The current economic climate has produced media companies, of all kinds, that are afraid. Instead of having the capital to embrace--and invest in--the change brought on by the ever continuing march of digital products, they feel forced to exist on their margins.
Lets take the typical film company as an example. The entire Movie industry used to have a reliable income from DVD sales. With reduced returns, they look for bigger surer bets to make up the difference. When a movie doesn't meet their lofty projections, they blame piracy for their bad fortunes.
The Games industry provides further examples and some foils. Too often we hear about a game selling millions of copies, but falling short of projections. Or about how some game sold poorly--without mentioning the lack of marketing. Franchises are continually expected to add players, but also build on the narrative an mechanics of what came before--resulting in experiences that are executed well for neither.
Here is where four companies stand out Bethesda, Nintendo, Blizzard and Valve. None is immune to business practices. However, they find some way to innovate on a product or franchise, take the time to execute it, and release something they are proud of. We as gamers, don't necessarily agree with all of their choices, and we certainly don't like all of their games individually. But their games are easier to market, easier to differentiate, and as a result easier to sell.
Valve created a flawed system called Steam, but has shown a commitment to innovation that grew it into consistent answer to piracy and used game sales. Is it perfect? probably not. Arguably, it is good, despite its issues.
So much of the conversation lately has been focused on Microsoft and their DRM policy, which has been fun to experience, but really seems to be missing some of the underlying issues with the industry that caused it.
Jeff and Patrick were quick to point out that if the industry had pushed Microsoft to make these tools, they will have talked to Sony about doing the same. Seeing Sony say "NO" became the story here too.
So can we stop giving voice to the scapegoating of used games and DRM and instead ask for the next AAA business model?