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Take 2 exec posits possible balance between used game sales and developers


Take 2 Interactive’s Strauss Zelnick discusses a possible equilibrium between console developers and retailers. 

Strauss Zelnick, the chairman for Take 2, has come forward with an idea that could be profitable for both used-game retailers, such as GameStop, developers and console makers. Rumours began to circulate with the announcement of next-gen consoles that Sony and Microsoft would be removing backwards compatibility in favour of online distribution stores, solely controlled by their parent companies. Zelnick spoke earlier today about reports from last week, which suggested that Microsoft would be taxing and taking a cut from used game sales to deter trade-ins and day one losses.

Speaking at the Cowen and Company Technology, Media and Telecom Conference today, Strauss Zelnick brought up issues surrounding companies getting a cut from used games sales. “There’s no question that if Microsoft has figured out a way to ‘tax’ used games, then we should get paid too. It would be hard to imagine why they should and we shouldn’t.” In his speech, Zelnick discussed the possibility of a parity being struck between publishers and console makers to discourage trade-ins and used game sales. He outlined plans to deject the average consumer from trading within the first week of sales.

This could mean anything between extended campaigns, NewGame+ modes, extra season passes or even demos of upcoming  Take 2 titles. Zelnick’s idea of increasing the replay value and gamer satisfaction are factors most consumers and gamers can get behind.  He talked about the negative response from the developer community and how Take-2 has a “first-sale doctrine.” He admitted that  their view has been to oppose whining about the situation or finding “ways to punish the consumer for buying used games.”  The solution, Zelnick adds, is knowing they’d feel better to “delight the consumer” rather than ruin their experience.  This being a possible reference to EA’s Online Passes which up until recently, EA used as a form of prohibition against used game sales. Luckily, EA has since retired the use of these online passes for future titles.

Zelnick spoke positively about the future of their games, saying they wanted to “push up [their] quality, which [we’ve] seen in [their] Metacritic score(s).” He also seemed opposed to Day One DLC as well, saying they wanted to give people DLC “often for free” and extend the release window to “three or four weeks out,” and make people think about when they’re “trading in their games”. While I think Zelnick is positive about these issues, quality may not be an issue, but more the gaming public’s view of AAA developers.

It’s great to see someone apart of a big publisher try and turn the tide on the used game situation. Microsoft has since attempted to clarify their new console was “designed to support the trade in and resale of games” and that reports about their “policies for trade in and resale are inaccurate and incomplete.” That being said, there is still a possibility of a form of DRM being installed by either Microsoft or developers, that could hinder or alter the chance of playing used games. All we can say is caveat emptor.

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