Friday, October 15, 2010

EPISODE 41: "The Revolution"

UPDATE: As of 9/13/11 this video is at THIS LINK


Anonymous said...

This is an interesting video, I liked it quite a lot.

However, I feel like it works backwards from the obvious problem (game companies only make sequels and extend existing franchises) to conclude that the ultimate problem is the Gamestop business model.

I feel like this overlooks a glaring complication. Another (and in my opinion, the more likely) cause for the situation with game companies marketing games like films is that the game industry really has changed from a software industry to an entertainment industry. Game companies used to be like Microsoft, now they're more like Miramax.

The reason for this, as I see it, is the advancement of hardware. Back in the days of the NES, Atari, and even SNES/Genesis, games could be developed by small teams of programmers and game designers. Frequently the same people programming were doing the artwork and sounds, which were usually chiptunes.

Today, with the size of hard drives and the capabilities of modern hardware, games are a much larger production. We need cinematics, we need an art team, we need a full orchestra to make the music, we need music designers, sound designers, foley artists, voice actors, and so on. The credits for a game today look MUCH more like the credits for a film.

This means that games are much, much, much more expensive to produce than they were in the past, and they require the coordination of hundreds of individuals, rather than dozens. More money to make a game means the game means the ability to take a risk is greatly diminished.

I have no doubt that the trade-in business model exacerbates the problem, but the real problem just lies in how much our expectations have risen because of the capabilities of the devices we use to play games.

Yannis said...

1) Dig into scene and its darknet.
2) Pirate the newest games!
... there is no step three!

Miquel 'Fire' Burns said...

I find it funny one of the games you use as an example of non-mainstream games (A Boy and His Blob on the Wii), I had bought at Wal-Mart. Too bad I bought it when the price had dropped to $15

A Tribe Called Helloween said...

The one thing I disagree with is doing the "buy used games" thing at smaller independent stores. Sure that will take the power away from Gamestop, but what's to stop said independent store from becoming a monopoly. It's not like Game stop was giant chain the dropped on the face of the earth...right?

Andrew said...

damn, why did this video have to come out the same day as gamestops buy 2 get one free sale?

spork said...

Very interesting ideas. I like how you've tackled the consumer side of the problem, while Extra Credits tackled the developer side. Perhaps if both sets of ideas happen at the same time, it'll cause a war against Game Stop on two fronts, and innovative games will start to get good money again.

lboofer said...

I'd put more faith in digital distribution. That seems to be the more likely way to obviate this issue. It provides customer convenience, lower overhead, and a larger cut for publishers.

It's also happening already. A lot of the quirky, interesting games are being released through the home consoles' digital distribution channels or--perhaps more significantly--iTunes and eventually the Android Marketplace. Strange as it seems, iTunes game distribution is making the major console makers take serious notice.

Leon' Bandeira said...

Dont you think SELLING your game to gamestop is a sign of Disinterest? Games nowadays has no lasting appeal, they become very bland, more like a (b-side) movie than anything else?
Do we NEED cinematics? orchestra? Actors?
The only problem i see is that games are no longer games.

HiPhish said...

Oh Bob, this makes my seriously wonder, where your paycheck comes from.

The only people, who truly have the power and the duty to change the system are the developers and publishers.
Here is a crazy plan. What if, hear me out, what if... games were so good nobody would want to trade them in? Sounds crazy, doesn't it?

Well, let's face the fact. GameStop's system only works because people don't see a point in keeping their games. Games only end up sold used because one doesn't like it enough to keep and replay it over and over. I know Game Stop doesn't take PC games, but I bet my ass, there would be way fewer copies of Starcraft II than Heavy Rain in the used bins. Oh, and while I'm at it, the abiility to have gamesaves and the game independent from each other is no factor at all. After all, that's how it has been on PC since the dawn of time, as well during the NES age, when games used passwords or could not save at all.

Games have become stale. Always the same thing, in a movie like fashion. Play through it once, and then sell it used. If it has some sort on online multiplayer, one might keep it, but honestly, how many online games can one play at a time?
And when something new or special is tried it ends up completly bizzarre and non-mainstream, there is no way it could have been a success, be there a GameStop or not. A Boy and his Blob is a puzzle platformer, those were never big hits (the exact same game sold poorly on the NES, why sould it do better on Wii?).
But sometimes, something new gets tried and it's an instant succes. How come you never mention WiiSports, Mass Effect, WiiFit, Dragon Age or the Witcher? Those are all original games and all pretty successful.

OK, fine, GameStop is a virus. But this virus could only prosper, because the organism was weak. GameStop seized the opportunity, they did not make games go stale. People were looking for a way to get rid of unwanted games, and GameStop only geve them what they wanted.

Besides, what's the whole deal with GameStop anway? Are there no other shops in the US? I only shopped twice at GS, and don't plan on going back there ever; the people working there (at least in our two local stores) are complete arrogant assholes, the prices are outrageous and the condition of their used items is horrible. I buy used games only online. eBay, Amazon Marketplace and message boards are great places. Heck, I can get games new for less than GameStop charges for a used copy.

Sara Pickell said...

I think you've got things backwards. Gamestop doesn't make a system where making good/long games are punished. In fact, publishers will completely neutralize Gamestop's effects if the game is good and long, since there will be fewer trade-ins and especially fewer opening week trade-ins. The problem is not that Gamestop exists, it's that the publishers myopically chose to invest in making games that are fundamentally short and entirely story driven. Of course, if the game only lasts 5 hours and has no replay value, it's consumed by the paying customer and early adopters practically instantly leading to mass trade-ins by customers with brains in the first few days.

The problem is that you mention Gamestop as being the middle man, but that's not quite right, publishers are the middle men of the industry. The problem is where they used to be the sole middle man, they are now becoming the middle man between middle men. Computers are starting to decouple from them entirely, with Valve and Stardock edging in due to also being retailers, and 1C picking up the European market. Meaning they have to peg all their hopes on consoles where the small subset of companies capable of big box production hold a defacto monopoly, except that Microsoft and Sony are not only publishing heavy hitters, they're also incredibly diverse companies capable of taking the losses needed to leverage an opponent out of existence. This means that their actually double layering publishers, with the primary inter platform publisher and Microsoft/Sony/Nintendo adding additional layers of control before anything can make it onto their consoles. (And taking a cut of anything added to increase lifespan.)

Since your retailer is taking a cut of the profits, the second order publisher is taking a cut of the profits, and many development contracts favor the development studio late in the product life, their best option for making money is to move LOTS of product rather than quality product. Since game development is hit or miss anyways, that really means the overall goal is to make certain that as much as possible you get people buying before they can figure out whether it is hit or miss, and get as many of the biggest hits possible.

Gamestop simply feeds off of that.

The truth is the publishers are dieing. The numbers may not entirely reflect it yet, but the signs are there. They've become redundant in all cases, and all their optimal strategies are gone. Getting rid of Gamestop would delay it, certainly, but hardly stop it, and would have no effect on game quality at all. Their only hope is a massive influx of new console players, and since they practically abandoned Nintendo, they've proven their ineptitude in that race. They have time, it'll be a slow deflation. Like any other wasting illness there will be good days and bad days, but sooner or later the fight will end. Unfortunately the fight was never winnable in the first place.

PhilosopherKing said...

I have no love for publishers or the industry, the real issue is that graphics technology made games to expensive and time consuming to make vs the amount of customers they need to make a profit.

You can try to blame gamestop, but we all know as gamers - most of us as kids rented and finished most of our games and ONLY bought the ones we thought were best, we left the rest of the games on the shelf.

