Keep selling second-hand games and new retail releases will diminish, studio boss warns

Pre-owned Heavy Rain lost us $13m – Quantic Dream

Paris studio Quantic Dream has lost a fortune due to second-hand sales of its PS3 blockbuster Heavy Rain, the company’s co-CEO has said.

Guillaume de Fondaumiere said as much as €10 million ($13m) had been lost from the second-hand sales of the interactive whodunit, which has sold around two million copies worldwide.

“We know from the PS3’s 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,” de Fondaumiere told

“And my calculation is, as Quantic Dream, I lost between €5 and €10 million worth of royalties because of second hand gaming."

de Fondaumiere said the global recession has had a knock-on effect on the games market, with customers more willing to buy cheaper second-hand titles to save costs. The problem for games studios and publishers, however, is that pre-owned purchases only feed retailers, with no money channelled back to a game’s publisher or developer.

Blitz Games Studios co-founder Andrew Oliver recently told Develop that the pre-owned games market is a “bigger problem than piracy”. His view was that pirating games and buying them pre-owned both provide no revenues for game creators, though the latter is legal and widespread.

But de Fondaumiere warns that the rise of the pre-owned market will result in fewer games being made and sold at retail.

"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.

"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 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."

He continued: "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."

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