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Default Obsidian Entertainment - MCA Interview @ IG

December 13th, 2011, 22:51
Chris Avellone has been interviewed at IndustryGamers, discussing his role, the RPG genre and the market. There are a couple of headline quotes, such as Chris hoping digital sales will undermine the used-game market and that Obsidian has a dream to release their own "smaller" games digitally. Here's a quote on changes to the genre:
IG: What's the most important advances in RPG design in the last few years?
CA: That's tough. I'll say the "advances" have been more for player convenience, sometimes good, sometimes bad, in my opinion. Journals, quest compasses that point directly to the goal and show you the route, auto-maps, etc. are helpful; at the same time, I think it undermines the thrill of victory and discovery and a lot of what makes an RPG an RPG (exploration, notably). In terms of non-interface elements, I feel the idea of morally gray choices and more focus on actions and consequences has been great for RPGs across the board. Lastly, fully voice-acted characters has been something to adapt to since Knights of the Old Republic 1, and the amount of localization, recording and audio work that requires is substantial, but I feel it's a net positive for the player.
More information.
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December 13th, 2011, 22:51
Wow. Harsh words on the used gaming market
Last edited by darkling; December 13th, 2011 at 23:52.
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December 13th, 2011, 22:56
Why is that?

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December 13th, 2011, 23:07
If he said that for Josh E. I'd tend to agree, but Chris? C'mon.

But one day, I promise, one day I'll press Chris with the question noone asks, in fact noone dares to squeeze a promise out of him. Fans want Torment 2. About whomever and whatever. Reboot or remake. Prequel or Sequel. Anything!
Did ya hear Chris?!
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December 13th, 2011, 23:32
The nasty little swipe at the used game market. I tend to see the folks who are against the used game market as somewhat overbearing douches. That's supposed to be the EA's and Activisions of the industry, not the semi-independent and usually pretty awesome Obsidian. Of course, they have been slipping as of late…

The used game market is the legitimate alternative to piracy for the poor. It's about equalization of access to culture and whatnot. If we want games to be considered a valid media for expression, like books, film and music (and we do) the ultimate eventual goal should be access. As long as games exist as physical media, I don't see why transferal of that media from one person to another shouldn't be seen as a good thing.
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December 13th, 2011, 23:45
Originally Posted by MCA
I think it undermines the thrill of victory and discovery and a lot of what makes an RPG an RPG (exploration, notably)
Sure loved all the exploring we did in Alpha Protocol.
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December 13th, 2011, 23:46
I think Chris is talking about the like of Gamestop basing their profitability on used games - you surely don't think Gamestop's used games are about piracy and the poor or "equalisation of access to culture"…do you?

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December 14th, 2011, 00:00
When I read "used games markets" which they want to stop, then my first thought is : "THey want to stomp out all of the flea markts ? Next thing they'll do is lawyers swarming around ? Hindering everyone trying to sell their used games on a flea market ?"

I never realized that they might mean Gamestop. Because Gamestop as a seller of used games is relatively new here - and they don't sell used PC games at all ! - They actually stopped accepting and selling used PC games a few years ago here. So I wonder, do these companies actually mean used console games ?

But … Since a few years there are also more and more web shops popping out of nowhere, whih accept PC games, console games, or sometimes even old software in general !

But - they just buy them. They never resell. They never even tell where all this stuff goes to, and how they are assuming to make profits by only buying and never earning money by selling something. They are few by now, but they exist - and they become more and more, slowly.

One recent example of this "buying used games shop" is this one : http://gamestar.rebuy.de/
It belongs to the German gaming magazine called "Gamestar".

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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December 14th, 2011, 00:04
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
I never realized that they might mean Gamestop.
What did you think most of the recent DRM measures like limits on the number of activations and pre-order/first activation exclusive dlc were for?
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December 14th, 2011, 03:58
Last time I was at Gamestop they didn't sell used PC games and even new PC games only take up one small section.
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December 14th, 2011, 05:52
Afaik, Gamestop has never sold used PC games.
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December 14th, 2011, 06:22
IG: Will we see Obsidian produce and distribute its own games someday?

CA: Our eventual hope is that we can stockpile enough resources to release our own titles digitally. Smaller games can be very satisfying projects to work on, and it would be great to do that. But it's going to take time for us to get there; we want to make sure we do it right.
The thought of an independently published Icewind Dale III immediately sprang to mind. I wonder how high the cost is for Forgotten Realms licensing these days.
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December 14th, 2011, 07:58
My estimate is that half of the items on the shelfs in my local Gamestop are used console games. I can understand why developers/publishers consider this a problem as there obviously is a huge marked for it. Used copies are almost instantly obtainable after retail release and of course cheaper. You could ask yourself why should I buy the new over the old as in todays marked you get absolutely nothing more than a DVD case with a disc. (Collectors editions excluded). I myself are very much into the used PC games marked but that is for another reason. Most of the stuff I'm looking for are at least a decade old (When games came in big boxes with quality manuals if anyone remembers ) and these are long gone from retail channels.
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December 14th, 2011, 08:06
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
I never realized that they might mean Gamestop. Because Gamestop as a seller of used games is relatively new here - and they don't sell used PC games at all ! - They actually stopped accepting and selling used PC games a few years ago here. So I wonder, do these companies actually mean used console games ?
Where does anyone specify "PC" only? Yes, we are mostly talking about console.