And lets face it shall we... modern devvelopers who have tonnes of backing keep making shitty games. Are you going to say the developers of civ 5 and metroid other M didn't have the funds to make the best games the could?

The truth is the whole industry is staffed by incompetent people. Developers don't care about gamers and they are probably the most deluded people of all, when I see developers praise a casual game like WoW I know the developers have moved far and away from what the core of gaming is.

The whole industry operates on a herd mentality, don't believe this? Bayonetta, God of war, Darksiders... I could go on and on about all the developers ripping off other developers because they don't have one iota of creativity in them.

The whole industry really needs to crash IMHO then only the truly passionate will still make games.

Will said...

Hey Bob,
Interesting video. I found it particularly interesting given that there is lots of talk about games going fully digital distribution, and the way software companies are pushing a "software as a service" model.

Couple comments. First, I think you should encourage people to start playing more PC games. Digital distribution is going great on the PC, and there are plenty of indie games available. These games usually don't have high system requirements, so anyone should be able to play them.

Second, I think you're over thinking (no surprise there) the idea of coordinating purchases from alternative game stores. You don't need to fool these companies into selling lesser known games. Just because they start carrying these games, doesn't mean casual gamers will buy them. Companies need a sustained interest in selling lesser known games at their stores. So don't bother coordinating with others to buy certain games at certain locations, just change your individual habits, and the changes will come naturally and permanently.

I hope this video will cause lots of discussion, and look forward to seeing how it progresses down the line.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly enough, I already do most of these things most of the time. I usually go to a few different used game indie stores much more than gamestop recently.
although ironically i am going to gamestop for kirby epic yarn this sunday :P
But still, I 90% of the time go to some indie stores over gamestop. and ironically for more convenience... in older snes and genesis collecting anyways. ;)

Jon Ericson said...

Just for your information, GameStop is no monopoly. It's not even close, in fact. In the past I've bought games from: Target, WalMart, Costco, Best Buy, Fry's, Amazon, Sears, K-Mart, Toys R Us, and, yes, GameStop. It's not even a monopoly in the used-game market since at least a few of these retailers and eBay trade or plan to trade in used games. None of this counts services like Steam or buying directly from the publisher. It's not hard to establish that in the last quarter century, game retailing has become substantially more competitive.

Second, an argument can be made that the existence of a used game market actually increases game diversity and publisher risk-taking. It's a complicated issue, but the used game system favors early adopters who want to try out the latest thing and dump it as soon as everyone else finds out about it. While early adopters do reward the makers of the latest blockbuster, they also try out smaller, quirkier games. These are the games with little to no marketing budget that absolutely need word of mouth to succeed.

And smartly made games do sell in this day and age if they are smartly marketed. Right now you can buy games like World of Goo, Cave Story, Minecraft, Kirby's Epic Yarn, and Portal which are completely unlike blockbuster games of the past. All are, or will, sell more than enough copies to pay back their developers and were marketed in completely unique and successful ways. The revolution has already happened.

iNs1d3tRiP said...

I usually like your videos but disagree with you on a few issues.

However, here in this video, I don't even understand your point. You go on early about how developers don't make money off of used games and how Gamestop is bad because they "pit developers and gamers against each other".

To solve this you say to buy your games elsewhere. It sounds great at first, but when you actually examine what you are saying there is no change being made. If you buy used games at an "inde" store, how does that give more money to the developers? If you have to request the product via UPC from Walmart, then what would the difference be between ordering it at Gamestop if they don't stock it?

I mean, the problem is either the buy used/sell/trad in system or it is a single retailer having control over what titles are sold. If it is as simple as requesting the product via UPC then they are stupid not to carry it, EVEN IF THEY ARE A MONOPOLY, because companies can ALWAYS make more money.

The problem with this is I just don't understand where you are coming from. If the problem is the used games system (which I think you seem to think that is the REAL problem) then it doesn't matter if you buy your games from gamestop or an inde store, as long as they aren't used.

iNs1d3tRiP said...

"If it is as simple as requesting the product via UPC then they are stupid not to carry it, EVEN IF THEY ARE A MONOPOLY, because companies can ALWAYS make more money."

Actually, I take that back. I think the real problem is pop culture. Look at literature and poetry (call me a flaming faggot I don't care).

These mediums of Art have been destroyed because, though they are beautiful and enrich human experience the majority of humanity says, "fuck off".

We could say the samething about any liberal arts type education. How about philosophy? How much do you think that is valued? The problem isn't the developers. The problem is our culture. Sadly, I don't think there is anything we can do to stop that, and for the record I wouldn't go back in time 2300 years to the height of Athens just because of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and all the great Art of the time. But, that doesn't mean, I'm not ambivalent towards our culture and theirs.

Mortrialus said...

I'm surprised to see this video. I've already stopped shopping at game stop. Oddly enough the reason wasn't originally because it is or is quickly in the process of becoming a monopoly. I'm a collector. I collect and save all my games and the STICKERS PISS ME OFF. In addition, I'm also very disconcerting and I feel I have an almost perfect gut instinct when it comes to whether or not I'll enjoy a game.

There is an indie used games store in my state called Rock 30 Games. I usually go there or online to pick up my used games, all of which are from the 6th generation or older.

When it comes to Wii games, I always buy new. Like I said, this isn't a moral high horse, I just love owning physical copies of things. Its why I still prefer to buy CDs rather than pirate or Itunes unless unavoidable.

That said, I have recently realized that Gamestop is doing a lot of damage to the industry by virtue of it pretty much being a monopoly.

However, my question is why is gaming so hurt by the used market compared to movies and the like? Serious question, I don't understand it.

Rob said...

There are a lot of sides to the issue of decreasing quality and creativity in games. I don't think used game sales are having as dramatic an impact as you think.

The responsibility has always been with the consumers; but it's more about WHAT is bought than WHERE it's bought.

You're dealing with an industry that like Hollywood, has learned to pander to the herd... and the herd is young teens who spend the most on entertainment- more than any other group. You can't expect much from an industry whose core demographic are some of the most naive and irresponsible people on the planet... let alone smart consumers.

Say there were no more used game sales, how is anything going to change? Publishers and developers will make more money- but where does their incentive to make better games come from?

The only thing ideas like this will succeed in doing is get Bobby Kotic another house. Because I guarantee you that's where any extra money is going that was made by damage to used game sales.

Also- why does no one question pre-ordering anymore? It lets developers and publishers know they only have to work so hard because they have their profit secured before the game is even released.

I say pre-orders should be the bad guy.

TheWon said...

Like HiPhish stated the problem has to do more with the game developers than Gamestop.
Make games that are worth keeping instead of being gamefly worthy.
Make game with constant unaltered sequels use the huge hard drives we were forced to buy. There is no reason Sport games like Madden Fighters and most FPS. Should not be DLC yearly upgrades at half the price. We now have 250gig drives used only for demos and installs to make them load faster. Thats the problem with the industry. Gamers don't feel 75% of the games they buy are worth anything. I don't blame them.

Nick said...

Wow, a lot of people in this comment thread weren't paying attention to the video at all.

Hey, HiPhish, Sara Pickell and TheWon, everyone who tries to justify their laziness by saying, "Well, if the game is GOOD, people will buy it," and so on? You have no idea how consumers think. You think that everyone is willing to put the mental effort into something and think, "Hey, this is good, I should reward the people who made it!"

This is not true. This is not how it works in real life.

With a few exceptions, consumers WILL NOT PAY for ANYTHING they don't have to, regardless of how much they like it. A game could be the lovechild of BioShock, Portal, Minecraft and FFVI, and consumers will not reward the developers. Oh, sure, they'll BUY the game, but they won't buy it for $50 if they can get it for $45. That's not how consumerism functions.

