Monday, June 27, 2011

Capcom joins EA in the fight against used game sales.

A while back, I was lamenting about EA's controversial "Online Pass" feature that has been shoehorned into the majority of their online-enabled games over the past year. In essence, this "Online Pass" is something that is included with the first-time purchase of said title, however anyone wanting to subsequently play that copy would have to pay $10 to $12 additional for another pass if they wish to take advantage of the online gameplay. It was a transparent attempt to siphon profits from the booming used game market, and I remember thinking to myself that other companies will follow suit once they find a way to do so. Enter Capcom into the fray, and their method is even more egregious - the "one save" limit. 

The first game to have this feature is Resident Evil: Mercenaries 3D for the Nintendo 3DS, and what it means in the simplest terms if that owners of the game are only allowed one permanent save file. Once created, it cannot be altered or deleted, and another one cannot be created in it's place. Any stats, points and game enhancements you obtain will also be permanent, so anyone else who comes into ownership of your copy will be forced to play using your save file. What this essentially does is render your game a one-play affair, since the majority of gamers will not revisit the game once everything has been unlocked. You are not restricted from going back and playing the game again, however it will be a significantly diluted experience since the fun of discovery has been killed off. This also jilts people who have to share their 3DS with a sibling or partner, since I can't imagine two people wanting to share a save file, let along having to buy two copies of the game. This is a ballsy move from Capcom and one that is likely to have many gamers up in arms, and rightfully so.

So what is the reason for this? Well, much like EA's rationale behind the "Online Pass", Capcom is one of many game developers that is taking a stand against the use game market, presumably because national chains like Gamestop are reaping record profits while the developers get nothing. Since all used games were purchased at full retail price at one point, I never saw this as anything more than a cash grab, since very little reliable data exists on how much the developers actually lose due to people buying their games used. Even if their losses justify these ends, implementing restrictions on how the game is played and hindering the enjoyment by effectively handcuffing gamers is not going to make them any more likely to buy new. In the comments I'm reading online, many gamers are opting to pass on the new Resident Evil title altogether because of this. This might make Capcom a little money, but make no mistake that it's PR suicide. 

For now, the new Resident Evil title on the 3DS is the only game with this "one save limit" restriction confirmed, however this can lead to a snowball effect much like we've seen with EA. I don't agree with this and I think it makes the gamers suffer for exercising a choice in how they wish to purchase their games, and owing to financial limitations, purchasing games used is the only option for some people. It sets a bad precedent in which games, expensive enough as they are, will start costing more and fewer options will exist for people to get their games elsewhere. I hope this is something that doesn't catch on, but my gamer's intuition has a far from optimistic outlook.

1 comment:

  1. I guess as long as I can still sell the game to Amazon or Gamestop I will most likely buy the game new. I don't like where this is going though.