Livingstone: Pre-owned threatens boxed market

UK development legend Ian Livingstone has raised concerns over the growth in pre-owned sales on the High Street – suggesting the practice may force publishers and studios to bypass traditional retail.

Speaking exclusively to MCV, Eidos life president Livingstone predicted that IP owners will begin looking to online activation codes and other tactics to ensure gamers don’t re-sell their titles.

This month, EA offered consumers of Dragon Age: Origins on PC a one-time download for added content – ensuring that anyone that bought the game second-hand would lose out on a chunk of the title.

You can’t exactly claim that the [second-hand] practice is good for publishers or developers,” Livingstone told MCV. Development costs continue to rise and content creators need to benefit from the sales of their goods wherever they occur.

If no revenue share is offered by retail on sales of
pre-owned titles, content owners will develop creative online ways to ensure consumers retain ownership of their games.

In the short term this might be authorisation codes, identification codes or essential online data necessary to play. In the long term, there will be less boxed product.”

Livingstone has a long history with boxed product, having overseen the flotation and merger of Domark
with Eidos Technologies back in 1995. He served as executive chairman of Eidos’ Board until 2002, and has earned a BAFTA and OBE, and acts as chairman for the Computer Games

Skills Council. He was promoted to life president at Eidos earlier this year.

MCV revealed in October that pre-owned is likely to account for a third of GAME Group’s revenues in the first half of next year. The category generated 25.7 per cent of the firm’s sales in H1 2009.

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