As EA is set to implement a divisive $10 pay-wall in a bid to curb pre-owned sales of its games, one experienced UK developer believes the threat of second-hand sales must be addressed.
In fact, Blitz Games Studios co-founder Andrew Oliver believes that piracy is not the biggest problem facing the game industry, but instead one part of a bigger, underlying issue; lost revenues.
“Arguably the bigger problem on consoles now is the trading in of games,” he tells Develop.
“I understand why players do this, games are expensive and after a few weeks of playing you’ve either beaten it, or got bored of it so trading it back in to help pay for the next seems sensible when people are short of cash.”
However, citing figures suggesting that games are traded in as many as four times, he says that – if true – this means that publisher and developer royalties are effectively quartered.
“So while retail may be announcing a reasonable season, the money going back up the chain is a fraction of what it was only a few years ago. This is a much bigger problem than piracy on the main consoles,” he added.
Oliver adds that the damage done by the pre-owned business will push publishers towards “digital downloads, either the full game, or downloadable content releases.”
Today EA revealed it is introducing a $10 pay-wall scheme that will see its line of sports games come bundled with a free pass card for online services – permitting access to online games, downloadable content and other online bonuses.
The pass card will work much like a Microsoft Points card, with users having to input a code to get online access. Once the code is used, the player’s online account is activated and the pass card becomes useless.
It means that, in theory, all pre-owned EA Sports games found at the retailers won’t be offering free online access. Those who buy EA Sports games pre-owned can still get online access, but will have to pay $10 for one.