After Microsoft changed its DRM policy, the so-called XboxOne80, the internet exploded. Industry veterans, gaming journalists, gamers; everyone had something to say. Who rejoiced for the recovered mental sanity at Microsoft, who screamed in frustration for the future of the industry and the business, and the average gamer who maybe will rethink about his/her future purchase. You can find every possible thought on the matter online. It’s always good to listen every opinion.
Let me tell you this is how a “fair” market works. Fair in inverted commas because in reality there is no such thing, but here we will stick to the practical consequences.
Industry veteran Cliff Bleszinski was very clear about his ideas on the matter on his Twitter, so was gaming journalist Jim Sterling and YouTube personality AngryJoe, to name a few. The first sees the end of the DRM policy as a tragedy for the industry, the others as a normal evolution of the market behind customers’ choices. Speaking of business we are in a market where the demand makes the supply. Apple can afford to decide the supply and then the consumer will demand everything they show because their products have become a status-symbol. If you want to argue that Microsoft tried to differentiate the product’s supply available in the market; yes, you’re right. But there’s good and bad variety.
If you introduce something people want you’ll become the leading producer in that market, if you introduce some restrictions for the customers they will go elsewhere with their money, where there will be no such things. In this case towards Sony and the PS4. Leaving behind fanboys and loyalism, speaking of an informed customer that wants to spend his money in the most clever way possible, he will weigh up only the core features of a product. What is happening is the natural shaping of a market, if Microsoft would have introduced some new feature which could have enhanced the player experience, instead of trying to forbid everything you do with a product you already bought once, maybe we will be talking about its decisions with an all new point of view. The reason Microsoft changed its policy was dictated by the fact that the consumers wanted to pay only once for a game and they wanted to do everything that comes to mind with it. The demand shapes the supply.
The suits in a room with a big rectangular table and leather chairs saw that the pre-orders will not match the previsions and that the gamers were very loud about their intentions of switching to a console that won’t block everything you want to do unless you pay a fee. The market settled; luckily this is not yet a monopoly, consumers still have a choice and a limited amount of power. We are sick and tired of a market that still pushes out games at a full retail price of $60 with Season Passes and Day-One DLCs. The mobile front is drowned in micro-transactions and the Indie scene is the only safe place for a passionate gamer without thousands of dollars to spend every year on various triple-A games.
The market is not going to sink; and if it will, we will rebuild it. Every market has its second-hand branch, and no one is failing because of that or seeing some profit from it either. You want to make sure developers see money for their work even from the second-hand market? As a publisher open your own retail shop. “Activision Store”, “EA Factory”, “Square Enix Corner”; when we will return our pre-owned games to these stores instead that GameStop or others the profit will go to the developers and the publisher of that video game; they may even get other publishers pre-owned cut if they sell not only their video games. And now let the lawyers jump to each other’s throat. See? Even I can come up with some crazy ideas; that doesn’t mean I’m going to reveal them at a press conference like an innovative way of selling video games. I’ll love to see some competition, and different prices, too. Because without an intermediary the price has to drop. But if the digital distribution has taught us something is that it doesn’t work this way. I mean with Steam and GOG.com it works, but not with Origin or with the consoles’ services of games-on-demand. But it’s a lesson for us not to trust all major companies when they offer us revolutionary services or products. Because if they want to revolutionize they also want even more not-so-revolutionary, old-fashioned cash.
Let me get this straight I really respect the hard work of the developers, I’m not saying they have to deal with it, they deserve every single penny; the publishers that are making millions and still complaining about it have to find a way to make it work. And if they want to innovate maybe they should try not to screw us in the process. When it happens, we will listen, and if we like it we will embrace it with a smile. As long as we, as consumers, will still have some decision-making power, trough our wallets, the so-called “voting with your feet” economic rule, about the features we want in our consoles, or gaming devices in general, there’s still hope.
When the great multinationals will say to us what we want, and we won’t have the power or will to say no, well, all those post-apocalyptic video games we love so much have become a reality. Let’s not make it happen.