Yeah, yeah, I'm sure YOU pay attention to who made the game you're playing, and you reward the things you like (although I wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised to hear you coming up with all sorts of convoluted reasons why you can't do the right thing THIS time, but you'll do it NEXT time...), but guess what? You don't make up a large enough section of the market for your way to work. Consumers, by and large approach good product and bad product equally: They buy whoever advertises more, from whoever is selling it cheaper.

You can't rely on the other fella to change things. You have to stand up and do it yourself.

Arturo said...

This is why you're the man, Bob.

I usually buy my games either at Target or Best Buy. The only game I've bought at Gamestop in the last two years was Okami on the Wii, which was used, but only because it's a rare game and I didn't know any indie game stores. The only other two used games I've ever bought were at Blockbuster. Well, i guess I can scratch step 1 off the list.

Also, what Bob said about Devil May Cry (sorry, DMC) is so true and I cannot thank him rnough for that. Seriously, what the hell happened to Dante? The one that doesn't look like a crack junkie. Also, I liked how you brought up Tatsunoko vs. Capcom and Enslaved. I've played them both and I can safely say that those are the kind of new IPs that need more support from us.
That doesn't mean I'm not crazy for MvC3 coming out next year.

Sara Pickell said...

And you seem to be missing how physics works. In order to pick up a game used at reduce price, someone has to use it and bring it back. If everyone is still using it, they aren't bringing it back. Ergo, making games good enough to not trade back will be significantly less likely to be bought used since there won't be used copies on the shelf in the first place.

Clayton said...

I don't find the comments on Gamestop to be quite true. Publishers do tend to focus on them more than even stores such as Wal-Mart or Best Buy. Their system is broken and it's not helping things as developers have become paranoid of a game being sold used so they try to make it so they can at least make some money (such as the DLC codes for Mass Effect 2).

The current economy also doesn't help things and you'd think that the idea of new, innovative titles would fall to the big guys like Nintendo, SEGA, EA, Activision, and Square-Enix who can afford to burn a little money but most of the time that doesn't happen (well, except for Nintendo who have guts like no other and maybe SEGA who have encouraged new titles like Valkyria Chronicles and Platinum Games' repertoire) and they just keep churning out CoD, Guitar Hero, Final Fantasy, and Madden because they know it's a safe bet and will earn them a ton of cash. I also think that a lot of stuff comes from gamers being (for lack of a better term) spoiled. We want perfection from the outset and we rarely give things a second chance despite the fact that it can take trial and error for things to improve. It's why stuff like Brutal Legend, Mirror's Edge, and Madworld (and I pray to Buddha it doesn't happen to Metroid because of Other M) are put on backburners despite the fact that a second chance could give us an incredibly improved experience. Anyway, I've rambled on long enough, good times

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the video, but I just wanted to comment on your direction... when you do real goofy and weird things (like the close up with black and white at 0:56, or the stupid logo at 1:29) it's really hard to take this seriously. This is a subject matter you seem to take seriously--why doesn't your video reflect that?

There is a time and a place for humor; don't undermine your points by making a joke in the middle of them.

JuanT said...

If a game is really good, you won´t return it to the store. How many copies of New Super Mario Bros. Wii hace you seen on the used games bin?

The problem is that the "Industry" wants to make games more and more like movies, so you don´t "achieve" anything, you just put hours into it. After six hours, you have "completed" the game and you won´t ever like to do it again (or maybe in a year or so), so why don´t sell it back?

Games shouldn´t pursue being like movies that yor rent, they should be like Monopoly: every one wants to have one.

iNs1d3tRiP said...
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iNs1d3tRiP said...
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iNs1d3tRiP said...


"Do we NEED cinematics? orchestra? Actors?
The only problem i see is that games are no longer games."

I just had to quote this because it is so true.

In all honesty, this is why I think NMH is such a great game, because it becomes aware that it is not really a game anymore. Yet it is because it is aware of its own problem and at the same time contributes to the problem, but never mind

Point is, that some developers are aware of this problem. But nothing is ever going to get done because people want their games to be movies. Like seriously, how many of you guys say you like Zelda because it has a good STORY? That's a bullshit reason to like a game imo.

If you want a good story read some fucking Shakespeare. Any play Shakespeare wrote blows any contrived video game story out of the water. Yes, even Zelda.

Don't get me wrong, I think Zelda is a great franchise. But it is NOT because of its "story".


I AGREE with you, consumers ALWAYS try to get the biggest "bang" for their buck. However, I don't see how requesting an "obscure" game via UPC at Walmart is any different from requesting it via UPC at Gamestop.

The problem is EITHER the buy used/trade in system or it is one company controlling what games get sold (the ladder of which I believe still needs justification because if Walmart will order the game via UPC for 20 gamers why would Gamestop not do the same?)

I just don't see how these solutions can POSSIBLY contribute more money to the developers (thus increasing their incentive to create "creative" games) unless we just out right don't buy/trade used games.

And I'm NOT AT ALL convinced that if we were renting games and saving data on the console that the market would be any different.

If there is a solution then it should be buying the game DIRECTLY from the developers removing the middle man. With the internet today, I don't think this is a crazy idea.

Nick said...

In order to pick up a game used at reduce price, someone has to use it and bring it back. If everyone is still using it, they aren't bringing it back.

Except they WON'T still be playing it, even if they love it. No matter how good they think the game is, consumers' attention span is still so goddamned SHORT that they'll forget it ever existed within two weeks.

If this were not true, advertising would not be the only way to get people to buy stuff in the first place.

You know what new market research has proven? If you hurl enough ads for a product at people, if you blare the ads at them over and over (and over and over and over) again, they will buy the product; EVEN IF THEY HATED THE AD, even if they know they will never use the product, even if they know the product doesn't work; people are just too inexorably hooked on the path of least resistance to make their own damn decisions.

If a game is really good, you won´t return it to the store.

I won't. But I don't make up a sufficiently large percentage of the consumer base to keep developers in business.

Consumers don't give a shit how good something is. They only care about money.

If this were not true, then QUALITY would be a GOOD indicator of how well a game is going to sell, and any idiot can look at the state of the market and tell you that's not true.

HiPhish said...

Nick, I seriously wonder where you get you knowledge from. It obviously can't be the real world.
Go to GameStop and count how many copies of New Super Mario Bros. Wii there are. How many copies of WiiSports Resort can you find?

If this were not true, advertising would not be the only way to get people to buy stuff in the first place.
Oh, come on, this has to be irony. Marketing has the purpose to show the customer that a product exists and what it does, nothing else. If nobody knows about your product, then they can't buy it.
But if advertising was really so powerfull, as you say, Other M should be the best selling Metroid game of all time, shouldn't it? But it was a failure.

Face it, these customers are by far not as stupid as you paint it. Their standards for quality are just different. To them Other M is utter garbage, despite the big name and the marketing. To them 3D Mario is just a trick, and 2D Mario the real deal.
It is you, who has no idea how customers think.

Daniel Floyd said...

Another fine episode. I've been meaning to adjust my buying patterns, and this has reminded me why.

Nick said...

Marketing has the purpose to show the customer that a product exists and what it does, nothing else. If nobody knows about your product, then they can't buy it.

Funny story about that: One time, Guinness decided to cut back on their advertising budget. Their rationale was, "Everyone knows what Guinness is, so everyone who wants to drink it already does." This was backed up by the market data, which showed only a standard influx of NEW Guinness drinkers, but a massive sales to repeat customers. So they pulled their ads.

Sales dropped like a stone. Much worse than they would have dropped if they were only losing the influx of new customers.

Yeah. Even people who had been drinking Guinness for YEARS stopped buying it as soon as the company stopped advertising it.

