For whatever reason, the game publishing industry has recently decided that used games are a terrible thing, despite the fact that used sales exist in every other medium, and have existed in videogames since their beginning. A cynical observer would be tempted to opine that it’s only an issue now because we now have the technology to prevent used game sales; the advent of always-online games, complicated DRM, etc. have made it very easy for publishers to prevent people from playing a game that’s already been played by someone else.
The reasons behind this sudden rise in anti-used game evangelism aren’t what we really need to be worrying about, though. The fact is, publishers aren’t going to quit whinging about it now that they’ve started, until something is done about it that pacifies them. It’s in our – that is, the consumer’s – best interest to make sure whatever is done about it also benefits us. Or at the very least, doesn’t hose us.
The current rumors would indicate that next-generation console hardware simply won’t play used games, but this quite frankly seems improbable. Even so, we must consider the effect that such a hardware decision would have on the industry. The short answer is that it would make it unimaginably worse for the consume. Such a system would mean that buying a popular game on launch was the only way to ensure you would actually get to play it. If you wait until later, it might be sold out, and with no used game market, you either wait for a re-release/reprint or you simply…don’t play it.
So what are our alternatives? Well, there’s a few, and they range from being slightly less egregious to being actually pretty acceptable. Here’s the most probable ones that come to mind: Continue reading