Matter, Energy, and Life of Michael A. Castello.

Buying Elsewhere Is Not Cheating


Ignorant corporate executive Cory Ledesma thinks buying games used somehow cheats developers (read: his company, THQ), so he doesn’t have any problem with tying a game’s online multiplayer  mode to a one-time-use code. This is the kind of ridiculous decision one can expect from the knee-jerk fiscal entitlement mentality everybody making things seems to have these days.

Of course, this is a grave misunderstanding of the marketplace and the value of the secondary market, something often discussed on TechDirt (Penny-Arcade is somewhat more sympathetic). What people like Cory fail to understand is that making a purchase is an economic decision for the customer. There’s no “right” way to do it; just because selling new games throws some money to the game’s developers doesn’t mean you’re an unfeeling shell if you save money getting it secondhand. Certainly there is more involved in the decision than simply price, and wanting to support the game’s creators is a potential influencing factor; however, theatrics like this sure don’t do much to build love for THQ and their employees.

Here’s the kicker: online multiplayer is usually an incentive to buy a game instead of downloading the free version. By removing this benefit from the used games, Cory’s company has essentially made the two identical. Customers should ask themselves why they bother buying the used game at all when they could get the same benefits for free. Believe it or not there’s a competitive marketplace at work here, no matter how much folks like Cory whine about it.

People like this need to quit trying to blame others: It’s his company’s responsibility to encourage purchases of new retail versions. This should be elementary, but providing incentives for people to buy the game new needs to be about adding benefits, not taking them away. Lowering retail prices, including DLC, or deluxe editions all help give customers a reason to buy. Taking away core features and pretending it’s an extra is not.


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2 responses to “Buying Elsewhere Is Not Cheating”

  1. Andrew Avatar

    I like the idea of developers adding value to encourage people to preorder or buy new. I’m a sucker for special editions. But if they take something away and make non-early adopters pay for it, that’s just not cool.

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