Live 365 Subscription Sign of Industry Wide Trend

Posted November 10th, 2008 at 4:46 pm

While NBA Live 09’s 365 feature is free to those who purchase the game new with the code that is included in the packaging, much discussion has taken place regarding how those who pick up the game used need to purchase the code separately ($10) in order to access the feature. Over the past couple years the industry has been looking at ways to reduce the negative effect that the used game market is having on them.

The structure of how EA is offering 365 is one way to accomplish that and we are seeing it with other games as well. Even more recently Gears of War 2 launched with a pack-in code to download five exclusive maps. Earlier today the head of Epic (Mike Capps) commented on the situation.

“The secondary market is a huge issue in the United States. Our primary retailer makes the majority of its money off of secondary sales, and so you’re starting to see games taking proactive steps toward that by… if you buy the retail version you get the unlock code,” he said.

I’ve talked to some developers who are saying ‘If you want to fight the final boss you go online and pay USD 20, but if you bought the retail version you got it for free’. We don’t make any money when someone rents it, and we don’t make any money when someone buys it used – way more than twice as many people played Gears than bought it.”

While that is an extreme example it does make a lot of sense for the companies to offer incentive to purchase the game. Used sales eat away at their revenues as those are (in many cases) lost sales of new copies. It seems most people are accepting of the way Live 365 was offered given the circumstances of the industry today. What is interesting about Live 365 is that it provides something new throughout the year not only giving reason to buy it new but could very well lead to gamers remaining interested in it longer meaning less used copies in circulation. This is a topic that gaming companies will continue to explore going forward and it appears we’re just seeing the beginning of how they plan to address the issue.