But if advertising was really so powerfull, as you say, Other M should be the best selling Metroid game of all time, shouldn't it? But it was a failure.

Face it, these customers are by far not as stupid as you paint it. Their standards for quality are just different. To them Other M is utter garbage, despite the big name and the marketing. To them 3D Mario is just a trick, and 2D Mario the real deal.

Once again, you are projecting your own thought processes onto the public at large. Other M has sold great. It's been a massive success. So has SMG 1&2. Guess what? "The Public" doesn't shop the same way you do.

Every ounce of market research has supported this: The public, by and large, will purchase whatever has the most ads, regardless of quality. This has been proven time and time again.

Kieran said...

Now, while I think that these ideas of yours, Bob, are things that should be done, things that I have done before, even WHEN I was wasting my cash at GS... sadly, I think this revolution might be too little and too late. We are in the seventh generation of consoles and GameStop has been around for the past 26 years, nearly the entire life of the industry. They have nearly TEN BILLION in annual sales, Bob. Even with going to other franchises or making lesser-known games sold here or there, would GameStop actually stop sucking in volumes of cash free-and-clear of the developers and publishers, raise their heads out of their money bins, and say to themselves... "hmm, if we don't get ourselves together, we won't be in business for very long"..? Sorry, but no, they won't. Neither will enough of a customer base step away from them to try and make things better, because it's harder on THEIR end.

This is a valiant and worthwhile idea, Bob... but the disease has spread too far. Without a dramatic change on ALL levels, including developer ideals (as highlighted in Extra Credits recently!) as well as consumer spending trends, innovation and expansion in this industry might well go the way of the dodo. We will all eventually be playing 'boiler-plate' games or ones only designed for children. This is a downward spiral, Bob, with little hope of reversal.

Ryan Keys said...

There's a term for this.

Ethical Consumerisim.

And it is a GOOD THING to do.
I'm all for this idea, and even though GameStop aren't as big a force here as they are in America, I still rarely ever buy from GameStop, entirely because I don't agree with their business model and because international sales still count.

The problem as well being that there are no independent game stores here. Game, is the big one here, and fortunetly it has the right model. A larger selection of New Titles than Used. They also work on a Supply and Demand system, so if a ton of people come in asking them to order in a specific title, they're probably just going to order in a normal sized shipment on all formats.

Through this, I got Alien Hominid, a game people don't even know, through the UK's biggest chain, and I fucking love that game.

The one thing I would add to this, is that you can't let your habits of buying used spill into another chain, lest what GameStop practice spills into their strategy as well.

James said...

I myself have not spent a single dollar at Gamestop since July of 2009. It has nothing to do with the "used game" thing so much as it has to do with the fact that store lacks anything that could be considered "customer service." I had been through a number of instances in which I came out dissatisfied and sometimes...angry. These all culminated in that July when I preordered "King of Fighters XII" for the PS3. I paid in advance the full $60. Arriving the day of release, to find that they had SOLD my game. So they said "Oh you can have the demo unit copy!", though I was already arguing with them about the fact that their "Demo" copy WAS USED and I bought new, they wandered over to their PS3 display to get it. And...THEY SOLD THAT ONE TOO.

So now they wanted to give me of credit. I work in retail, I know how much it sucks so I go out of my way to be patient with retail clerks. But I was done. I cut loose on the poor oblivious teenagers behind the counter until FINALLY the manager got involved and I got my refund. I haven't been back since then.

Since then I have been shopping mostly at Best Buy and Amazon (And my own place of work "Micro Center" when we actually GET a game I want)

But in the interest of sharing information to help make this change Bob is talking about.

Try preordering on Amazon. They get a lot of the bonus swag that GameStop gets and in addition to that, they offer a lot of the time a $20 store credit for preordering the game.

So picture this:

You spend $60 to preorder your new title NOW. Yeah I know it's a lot. You get $20 of Amazon Credit.

The next game you want is going to come out. You preorder that.

...for $40.

See? The game devs are still making their just profit..and Amazon is paying part of the bill for you. They also offer free release day shipping you don't even have to wait! (I got Other M this way)

Though I do have a local shop that is way out by the airfield that I go to when I can. (Game Force) The guys that work in there are awesome too. And some local shopkeeps tend to be EXTRA nice to regular customers. (One indie shop I used to frequent before they closed used to give me discounts out the wazoo cause I would go in there all the time, like resurfacing my old PS1 games...I could do as many as I like for free)

Just a few suggestions of my own there and a story about my falling out with Gamestop.

Mikolaj (Spliter) Kuta said...

I have to agree with the video.
I have two words:
Digital Distribution

Yes, Steam, PSN, WiiWare, and XBLA
It's probably for the best if the games are assigned to us permanently. This will stimulate the economy (though probably ruin indie shops as well so it might not be the optimal option).
So far All I care are downloadable games. I haven't bought retail game in years, Valve and many indie devs have been enjoying my money for quite some time now and they will continue. I'm not saying it's the only answer, but it's the one I've stuck with for many years.

gorevax said...

This is the first time I've seen you soo wrong Bob. Let me break it down for you.

On economics, repeated studies have shown that a healthy secondary market for products actually significantly helps the primary market. If you take more than a second and a half to think about it, it's easy to understand why. If there's a healthy secondary market for products, it reduces the risk for the buyers in the primary market. That is, if they buy the product and don't like it, they know they'll be able to resell it and recoup some of their losses. That makes it effectively cheaper for them to buy the primary product, increasing the number of sales. On top of that, the secondary market also helps in markets like video games in acting as a good way to segment the market, and get new buyers into a game or series of games. I'm sure many of the folks who are now buyers in the primary market, at one time purchased an earlier game in a series used.

Andrew said...

There is actually a fairly successful regional chain of game stores in and around Arkansas(where I live) called Game X-Change. They're basically GameStop but with slightly better prices and slightly worse selection. I think I'll give them my buisness from now on.

Ibusuki said...

Meh, I play games on the PC. We don't do physical media at all. Digital Distribution puts more profit in the hands of the developers and publishers and much less in the hands of the distributor.

Come to the PC, we started a revolution in 2005 and it's only getting stronger :)

tanookiboy17 said...

In a perfect world this would work bob, but the only gamer landscape i know of is millions of idiotic testosterone filled teenagers who only want to buy the halo of wars. This I believe is largely because of in my school of around 8,000 I've met 500 people who would only buy/want to play a generic FPS, and maybe 5 people I know who play indie games/non mainstream games. Think of games like braid world of goo and cave story. They're all original but did they sell all that well to begin with? The only point I'm trying to make is that gamers are idiots, and we're preaching to the choir bob.

Seriously I'm the target demographic right now, a 16 year old male with a decent amount of disposable income. And I'm the exception for having a wii and buying muramasa or okami.

I've got a facebook I'd let you check if you need proof sir.

imsmart said...

Your hypothetical example seems off somehow. 1000 sales, and 900 of them are from Gamestop? That means there's only 100 copies sold, each of them is getting reused nine times, ON AVERAGE. I think this game's got bigger problems than Gamespot. Plus I don't see how a monopoly is the problem, wouldn't competitors for Gamestop just drive used game prices down even further?

awwnuts07 said...

It's funny that you called Gamestop a pawn shop, because I believe that's how they're classified since they do the buy back and selling of games.

Gamestop is already the last place I'll go to buy a game since all the employees keep pressuring me to get the "Pre-owned" copy. It's really fucking annoying. Unfortunately, I can't go to Fry's Electronics if I want to pre-order something, so GS still gets my business...sometimes.

REPTILE 0009 said...

