David Braben proposes six fixes for used game sales

Wednesday, 20th October 2010 20:43 GMT By Justin Kranzl


David Braben, the founder of Frontier Developments and a long-time opponent of the pre-owned games market, has written up six potential fixes to the “problem” – while also sinking his boot into the presently in-vogue “online pass” method.

In a blog post on Develop, Braben’s six options range from the sedate, such as to continue down the “online pass” road, through to the costly, such as uniquely tagging all discs and potentially allowing publishers to restrict access.

Braben’s opposition to the online pass method – which effectively slugs buyers of used games with an additional charge if they want to play online – is its execution.

“Our fragmentary response to the problem, one-time codes and so on, is in danger of reducing the incentive to keep them anyway, devaluing a collection if it is bound to numerous different accounts and codes, with no certainty that in the future these codes will continue to work,” he said.

And Braben’s six proposals are:

1. Carry on with the array of ad-hoc one-time codes, online ‘passes’, DLC, to tilt players toward new purchases.
2. Introduction of cross-industry serial numbering of discs. This shouldn’t mean the complete freezing out of pre-owned – it would be up to developers and publishers what to do – but it does give the option of a whole range of possibilities, including ones currently covered by the one-time codes.
3. Industry participation in pre-owned sales. This has to be with the retailers’ agreement, but this may come, as long as there is an upside to them, and that upside could be as part of holding off on the worse excesses of (2).
4. Bring in ‘Not for Resale’ SKUs. Why is there no parallel with DVD sales? It is because they do not allow resale or rental – and in fact have special ‘for rental’ SKUs at a significantly greater price.
5. Make the discs just data discs costing say, £5, perhaps containing an extended demo, but requiring online validation to become a full game (eg by withholding the executable file), even for the first user.
6. Move to online-only. This is where the retailers seem to want us to go after all, so perhaps it’s time to make the jump.

EA and THQ have already products in the market which use their respective takes on the online pass scheme. Take-Two, Activision and Ubisoft have also expressed interest in the sub-product.



  1. LOLshock94


    #1 4 years ago
  2. Nozz

    Without used games, i would not have picked up some of the gems i missed when i couldn’t afford to buy the clusterfuck of games that came out in Quarter 4 last year.. SO yes David, please STFU

    #2 4 years ago
  3. AHA-Lambda

    for once i agree with LOLshock94, i am sick of hearing this.

    The car industry doesn’t bitch about used sales
    The book industry doesn’t bitch about used sales
    The music industry doesn’t bitch about used sales

    If publishers are losing so much money from used sales then they need to reevaluate their budgets and earnings. Oh wait people have been saying that for years now! Apparently its just easier to punish used buyers like their fucking criminals!

    #3 4 years ago
  4. freedoms_stain

    So basically, shaft the consumer from all angles.

    #4 4 years ago
  5. Lord Gremlin

    I’ve only once in my live bought a used game. It was an old PS2 game, which became rare and new copies were nowhere to be found at all.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. NoxNoctisUmbra

    So its ok to buy USED cars, but its not ok to buy USED games? Not everyone has good pay jobs.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. Zarckan

    It’s NOT about shafting the consumer, it’s about NOT shafting the developers, example …

    Developer makes game = $5.00
    Publisher manufactures game = $10.00
    Publisher sells game to distributor = $10.00
    Distributor sells game to retailer = $10.00
    Retailer sells game to gamer = $10.00
    TOTAL = $45.00

    Gamer sells game BACK to retailer -$10.00
    Retailer sells game to another gamer = $20.00

    RETAILER makes a TOTAL of $20.00

    (Figures are examples) but currently the ONLY winner out of the user market are the retailers, who sell the game TWICE, and make the money from it, meanwhile the developer still gets his $5.00 PER unit! :(

    #7 4 years ago
  8. majicship

    I mostly buy used console games because I can’t afford many new titles these days. They’re far too expensive. I’d look to buying more new games if they were less expensive. This way the new and used market would be able to happily co exist. But I’m not getting that happy warm feeling from the above article. The games industry seems to want to have its cake and eat it.

    #8 4 years ago
  9. spiderLAW

    The day that buying used games become unbearable/cant be done is the day I stop being a gamer. I buy new games but sometimes i cant afford all the new games that come out so i trade, sell, or buy used games from local gamers.

    #9 4 years ago
  10. The_Red

    These and other methods will either anger the gamers or the publishers. It’s funny how no one notices the real leeches here: Retailers that GAIN THE MOST from used-sales games. GAMERS and PUBLISHERS are both losing something and fighting over it while THOSE RETAILERS are gaining from it.

    Solution: FORCE Retailers to give some of the profit they make from used-games sales to the publishers. This way consumers can have their used games with full benefits, publishers can have money from said used sales and retailers can keep being leeches and smugglers they love to be.

    #10 4 years ago
  11. spiderLAW

    The point is that all media industries go through this but you don’t hear them bitching as much as the Games industry, do you? I can go down to the local Record shop and buy the Guns N’ Roses collectors set ‘used’, play it on the stereo, surround sound, let my buddy borrow it, copy it, listen to it on the computer, use the Rom features and all of that without having to pay the Online Pass fee, service charge fee, disc media fee etc etc etc.

    Games industry is not the only industry that has USED sales. Gamers shouldn’t be getting shafted because developers/publishers/sponsors want more money. They should focus on a solution that doesn’t involve alienating the gamers/consumers.

