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Industry vet Richard Browne: The “real cost” of used games sales is loss of variety, single-player

Thursday, 12 April 2012 18:20 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Richard Browne, former Eidos developer and former VP of Core Studios at THQ and Universal Interactive, believes “the real cost” of used games is not to the publisher, but to the consumer  as well as the direct cause of the “death of single-player gaming.”

In an editorial published on GI International, Browne said used games have “never been an issue” with publishers as they “don’t hate used games, but the practices of GameStop,” such as forcing customers to purchase a game used instead of new.

The direct result, according to Browne, is the loss of single-player games for multiplayer implementation.

“How do I stop churn? I implement multiplayer and attempt to keep my disc with my consumer playing online against their friends,” he said. “It works wonderfully for Call of Duty – no doubt it can work wonderfully for me. The problem is, at what cost? Countless millions of dollars would be the answer.”

Browne cites as an example of two single-player games which, in his opinion, had multiplayer tacked on in order “stop the game churn”: Ninja Gaiden and Uncharted 3.

“What on Earth was the point of taking the completely single-player experience of Uncharted 1 and bolting on an entirely new game to Nathan Drake’s second adventure? The multiplayer game – brilliantly executed as one would expect of the Naughty Dog team – had absolutely nothing to do with the single player experience, and from my perspective had absolutely zero interest from me as a consumer, and I’m not alone in that,” said Browne.

“Take a look at the most recent Ninja Gaiden game. Why does that multiplayer mode exist? What effect did having to build it have on the single-player experience? There is no reason for the multiplayer game to exist; it makes no sense in NG’s universe. I’m not singling out Ninja Gaiden here, as the number of games that have gone the same route over the past couple of years is substantial. But is it good for the consumer?

“Absolutely not – in general they’re getting a poorer single-player game. But again that’s the tip of the iceberg.”

Browne also pointed out, developers such as Tim Schafer don’t “stand a chance” when pitching a game to publishing executives because while he is “a genius”, in the publisher’s mind the game will “sell a few hundred thousand copies and then get endlessly churned.”

“In the end, Tim has gone on to write smaller games, digitally delivered and is now using Kickstarter to fund his latest and greatest product and I think that’s fantastic,” he said. “Do I think it’s fantastic that I’ll no longer be able to buy another Brutal Legend-style Tim Schafer game? No I don’t. Is that beneficial to the consumer? Absolutely not.”

To Browne, the true cost of used game sales is the variety in the market is dwindling as games which were successful in the past as a single-player offering, are now being “redesigned out of their element to introduce multiplayer features.”

Publishers do this, he said, so that risk is eliminated, yet, the direct result is less variety and choice, and in his mind, the anti-used system rumored for the next Xbox console would eliminate part of the problem.

“Personally I hope, and would actively encourage Microsoft and Sony, to embrace the “Nuclear Option” and put an end to this,” he concluded. “Give us no used games, give us digital access to software on the day it launches to retail.

“I don’t think we’ll see even a minor drop in sales; in fact, I think we’ll see it rise.”

Richard Browne has been part of the gaming industry for over 20 years and is currently the director of Chemical X Productions.

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12 Comments

  1. LOLshock94

    awwwrrrr stfu

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Zeydlitz

    This deduce contain an error on very begining — used games not decrease first-party sales, but increased it! Used game could be thinking as “low-cost” version of game, and lower cost == increase purchase base of product. The crowd, buying new game are decrease not much, it’s part of percent, but new people, that could spend on game only limited money will overcome all this decrease with ease. Well… The gross money in game market is constant, does not depends on such low tricks as used games at all. But lowing cost will increase this value. Lower to much and some money will be unspend, of course, but we speaking of small values.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Alpha

    #1 Wow productive.

    I agree one hundred percent about the Uncharted thing, but I NEVER buy a game based on the multiplayer, I just find them tediously dull :)

    However used games are popular and I think that blocking them is going to put off a portion of the console buyers and there’ll be the typical furor and frivolous lawsuits and anonymous will probably get involved to have a pop at Sony and so on..

    Is it really worth it?

    #3 3 years ago
  4. AHA-Lambda

    Good piece, nice to hear this opinion from someone in the games industry when most really aren’t willing to say this. Nevertheless, essentially the argument here is AAA development and its risks, where the argument of used sales comes hand in hand.

