By EvilNiGHTS 0 Comments
After reading post after post regarding the controversy over used games on Xbox One and hearing the same arguments made over and over, I find it increasingly disturbing that both sides appear to be missing the bigger picture.
Games are in their infancy compared to other entertainment mediums, yet despite the relative lack of titles when compared to the sheer number of films, books, and music available, it seems crazy to me that for an industry where supposedly the people who make the content are just as passionate as the people who consume it there's little to no effort made in preserving games.
Films, books, and music are routinely reissued or republished every couple of years. Games that are released on discs however, go out of print within a couple of years and rarely get rereleased, and so the only option for people who wish to revisit or discover older games is to buy them used. Even digital alternatives such as Microsoft's Games On Demand service are poorly managed and don't contain every title that has been released on the Xbox 360.
To offer an example: I have no doubt that I could go to the local HMV and buy a new Blu-Ray copy of X-Men: The Last Stand. However, could I buy the tie-in game that was released at the same time? Could I even buy a new copy of Halo Reach? Why is it I could easily buy any bad movie that was released in the last twenty years, but not a good game that was released in the last five
The above is an issue that isn't even solved by the inevitable move to digital distribution systems. It stands to reason right now that in five years, you won't be able to play a game like Shadow Complex, because the hardware it is played on is no longer in production and the servers you were supposed to download it from have long been switched off. Even services like Steam aren't infallible, because the plethora of content already on there is only a Windows generation from now longer working.
This is especially distressing considering good games that used licensed content. We already saw Vice City get removed from Steam for a brief period last year over some of the music contained, whereas XIII was pulled from GOG not so long ago. Goldeneye, as you know, will likely never be released on Virtual Console. This is a problem that is only going to get worse over the next decade.
It's insulting to me to be told the reason I want used games to work is because I'm desperate to save a meagre £5 on something that's supposed to cost £50. I haven't bought a game used during its Zeitgeist since 2004. Yes, games are an expensive hobby, but it's made manageable by the fact that I simply don't have time to play every game that interests me. Am I supposed to buy it under the assumption that I may get around to it in a few years time? Sorry, but I already have cupboards full of sealed Amaray cases and a Steam account with more than 80 uninstalled games as it is. Ultimately it's not my responsibility to look after all this stuff.
Publishers and developers need to stop treating a game sold used like it's a sale lost, especially considering how franchise-driven the industry has become. Sure, you won't make any money if I buy a used copy of the first Gears of War now, but that sale might just garner enough interest in me that I'm first in line when you release another one. Isn't that worth something? Did you really think I'd buy Hitman: Absolution when I didn't play the previous ones? I don't jump on a film franchise five instalments in, so why bet I'd do that with games?
It's ironic, because both fans and creators of games want to argue it as an artform, but ultimately miss one of the key differences. Art is respected by all sides of the community, it's preserved, made easily available, and people talk about it for decades or even centuries to come.
Right now, video games are none of those things. And until this issue is sorted out they never will be.