Heavy Rain Developer Thinks Games Are Too Expensive, Is Annoyed More People Didn't Buy His Expensive Game

Posted by Alex (2366 posts) -

The etymology of the idiomatic phrase "to have one's cake, and eat it too" can be traced all the way back to 1546 and English writer John Heywood, who, in his multi-volume work A dialogue Conteinyng the Nomber in Effect of All the Prouerbes in the Englishe Tongue, wrote, "wolde you bothe eate your cake, and have your cake?" The meaning, of course, pertains to the notion of one wishing to consume one's cake, while hoping to maintain the steady ownership of the aforementioned cake, post-consumption, a scolding question posed to those who, when faced with a one-or-the-other choice, demand to have things both ways.

Quantic Dream developer Guillaume de Fondaumiere, declaring that the price of games is "too damn high!"

A number of variations on this phrase have appeared over the years, from the Italian expression "vuoi la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca" ("you want your bottle full of wine and your wife drunk"), to the famous YouTube philosopher Debbie whose love of felines spawned the phrase "You can't hug every cat," and now Quantic Dream developer Guillaume de Fondaumiere, with his own spin on the old idiom that goes, "Video games are too expensive, but I want people to buy my expensive video games new."

I'm paraphrasing, of course. Specifically, I'm paraphrasing de Fondaumiere's comments to GameIndustry.biz (quoted accordingly in non-registered form by Eurogamer), in which he laments the fact that out of the roughly three million players who registered online trophies in his company's PS3-exclusive mystery thriller Heavy Rain, only two million of them actually bought the game new.

"We basically sold to date approximately two million units. We know from the Trophy system that probably more than three million people bought this game and played it.

On my small level it's a million people playing my game without giving me one cent. And my calculation is, as Quantic Dream, I lost between €5 and €10 million worth of royalties because of second-hand gaming."

While de Fondaumiere's math seems a bit...fuzzy, he is probably not incorrect in assuming that a number of players did opt to pick up used copies of Heavy Rain, or borrow copies from friends. Story-based games unfocused on multiplayer have traditionally been the biggest sellers in the used market, given most players' reluctance to hold onto games that don't contain traditional methods of replay value.

Ultimately, de Fondaumiere believes the issue is that games are simply too expensive, thus driving players to the used market, like poverty stricken peasants desperate to attain the luxuries afforded the upper class.

"I've always said that games are probably too expensive, so there's probably a right level here to find, and we need to discuss this all together and try to find a way to reconcile consumer expectations, retail expectations and also the expectations of the publisher and the developers to make this business a worthwhile business."

But, at the moment, "we're basically all shooting ourselves in the foot", he declared.

"Because when developers and publishers alike are going to see that they can't make a living out of producing games that are sold through retail channels, because of second-hand gaming, they will simply stop making these games," he said, or move exclusively online.

The basic idea of what de Fondaumiere is suggesting is not balls-out ludicrous or anything. Yes, games being overly expensive is probably what is driving players to pick up used titles, and perhaps an open discussion among publishers and console-makers to figure that situation out is a good idea. That said, the notion that developers will simply stop making games sold at retail because they aren't making enough money strikes as slightly insane, given the fact that games are still selling, including Heavy Rain, which apparently sold over two million copies new. That's a huge number for any game, a number that any studio would kill for.

Also, talking about the move to online sales over retail as though it were some kind of coming apocalypse seems more than a bit Chicken Little-ian, given that plenty of developers have been thriving via the various downloadable channels on consoles and the PC, and many publishers have found reasonable success pushing both retail and downloadable games.

Furthermore, de Fondaumiere is essentially complaining that two million copies of a game sold is somehow detrimental to his studio's health. Using his own math, that means that Quantic Dream earned between €10 and €20 million in royalty profits alone. Of course every company's goal is to make more money, to devour every remaining penny it could possibly squeeze out of its consumer base for the sake of continued success. But still, complaining in this fashion doesn't engender much sympathy.

In effect, de Fondaumiere has declared his annoyance with the fact that games are too expensive, and simultaneously complained about a million players not paying retail price for his game. When he figures out how to reconcile that one, maybe he can then work on the formula for self-replenishing cake.

#1 Posted by Alex (2366 posts) -

The etymology of the idiomatic phrase "to have one's cake, and eat it too" can be traced all the way back to 1546 and English writer John Heywood, who, in his multi-volume work A dialogue Conteinyng the Nomber in Effect of All the Prouerbes in the Englishe Tongue, wrote, "wolde you bothe eate your cake, and have your cake?" The meaning, of course, pertains to the notion of one wishing to consume one's cake, while hoping to maintain the steady ownership of the aforementioned cake, post-consumption, a scolding question posed to those who, when faced with a one-or-the-other choice, demand to have things both ways.

