Xbox One: Ex-Bulletstorm dev defends Microsoft’s anti-used policies

Monday, 24 June 2013 12:46 GMT By Dave Cook

Xbox One may have had its anti-used policies binned by Microsoft following its seismic u-turn last week, but former Bulletstorm developer and co-founder of The Astronauts Adrian Chmielarz has penned a blog defending the idea of anti-used policies, in which he says if you care about gaming, you will want the pre-owned market to die.

Chmielarz wrote in his Edge editorial, “If you care about video games, you must want this model to die”, in reference to game trade-ins, the $60 price-point for triple-a and the dominance of retailers such as GameStop.

The developer discussed the concept of ‘artificial extenders’ such as DLC, micropayments and other add-ons that extend a game’s life-span and of course, encourage customers to spend more money to prolong their experience.

To this, Chmielarz added, “The problem is: games only got worse this way. Do you think any flesh and blood developer likes working on DLC? Most of the time, no, they don’t, they’d happily move onto the next big thing. Do you think that game designers are happy reconfiguring their mechanics to support micro-transactions?

“No, they’re not, they know these things are not making their game better, and most of them feel dirty for knowing what psychological tricks to use to lure the whales into paying. Do you think that the teams don’t know their game would be better without the filler content or artificial extenders? Trust me, they do.”

Chmielarz suggested that the threat of trade-ins has forced many developers to resort to DLC and game-extenders to keep you from trading in your titles or sharing discs with friends, but conceded that no one really knows how to combat this issue effectively without blocking pre-owned sales entirely.

“To me, it’s that the $60 price needs to die,” he added. “The truth is, no one really gives a crap about ‘the right of first sale’ or ‘sharing with friends’ if the price is low. Unless a movie is bad, no one complains they pay ten bucks to see it, and no one complains they can only see it once for that price.

“But even if the salvation was in the form of the death of the $60 price tag, then …how? With episodic content? Shorter games? Freemium games? Separation of singleplayer and multiplayer? Big games relying on more people buying them because of the lower price? Who knows?

“What we know, though, is that these kinds of experiments can only happen in the digital space. They will not happen at GameStop. GameStop – never was a company named so fittingly – cares only about big expensive games, and used game sales. But we have already established that none of these things results in better games.”

The idea is that because used game sales take money away from developers, that initial boxed cost must stay high, and DLC must remain a facet of the triple-a market, to which Chmielarz added, “as long as the retail box is alive, no big publisher can ignore it.”

Read the editorial in full (it’s a biggie so I won’t post it all here of course). It’s an interesting discussion at any rate.

What do you think? Should used game sales be stunted, is DLC a result of GameStop’s presence in the market – among other stores? Let us know below.

Thanks OXM.