The war between developers and the pre-owned market has been a fierce one, with both sides fighting hard for that extra money. One company that feels that they got hit hard due to the pre-owned market is Quantic Dream, developers of Heavy Rain, who stated that around 1 million people played the game without ever paying for it, costing the group between €5 and €10 million.
This is all according to Quantic Dream CEO Guillaume de Fondaumière, who said that, by judging PS3 trophy stats, they can see that a million people who didn’t pay, played the game. He went on to state that games were too expensive and that developers and publishers needed to work together to find a solution.
I would say that the impact that the recession had, that the most important impact especially on AAA games on console, was the rise of second hand gaming. And I think this is one of the number one problems right now in the industry.
I can take just one example of Heavy Rain. 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.
He continued on, pointing out the counter-arguments that were sure to be fired his way:
I know the arguments, you know, without second hand gaming people will buy probably less games because they buy certain games full price, and then they trade them in etc etc.
Well I’m not so sure this is the right approach and I think that developers and certainly publishers and distributors should sit together and try to find a way to address this. Because we’re basically all shooting ourselves in the foot here.
Because when developers and publishers alike are going to 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. And we’ll all, one say to the other, ‘simply go online and to direct distribution’.
So I don’t think that in the long run this is a good thing for retail distribution either.
Now are games too expensive? 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 altogether and try to find a way to I would say reconcile consumer expectations, retail expectations but also the expectations of the publisher and the developers to make this business a worthwhile business.
Unfortunately for de Fondaumière Sony’s recently unveiled PSN Pass wouldn’t have helped make the company money, as it only requires a purchase to go online.