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The Escapist on Second Hand games

I really had no idea that gaming giants like Microsoft and Epic were taking efforts to curtail the used games market, but apparently, according to this article on the Escapist, they are.

The Gamestop CEO referenced in the article may make some good points (though obviously, he's biased because of his position) but there are other reasons why I think that any attempts by gaming companies, either through laws or software routines, to destroy the second hand games market will ultimately backfire and fail. Adding restrictive measures, such as DRM:

1. Reduces the value of the game.

This one should be blatantly obvious. Would you rather pay more for a copy of a game:

  • That you could install as many times as you like on as many computers as you own for as long as you want, but always have the option to sell if you want to.
  • That you can only install on a limited number of computers and has no second hand value?

Apple understands this concept. It's part of the reason why that songs on DRM-Free iTunes plus costs more then the DRM protected equivalent.

2. Reduces the moral cost of pirating the game.

Because what people are willing to pay for a game has slipped far below it's retail cost, or perhaps because they don't like the producer's "Orwellian" measures to stop piracy, a person who might otherwise morally object to pirating the game may reconsider. Is it any wonder, then, that heavily DRM protected Spore is probably the most widely pirated game in history?

3. Reduces the effort of pirating the game.

Because more people are pirating the game due to the above reasons, it becomes widely available and becomes far easier to pirate then a title that has only been pirated a few times. 

Spore has been downloaded 500,000 times through Bittorrent, I can only imagine that it would be incredibly easy to find enough seeds to have the game downloaded overnight.

It's called Perverse Incentives, people will ultimately do what they perceive as being in their own best interest, and trying to force them to change their behaviour can, and usually does, backfire.

It seems utterly, utterly absurd to me that even though nearly every other form of recorded entertainment in the world can be borrowed or resold - from books to records to films - games should somehow be an exception.