    I pretty much agree with him on all those points except the last. If the industry does want to “kill” off used games sales then it needs to do it completely and adopt an iTunes or Steam style model. Having discs locked to an ID will not work!!

    Seriously, if it wasn’t for the used market I think the AAA sector would have crashed long ago…

    #4 3 years ago
  5. G1GAHURTZ

    Richard Browne, former Edios developer…

    What is Edios?

    #5 3 years ago
  6. LOLshock94

    last year multiplayer was killing gaming this year its used games….there all a bunch of freaks that repeat the same shit as someone else did, next year piracy and the year after it will be about how hardcore gamers are killing multiplayer games are some shit

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Mr-Brett

    Did actually read it?

    LOLshock : “last year multiplayer was killing gaming this year its used games”

    Article : “The direct result, according to Browne, is the loss of single-player games for multiplayer implementation.”

    #7 3 years ago
  8. LOLshock94

    I dnt hv 2 rd it 2 no wht h3s tlkn abt

    #8 3 years ago
  9. The_Red

    I have been a critic of used games sales but he makes a rather interesting argument. “Used Game Sales” are NOT the problem. The aggressive way the likes of GameStop are forcing them is.

    Sure, GameStop does support new purchases thanks to “Exclusive Pre-order” deals but they and many others push used games more compared to new titles in their stores. At least that’s what I’ve seen. Also, the whole trend IS hurting singleplayer games. Look at Skyrim and Batman AC. They are the ONLY best selling singleplayer games on the market and both of them are 50-100 hour games with open worlds. Other single player only titles just come and fail at retail. Most simply bomb (Enslaved) and even the most successful ones don’t sell that much (Bayonetta, Vanquish, DarkSiders).
    Look how Mass Effect was forced to add a pointless multiplayer. The same goes for Ninja Gaiden 3 (As mentioned in the article) and Assassin’s Creed.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. Gekidami

    ^ Thats actually always been devs gripe with used games sales and its a perfectly valid one; Someone walks into a shop wanting to buy a specific, newly released game, sees it on sale second hand cheaper, so obviously they’ll get that over the new one (they’d quite frankly be mad not to), and bang, no profit for the devs and publisher, all to the retailer. Its quite clear that its in the retailers best interest you get games second hand rather than new, so they’re going to pushed used.

    Some devs talk about it here:
    http://gamepolitics.com/2011/08/23/developers-respond-gamestop039s-used-games-market-comments

    #10 3 years ago
  11. Gigabomber

    Problem is that tacking on a poor multiplayer experience backfires with games like Deadspace 2 and Ninja Gaiden 3. People love to point to the tacked on multi as the reason for poor review scores and not to keep them on the shelf. Bottom line is that there are too many games that just aren’t worth buying flooding the market and turning us away from flopping down the 60, just in case, including some of your beloved Schafer’s recent bite-sized offerings (Brutal Legend. He’s bringing that up?). The DLC frenzy is a backward way to go about keeping your fanbase, as exhibited by the disappointed faces of people that pre-ordered Saints Row 3 and MW3 elite: games like this with fatal flaws are KILLING sales. Bethesda’s annual release of games packaged with their DLC included for the original retail price doesn’t help.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. Mr-Brett

    Lolshock: Well clearly you do since you obviously have no idea what it’s about :D

    #12 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Crazy though this may seem, it’s possible that Destiny shipped according to plan. History points to community as a crucial component, far from the contingency that many now suspect. Paul Davies spoke to Bungie for clarity. “The community always engineers the best solutions for bringing players together. While Matchmaking is a great resource for introducing […]

  • Bloodborne works with suspend/resume, but only offline

    PlayStation 4′s newly-added suspend/resume feature works with Bloodborne as you’d expect, but only while offline. PlayStation 4 received the long-awaited suspend/resume feature today as part of firmware 2.50, and people are starting to test it out with various games. Bloodborne does work with the feature, but only if you play offline. Playing online is arguably […]

  • This is what Crossy Road looks like in first-person

    Crossy Road is fun and addictive. But in first-person, it’s mostly frightening. YouTube user Andy Front Films likes Crossy Road so much he decided to show off what it would look like in first-person. If crossing roads quickly and watching around for cars and trains, all of this as the camera chases you felt intense […]

