Beluga (17 posts) -

@2HeadedNinja said:

@Narwhalist said:

Valve obviously deserves a lot of good will, but who’s to say they’ll continue acting this way forever? And for that matter, how many Steam fans would remain happy with their hegemony if Valve was acquired by, say, Microsoft or Amazon?

While I agree on the Origin part (that I didnt quote), you cant blame EA for pushing Origin, this part of you comment strucks me as a little ... doomsday? First: Valve is not publicly traded and most likely never will be, so nobody can buy them unless the agree. And with steam they generate enough capital to probably run for as long as there are videogames (that would be my guess). Second: With the experience I have with Valve and Steam I have no reason to believe they will ever change to the worse for me as a customer. They never stagnate, they never seem to rest ... there is always something they are doing to improve their service. Sometimes it's small stuff like cloud screenshots, sometimes bigger stuff like the mobile app. The pricing has stayed consoistent at least over the last 4 years, you always know what to expect, they never stopped doing their famed steam sales ... So what reason would I have to believe they will ever change? People love Valve/Steam ... but there is a reason for that. If Origin catches on at some point and gives me the same service Steam does I will use that sevice too, but as of now Origin is just a way wose version of Steam.

Yeah, I admit that I made a few giant leaps, but things can and do change. As a consumer, while Steam is great, it freaks me out that one company seems to be so dominant. Sure, Valve doesn’t have a fiduciary responsibility to milk their dominance, but it’s still good business to do so (at least to a point). And while they’re privately held and can’t be the target of a hostile takeover, that doesn’t mean they won’t ever be owned by anyone else.

In the long term, I’d rather there be a bunch of companies competing for digital PC game distribution market. As much as some console gamers are fans of Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo, I think all but the most insane realize that it’s in their best interest for their console manufacturer of choice not to dominate the market. It’s not good for anyone (besides Valve) when Valve is in a position where they could say “we raising our cut, we own the consumer mindshare, and we know that you’ll pay it” regardless of whether or not they’d actually try.

#7 Posted by Beluga (17 posts) -

@Dark_Lord_Spam said:

So I see EA's bitch-fit handling of its properties on Origin has panned out well for them. Huh.

I get the desire to have everything in one place, but it’s hard to blame EA for Origin — distributing their games using a platform they control is better. Steam is great from the consumers’ perspective (at least in the short run), but I’m sure the publishers are wary of the amount of digital distribution marketshare Valve has, and the amount of control that gives them (say, to unilaterally raise their cut). EA doesn’t have to pay anything to use Origin, and they have complete control over how it works.

Valve obviously deserves a lot of good will, but who’s to say they’ll continue acting this way forever? And for that matter, how many Steam fans would remain happy with their hegemony if Valve was acquired by, say, Microsoft or Amazon?

#8 Posted by Beluga (17 posts) -

I haven’t played a JRPG in a while, but I appreciate the way they seem to have strongly defined player characters, and don’t pretend to offer you choices at the expense of a tight narrative.

I loved the Mass Effect games, but it bugged me that Shephard is such a hollow character, presumably to keep up the pretense of him being whoever you wanted him to be. In reality, he’s pretty much either a slightly preachy good guy, a total dick, or suffering from a serious case of dissociative identity disorder; and the way you play him doesn’t substantially affect how the story plays out. If they had given that up, and fleshed out his character more, it may have been a better game for it. This is one example, but I think it’s part of a larger trend in western games.

I’m also a bit sick of the serious moral dilemma(!) fad in western games — fed by a press that praises the games in ways that make me think they like the idea more than the execution (I’m looking at you, BioShock).

#9 Posted by Beluga (17 posts) -

I admit I haven’t followed the news about the Wii U that carefully, but I just assumed it would be using a capacitive screen. Using a resistive screen was par for the course in 2004, and the 3DS had to in order to maintain backward compatibility, but shipping a new product in 2012 — in a world of smartphones and tablets — with a resistive screen seems utterly insane.

Even if this is just to keep the price down, I don’t think it’s worth it — this is going to look hopelessly outdated to the average person now, letalone 7-8 years out. The tech in the Wii controller also wasn’t particularly amazing, but it had the advantage of not being like anything else on the market. People picking up a Wii U controller are going to expect it to work like the iPad.

Yes, Nintendo has shipped products that have seemed insane and outdated before, and it turned out that people loved them. I could be missing the forest for the trees, but I really do think it’s different this time.

#10 Posted by Beluga (17 posts) -

Great job on the video and write-up! I love the on-the-street perspective — I hate it when travel shows focus more on touristy stuff and less on what everyday life is like.