Opinion: Bethesda Has No Right to Whine About Second-Hand Transactions

Bethesda studios has been putting on their big-boy pants lately, and rightfully so with their eerily crafted, Wolfenstien-esque trailer on their Vine account consisting of G-Strings and barbed wire—two elements that could make for a sweet women’s backyard wrestling game, but surely such lewd, entertaining matchups are not in their minds. What has been on their minds however, is the practice of playing video games and selling it back to retail for trades or for monetary value, and reinforce that this re-transaction hurts the relationship between developers and publishers when it comes to profit.

The concerns were expressed by Bethesda’s Vice President in Marketing Pete Hines, who has also been putting on his big-boy pants after immediately shooting down speculations of a new Fallout being set in New York and announcing discontinuation of expansions for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. While Hines does not dub himself as the bearer of all answers, he does argue that their Besthesda’s focal point in future titles is to keep gamers playing by offering expansive DLC, a tactic to fight second-hand sales.

“We have tried to mitigate it by creating games that offer replayability, by supporting them with DLC that’s worth hanging onto the game for, or offering tools that let them take things further,” Hines said in an interview with Destructioid.com

Hines has a legitimate point: games that highly excel in their single-player and multiplayer content may constitute for gamers forking over money for more content in exchange for more gameplay. However, other game publishing companies who are not big boy-pants Bethesda seldom execute this well, because the quality of games during their pre-DLC phase are either crappy or shady.

Primary example? Fallout: New Vegas. Glitches and futile game saves lurked at every corner during launch week, a perfect recipe for a PR crises and development meltdown for Besthesda. Patches were made the following week and the game still harbored praise from critics for their sandbox qualities and amount of sidequests.

Street Fighter X Tekken, on the other hand, was such an entirely different species. When game hackers found additional characters and character color pallets locked on the disc, Capcom’s next cross-over jewel quickly became an unremarkable lump of coal for consumers. The outrage of having to pay more for disk-locked content was more than enough merit for gamers to return the game.

The concern for gamers buying a game, playing through it and quickly selling it away to a friend or to retail is in the right place and so is the replayability via DLC solution. However, it’s imperative for publishers and developers to understand that gamers have a right to sell back their games that they no longer want, regardless of whether or not a game deserves longer gameplay.

It’s really sad to see companies whine about gamer’s right to engage in second-hand transactions, because if the tables were turned on them, they’d do exactly the same thing and with exactly the same sentiment. Games aren’t cheap, so if time and resources are spent on something that could have been enjoyable, but turned out to be poop, then when what right do publishers and developers have to blame gamers?

Of course, everyone is different and whether or not someone loves or abhors a highly recommended game is subjective. Still, they have that right to take back something that they feel doesn’t meet their standards or if they simply have no use for it anymore after having their playing experience. Individuals within the gaming community have since stood their ground and expressed their opinions on the matter, and so have I. I feel for gamers, but I also feel for retail stores that sell them and open the opportunity for their customers to sell them back. We can chat all day about how bad Gamestop’s customer service is, but so long as gamers have the option to do whatever they want with the games they buy, retail companies that thrive off of their right will remain.

However, that could all very well change if a certain patent that allowed for ID disc locking to consoles end up taking effect. Rumors speculate that it won’t, but even though Sony has this idea up in the air, there’s no telling how Microsoft will approach the matter, especially with recently leaked information about online only gaming.