Quantic Dream developer Guillaume de Fondaumiere, declaring that the price of games is "too damn high!"

A number of variations on this phrase have appeared over the years, from the Italian expression "vuoi la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca" ("you want your bottle full of wine and your wife drunk"), to the famous YouTube philosopher Debbie whose love of felines spawned the phrase "You can't hug every cat," and now Quantic Dream developer Guillaume de Fondaumiere, with his own spin on the old idiom that goes, "Video games are too expensive, but I want people to buy my expensive video games new."

I'm paraphrasing, of course. Specifically, I'm paraphrasing de Fondaumiere's comments to GameIndustry.biz (quoted accordingly in non-registered form by Eurogamer), in which he laments the fact that out of the roughly three million players who registered online trophies in his company's PS3-exclusive mystery thriller Heavy Rain, only two million of them actually bought the game new.

"We basically sold to date approximately two million units. We know from the Trophy system that probably more than three million people bought this game and played it.

On my small level it's a million people playing my game without giving me one cent. And my calculation is, as Quantic Dream, I lost between €5 and €10 million worth of royalties because of second-hand gaming."

While de Fondaumiere's math seems a bit...fuzzy, he is probably not incorrect in assuming that a number of players did opt to pick up used copies of Heavy Rain, or borrow copies from friends. Story-based games unfocused on multiplayer have traditionally been the biggest sellers in the used market, given most players' reluctance to hold onto games that don't contain traditional methods of replay value.

Ultimately, de Fondaumiere believes the issue is that games are simply too expensive, thus driving players to the used market, like poverty stricken peasants desperate to attain the luxuries afforded the upper class.

"I've always said that games are probably too expensive, so there's probably a right level here to find, and we need to discuss this all together and try to find a way to reconcile consumer expectations, retail expectations and also the expectations of the publisher and the developers to make this business a worthwhile business."

But, at the moment, "we're basically all shooting ourselves in the foot", he declared.

"Because when developers and publishers alike are going to see that they can't make a living out of producing games that are sold through retail channels, because of second-hand gaming, they will simply stop making these games," he said, or move exclusively online.

The basic idea of what de Fondaumiere is suggesting is not balls-out ludicrous or anything. Yes, games being overly expensive is probably what is driving players to pick up used titles, and perhaps an open discussion among publishers and console-makers to figure that situation out is a good idea. That said, the notion that developers will simply stop making games sold at retail because they aren't making enough money strikes as slightly insane, given the fact that games are still selling, including Heavy Rain, which apparently sold over two million copies new. That's a huge number for any game, a number that any studio would kill for.

Also, talking about the move to online sales over retail as though it were some kind of coming apocalypse seems more than a bit Chicken Little-ian, given that plenty of developers have been thriving via the various downloadable channels on consoles and the PC, and many publishers have found reasonable success pushing both retail and downloadable games.

Furthermore, de Fondaumiere is essentially complaining that two million copies of a game sold is somehow detrimental to his studio's health. Using his own math, that means that Quantic Dream earned between €10 and €20 million in royalty profits alone. Of course every company's goal is to make more money, to devour every remaining penny it could possibly squeeze out of its consumer base for the sake of continued success. But still, complaining in this fashion doesn't engender much sympathy.

In effect, de Fondaumiere has declared his annoyance with the fact that games are too expensive, and simultaneously complained about a million players not paying retail price for his game. When he figures out how to reconcile that one, maybe he can then work on the formula for self-replenishing cake.

#2 Posted by Mongoose (218 posts) -

What a moustache!

Online
#3 Posted by Starfishhunter9 (369 posts) -

stars

#4 Posted by BD_Mr_Bubbles (1702 posts) -

he makes no sense

#5 Posted by gbrading (2102 posts) -

I wanted to play Heavy Rain, but not owning a PS3 and it being a PS3-exclusive, I was somewhat snookered.

#6 Posted by Agent_Eli (139 posts) -

It's ok. I'm mad more people didn't buy heavy rain, too.

#7 Edited by Shaanyboi (1334 posts) -

well.. i wouldn't mind if games were cheaper....  That said, considering how expensive they are to make now, I can't say the pricing is always unfair...
#8 Posted by rargy (437 posts) -

I rented it. Sorry.

#9 Posted by Vortextk (421 posts) -

I love that picture.

#10 Posted by TekZero (2686 posts) -

I've said it all along, buying used games is no different than piracy. 

#11 Posted by ssj4raditz (1125 posts) -

Hell yeah self-replenishing cake!

#12 Posted by sugetipula (98 posts) -

He should be happy that his game sold as much as it did. Most people didn't even expected the game to sell half of that.

#13 Posted by SparkEngineer (69 posts) -

What a terrible article.

