After David Braben weighed in on the used games debate, it seems that Silicon Knights' Denis Dyack is eager to get stuck in on the matter too. Dyack has argued that if current retail models persist, and the used games market continues to grow unchecked, that very soon "there's not going to be an industry" at all.
"From a consumer side, [in the last few years] we started seeing used games really come into fruition, and I believe that has caused quite a problem," said Dyack, talking to GI.biz. I would argue that used games actually increase the cost of games."
"There used to be something in games for 20 years called a tail, where say you have a game called Warcraft that would sell for 10 years. Because there are no used games, you could actually sell a game for a long time, and get recurring revenue for quite a while. Recurring revenue is very key.
"Now there is no tail. Literally, you will get most of your sales within three months of launch, which has created this really unhealthy extreme where you have to sell it really fast and then you have to do anything else to get money."
This rather echoes Braben's concerns that if a game fails to do well in its launch week, it's rather scuppered from thereon out. Dyack's concern, though, is that the pre-owned debate is receiving backlash based on assumptions of greed from the industry. However, he suggests that far from looking to screw consumers over with higher prices, the war against the pre-owned market is one of survival. Put simply, he says that used games are cannibalizing the industry, and if things continue the way they have been, there might not be an industry left very soon.
"I would argue, and I've said this before, that used games are cannibalizing the industry," he stated. "If developers and publishers don't see revenue from that, it's not a matter of hey 'we're trying to increase the price of games to consumers, and we want more,' we're just trying to survive as an industry. If used games continue the way that they are, it's going to cannibalize, there's not going to be an industry. People won't make those kinds of games. So I think that's inflated the price of games, and I think that prices would have come down if there was a longer tail, but there isn't."
The simple fact, according to Dyack, is that development costs have been spiralling too, not helped by a global recession, and a constant desire for improved aesthetics on improving technologies.
"On the top side of the triple-A, highly-funded titles, you have $100 million games, and looking towards next generation people once again are saying we're going to have development costs that are two or three times of what they were last generation. I cannot see how that economy is going to continue," he continued.
"I don't think as an industry we can afford $300 million budgets. I think some games can, don't get me wrong. For a game like Call of Duty, if they had a $100 million budget, or whatever their budget is, they can afford it. That's not the industry, that's sort of a one-off. But what is everyone else going do?"
Whatever happens, sooner rather later, that tentative relationship between retailers, publishers, and developers is going to tested.