It's something of a line in the metaphorical sand by a lot of reports, but what if there were a way to keep gamers, and keep gamers happy, while still getting rid of the used and rental game markets? That sounds like a tall order, but recent developments may well show the way.
started offering up a sales on some of their older titles for digital download. Much of the old Halo series was on hand--"Halo: Reach", "Halo 3" and "Halo Wars" came in for $9.99, while even "Halo 4
" was offered up at $39.99. It got better from there, as the original "Bioshock
" got in on the action at $5.99, and "El Shaddai" got in at $2.99. "Tomb Raider: Legend", "Rayman: Raving Rabbids"...there were plenty of titles that were looking to get in on the action.
With this particular spate of discounts, Microsoft may well have found the means to keep gamers happy despite the loss of their used game capability. See, in the past, Microsoft was not exactly great on discounts. Microsoft would sell games at near-retail prices long after most every other store had slashed prices. Worse, the other stores would sell discs, while Microsoft was selling downloads. Public perception was not the greatest--everyone knew that it was cheaper to sell games as downloads, so what was the point of the elevated pricing?--but now, Microsoft has discovered what Steam has known for years: cheap, slightly older games are a draw. Like nobody's business, they're a draw.
But by like token, Microsoft needs to build on this. It needs to offer those discounted games more often, and closer to the games' original release date, if it's going to pull the plug on the used and rental game market. Gamers turn to used games and rental games to save money; if Microsoft can offer up that same savings on recently released--and here I figure six months to a year after release on every title--then it will provide that savings impact the gamers want without having to allow used game stores and video rental stores to exist at all.
The question remains, however, if Microsoft will continue with this course, or if this is simply a temporary aberration. If it continues, then Microsoft may well have found the perfect solution to taking out the used game market once and for all, without watching many of its gamers head for Sony devices. Only time will tell if this is the ultimate route taken, but it's certainly not out of line.