Don't call me an idiot simply because I'm a teenager and love buying fps's.

REPTILE 0009 said...

I can't stop doing business with Gamestop because it's the only gamestore in my town.

Kyle said...

I'll find out if there's an independent game store nearby. I definitely game on a budget. I tend to buy from Amazon .com when there's a nice price drop or deal of the day, or I keep my eye on CheapAssGamer for deals on games I'm interested in.

I know I'm buying Fable 3 next. Perfect timing to try this out.

Mike said...

What you're suggesting by this is that the other major retailers, big box stores, etc. Are a friendlier alternative to GameStop. In all reality they're not. I think that became clear to me about a year ago when both major chain stores like Best Buy AND online retailers like Amazon opted to start a game trade-in program as well as a reservation program. Hell, even 7-11 is taking game reservations these days. Every store that sells games has essentially copied GameStop's business model as well they should if they want to keep business.

However, despite their efforts GameStop still manages to outsell them. That's because GameStop is a specialty retailer. You go to GameStop to buy games, just like you go to the Nike store to buy Nikes. Now, this might sound like a Monopoly's actions more than else, but, consider the way games are purchased: publishers sell games to retail stores, and only make money on the new copies of games that are sold, so, in order to make our voices heard about what types of games we want we have to make an active effort to purchase less-than-high-profile games new, which is what I actively do. Know where I shop? GameStop.

You see, the problem doesn't rely with the fact that Gamestop is a retail giant. Dammit, as an alternative you merely gave us a list of other retail giants to shop from in lieu of GameStop. The problem is that when people go to a store they are not conscious of the fact that buying a new copy of a game is what keeps the publishers alive, and the developers paid. That's the message that needs to be sent and fortunately for you, it's already being well sent by responsible game industry analysts like those who work for GameInformer....A GameStop owned periodical if I'm not mistaken.

Mike said...

Here's another ProTip: If people want to try out a new game, they should download demos instead of buy a cheap used copy at GameStop. That way they can see if a game is worthwhile after playing a small portion of it for free instead of spending any amount of money to play it. Personally I've bought over 50 well made "indie" style games over Playstation Network and WiiWare at the time of this writing. (To say nothing about the add-ons I've bought for existing games, new or used.) The money goes directly to the manufacturers of the game and I don't have to worry about my credit card being exploited by a retail body, because there is none. You might remember a little mid-aughts situation involving Napster taking money away from the music industry. Their answer to the crisis was making their music already commercially available over the internet. Now the game industry has such an entity on all three major consoles as well as portable devices and the internet. So....they're not really in that bad a shape are they?

I dread the coming months. People are going to look down on me for shopping at a GameStop despite the fact I actually understand what I'm doing with my money, and it's all because of your rhetoric, Bob. It's funny that you mention your intention to sound like Glenn Beck in this video. You certainly pulled it off....

Zac said...

Yo, G.O

Once again, great video. Something I had a question on, What about the promo stuff. The "get it at gamestop and you get this just for pre ordering", The independent store I go to can't do that, How would one be able to compete against that to earn business?

Jeff said...

"Go to GameStop and count how many copies of New Super Mario Bros. Wii there are. How many copies of WiiSports Resort can you find?"

HiPhish, why don't you go and actually count next time? I see used copies of New Super Mario Bros. Wii all the time. I see it more than most games, and ditto for Wii Sports Resort. They get traded in way more than your average game because they get sold more than the average games.

It's why I can still find used copies of SMB3 on the NES and not Bad Street Brawler. I mean, I guess that means Bad Street Brawler is the superior game because nobody traded it in, right? Reductionist theories like that always have hilariously huge holes in them like this one.

HiPhish said...

*sigh* Then your GameStop is an exception.
Instead look at Amazon marketplace. At the moment there are 37 used copies of New Super Mario Bros. on sale, 12 copies of WiiSports Resort and 55 used copies of Heavy Rain, yet Mario outsold Heavy Rain by far. See? I can't believe I actually had to prove something this obvious.

Manticore said...

I disagree. Gamestops are closing in my area due to the recession and the competition with the nonretail/online secondhand market. Much like pen and paper rpgs everything is online. The better games and deals and imports and news and gamers talking to each other. I support local business MORE going to gamestop than going online. And unfortunately Gamestop, as a the best game store around, is still *losing* due to competition by big stores who dabble and the online non-retail market.

Others are getting into the secondhand market, remember 7-11? Yeah making some purchases there. Moreover I support my friendly local game store, spread word of mouth, try to buy products, but often no convenience in getting to them (I mostly am carless, it takes two plus hours by bus to get to one shop, the other VG only place? totally bus unaccessible)

Simply put the secondhand market is here to stay and we need the developers to work with it somehow because seriously these things aren't toys anymore. They are MASSIVE financial investments for a household like furniture, refrigerators, and yes cars. They are comparably priced even to good computers with less functionality.

Moreover its not gamestop that's the enemy to developer risk-taking its the secondhand market and non purchase market. Blockbuster, Gamefly, ebay, craiglist, are all the enemy. Gamestop is the most above board and common example but real gamers? They go steam or have a circle or yes just freakin' mod/pirate everything that isn't an import.

The developers and the corps aren't happy with the local retailer model and want more purchases for the same or less costs. Its silly saying a retail location is "stealing" from them. Now as Zero Originality got in there are MASSIVE other reasons to not shop at Gamev Stop unless its a mass sale as they push more treadmill plans and tricks, don't value service for the customers (raise your hand if your preorder has been sold after they bamboozled you for months you "needed" to guarantee it) and don't even really give the best deals.

Gamestop is the industry's life support pumping out preorders and acting as adcenters and interacting with the mass influx of "casual gamers." Gamestop is just the label or the scapegoat. saying No to gamestop is just because I think net culture as a whole doesn't want to touch its own behavior and their a company with more expense and large amount of service horror stories so they make a convenient punching bag. But if not gamestop what about Blockbuster? Remember them they easily do more game sales and trades and dumping. All the REALLY good deals are THERE. In a few months of a major release they have more PS3, Wii, and 360 games for less than I've ever seen Gamestop risk (Sly 3 for $5 dollars!!!) and they are much MUCH more coordinated.

Your proposal and observation are heartfelt. I'm pleased to discuss your ideas. But you have to realize the only thing we want to demand from Gamestop is more customer service and less sleazebag tactics (preorders and warranties that they never plan to deal with on future tradeins that are comically lopsided and product libraries that chase after the joneses with inconsistent staff)

As for games being an investment. Someone said it for me. I do not purchase to "invest" in gaming. I purchase products for my use. Any guilt trips or attempts to demand these things from me are smokescreen.

Does gaming culture and retail need a change? Do we need a way to support diversity? Yes. but you make a poor argument speaking of wanting to support developers (not local business or scenes) by going to the secondhand market that is less convenient or capable.

toosoo said...

I have one to add to your list


im talking about the games that get 10 out of 10s, 5 stars, and 5 out of 5

these are usually the best games out there and not only that but, they usually drive the industry forward. I have so many games I bought that were critical favorites and their all really good but, not many people bought them cause they either didnt know about them or it wasnt a established IP you gotta learn about these

Jeff said...

"Instead look at Amazon marketplace. At the moment there are 37 used copies of New Super Mario Bros. on sale, 12 copies of WiiSports Resort and 55 used copies of Heavy Rain, yet Mario outsold Heavy Rain by far. See?"

No I don't see. Why not try something less obscure like ebay? There New Super Mario Bros. Wii dwarfs Heavy Rain by a factor of 5. And, again, this isn't a testament to the game's quality. NSMB Wii will have loads of trade-ins because it sold loads of copys TO TRADE IN. Conversely, games like Heavy Rain will have less trade-ins because it sold less.

