After reading the opinion article by Ryan Turk titled "Future game consoles bring new problems" in the Nov. 30 paper, several things stuck out to me enough to warrant a response.
First, I find the word "rumor" precisely once in the entire article, despite the fact that every "known" feature of the next wave of game consoles from Microsoft and Sony is either a rumor or pure speculation at this point. But the author writes the article as if these rumors are iron-clad facts and I think it is very likely readers would come away incorrectly assuming those things were true.
The reality is that there have been contradictory leaks and rumors about the consoles. I have seen everything from the next Xbox having no disk drive to it having a Blu-Ray player. And it is unlikely plans are even finalized at Sony or Microsoft yet with regards to features and hardware specs.
Second, I would suggest to both the author and readers interested in gaming to look at the current state of the PC gaming market, where selling used games has long been very difficult at best.
Digital distribution has already taken over thanks to services like Valve's Steam, EA's Origin, and even Gamestop's own Impulse. And yet somehow PC gaming is exploding right now, despite having almost no retail shelf presence in stores like Gamestop.
If you want to save money on buying old-but-still-good games, look no farther than Steam, which regularly has huge sales. Just this past weekend, I bought an expansion to Empire: Total War for $2.50, marked down from its usual $10 price and there were many other games marked down by 50 to 75 percent.
So, the solution for publishers and developers to combat used game sales already exists — selling the old game digitally at vastly reduced prices — and is having stunning success. And because digital distribution is actually much cheaper than physical media, publishers get a higher percentage of the game's cost and can thus charge lower prices, while still making the same amount of profit in the end.
Third, I'd argue that being assured that having every game I purchase on Steam digitally tied to my account — so I can re-download it whenever I want — is a much better value than having my $60 tied to a disk that can be easily lost or damaged. Of course, this is my opinion and other may value having the physical disc more.The point is that this is not a zero-sum game; both formats can be successful.
Fourth, it is in our best interest as gamers to ensure that the publishers and developers of the games we love get rewarded for their work and investment. The current used-game market gives the actual creators of games no money after the initial sale.
We should be supporting ways to both get old games at reduced prices and ensure developers make enough money to create the next great game rather than just fueling Gamestop's profits. The real question is do we want our gaming dollars to go to middle men or the actual content creators?
Finally, let me conclude by saying that the author's outrage over rumored features of unannounced gaming consoles is unwarranted at this time because we know next to nothing about them.
But let's indulge in some speculation.
It seems highly unlikely Microsoft and Sony will "kill" physical media in the upcoming generation; let's not forget not everyone in the world has an Internet connection as fast as Virginia Tech's. What's more likely is there will be more emphasis on allowing day-one digital downloads of new games alongside the physical launch.
But saying anything for certain about the next consoles from Microsoft and Sony is, at this point, premature.