This week in Thursday quotes we look at how Mike Kennedy was trying to save the video game industry from itself.
This was during the era of online passes in games.
How did he intend to do it?
Mike wanted his video games to be around forever, like the Atari cartridges he had that still work 30 years after they were made, he wanted the same to be true of modern games. He was angry about the industry adopting the digital download rather than providing a physical copy of a game that he could keep on his shelf and play in 30 years time.
He was also trying to tap into the used game market and take a slice of that annual $2 billion market.
EA, Ubisoft and other companies were trying something called the online pass. This meant that if a customer bought a new video game and played it, it would forever be locked to their own account, meaning they could never trade it in as nobody else would be able to play it.
“An online pass is a digital rights management system for restricting access to supplemental functionality in a product by using a single-use serial number. Online passes are primarily intended to hinder or discourage the second-hand sale of a product, and to allow the producer of a product to still return profits from second-hand copies of the product.”
This tactic was aimed at companies like GameStop, and if Mike got his own company off the ground, it would affect his business too, and he was depsperate to avoid that of course.
“Alongside downloadable content, online passes add an additional revenue stream which can be used to make up for profits lost through second-hand sales, and encourage players to buy games new at retail so they do not have to pay extra to access the game’s full content. Supporters of online passes and publishers using them argue that requiring buyers of used games to pay extra for access to online content and services is a more fair system for paying the costs required to maintain online resources. Opponents contend that adoption of online pass systems may lead to removing more essential functionality from used games and possibly even preventing the resale of video games.
Mike was vehement in his opposition to the online pass and had this to say.
They are LYING to you. Do not fall for it. It is all a bunch of lies and manipulation.
Customer feedback meant that companies had no option but to make a U-turn and cancel their ongoing plans for online passes which had angered their customers to the extent that they planned to boycott companies that used them. Mike was still angry about digital downloads though, and wanted to return to an era of video games on cartridges that he could sell in a variety of colours and charging more for copies with low serial numbers, attempting to create collectability.
The culture is changing, and a lot of what was fun and cool about game ownership is all going away.