"I can't believe I actually had to prove something this obvious."

I can't believe you did that and still failed.

JPArbiter said...

Bob makes a good point, and his detractors here have good points. the key thing is that Bobs Revolution is centered around something we as consumers can do to affect the overall games environment.

to bring up detractors I wanna bring up specific points.

One person said "encourage people to buy PC games" sorry but platform favoritism does not help.

Likewise I saw some fatalistic comment about "what happens when we create a different monopoly then?" when a monopoly is destroyed it takes decades for it to rebuild if at all. and with the suggestions presented in this video, it is unlikely that such a transfer of sales power would take place, because it would become so diffuse.

game lengthe and quality. Yes publishers do need to make games longer, with a better narrative. we can contribute by not purchasing of the latest John Maddens Call of Gears: Reach 2011 every year. We as gamers have been suckered into annual franchises that do not require much work on them, and then have multiplayer tacked on to carry the game. buy not falling into the annual game franchise we will be telling publishers, and yes gamestop that we need games to be carried by their single player modes with multiplayer as a feature, not the primary game mode.

and if you do not think that is a problem reflect on this. how long does it take you to burn through the single player of Modern Warfare 2, vs Doom or Duke Nukem?

Popcorn Dave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leeroy said...

what about getting games but you don't want to give back to the developers? for instance: i bought Fables 1 and 2 within the first few weeks of release from major retailers, and found both incredibly unsatisfying. as a customer i was repulsed at how many gameplay mechanics and aspects came out so bland or unpolished, from a capable developer no less. for the third installment, i think i'll do what little i can to screw them over.

Michele said...

My issue with, "All monopolies are bad".

Essentially, government is a monopoly. They monopolize violence and contract arbitration; cops are expected to employ violence at times when civilians are expected to refrain; the armed forces specialize in controlled violence.

While I do not disagree that government, because it is a monopoly, CAN be bad, I do not believe that it is bad BECAUSE it is a monopoly. It simply depends upon how it uses its monopolistic power.

This would suggest that similarly, private sector monopolies CAN also be bad, but are not necessarily so.

Besides, if GameSTOP as a monopoly is making cash hand over fist, you'd expect competitors to enter the market - unless GameSTOP's prices were low enough to discourage market entry. And if they're that low, they are not exercising the only power available to them: charging monopolistically high prices for the same goods.

Michele said...

My issues with, "All monopolies are bad".

Essentially, government is a monopoly. They monopolize violence and contract arbitration; cops are expected to employ violence at times when civilians are expected to refrain; the armed forces specialize in controlled violence.

While I do not disagree that government, because it is a monopoly, CAN be bad, I do not believe that it is bad BECAUSE it is a monopoly. It simply depends upon how it uses its monopolistic power.

This would suggest that similarly, private sector monopolies CAN also be bad, but are not necessarily so.

Besides, if GameSTOP as a monopoly is making cash hand over fist, you'd expect competitors to enter the market - unless GameSTOP's prices were low enough to discourage market entry. And if they're that low, they are not exercising the only power available to them: charging monopolistically high prices for the same goods.

Mike said...


You're getting preachy.



I dont buy used games because they make me feel dirty. I'm being serious.

Bruce L Grubb said...

As a Macintosh game player GameStop has never an option for me. That said I think you are mistaking a symptom for a multitude of causes.

The one thing to remember from the October 2004 Wired article "The Long Tail" is that in the brick and mortar world everybody goes for what sale the biggest volumes. No retailer with any sense is going to put some indy title nobody has likely even heard of when they can put Madden, Mario, or the latest expansion to Sims 3 up instead.

Advertisement is much the same way--the most money is pumped into what they think will sale. This leave smaller title in the lurch as if you don't even know its exist you can't order it.

Digital ordering with its 'hey people who liked this also bought this title you likely haven't even heard of' is the only way people can even know some of these titles even exist.

Let's not forget Sturgeon's Law with its 9:1 chance that that game you bought will be garbage. With odds like that and with no real information who is going to take a gamble. Especially as most stores have a no return policy and the resale value on even "new" games is a joke

Matt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...

The Revolution has begun:

Anonymous said...

Download your games, if it isn't available for Download, buy it online. Rinse wash repeat. Retail is dead anyways, gamestop is Blockbuster in 4 years. All those "risk" games are all going DL only. So if you want them, learn how to use XBLA, Steam, Direct to Drive, and PSN. And if you play PC games, try to download the game directly from the publisher/developer, they get 100 percent of the profit that way. And also stop buying action games whose main protagonist is a white guy with short hair, and always looks like Ben Afflick in the uncanny valley.

Saburo said...

Nice article. I have barely bought a game from GameStop and I am now buying games off of Amazon mostly(That or Frys)

Also, this is a bit off-topic, but I have been hearing people on how the industry is in a position to crash or they want the industry to crash to restore gaming back to a dedicated audience. However, I believe that if the industry did crash, it will have catastrophic results on other industries that support it, and perhaps the economy as a whole. It's something to consider in a future Overthinker episode

REPTILE 0009 said...

Downgrade multiplayer to a feature? Bad idea. If developers started neglecting multiplayer in favor of singleplayer, the fanbase will feel betrayed, and stop buying them. I feel that this can have disastrous effects on the game industry.

whateverman said...

If the industry is really hurting this bad why wouldn't they boycott selling their release titles to game stop in the first place. From a business perspective why sell to a company that is screwing you on your hard work. If developers would just sell to smaller independent stores that do not support a "trade-in turn and burn" business model wouldn't that also take Game Stop down a peg, while earning good developers more profit in the long run?

Also I am confused why the issue of piracy did not hit the docket of this revolution. Isn't this a quite common downfall of technology, gamers, and the industry as a whole? Doesn't it take away 100% of a developers profit?

I like the stuff that has been talked about in previous episodes but I feel the message of this episode along with the corny "che guevara" structuring of "the revolution" as really fallen flat for me.

I guess I just liked "main stream Bob" a little more then "indy Bob"

Anonymous said...

It's a good thing I stopped watching your videos after the last one, because judging by the comments here, you have become a tool of the game industry. It was nice knowing you, Bob, but don't worry, I'm sure your puppet version won't have any trouble taking your place.

Anonymous said...

I have no doubt that a monopoly only hurts the industry, and hell, I *ALREADY* avoid Gamestop when possible because I'm annoyed as hell by their policy of "fire your cashiers if they don't ask you to pre-order something."

At the same time, yes, sometimes they are more convenient. Sometimes, they're just "in my way", or they have some cool pre-order bonus, and I throw them a bone. So I don't hate 'em, I'm glad they're there, but I certainly make an effort to take my business to Target, Wal-Mart, my semi-local indie store, or even FYE.

That said, I must disagree with this notion that the pre-owned market is so detrimental to gaming. This notion has been repeated to us so many times by so many developers looking to sniff the market out that we simply accept that they're being cheated, but the reality is they're really just being short-sighted. The precursor to any sale is the supply of the merchandise to the retailer, and what developers fail to realize is that while they do not make money off of the used sale, they *DO* make money from the used supply.

Explanation: Gamestop takes used games as trade-ins, in other words, you hand them a game you no longer want in lieu of extra cash, TOWARDS A NEW GAME. You kill that, you effectively decrease the "money" available to gamers, and the new sales suffer. It's simple logic, less funds available equals less funds spent on entertainment. Admittedly, developers behind a game sold used have no way of guaranteeing that the trade-in went to one of their new titles rather than one of their competitors. Most likely it didn't, due to the sheer number of titles out there. So you cannot match these sales dev-for-dev, and I'm sure more than a few developers find that disturbing. But it serves their own good as a collective. If they get selfish and try to kill the used market to take control, they will all collectively suffer in the end.