Some items to consider courtesy of Wikipedia:

"GameStop Corporation (NYSE: GME) is an American video game and entertainment software retailer. The company, whose headquarters is in Grapevine, Texas, United States,[4] operates 6,500 retail stores throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and in the United Kingdom. GameStop opened around 400 new stores for the 2009 business year."
"In the fiscal year ending May 2010, 48.1% of GameStop's profits came from the sale of used video game products."
So half of the world's largest bricks-and-mortar video game retailer's profits came from used games. Why would anyone be surprised a game developer thinks that is bad?

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December 14th, 2011, 08:07
I think it's important to remember that every used game was initially purchased from the publisher; it's not really a "lost sale" when it can be traced back to a purchase directly from the publisher. Quite a different scenario than piracy, where there is no initial purchase at all. It seems that the attitude of developers/publishers towards used sales is quite similar to that of piracy - every used/pirated game is treated as a lost sale, when that is rarely the absolute case (although it is a more accurate sentiment for piracy).

Not that this matters on the PC market anymore; digital distribution and the difficulty of finding even new PC games on store shelves has all but killed used sales, not to mention that many new games are tied to an account of some sort, which makes buying used a bit more complicated (Steam, for example).
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December 14th, 2011, 09:19
Yes it does seem like the computer PC game industry wants to wipe out the used games market with the linking to steam accounts for many new games.

Maybe they should try this on other items we buy, such as books, and cars. Where it would be illegal to sell your used copy of a book or a used car. I guess that wouldn't fly, can't imagine why. <a little sarcasm in tone>
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December 14th, 2011, 10:11
Originally Posted by Arkadia7 View Post
Yes it does seem like the computer PC game industry wants to wipe out the used games market with the linking to steam accounts for many new games.

Maybe they should try this on other items we buy, such as books, and cars. Where it would be illegal to sell your used copy of a book or a used car. I guess that wouldn't fly, can't imagine why. <a little sarcasm in tone>
Well the alternative is to price the original item high enough that it accounts for subsequent resale. With cars you get what, 75% of the value back after a year? So if the developers need a usual 30 retail cost, then games should be selling for something like 120 new, with the expectation you can sell it for 90 after a year etc.

Then, just like cars, books etc. most people would have to be satisfied with waiting a year etc. to get hold of games, and those that want it new can pay for the privilege.
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December 14th, 2011, 10:43
Originally Posted by Nerevarine View Post
I think it's important to remember that every used game was initially purchased from the publisher; it's not really a "lost sale" when it can be traced back to a purchase directly from the publisher.
Of course it's potentially a lost sale. Consumers show up at Gamestop and the store actively encourages a used version over a new one - there is no doubt there are lost sales.

There are other elements of complexity but to suggest that because there was one original sale at the beginning of the chain means there aren't lost sale sales along the rest of the chain is ridiculous.

Originally Posted by Arkadia7 View Post
Maybe they should try this on other items we buy, such as books, and cars. Where it would be illegal to sell your used copy of a book or a used car. I guess that wouldn't fly, can't imagine why. <a little sarcasm in tone>
"Illegal"? Where do you get illegal? Get a sense of perspective - a developer saying he hopes a different model of sales gains the ascendancy is a million miles from "illegal".

Still, to address the comparisons. Can you name a book store chain with 6500 stores that prefers 2nd-hand sales over new? I can't.

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December 14th, 2011, 11:08
With used games from the developer and publisher point of view you may aswell have pirated it. With used games nothing goes back to the devs or publisher. It is better for people to wait till the price drops and buy the game than to buy used for this reason.
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December 14th, 2011, 19:41
What makes games so special that they have to be protected from the after sale market. I can't readily think of a commodity that can't be resold after you use it and there will be no consequences to that sale.

I'm sure book sellers, music sellers and car sellers all wish they could share in the after market. Too bad. Digital sales of games tied into an account would probably shore up a lot of lost sales. But frankly, if anyone come up with a method to beat that type of system, great.

The attitude that only the publisher should have the absolute right to sell their property, even after they sell it to you, doesn't fit well at all with this gamer. Not at all.
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