  • Take a small behind-the-scenes peek at Mass Effect 4

    BioWare cinematic director Ken Thain has given us a very slim look behind the scenes at some motion capture work from the upcoming Mass Effect game. The upcoming Mass Effect game, whether it ends up being called Mass Effect 4 or not, will most definitely incorporate some form of motion capture work. How do we […]

  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection – 8GB day one patch on PS4, 16GB on Xbox One

    Day one patches for Borderlands: The Handsome Collection are pretty hefty. Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Borderlands: The Handsome Collection require players to download lots of gigabytes to make the experience as smooth as possible. The PlayStation 4 version has an 8.31GB day one patch. The Xbox One version however has […]

  • Get a PlayStation 4 with Bloodborne and The Last of Us for $435

    If you’ve been waiting for the perfect game to get to buy a PlayStation 4, there’s no better time than the present. Amazon is offering a good PlayStation 4 bundle at the moment. For $434.99, you get a PlayStation 4 console, The Last of Us, and Bloodborne. The Last of Us is of course the […]

  • Upcoming Battlefield Hardline patch to nerf the K10, buff battle rifles

    Battlefield Hardline’s first patch will focus on weapon balance and a few changes have been proposed. Battlefield Hardline lead multiplayer designer Thaddeus Sasser posted a few of the balance changes that the team is considering for the next patch. K10: reduce bullet damage to 33 Saiga and PTR: reduce recoil to bring more in line […]

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and a new Resident Evil game coming this year, according to research firm

    According to digital games analyst SuperData, a new Resident Evil game is due this fall and that this year’s Call of Duty is Black Ops 3. In its latest report on digital console games, research and analytics firm SuperData revealed that a new Resident Evil is coming this fall. “We anticipate this month’s downturn to […]

  • Bloodborne: you can add gestures to your messages

    As players get deeper into Bloodborne, they keep uncovering so many of its little new additions, including this one. Bloodborne, like all of the Souls games before it, allows players to leave messages for other players. These messages could be used to point players towards impending doom, treasure, or just be sarcastic and witty. What […]

  • PlayStation 4 firmware update 2.50 is now live

    PlayStation 4 firmware update version 2.50 has started rolling out. Reports are coming in saying that Yukimura, PlayStation 4′s firmware 2.50 has been made available to download. The update is clocking in at just 245mb, so get downloading. 2.50 brings with it many new additions, including the suspend/resume feature, backup and restore, accessibility options and […]

  • Harley Quinn DLC for Batman: Arkham Knight is a prequel

    Batman: Arkham Knight’s Harley Quinn pre-order DLC is set before the events of the main game, according to Amazon’s description. Today we learned a few details about the pre-order DLC for Batman: Arkham Knight, namely the Harley Quinn one. According to the description on Amazon, the DLC takes place in the lead-up to the events […]

  • Bloodborne Vicar Amelia summon mystery solved

    Bloodborne players unable to summon near Vicar Amelia: here’s your solution. Bloodborne’s secrets are unfolding by the hour as clever players piece together From Software’s cunning design. Yesterday we reported problems summoning in the Cathedral Ward, before the Vicar Amelia boss fight. It turns out this isn’t a bug – or if it is, it’s […]

  • Steven Spielberg will direct film adaption of Ready Player One

    Steven Spielberg will direct the film adaption of the sci-fi, virtual world, video game themed novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Warner Bros. bought the rights to the film in June 2010 and hired screenwriter Zak Penn to rewrite the previous draft written by Eric Eason, according to Deadline. The book takes place in […]

  • Bloodborne players with PS4 headsets shouldn’t forget about the custom audio

    Here’s a friendly reminder for Bloodborne players with PS4 headsets: be sure to download the Headset Companion App from the PlayStation store if you haven’t already. As previously reported, the game supports a custom Bloodborne audio mode which can be uploaded. It contains custom audio created by developers specifically tuned to enhance the audio. This […]

  • EA explains why FIFA Ultimate Team transfer prices are now platform specific

    EA has posted a blog entry explaining its FIFA Ultimate Team transfer market price ranges which now include platform-specific pricing in order to best the coin sellers. EA said it has implemented the changes to FUT over the last several weeks because it should be “fair and fun for every player,” ultimately coming to the […]

  • Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness now available

    In case you forgot, Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness was released today. It is available on Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The third episode releases on iOS devices and Android tomorrow, March 26. The Sword in the Darkness finds Asher Forrester heading to Mereen […]

  • Bloodborne players are already documenting their crazy antics

    Bloodborne has been available for almost two days now in North America, and already players are posting interesting clips and character customization choices for the game. Below are interesting takes on creating a character and videos of a frustrating death and another full of blood coming from a very painful place – monster or not. […]

  • FIFA Ultimate Team celebrates sixth year in existence with giveaways

    FIFA Ultimate Team is celebrating its sixth year in existence with special events running from today until March 29. According to EA, every FUT fan will be handed one free pack every day, and those who play at least one match in the FUT Birthday Cup will have a chance to win rare “tradable In-Forms” […]

  • Halo Online is a F2P PC game in development exclusively for Russia – video

    Halo Online is a free-to-play game which will launch this spring in Russia, and is in development with Saber Interactive. According the reveal event attended by IGN Russia, the game was designed to run well on lower-end PCs and runs on a modified Halo 3 engine. The game is set on a secret UNSC space […]

  • SteamWorld Dig Xbox One release expected in late May

    SteamWorld Dig is coming to Xbox One, developer Image & Form has announced. A firm release date hasn’t been announced, but the studio expects the title to arrive on the system in late May. “We’re preparing quite an elaborate Easter egg for the Xbox One version – a gaming thing that we really wanted to […]

  • SMITE celebrating first anniversary with a sale on skins, Ultimate God Pack

    Hi-Rez Studios is celebrating the first anniversary of SMITE with a sale. From today through Friday, March 27, the Ultimate God Pack, which includes all current and future Gods, will run you $19.99. Alll individual pre-launch skins are 50% off, and all Gem Packs will award bonus gems. In addition, from March 27-29, all SMITE […]

  • Borderlands 2 has sold around 12 million copies, says Gearbox

    Speaking with Microsoft’s Major Nelson in his podcast, Gearbox Software boss Randy Pitchford stated Borderlands 2 has sold somewhere around the 12 million mark. As of August 2014, it was announced by Take-Two in its financial report the 2012 game had sold-in 10 million units. Pitchford noted in the podcast he learned of the figures […]

  • Broken Age releasing on PS4 and Vita same day as Act 2 on PC

    Double Fine Productions has announced it will release Broken Age on the PlayStation Store next month. Act 2 will also be released on PC. The full Broken Age adventure will release on PlayStation 4 and Vita on April 28 in North America and April 29 in Europe. It features cross-buy and cross-save. Broken Age Act […]

  • Star Citizen earned another $1 million within two weeks – total hits $76 million

    Star Citizen continues its funding streak with backers pumping another $1 million into the game’s development in the last two weeks. The total earned for the space sim has now reached $76 million ($76,015,532 to be exact) with 851,395 backers contributing to the staggering figure. Star Citizen’s latest update was version 1.1 which included two […]

  • Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline top Media Create charts

    Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline were the big ticket debuts during the March 16-2 period in Japan, with each game claiming the top three slots on the Media Create charts, respectively. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD moved 92,094 on PlayStation 4, while Resident Evil Revelations 2 moved 73,373 units on […]

  • You can now learn English or Spanish on Xbox One with the Rosetta App

    Want to learn English or Spanish? Rosetta Stone has an App for that on Xbox One. According to the language teaching firm, Rosetta Stone’s Discover Languages, the new application teaches English and Spanish by way of immersive simulation. Users will virtually travel to learn vocabulary and grammar “necessary for real-world interactions.” Here’s how it works: […]

  • PayDay 2 and PayDay: The Heist have sold over 9 million units combined

    The PayDay franchise is a lucrative IP for Starbreeze and Overkill, as both games combined have sold over 9 million copies as of November 2014. The company has also sold over 8 million paid DLC packages since PayDay 2 was released in 2013 (via NeoGAF). In its Q2 half year report issued in February, net […]

  • Nintendo wants to “surprise” customers with NX, not expand upon existing hardware

    Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has firm wants to “surprise” players with its new NX system. Speaking in an interview with Nikkei, translated by Kotaku, Iwata wouldn’t go into details on the new system, but stated expanding on a current gaming system would be “dull.” “In the past few years, the idea of what [encompasses] a […]