I don't believe at all that this is a result of being able to save your data to your console; that's been a reality ever since the original Playstation. If you retain enough interest in a game that you may one day return to it, you are value-wise better off keeping your copy than trying to hunt down another one when the mood strikes you (to say nothing of the fact that sheer abject laziness actually works in your favor). I think rather, game developers are feeling the pinch of both the economy and the reality of rising development costs. They're getting more desperate, so they're doing whatever they can to take control and secure their own income. But they're looking in the wrong direction, and it WILL backfire on them if they continue to do so.

Donovan said...

Interesting Video.

However I think the easiest thing we can do to to make smaller developers money and to make smaller, riskier titles more profitable is to simply buy the game and not sell it back to gamestop, or anyone.

I think thats the most powerful impact is to simply keep the game. and Convince your friends to as well.

Another thing is to convince your friends not to hack or pirate. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

I mean lets face it almost 60% of psp owners have a hacked psp, and pirate copies of games. Yeah it saves money but its still fucking stealing. PSP and DS games can be rented most can be beaten in a weekend. So why not rent? This convinces more rental stores to carry more stock on games and is still profitable to some extent.

Essentially I think we the gamers are to blame for any economic difficulties our beloved developers may face especially in the current economic climate.

I see no reason to sell a game frankly let alone to gamestop. You really dont save that much money.

Unfortunately games are now so expensive to produce and take such long periods of time that its almost impossible for companies to take a risk.

WHy do you think there are so many Call of Duties, so many Halos, and a million and one who want to be them?

While I know bob didnt leave any necessary blame on gamestop as a figure, a franchise, only as amonopoly but we are the ones who pay them.

Think of it like this.

I hear so many complaints about Chinese made products.

Yet the same people will also wish to squeeze every penny and therefore buy more Chinese made products

You cant have it both ways you spend that extra 10 or 20 dollars on your stuff and maybe companies could afford to meet the demands of the unionized people in our countries.

Same goes for games. When a hot new title is out. wait a few days. Read Reviews. Then buy the game new.

after all, having the game first doesnt make your balls hang any lower.

Its tough and more expensive. But if you want more variety in games youre inadvertantly asking companies to take more risks, and the only way theyll take a risk is to have the risk be reduced as much as possible.

In otherwords be able to afford to take this risk

howard said...

Couldn't a royalty be paid to the developer/publisher for every used game re-sold? Just an idea. :)

Hawkeye In the Sky said...

You're math is a bit off here bob. I normally agree with you, but here I can't. I'm in training to be a developer myself, so I know full well how important first week sales are. However, simple economics prove you're wrong about used sales fucking up company profit. Say I create a thousand copies of a game, those are the only ones in existence. If I sell all of those games, which are bought at retail by gamestop, I no longer have to sell anything. Ergo, I already sold all of my product, and have nothing left to sell. Just because I made a piece of plastic doesn't give me the right to profit every time that piece of plastic changes hands. Hence why I'm going to try as hard as possible to go digital distribution.

KIL03 said...

Bob, ya know we love ya, but if I may make some "constructive criticism" you should rethink how you do these "inspirational" videos.

Your last video had the potential for a lot of power, and up until the 3rd act it did. But the way you tried to explain how we, the gamers, have power... that kinda sucked.

"We saved the princess" was a good start but you didn't explain why that gave us power. You failed to explain how we had the dedication and the drive to "grind" for hours on end in order to save the princess. That was where you failed to inspire me, and probably others.

So when you make another video (which, by the way, I look forward to) be sure to explain why us being a gamer means we have something others lack.

In the gamestop instance, you hinted at why we as consumers have power, but you didn't put much emphasis on it and I doubt anyone who hasn't taken beginning economics would really get why their money has weight behind it. Further more, I think this really could of been inspirational without "the revolution" title, as that just felt silly...

@ A Tribe Called Helloween (even though s/he will probably never read this)
Making some other used-game store powerful will mean that Gamestop will have competition and will have to price it's used games "competitively" to turn a profit, meaning the used-game market will be less powerful.

brienj said...

You are placing the blame in the wrong direction. If there were no games returned or sold to GameStop, they wouldn't have a "monopoly" on it. If people actually ENJOYED their game, and liked it, why would they return or sell it? So, the developers are to blame for producing shit titles. If they made good games, none would get returned.

You are approaching this "problem" from the wrong direction, and the game developers are caught in this incorrect mindset that you have been caught in.

If you don't want your game sold, then make a GOOD game. People wouldn't return it within a week, and there would be no opportunity for you to lose a sale on a new game.

It's because of game developers that think like you, that the problem will never be fixed. It's too easy to blame another company, like GameStop, for your own deficiencies.

Sally said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ervin said...

This is why I pirate the corporate bullshit (like CoD) if I ever want to play it, and permanently buy (from steam) everything that's actually good and innovative.

As a result I have never in my life pirated a Valve game.

Snow Buddha said...

I usually download games first so I know I'll actually like it. Play it for some levels and then decide to buy it or not.

Now don't go ape on me. I actually own over 600 titles. This system has worked for me for years. It also prevented me from buying titles I didn't like.

Secondly, I usually call the local game store if they got my game or can order it. Yes, it takes some extra traveltime, but I feel I'm helping the gaming community rather then a big monopoly.

Last but not least, By doing this I actually have the feeling I'm letting the gaming community know what games I really like and would like to see more of. I buy whats good and skip what's not.

Lakstoties said...

I think the blame goes to the retailers than Gamestop. Back in the days before Gamestop, retail stores had decent return policies. It used to be: if the game sucked or didn't work, you could return it within the week of purchase for your MONEY BACK. No questions, no issues, just your money back. Then, you were allowed to buy another game.

This model allowed experimental games to exist along side with proven titles. There was very little risk in buying a more unique game. If it wasn't that great, you could return the thing and get the proven title. It also worked the other way... If the "proven" title was a flop, you could take it back and buy the experimental title.

But as the paranoia of piracy grew and the prices of games increased, retailers eliminated their return policies to the point you are stuck with whatever choice you made the first time. This has a double whammy-effect: One, the experimental games now have a risk associated with them that prevents only the financially bolder gamers from buying them. Two, "proven" titles that became money grabs, companies now suffer no ills for shoveling crap onto the consumer. Discover the "AAA" title was a flop, tough shit. The publisher unloaded crap onto you, they get the sale recorded for marketing, and there's no way to get your money back from them.

So, honestly... Gamestop isn't that evil. The same retailers you are trying to champion precipitated the situation at hand. Their policies created the demand for Gamestop to even exist. Also, the prohibitive pricing models that publishers use also don't help.

Gamestop gives many gamers the only way they have to remedy a bad decision or to operate within a limited budget. It doesn't change the fact that they are merely an over-glorified pawn shop, but their ability to exist is strictly in the hands of the retailers and publishers. You buy a bomb of a game... Where do you go these days? The retailer you got it from? Nope. No returns or exchanges for anything other than the bomb game (and good luck with getting that much). The publisher? They got their money from you (hence, they don't care) and will only direct you to the retailer you got it from. Gamestop serves as the only hope for these gamers.

There are two ways this can be remedied. Restore return policies and become far more customer friendly... or do what publishers are gearing up towards... Restrict distribution via single-use keying. The latter is the wrong way to go about this and is again just another money making tactic. Instead of anyone creating better support for the customer and allow some freedom, they are going to circumvent the trade of functional games to nickel and dime every transaction. So, the first purchase consumers are still screwed, but now post-first purchase sales are crippled. I fully expect Gamestop to implement either a ban list or games getting instantly thrown on the $1 buyback list for the purpose to discouraging game with one-time activation keys.