    #11 4 years ago
  12. Grimrita

    if they made games that offered good value, then there might be no market. The fact games can be finished inside a couple of hours leaves the publishers digging their own graves

    #12 4 years ago
  13. Kalain

    And the reason why there is a used games market? Well, thats because of the publishers putting up the prices of the games nearly every year.

    To me, the whole thing will eventually collapse. The used games market depends on actual 1st game sales, and since those sales are coming down, the used game market will get smaller. This will hit a point where the 1st game sales will be so poor, that any used games will cost almost as much as a 1st game sale.

    Something is going to have to give for the console players and, in my opinion, the used games market is going to crash as publishers decide to start tieing games to PSN/XBL accounts, just like games on the PC are. When this happens, and I think it will, the used games market will collapse and the sales of 1st game sales will increase along with the increased price for awhile, then drop.

    Thats the only way I see things going unless the stores and publishers come to some arrangement.

    #13 4 years ago
  14. The_Red

    Those other media types don’t bitch about it because they have more first time buyers. Right now, only games like COD: Black Ops, Halo Reach, Fallout New Vegas and maybe Medal of Honor sell first hand while titles like Vanquish, Enslaved and many other great but smaller games end up abused by used game sales and bombing. That’s why assholes like Bobby Kotick say we have to focus on our big franchises and money making brands.

    Because games like Call of Duty that don’t suffer from used games sales are too few and likes of Vanquish and Enslaved that get killed are too high. In cinemas, its not like new Batman and Transformers sell really well while other films bomb. At least titles like RED or Social Network have a chance. Last year Brutal Legend was killed, this year is Vanquish…

    #14 4 years ago
  15. AHA-Lambda

    @14 – which brings me back to my point about fixing the problem right now with game budgets not punishing consumers

    Back in the ps2 era a game like enslaved could do fine with numbers that nowadays are considered failures.

    Then again…enslaved is pretty shit so i cant say i care >_>

    #15 4 years ago
  16. OrbitMonkey

    The reason publishers bitch is because of how much a ps3/360 game costs to make compared to last gen. You don’t hear Nintendo whining about 2nd hand sales, but their games are cheaper to churn out.

    #16 4 years ago
  17. JimFear666

    i totally agree with all of these 6 recommandation. Im againt the pre-used market and something need to be done against that plague.

    #17 4 years ago
  18. Radiofloyd

    Broadband speeds are nowhere near where they need to be across the board for online only to be introduced.

    #18 4 years ago
  19. The_Red

    @15 Yeah but what if lowering the budgets isn’t possible? As suggested on, game market is divided into 3 groups and retail AAA titles are like Hollywood blockbusters. The problem with AAA games market is that blockbusters are afraid of each other and rightfully so. If you don’t spend at least 20 million on your game, it can’t even dream to compete with 100 million dollar games that sell billions. Even with that budget, almost every game ran away last year when Modern Warfare 2 was coming out. Did Hollywood do the same? Did they remove every July release when Transformers or Dark Knight was coming out? No, they didn’t. Every week can have a winner there but here, not so much.

    As for Enslaved’s quality, I can’t judge it since have yet to play it but I used it since its a new ip.

    #19 4 years ago
  20. ybfelix

    The problem is that the publishers hate retailers for gaining huge amount from used sales, but not have the balls to go straight up against them. We still got retailer-specific pre-order bonuses don’t we?

    #20 4 years ago
  21. Crysis

    I would be open to any of his options(excluding 5 & 6, the internet is currently limted in many areas), but i think it would be fair that the publishers drop the RRP aswell in exchange.

    #21 4 years ago
  22. CptKurk

    Keep spewing out second-rate mass-produced software like you do and consumers and retailers will treat it as just that. No chance in hell I’d pay more than 15 euros for what Frontier’s developed so far. Give me Mario or Half-Life once or twice a year, and I’d still buy it at triple the price.

    #22 4 years ago
  23. Blerk

    While I don’t believe that second-hand sales should be stopped or restricted in any way, it would be nice to see some of the retailers given a bloody nose somehow. The prices the likes of GAME charge for a scabby pube-infested second-hand copy are nothing short of extortionate.

    #23 4 years ago
  24. silkvg247

    Actually instead of shafting the customer by trying to clamp down on used games – why don’t they clamp down on the retailers? Isn’t it possible to beat them at their own game?

    Let players return your game used, giving them “x” cash back. Heck, even include a “freepost” used game sleeve to pop the game into and stick in the mail.

    Then re-sell your own games, maybe through an online outlet.

    Don’t clamp down on people flogging games to their mates etc. as we can do that now with why should games be special?

    #24 4 years ago
  25. moosehound

    Off topic BUT – Could someone please sort out the grammar in the heading of this post… it bugs me :D It should be either “David Braben proposes six fixes for used game sales” OR “David Braben’s proposed six fixes for used game sales”

    Yes I’m anal.. Thanks :D

    #25 4 years ago
  26. Johnny Cullen

    Heh. :D


    #26 4 years ago
  27. moosehound

    Nice one Mr Johnny sir ;) Was driving me nutsie :)

    #27 4 years ago
  28. DonnerKebab

    If most DLC was actually decent (and currently MOST of it is utter lame shit) people who buy new might actually hold onto their games instead of slinging them into the used market straight afterwards.

    #28 4 years ago
  29. Filofax

    The only thing wrong with the used game market at the moment is the bloody greedy retailers.

    #29 4 years ago

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