The value of downloadable games? (Part 2), and how it'll kill the hobby.

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Retro STrife
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The value of downloadable games? (Part 2), and how it'll kill the hobby.

Postby Retro STrife » October 16th, 2017, 3:20 pm

A bit over 5 years ago I posted a topic in the forums here that was theoretical back then, but is now much closer to becoming a reality, about the future value of downloadable games (Wiiware, Xbox Live, and PSN). With the recent news that the Wiiware service is shutting down, and Astrodomekid's good topic on the subject, I figured it might be timely to revive this old thought. This was the 2012 post:

viewtopic.php?f=5084&t=9721

Summarizing it: The basic premise is that downloadable games eventually disappear forever and cannot be bought and sold on an individual game basis after the servers go down (unlike physical media), which means that, in the future, collectors will have to trade the consoles themselves in order to obtain the games they're looking for. In other words, in 2030, the value of your Wii will depend heavily on which downloadable games you bought on the Wiiware store from 2008-2018.

Safe to say, the used game market of physical media has fueled the hobby that we're all sitting here talking about. But with Wiiware games, they disappear in 2019, and there is no way to create a resale market for the individual games. As I see it, you're only hope is to buy a Wii console that happens to have the game you're looking for on the hard drive. How bad do you want it? In 10 years, could we be seeing an empty Wii selling for $40, while a Wii stocked with just a few good digital titles going for $400?

If you look back at the 2012 posts, you'll see that a good portion of the responses were off-base or off-topic. Maybe that was because I wrote the topic so confusingly, but I also wonder if people just weren't ready yet to wrestle with this future reality. It feels more tangible now.

So, any thoughts on all this? Will your Wiiware addiction make you rich in 2040? Or is there a simple explanation to all this that I'm missing? (Side note, I don't know if emulation is possible for Wiiware games, but I don't count that as a viable alternative for collectors, because most want to avoid emulation.)

Lastly, I hate to be bleak, but something like this shows you that this retro gaming hobby as we know it will die if games go all digital. No two ways about it. Yes, you'll have some old stragglers like us that collect the pre-digital stuff, but there will be no fresh blood in the hobby to keeping it growing unless future adult gamers have physical media from their childhoods to collect. You can't collect digital downloads...

Sut
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Re: The value of downloadable games? (Part 2), and how it'll kill the hobby.

Postby Sut » October 17th, 2017, 8:11 am

Which all rather begs the question does the game industry dislike the collectors ? Or are collectors the collateral damage in the war against used game re-sellers ?

pacman000
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Re: The value of downloadable games? (Part 2), and how it'll kill the hobby.

Postby pacman000 » October 17th, 2017, 9:51 am

Re-sellers are part of the industry, so we can't say that the industry hates collectors.

This is a fight between two parts of an industry; collectors are collateral damage. I doubt the publishers who want to end retail sales think much about the long-term implications of a download-only society. They're like TV networks in the 50's, 60's, or 70's; if a program's recording wasn't profitable for them at the time, there was no reason to keep a copy.

Now historians would like to see early copies of DuMount TV shows or Dr. Who, but they can't; the kinescopes were thrown out years ago, and the tapes were recycled a few months after the program aired. :(

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VideoGameCritic
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Re: The value of downloadable games? (Part 2), and how it'll kill the hobby.

Postby VideoGameCritic » October 17th, 2017, 12:57 pm

The industry wants total control. If you have an actual copy of the game, they don't have that. They want to be able to charge you in exciting new ways - microtransactions, DLC, subscriptions, etc. That way the money just keeps rolling in.

As for game collecting winding down, I think you can make an argument that physical games are about to get a heck of a lot more valuable, considering their are a highly desirable and finite resource.

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Re: The value of downloadable games? (Part 2), and how it'll kill the hobby.

Postby Alucard1191 » October 17th, 2017, 1:26 pm

Agreeing with the VGC on the rarity increasing price. The sega saturn is a pretty good example of this. Some games are genuinely cheap and easy to get, like virtua cop 1 and 2, (both are under $40 currently on ebay) but things like crypt killer, or other more obscure titles are worth 100 or more. That adds up real quick to a collector. My Dusty's softball NES cartridge is worth 50+ on ebay as well, and it's because of the obscurity and the rarity of the physical media.

I'm not sure if things being digital only will kill the hobby. Retro emulation/systems are becoming a thing, and by 2040 I could see a system that had ps3, wii, and 360 all in one, the technology will be there and more by then. There might be retro systems sold with many of these digital games included, across a multitude of systems.

I had fear about losing access to a lot of old games that I own, or wished I owned, on PC. My discs don't work anymore, or they don't run on anything past windows XP, etc. Then GoG.com came out... and that solved that problem.

Something similar might come out for these systems as well. Maybe discs that install the games onto your old wii or something. I think if the market is there, it will happen in some way.

