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A new rumor that sprung up late last week says that the new Playstation console, reportedly called “Orbis,” may include software preventing gamers from playing used titles or require them to pay a fee to do so by limiting the number of times the game can be installed on a console. Some PC games developers are already doing this in the form of activation limits. If the rumor turns out to be true, protests look to be on the horizon, but gamers will not be alone in these complaints.
GameStop, one of the leading video game store chains, generates 42% of its profit from selling used games. If the company does put a stop to this flow of cash and alienate gamers, Sony will likely be hurting only themselves.
Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said, “It isn’t really in Sony’s or Microsoft’s best interests to block used games. It would benefit Activision and EA slightly, and would hurt GameStop a great deal. If Sony unilaterally did this, I could see GameStop refusing to carry their console, and sales of the PS4 would therefore suffer.”
Although the Orbis would still be readily available, the percentage of people who shop at GameStop is too high of a number to ignore. Many would likely switch to Microsoft or Nintendo consoles for the sake of convenience, especially considering the number of multi-platform games released in recent years.
David Cole of DFC Intelligence, a strategic market research and consulting firm focused on video games, remarked, “A system that tried to stop used game sales would probably turn off the core consumers that rush to trade in their old product to buy new product. In other words, I don’t think it would do so well in the core market.”
Many gamers are already showing disgust over game developers adding downloadable content (DLC) purchasable online for a fee as opposed to including the content in the game free of extra cost. Blocking used games would further enrage them. Even fans that have been with the company since Playstation’s original release could refuse to purchase the Orbis over the matter, regardless of the quality of games on the console.
“Customers would rebel. Until there’s the equivalent of a great ‘used’ digital console game trade-in program up and running, gamers will continue to like the ability to trade in discs and basically get discounts on other games,” Cole commented.
Pachter said he does not think Sony will actually go through with the plan. “If one does it and the others don’t, the one who does it will see a loss of market share,” he said. He also remarked that he thought none of the big three console makers “are stupid enough to do this unilaterally” and none of them “are evil enough to do it together.”
Although it is still too early to see if these rumors will amount to something, one thing is certain: if Sony actually does incorporate this feature into Orbis, they’ll be doing massive damage to themselves.
Image Courtesy of nic0