With many hailing the next generation of consoles as the death knell of the used game market, could second hand buyers look to the cloud for their reduced price gaming fix?
Developers, publishers, lawyers, politicians, even some gamers have been for years, denouncing the used game industry, saying that it not only takes profits away from those making games, but that it also contributes to rising prices for new titles - something that second hand buyers claim is the reason they are doing so in the first place. It's a bit of a chicken and egg scenario.
Corporations invested in the industry haven't just been trash talking used games though, they've been actively attacking it with initiatives like the online pass system. This allows only those that bought the game new to play online, giving out a one use code for it with each new purchase.
However, since some people don't care about that and not every developer has taken to doing so, the used game industry has weathered it just fine and is still a multi-billion dollar industry. It would take something drastic to make a big impact and that's what the next generation of consoles looks set to do.
Over the past few days several publications have been claiming that with the Xbox 720 Loop and PlayStation 4 set to make use of digital distribution far more than the current generation and could even lock out games that have been used in the past, it truly sounds like the end of a long running industry. Of course previous generations of titles will still be available pre-owned - indeed 80s/90s console games still sell relatively strong in retro stores - but the business as it is now will cease to exist.
So is that the end of used game buying of the future? Sort of yes. However, as with the consoles themselves, I believe it might just evolve into a different medium.
Currently no one is really sure what direction console gaming will go. With the growth of handhelds and smartphones along with social and casual gaming, many believe the future is mobile. Gaming on the move, gaming on smaller devices which wirelessly connect to others and work on battery life instead of mains power.
Then there are those suggesting cloud gaming is the future. Paying a subscription or per-title fee to play games that you don't own, remotely. Apart from the distances involve, this sounds an awful lot like the used game industry. I believe that with the void being created by the loss of future generation used games, cloud gaming could become the new mainstay for those that don't want to pay full retail for their gaming experience.
Of course I'm sure if that's the case, it won't be long before games developers begin claiming cloud gaming is "losing" them money, so they'll put some anti-competitive measures in to place, but I imagine it'd be harder to do since company's like OnLive could simply buy games new before farming them out remotely to cloud gamers.
How do you think the gaming industry will evolve over the next couple of years? Will my humble PC still be a viable gaming option? I'd like to think so. Console's just aren't as good at certain genres. Mouse and keyboard > controller for RTS, FPS and MMO. I'll give it to them though, consoles do a lot better with beat 'em up, racing and third person action.