Quantic Dream Isn’t Too Happy About Pre-Owned Games
The studio behind the blockbuster PlayStation 3 title Heavy Rain isn’t too happy about the loss of between €5 and €10 million. It’s all thanks to second-hand sales, says the studio, and Quantic Dream’s co-founder Guillaume de Fondaumiere said in an interview with GamesIndustry that it’s the overpriced triple-A market’s fault.
“I would say that the impact that the recession had, especially on AAA games on console, was the rise of second hand gaming,” said de Fondaumiere. “And I think this is one of the number one problems right now in the industry.
“I can take just one example of Heavy Rain. We basically sold to date approximately two million units, we know from the trophy system that probably more than three million people bought this game and played it. On my small level it’s a million people playing my game without giving me one cent. And my calculation is, as Quantic Dream, I lost between €5 and €10 million worth of royalties because of second hand gaming.”
With an already-straining global economy and unemployment still sitting at high levels, it really is no wonder that gamers are slaking their thirst for entertainment on a second-hand market. de Fondaumiere says there’s only one way to address this problem. “…I think that developers and certainly publishers and distributors should sit together and try to find a way to address this,” he said. “Because we’re basically all shooting ourselves in the foot here. Because when developers and publishers alike are going to to see that they can’t make a living out of producing games that are sold through retail channels, because of second hand gaming, they will simply stop making these games. And we’ll all, one say to the other, simply go online and to direct distribution. So I don’t think that in the long run this is a good thing for retail distribution either.”
If we’re not willing to shell out the big bucks for the good games, then developers will have to close up shop if they can’t make a profit. In the end, we’re the ones who lose out because we don’t get the good stuff anymore. A vicious cycle, to be sure, but will there be an end to it all? According to de Fondaumiere, yes, but we all have to work together to find that Goldilocks level of what’s reasonable, and what’s going to make gamers keep coming back.
“I’ve always said that games are probablly too expensive so there’s probably a right level here to find, and we need to discuss this altogether and try to find a way to I would say reconcile consumer expectations, retail expectations but also the expectations of the publisher and the developers to make this business a worthwhile business,” said de Fondaumiere.
While Quantic Dream approaches the situation in one direction, saying that there needs to be a happy medium to keep gamers coming back for buying triple-A titles, Ninja Theory comes at it in a completely different direction. They’re blaming the entire triple-A structure, saying that gamers are only willing to drop the big bucks for the major league games because they’ve been proven in the marketplace — otherwise, how would they be able to continue on? New IPs and small independent studios don’t even stand a chance if this trend keeps on going like the Energizer bunny. “If you’re paying that much for a game, you don’t want to take chances,” said Tameem Antoniades, Ninja Theory’s chief designer. “You want everything to be there, all the feature sets. You want it to be a known experience, guaranteed fun. That’s not healthy.”
Decisions, decisions, decisions. In an upcoming release season fraught with triple-A titles and new IPs competing in a bloodthirsty battle for our pocket money, only time is going to tell who will survive. Should distributors and publishers lower the asking price overall, or should gamers make the ultimate decision on where their dollars are being spent?
Quantic Dream had a lot more to say about Heavy Rain. Read up on their full interview with GamesIndustry here.