Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Used Video Games: Online For $10

It's like this, only the dollar bills are flying out of your wallet.
It started with Electronic Arts, and now the trend has added THQ, Warner Bros, and the latest companies to join are Ubisoft and Sony. What's this trend? Making online access a separate fee for purchasers of the game, if you aren't the original buyer. When you buy an EA Sports game, for instance, it will come with an online code that you enter to allow you to compete online. No extra charge, so it's not really a big deal. But when you sell that game to GameStop, the person who buys the game from GameStop can play it all they like on their console... but when they want to play online, they'll have to pay $10 for a new online code.

Of course, you can expect this to result in a lower price being paid for your used games by GameStop, but the publishers really don't worry about that. This is a way they can get something from a used game sale, which is more than the big fat nothing they currently make on used games. It makes sense to me that someone has to pay for the servers, and it really should be the game players, whether it's the original buyer or not.

It's one more move along the line to software as a service. The publishers have tried different monetization schemes, such as subscription plans. This is one more way to help keep those servers humming. Of course, if more games begin offering free-to-play models with monetization from virtual goods, this may not succeed competitively. For sports games, though, it seems to make sense until they start charging you for each fantasy league player you want to own. Which may happen someday... looks like everything is being tried.

I think the only thing you can be certain of is that you can't really be certain of anything in the game industry.

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