Used Game “Nuclear Option” is Dangerous

The population has a nuclear threat to worry about, but this time a feisty third world country isn’t the culprit. Many a publisher are beginning to reference used games as a threatening menace, something that needs to be eradicated to protect many of the independent development teams who have taken a dive over the past decade. The solution: a “Nuclear Option” — a phrase too easily coined to mean the death of the used game. If it doesn’t sound familiar now, give it a few months, and the bandwagon will be cracking at the axle with the weight of the gaming development community.

THQ has brought the world some of the most lucrative, well known franchises around, including a number of Disney/Pixar titles, Saint’s Row and is now the new face of WWE. Developers like THQ stand to make a pretty penny if games become locked to the original buyer. So why not join the ranks of those who are speaking out against how detrimental the used game is to the gaming market? Gamers like Richard Browne have been on the ground floor as a designer with Eidos as well as at the top of the chain as VP of THQ.

Unfortunately, his views on used games range from unpopular to bleak. While speaking out against the degradation of the single player experience at the cost of implementing multiplayer, Browne stated, “in general [the player is] getting a poorer single-player game. But again that’s the tip of the iceberg” Up to this point, Browne’s comments may be unpopular to many multiplayer fanatics, but agreeable to anyone who has paid close attention to the steady decline in depth and duration of the single player experience. Browne continued to explain, “I hope and would actively encourage Microsoft and Sony to embrace the ‘Nuclear Option’ and put an end to this.” Whatever the means, the result is simple. The Nuclear Option is the complete annihilation of used games, leaving nothing but new games for individual consumers to play.

He was right about one thing in his recent statement to the gaming community: “I don’t think we’ll see even a minor drop in sales; in fact, I think we’ll see it rise.” At the risk of sounding sophomoric, how could one reply with anything less than “duh?” Of course there will be a rise in sales. eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, GameStop, and dozens of other second hand sites, companies, and organizations are about to have their hands caught in the used game cookie jar. Freezing those sales forces the gamer to buy new (or rent). Gamers will continue to game, leaving an increase in new game sales the only possible outcome.

Besides increasing revenue, ever wonder why big retailers like Target and Best Buy have joined the ranks of secondhand game distributors so late in the game? To build a sturdier gaming consumer base after the Nuclear Option has vaporized unprotected businesses like GameStop. That is, until the gamer is left with no choice but to pay a full, undisputed price over PSN and XBLA.

Think “Limited Editions” are terrible now? Wait until the halfhearted online presale ploys which include nothing more than an Avatar T-Shirt.