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Re: The value of downloadable games? (Part 2), and how it'll kill the hobby.

Postby VideoGameCritic » October 18th, 2017, 4:14 pm

I found a quote on Slashdot which sums things up nicely:

Linear games don't offer the kind of customer retention that multiplayer online games do. If you can't make your customer base pay for win, over and over and over again, a game is not considered worth developing any more. Today's publishers don't want good games. They want the equivalent of a Las Vegas casino.

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Retro STrife
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Re: The value of downloadable games? (Part 2), and how it'll kill the hobby.

Postby Retro STrife » October 18th, 2017, 6:48 pm

VideoGameCritic wrote:As for game collecting winding down, I think you can make an argument that physical games are about to get a heck of a lot more valuable, considering their are a highly desirable and finite resource.


True, I could see values going up. But think about the impact of digital games on the culture of collecting, which has been doing really well the past several years.. Just look at the tons of new retro gaming conventions and retro gaming stores. You couldn't do that 10 years ago. To me, that signals a lot of growth in the hobby. It's great if that continues.

But I think that that will slowly disappear if games go digital, especially because the hobby is almost entirely dependent on nostalgia. Somewhere today there is a 10 year old playing PS4 in his living room, and in 15 years at age 25 he'll buy his first retro console - a PS4 - just to play it all over again. Maybe he gets bored after a few hours and pawns it, or maybe he'll fall into the wormhole (like us) and start collecting for PS3, Wii U, Xbox, and all the other consoles that will be very "retro" by then. But replaying the games of your youth is almost always the "gateway" that gets the foot in the door to the hobby.

If games go digital, you take away that gateway. So, in 15 years, there will be a 10 year old playing PS6 in his living room... and if the PS6 is all digital, then there will be no way for him to relive those games 15 years later when he is 25. You take away the gateway--by taking away his ability to repurchase those games as an adult--and he never gets hooked enough to fall into the hobby.

As a result, us "old people" who grew up with physical media will keep the hobby going, but you need fresh blood to keep the hobby growing, or even just to sustain it at this level. Some people presume that 25 year olds in 2035 are just gonna be thrilled to collect for the NES out of nowhere, but I can't see it working like that--you need the gateway first.

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Retro STrife
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Re: The value of downloadable games? (Part 2), and how it'll kill the hobby.

Postby Retro STrife » October 18th, 2017, 6:53 pm

Is there any basis to my theory that one day consoles will be bought and sold like games...with values based almost entirely on which digital games are stored on their hard drive? Or is there some way around that? (i.e., like a "multicart" disk that has all the digital games on it). I don't know enough about how digital games work, so I could be totally off base.

I just picture gaming convention tables in like 20 years, where--instead of games--the seller has a bunch of consoles spread out on his table, each with a different price and a list of the games that are on the hard drive...

pacman000
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Re: The value of downloadable games? (Part 2), and how it'll kill the hobby.

Postby pacman000 » October 18th, 2017, 9:05 pm

My gateway was playing my Dad's 2600...

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Re: The value of downloadable games? (Part 2), and how it'll kill the hobby.

Postby ptdebate » October 18th, 2017, 9:14 pm

Retro STrife wrote:Is there any basis to my theory that one day consoles will be bought and sold like games...with values based almost entirely on which digital games are stored on their hard drive? Or is there some way around that? (i.e., like a "multicart" disk that has all the digital games on it). I don't know enough about how digital games work, so I could be totally off base.

I just picture gaming convention tables in like 20 years, where--instead of games--the seller has a bunch of consoles spread out on his table, each with a different price and a list of the games that are on the hard drive...


I don't think it's going to work that way. The games themselves are infinitely redownloadable even after official support stops. In a way, that's when the real fun begins. Today, and even for many years in the past, you can buy a Wii, mod it, and fill up a brand new 2TB external hard drive with more games than you'll ever be able to play in a lifetime. With the primarily digital model, games as a physical, collectible commodity cease to exist. The barrier to access goes down exponentially, but takes with it the nostalgia and fetishization of physical objects. It's not a bad tradeoff, really. You can still collect your retro cartridges - they aren't going away - but discs as a storage medium were bad to begin with (they're already rotting), and couldn't make their exit soon enough.

Make as many backups as you like - hard drives are cheap these days - and you can still play every game ever made for the rest of your life. Or just the good ones. Whichever you like.

And Critic - and others - we're still getting far more bang for our buck with single-player games than we used to. Because the industry is so successful, risk is lower, and developers can afford to take time on projects they care about. Your arguments sound compelling in theory, but they fall apart in reality when you look at modern games that actually exist. The Witcher 3, Divinity: Original Sin, Pillars of Eternity, Gran Turismo, GTA, Zelda, Dark Souls...these games are absolutely busting at the seams with content...You would never have seen anything like this during older generations...it's simply not possible under those limitations.


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