Saturday, July 14, 2007

Game Trials, Rentals, Re-sales: Good or Bad?

The debate never ends. Some argue that all of these allow gamers to get 'free goods' without buying and thus negatively impact sales (the 'Why give away the cow?' crew). The proponents argue that these things ease people into purchases, attract more gamers to the fold, and let gamers spend more dollars because they feel their dollar go further (the "Spread the love" crew).

The argument comes up in discussion of rental or subscription to retail games as well as in discussion of free web-based casual games and other casual games distribution mechanisms.

I've blogged about this debate before, and how other industries might give us pointers.

On that note, two related pieces of research popped onto the radar today:

For the Nays: This piece of research on radio's effect on music sales, concluding that radio play does NOT boost sales of recorded music, and in fact may do the opposite. (As a side note, I am personally VERY skeptical of this peice of research. It seems to jump very quickly to support an argument for music licensors charging license fees to radio stations for airplay. I do wonder whether it has some bias behind it.)

And in the other corner: This post from Freakonomics on Libraries. While it doesn't argue that libraries are good for book sales, it does point out that books still sell despite them. It also asks out the provocative question "If libraries didn't exist, could you start one today?", concluding that the publishing industry would likely attempt to quash such an effort or at least shackle it with a license fee structure. I think most would agree that libraries are good for society and good for culture, and that they haven't yet killed the publishing industry. (Oh, and be sure to read the comment thread. There are some links to a number of cool things including some examples of people that ARE in fact starting libraries today, on the web)

Anyhow, there you have it. Arguments to back up whichever side of the debate you are on. Please ignore the other one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Scott Miller had a
good discussion about game rentals a while back. Mainly dealing with how games are much shorter than they used to be and how movies essentially have two releases (theaters and dvd).

Of course with consoles becoming more connected and bandwidth increasing all the time this will likely become irrelevant in the future. XBox Live and the other consoles online stores certainly seems to be taking the first step towards this. Wonder how many console generations we have left before you can't buy games in a store anymore. Retailers aren't going to like that. Retailers could still sell a code that allows you access to the game but the loss in sales would be huge.

Of course that's treading into territory that the ps3 was supposedly testing earlier of locking games to the consoles (which didn't go over well). Doesn't seem like users are having a problem with xbox live games and the like though (although I've heard of problems after replacing your console when it breaks). I suppose it's just the built in mentality that physical media should be shareable.