Braben: “Second-hand games market is killing single-player titles”

By Debabrata Nath
19 March 2012 21:17 GMT

Kinectimals and Elite creator David Braben has once again spoken out strongly against the second-hand games market.

Braben, who is the founder of Frontier Developments, told Gamasutra that single-player only titles have become too high-risk for developers and publishers to invest their efforts in even if they’d like to.

“The real problem when you think about it brutally, if you look at just core gamer games, pre-owned has really killed core games,” he said.

“In some cases, it’s killed them dead. I know publishers who have stopped games in development because most shops won’t reorder stock after initial release, because they rely on the churn from the re-sales.

“It’s killing single player games in particular, because they will get pre-owned, and it means your day one sales are it, making them super high risk. I mean, the idea of a game selling out used to be a good thing, but nowadays, those people who buy it on day one may well finish it and return it,” he added.

Braben also said that second-hand game sales is one of the reasons why game retail prices are so high and haven’t gone down in recent years.

“People will say ‘Oh well, I paid all this money and it’s mine to do with as I will’, but the problem is that’s what’s keeping the retail price up – prices would have come down long ago if the industry was getting a share of the resells. Developers and publishers need that revenue to be able to keep doing high production value games, and so we keep seeing fewer and fewer of them.”

Frontier Developments’ The Outsider was sidelined mid-development for similar reasons, although Braben’s recently confirmed it hasn’t been entirely canned and there is still publisher interest for it.

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