â??Online passes could devalue gamesâ?? Braben warns

â??Online passes could devalue gamesâ?? Braben warns

By Rob Crossley

October 20th 2010 at 5:31PM

Frontier Developments founder calls for action on the pre-owned issue

Second-user charges on pre-owned titles may have an adverse affect on the value of games, industry veteran David Braben has warned.

The publishing world’s latest assault on the so-far indomitable pre-owned sector is to splice online pay-walls into games, in a way that would penalise customers for buying games second-hand.

But the second-user charge may bring with it an unwanted side-effect, Braben said.

In a new Develop Blog post, he said:

“Our fragmentary response to the [pre-owned] problem, one-time codes and so on, is in danger of reducing the incentive to keep [games] 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.”

With a reference to the sinking of the Titanic, Braben urged the industry take fast action on the pre-owned issue.

“We see more and more developers and publishers speaking out against pre-owned, while more and more retailers – even supermarkets now – are getting their wide-bore snouts deep into this trough.

“But, apart from speaking out, we are really doing very little about it. The deck is sloping, the band is playing, and we are shouting and gesturing angrily to each other about the iceberg.

“One or two people are building rafts, but no-one is plugging the hole. We’re all waiting for someone else to move first.”

Writing on his Develop Blog, Braben said a solution to the complex issue should be approached with a degree of empathy for all parties involved.

“We need to think not just of developers and publishers, but players and retailers too,” he said.

“It would be possible for retailers to pay a slice of the pre-owned revenue to publishers and developers, but I can hear the calls already: ‘Why should we?’ Perhaps they are right. The inaction of our industry so far has essentially given them the go-ahead.

“There needs to be a real likelihood of things changing imminently right across the industry for any action to be taken.”

Go here to read his thoughts in full.