First of all, Quantic Dream has no choice in what their game costs. That's up to Sony, the developer.

As a producer of goods, I believe his issue is that he is upset that more people didn't feel his game was worth retail pricing. That seems to be what I get out of the article.

He's also not saying he lost 1million sales, he's saying that there were 1 million people willing to play the game that he could not sell it to. Of course, as a game developer, your number one priority is to make as much money as possible, so obviously he's going to be aiming to figure out how to sell the game to those extra 1 million people.

He's not an English native speaker and I just feel that this article is being highly misinterpreted by those who read others work and spit it out in a different way.

#14 Posted by Carousel (418 posts) -

Every Navarro article title is comedy gold.

#15 Posted by Brodehouse (10105 posts) -

Games journalist criticizes everyone in industry, ignores criticisms of his writing.

#16 Posted by ectoplasma (983 posts) -

Well he complained that they didnt buy it and his reasoning is that its too expensive. I think he would think it reasonable if the game would have a lower pricepoint and less copies were bought used. I dont really see this as an contradiction.

#17 Posted by Oginam (447 posts) -

JASON!

#18 Posted by Sanious (793 posts) -

Well, let's see. 
 
The game wasn't that great and you lost the potential of more sales by promising tons of DLC for the game, then ditching it just to add move support to push more copies of your title. They could have made a decent amount more if they didn't decide to jump at the chance of an awful console trend. 

#19 Posted by abdo (1037 posts) -

I'm one of those that didn't buy, borrowed it instead. Got 90% of those trophies too.

#20 Posted by HairyMike87 (1016 posts) -

It's a one and done game. I really enjoyed it, but didn't feel compelled to buy it because there was really nothing else to do after you beat it. 

#21 Posted by dprabon (318 posts) -

"maybe he can then work on the formula for self-replenishing cake." - I'm up for that idea q :

#22 Edited by FengShuiGod (1492 posts) -

It seems to me he is saying the price point of games is above the demand curve so lowering the price a certain amount would increase demand thereby sell more games thereby increase revenues. If prices were lower, he argues, less used copies would be bought, and he would be making even more on royalties. 
 
For example's sake: A store sells pancakes for $10 each. 200 people buy one. Revenues = $2,000. The store lowers the price to $7 dollars and 375 people buy one. Revenues = $2625 and 175 more people entered the market for new pancakes and did not participate in the used pancake market.  
 
But yeah, the idea that traditional retail channels are somehow going to collapse because of the used market is crazy. 

#23 Posted by Subjugation (4730 posts) -

I haven't liked the $60 price point for games since the beginning. $50 was kind of ok, but the higher you raise the price the less willing people are to take risks and try something. If games were cheaper people would be buying games they wouldn't normally buy.

#24 Posted by Sanious (793 posts) -
@TekZero said:
I've said it all along, buying used games is no different than piracy. 
It actually is, by a long shot.
#25 Edited by skrutop (3615 posts) -

I see his point, but I get my books and CDs for free from the library instead of buying them, and I get my games used whenever I can. It doesn't matter if they make new games cheaper; used games will always cost less.

#26 Posted by Danda (76 posts) -

Developer makes story-focused game that you can really enjoy fully once, then complains because people sell it after completion.

#27 Posted by mrangryface (775 posts) -

I hated this game because it forced me to be a retarded parent. I woulda told that clown to F OFF while I get my idiot kid- then he'll get his PRECIOUS DOLLAR BILL.

#28 Posted by RiotBananas (3600 posts) -

Are you writing these titles just to take the piss now?

#29 Posted by jaffaz (138 posts) -

I bitch and whinge about good games not been made and good developers not getting the money they are trying to earn to move onto there next project. But I am as guilty as anybody when it comes to trading games simply because I fall right into the "poverty stricken peasants desperate to attain the luxuries afforded the upper class" side of society. Until a middle ground is found, I will have to continue to trade in.

#30 Posted by mars188 (150 posts) -

Welll for alot of people its alot of money sorry'' When i buy games i want value dont want to pay 59.00 for a 6hr game then its over with. Why do you think so many folks buy COD Are Vegas VALUE''

#31 Posted by Tachikoma (70 posts) -

lol

#32 Posted by Rirse (273 posts) -

After watching the LP that Lord Mune made, I an easily say the reason nobody bought this game is because it's so bad and poorly written. The twist for the villain makes no sense if you know it before hand. Plus if you are going to use the word origami in the game, pronounce it right!

#33 Posted by RecSpec (3904 posts) -

If he's complaining about money so much, then why the fuck did he scrap all future DLC just to make Heavy Rain compatible for the Move. Dumbass.

#34 Posted by Veektarius (4968 posts) -

There's really no contradiction here if you combine the two statements into a coherent thought instead of arbitrarily dividing them up into competition with one another.

