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Posts Tagged ‘ECA’

r u thereLate last week,  the Entertainment Consumers Association’s Facebook friends and members received a note from the ECA asking them to personalize and send this form letter to President Obama, outlining the merits of our hobby and urging him to stop saying “parents need to put away the videogames” anytime he addresses moderation for America’s youth:

We’re asking you to speak out now and put a positive face on our community. Make sure to let the President know what we experience every day. Take a moment and make your voice heard.

Brett Schenker, Online Advocacy Manager
Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA)

I’m glad to see the ECA take the advocacy reigns on this issue, even though their timing leaves a little bit to be desired.  Plenty of qualified voices (along with, um, me) raised this PR-cum-political issue during the election, so a grassroots push may have had more resonance with mainstream media when it was in the national spotlight then.

obama comicAs I said in my post around the election, Obama’s really not going after the industry in a mean or vindictive way.  He’s calling attention to a parenting issue.  And as both a soon-to-be-parent and passionate gamer, the concept of a balanced media diet is not only valid, it’s critical to me.  He’s just using (and continues to reuse) an unfortunate shorthand when talking about it.

I try to keep the political commentary to a minimum around here, at least until Politico violates the deal and starts publishing non-sequitor pictures of El Caminos and semi-weepy thought pieces about first person shooters.  But if you’re reading this, you probably care about videogames.  Take a minute to send in the letter, once, so you can at least say you did what you could to protect our favorite pastime.

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el-camino-back“Chicken or the Egg?”  “El Camino – car or truck?”  “Used games – great for building audience, or scourge that will bring down the industry?”  These are all Sisyphus-ian questions that only get more divisive with educated conversation.

The heat got turned up on the used games issue this week, with Amazon’s announcement of their new used games trade-in program.  Gamestop stock immediately plummeted 14% on the news, and then the real fireworks started.

Dave Perry, a guy whose opinion I respect, named names and called out the ECA on not addressing the issue with big retailers.  Dave Jaffe and GamePolitics’ Dennis McCauley also weighed in, at opposite sides of the spectrum.  Let’s face it, this issue has been simmering for over a decade now.

I hardly ever buy used, simply because I’m usually buying on release day.  I’m willing to bet this is true for most hardcore gamers.  But as Nintendo has proven time and time again in the last 3 years, casual gamers are a much bigger audience.  And there’s no way a parent will choose a $60 brand new game over a $45 used copy of the same title that’s guaranteed to work, and is available at the same store.

It would be easy to say that all this hand wringing and carrying on is worthless.  After all, used games is an issue that WILL go away eventually.  When was the last time you bought a CD?

But the seismic shift in audience we’ve seen over the last few years means the switch to all-downloadable will be even harder to flip.  Before, we could count on at least a healthy majority of console owners being tech saavy, early adopter types.  But the more casual gamers, and the people (read: parents) that make those purchasing decisions expect to walk in to a brick-and-mortar retailer or hop onto a site like Amazon and get a physical piece of media at the end of that process.  You can’t put a download-only title under the tree on Christmas morning.

For the time being, we will have to continue putting games on discs, putting discs in boxes, and relying on retail to move them off shelves.  And like it or not, there will be SOME form of reconsumption without any additional compensation to the developer.  Especially in rough economic times.  Even if the ECA strikes an unbelievable deal with every retailer under the sun tomorrow, you’ll still have rental, players swapping games with each other, and E-Bay for starters.

gta-lnd1The onus on developers is to build additional value into new copies, and create compelling downloadable content that can generate revenue from used game purchasers.  Microsoft Game Studios was really on to something when they packaged each new copy of Gears of War 2 with a unique, one-time-only redemption code for downloadable maps.  And GTAIV’s Lost and the Damned DLC will no doubt generate a ton of revenue for Rockstar, from both owned-it-since-launch-day die hards and used game bargain hunters that just picked it up this week.

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