Friday, June 21, 2013

Did Sony change video game sales forever?

It was looking like the Xbox One was going to be a flop because of unpopular restrictive policies, such as requiring discs be soulbound to consoles, which prevents both used game sales and loaning games to friends. There was also a system that will lock down the console if it goes for 24 hours without Internet access. The Playstation 4 has no such policies and the public gravitated to Sony immediately.

So cleverly, Microsoft dropped those policies this week. Preorder sales flooded in. It's still up in the air which console, if any, will dominate the market, but now the Xbox One has a fighting chance.

Personally, I'm still annoyed that there is no backwards compatibility.

But what would have happened if Sony had decided to block used game sales for the Playstation 4 as well? I'm not entirely sure, but most likely the Xbox One would have kept its anti-sharing policies and consoles in the next few generations would have blocked sharing and reselling.

That's because there's a prisoners dilemma situation. Both companies believe they will benefit from higher game sales if they block used game purchases, but consumers don't like the limitation and would prefer an unrestricted console. If one console has the restriction and the other doesn't, the customers will go with the unrestricted console.

Like I said, I'm not entirely sure what would have happened. Since the Playstation 4 was announced first, it's possible if Sony announced a restricted console Microsoft could have tweaked its presentation and made the Xbox One unrestricted from the start.

It's also possible that the frequently-discounted Steam digital distribution computer game system from Valve could upset the next generation and the personal computer would be the dominant "console." The funny part of this (likely) scenario is that Steam doesn't allow used game sales or game lending either and requires users to be online any time they want to play.

1 comment:

  1. The free market is wonderful at fixing corporate "bad calls."