Besides the financial aspects, these "no-return possible" policies crippled the ability for people to "vote with their wallet". You make a mistake, it's permanent. The publisher gets money and sale. This is means that from their statistics the game is success... hence they'll make more games like it. This is despite the fact the game shows up almost immediately at Gamestop, because it was a bad bomb. (So publishers and retailers have given more reason for the existence of pirating, especially with less demos in the circulation) The retailers you are championing CRIPPLED the primary feedback mechanism that publishers had. Now, they are operating off of skewed information and there currently is no way to correct it.

So blame not Gamestop for existing or it's practices, blame the moronic retailers and publishers whose anti-customer practices created the demand for Gamestop.

Marco said...

Lot's of people here, including Bob, had some great points here. The thing that kind of gets me though, is how some people want to state that "this" factor isn't the problem, but "this" factor is, for instance: It's not really Gamestop that's the problem, it's the crappy games the developers make", or "it's used games themselves that are the problem." While all these are good points, they are all just pieces to a whole.

The fact is, the whole model for gaming, from developing, to selling, to playing, etc, is busted. What we're dealing with here is a cesspool, and a cesspool can attract all kinds of unwanted vermin. When this happens, you have to clean the cesspool, not pick at a particular species of vermin and say they are the main problem. Maybe you can figure out a way to get rid of the mosquitoes, but the cesspool remains, and sooner or later another batch of mosquitoes will show up.

What is needed, essentially, is to figure out a way to establish a model where the industry is motivated to create innovative and good games at prices that can both sustain the industry and be affordable, and for the players to be motivated to buy them in large numbers. Basically, we need an industry mostly guided by quality developers and publishers, and a consumer base discerning enough to only get the good stuff. This isn't easy by a long shot, and is pretty much the (obvious) problem that so many other markets have to deal with. But if they can deal with it, why can't we?

Part of the problem are the consumers themselves. Let's face it, video games are a big industry right now pretty much because they expanded their market and brought on a lot more consumers than the hobby used to have back during the so called "golden age of gaming" when it was pretty much mostly outcasts who were gaming. Expanding your market usually means catering to the lowest common denominator, which explains the types we complain about nowadays; namely the "dude-bros" and the "casual gamers". These people don't really care about quality, they just want to be entertained. And as any marketer will tell you, if you convince them they are going to be entertained by their garbage with lots of hype and clever advertising, and fill the product with the simplest of distractions to hook them, people will go for it. If this wasn't true, the two Transformers movies wouldn't have made as much money as it did. Again, lowest common denominator.


Marco said...

Let's face facts: the type of gamer who "saved the princess" took down Dr. Wiley the second time he caused trouble, and knew to "take this" because it was dangerous to go alone is not the type who is supporting the industry right now. It's the guys who we complain about who are. That's why we're getting crappy games, and that's why we have a Gamestop. And you can't really blame them (the industry and Gamestop that is); after all they're trying to make money, and this IS a capitalist system. They will jump to whatever means they have at their disposal in order to make a profit. On the Gamestop front, think of it this way; They tell these type of consumers "Hey, we can get you your favorite games at low prices!" and flavor with lingo like "Power to the gamers!" Now honestly, do you really expect to change these consumers minds and make them shop elsewhere just because you're trying to get them to do the "right thing" and "save the gaming industry"? Unless they happen to be deeper thinkers (and we all know how few in number those kinds are), people generally don't dwell on that sort of thing. They just want to be satisfied and will get that satisfaction via the path of least resistance. In this case, that path of least resistance is going to the nearest Gamestop. And for the industry, the path of least resistance to satisfying their profit margins is to cater to this crowd by pumping out Maddens, CoDs, and Halos on one side, and Wiis, Wii Fittnesses, and Bejeweleds on the other side. It's just people doing what they usually do: satisfying their short term desires and goals without thinking of the long term. Which is what humans always do.

So yeah, this is far from an easy problem to fix, and it can't be solved simply by focusing on one aspect of it. It has to be seen in it's entirety, and whatever is allowing all these other factors we are pointing at to exist has to be dealt with for them all to go away. I'm not sure how we're going to do that; human nature seems to be one of the things we're trying to work against here. But again, other industries are able to be more self sustaining, relying on innovation (at least a good percentage of the time) and pumping out products that people want, so there's no real reason why we can't try to strive for the same thing. Dealing with Gamestop isn't a bad idea; demanding the gaming industry make better games is also important. But having larger numbers of a more discerning consumer would really be a better step in the right direction.

Good luck with that. We're going to need it.

By the way, I really feel the need to point out that one of the few commentators here who seems to really understand the depths of the problem is Nick. Yeah, other people have been criticizing him, and it's not like they didn't have good points of their own in their posts. But honestly, Nick was next to the only one here who understood just how powerful advertising and marketing is, and how making "quality games" isn't what's going to stop people from buying crap. Otherwise we still wouldn't be agonizing over the low sales of Psychonauts and Okami, while the latest Madden game continues to print money. To the skeptics, seriously think about what he wrote; he knows what he's talking about.

Joda said...

Services like Steam and XBLA are steps in the right direction. I'll bet my weight worth in gold that all next-gen consoles will come with big hard-drives that are easily upgradeable (replaceable) and free internet access. Digital distribution not only fixes the problems you are addressing, it also makes publishers dispensable and cuts out an enormous amount of middle men entirely. I use Steam and have felt great about it ever since I heard that self-publishing, independent developers get a 60% cut of all proceeds (for reference, that's more than what publishers and developers earn combined for each boxed copy.)

Of course there are the people who say they want "a boxed copy," but they should read their EULAs a little more carefully. The deal you sign up for is the same as it is on Steam. You may have some data burnt to a disk, but not only is that not going to become outdated within a week of release, it's simply not yours. All you have bought is a license to use it. If it was yours you'd be allowed to copy it, distribute it and reverse engineer it.

Jason said...

Great vid, it's really similar to the one extra creditz made but it's still very informative.

Einar Nyberg said...

Moviebob, you forgot the easiest way to fight the cycle:

Buy the safe games used, and buy the indie games new.

That way, the safe games cash in a wee bit less, and the indie games a wee bit more. Use the system to inspire new ideas. There's no need to get the latest Mario, Call of Duty, etc etc, at once. You know full well what you are getting when you buy them, an indie game however, can be an awe inspiring thing.

Please make an update video on this, because it's easy and effective, and might cause those who aren't willing to go the extra mile, to maybe go a few hundred yards at least.

This is why I love Steam, practically a monopoly, but shows indie titles quite a lot on their main page. An actual good monopoly, let's hope it lasts.

Austin said...

I got 999, Tatsunoko Vs Capcom and MadWorld from my local, non GameStop provider. Happy now?

Anonymous said...

"Well, let's face the fact. GameStop's system only works because people don't see a point in keeping their games. Games only end up sold used because one doesn't like it enough to keep and replay it over and over. "

Doesn't hold water. This isn't a problem in the Movie industry, and I know PLENTY of people who would never watch a movie a second time, be it "Citizen Kane" or "Freddy Got Fingered."

Quality will not make the subset of fans (which is quite large) that doesn't want to re-do anything, suddenly want to re-do it.

Ghost Whistler said...

This whiny little diatribe, and it's mealy mouthed melodramatic presentation, is the most rank bullshit i've come across for a long time. This is just ridiculous. Used sales of anything are perfectly legal and a part of the economy. If publishers don't like it they can take a running jump. This sudden obsession with playing the downtrodden is insulting and childish.

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