#35 Posted by Afroman269 (7387 posts) -

He's one of those guys, huh.

#36 Posted by bustew (9 posts) -

If it makes him feel any better, I bought the game new and its still sitting on my shelf, unopened.

#37 Posted by MaddProdigy (1041 posts) -

I bought Heavy Rain used from a friend, and I'm glad I did now. This guy sounds like a pretentious asshole who should just be grateful ANYONE bought his game new.

#38 Posted by roguehallow (209 posts) -

The only solution to the "used games crisis" (I'm not exactly sure whom I'm quoting there, I just like ironic quotes) would be to ensure that every game can only be used by the original purchaser on a single system... which would suck.

Also, I want M. de Fondaumiere's awesome facial hair.

#39 Posted by mnzy (2920 posts) -

"On my small level it's a million people playing my game without giving me one cent. And my calculation is, as Quantic Dream, I lost between €5 and €10 million worth of royalties because of second-hand gaming."
 
There is one obvious variable missing in your little equation: there are many people that only bought your game at full price because they know they can sell it later and have its experience overall at a way lower entry point.
 
Imagine you couldn't sell a car, ever. People would drive their new cars forever and buy one at a much lower frequency.
 
I really hope these people start to realise this in the near future, before they completely get rid of the used game market and we will have the next video game crisis.

#40 Posted by Capum15 (4960 posts) -
@ssj4raditz said:

Hell yeah self-replenishing cake!

Best kind of cake.

Unless it's carrot or something. Then it's just cruel.
#41 Posted by Mijati (948 posts) -

I bought this game used and for one simple reason. I couldn't find it anywhere new, no where online had it new and no stores I went to had it new so I had to buy it used. So for me it was simply a supply issue, that's their problem to fix and not the consumers.

Online
#42 Posted by BlazeHedgehog (1102 posts) -

It is a sad day when two million copies of a videogame being sold is considered "underperforming". What has this videogame industry become when $120,000,000 isn't enough money to be making on a videogame?

#43 Posted by Krakn3Dfx (2501 posts) -

/me raises hand.

I bought Heavy Rain used for $20 on Gamefly. Having said that, I've never actually PLAYED the used copy of Heavy Rain I bought used for $20 on Gamefly. The horror stories about the 1-2GB of updates you have to download initially keep me from popping it in.

#44 Edited by Akrid (1356 posts) -

I'm not sure why there's so much latent anger in this article. Seems to me that he's making a perfectly reasonable proposition, as @FengShuiGod explained. 

#45 Posted by Lively (312 posts) -

That article was a bit wordy. Maybe longer Giant Bomb articles should start including a TL;DR summary.

#46 Posted by Sanious (793 posts) -

And didn't David Cage say he wanted people to play the game once? Why would people buy a game to only play once? :)

#47 Posted by CanItRunBF3 (27 posts) -

Is this the same QD employee that kept saying in pre-launch interviews that he didn't want players to play though the game a second time, and instead live with their choices and have a totally different story experience than other players? 
 
Not exactly the best way to drive up sales. What do you expect when you make a short SP-only game that you do not support with DLC levels, (other than the taxidermist, which was made before HR even came out, and very short to boot) and you tell people its best to play though only one time? Then you tack on really crappy move support?
 
I bought the game at launch, and it was pretty good. Money would have been best saved by renting it though. He shouldn't bitch about what paying customers do with 
 the things they paid for and own. He should have given more incentive for people to hold onto their copies and not trade it in.

#48 Edited by Sooty (8082 posts) -

@Sanious said:

@TekZero said:
I've said it all along, buying used games is no different than piracy.
It actually is, by a long shot.

Not really. Piracy and used games both give the publishers and developers nothing. You can argue that the game was originally bought new at some point which gave them some money but it doesn't quite rule out the fact that two users have played the game while the publisher & developer only saw $60 from both of you combined.

Piracy is more of a concern due to you being able to easily distribute multiple copies of a game, though. You can't magic used games out of thin air.

#49 Posted by mtmckinley (123 posts) -

If royalties work in his case as they have in mine, the royalties actually don't start coming in on day 1. The publisher has to sell X units BEFORE royalties even START to accrue. Just for example's sake: if I'm paid $1000 to make something with the promise that I will get 5 cents for every unit sold, the contract ALSO states that the 5 cents start after the publisher has sold enough units to make up for that $1000 they've already paid me. So with this math, I don't make any royalties until after they've sold 20,000 units. I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised if he had a similar arrangement (with much larger figures).

#50 Posted by wewantsthering (1586 posts) -

@Brodehouse said:

Games journalist criticizes everyone in industry, ignores criticisms of his writing.

Exactly.

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