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Nintendo Wipes Out Wii Speak Resale Value

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 9 comments

While it’s no secret that gaming publishers and developers detest used game sales, Nintendo apparently wants to stomp out the business by making hardware sales permanent.

According to MTV Multiplayer, Nintendo’s first step into squashing out used games sales is through the release of the upcoming Wii Speak headset. Apparently, the peripheral comes with a sixteen-digit code - or rather a "Wii Download Ticket Number" - required to unlock the Wii Speak channel. Without the channel installed onto the console, the Wii Speak microphone is useless. The catch is that the code can only be used once, and Nintendo clearly states in fine print that it has no plans to re-issue codes.

So what does this mean to gamers? The Wii Speak peripheral cannot be sold used, and those who initially buy it new and thus lose the number are stuck with the useless thing forever. "A Nintendo rep further clarified to me that the channel won’t be able to be downloaded through any other means," wrote MTV Multiplayer’s Stephen Totilo. "You won’t be able to get it off the Wii Shopping Channel manually, nor would you be able to buy it. Essentially, the Wii Speak Channel will be available to new purchasers of the Wii Speak mic and that’s it."

While it’s no secret that publishers and developers want to cash in on used games sales, Nintendo is one of the first to address the hardware aspect. However, just last week Epic Games’ president Michael Capps spoke out about used games and rentals, saying that some developer comrades were pondering over the idea of making end-game battles downloadable content to purchase, thus forcing the "secondary market" to shell out bucks nevertheless. Thus, the company released Gears of War 2 with a special download code for five classic maps that can be used only once.

But if Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft decide to address hardware sales as well, that may ultimately hinder overall sales of gaming equipment, forcing gamers to decide if the purchase is worth a lifetime commitment. After all, most consumers are accustomed to "upgrading" hardware by bringing the equipment in to retails shops such as EB Games and GameStop and receiving a credit towards the purchase of a newer model. These retail outlets in turn also depend on the sales these used games and equipment, as all profits go straight to the company, and do not filter down to manufacturers. A new copy of Alone in the Dark Inferno will sell for $50 when released this Tuesday, yet EB Games will purchase a used copy for $19 and re-sell the game for $45. That’s $26 Atari will never see.

But if the industry moves to digital distribution, local used game stores and industry giants like EB Games will face a huge crunch in numbers, possibly closing some retail outlets altogether. But publishers and developers couldn’t care less: they just want to see green, and Bungie’s audio director Marty O’Donnell hinted to that when talking about used games sales hurt the Halo franchise.

"It’s hard to gauge the effect of used game sales on Halo, but I’m sure it’s big," O’Donnell commented. "Complaining about sales when you have a multi-million seller is somewhat difficult to justify, but it seems to me that the folks who create and publish a game shouldn’t stop receiving income from further sales."

He’s correct in that aspect, and perhaps in the near future there can exist a happy medium for gamers who purchase hardware and software new, and for those who like to wait to pick up the items at a cheaper price. Perhaps the answer to the whole deal is to simply cut the retail cost of everything, then perhaps said companies could rack in sales where otherwise would go to other outlets.

But locking consumers to the hardware they purchase? That’s just crazy, and apparently Nintendo has no problem forcing consumers to shell out $30 for a microphone that will eventually become useless. Let’s hope that the auto industry doesn’t catch on and force consumers to keep their cars forever and ever.

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  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 18 November 2008 17:52
    Why do software developers and publishers think this is a reasonable way of doing business? For example, if I were a carpenter and made a chair for someone, I would sell it to them and it would belong to them. Now I can ask for patents etc that would prevent anyone else from copying my work or using my ideas in my fantastic new chair design, but I would never expect to gain returns from any future selling of that individual chair. Why are game companies any different?!
  • 0 Hide
    kyzarvs , 18 November 2008 18:19
    I still don't see how the gaming (or music, or film) industry manages to justify that one pirate or resold copy = one lost sale.

    Gamers don't buy second-hand games because they need another 5 copies of a game they already have - they buy them because they have other priorities for their cash and won't / can't spring for the new price. There is no lost sale as there never would have been a sale in the first place.

    What there is is a tiny percentage of recycling by selling the media on to someone else - manufacturers may not like it, but if it's such an issue for them they need to re-release games quickly on their budget labels at reduced price to capture that market surely?

    If a Wii breaks and is replaced under warranty, will they receive a new Wii speak as well?
  • 0 Hide
    waxdart , 18 November 2008 23:34

    Buy a new game $50 or
    buy a second-hand game for £45 and save $5

    Buy a new game $50 sell it back for $19. Game costs $31

    Why are people buying the second-hand ones? They are $14 more???
    Did I miss something?

  • Display all 9 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    rtfm , 19 November 2008 00:16
    Thanks Nintendo, this will only drive piracy further forward and criminalise innocent customers. Idiots. Do they really believe their magic code won't be cracked in a couple of hours and distributed all over the internet.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 19 November 2008 04:50
    actually imagine if car companies did force you to keep your car forever! Presuming they didn't put their prices drastically down, than myself (and many others) or can't ever afford to spend more than £1000 max on a used card would have to use public transport. The sheer number of people demanding it might actually make it good, and car companies might lose new sales to people that choose the alternatives.

    While that is of course a fantasy, there is a truth here. I can't always afford new games or consoles. So i buy second-hand mostly (ebay) and buy a few new ones a year. This keeps my interest levels up. If I had to buy new all the time, I would have less games and probably lose interest and stop buying entirely. Also, if I couldn't borrow games from friends, I would never have started gaming. They are gonna lose out if they try this.
  • 0 Hide
    Flakes , 19 November 2008 04:59
    what i dont get is this, used sales hurt the industry, ok...
    used sales is were most outlets make there money...
    if outlets cant resell games, the outlets will go bankrupt...
    wont that hurt the industry more?
  • 0 Hide
    americanbrian , 19 November 2008 05:15
    @ waxdart,

    2 things.

    1. If nobody buys the used games they can't sell it back to the shop as there is no market for it.

    2. If you buy the used game for $45 and sell it after the 2 days it takes to complete the scripted crappy game for $19 you have only paid $26 for the game. STILL $5 bucks cheaper.

  • 0 Hide
    waxdart , 19 November 2008 15:26
    americanbrian >
    Fair point - well made. I'm not too sure what game we are talking about, but it sounds like it sucks. People cant get rid of it fast enough! :) 

    Flakes > It will all go on-line soon enough. No need for brick stores. No resale market either, as you will not be able to share the files.
    Not too sure how a Granny will buy a game as a gift when all this happens. A lost sale right there.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 19 November 2008 16:14
    "If I had to buy new all the time, I would have less games and probably lose interest and stop buying entirely"

    This makes the games console less value for money (cost/game including console is much higher) therefore less people buy the console. Nintendo et al make less money. Do they not see that this is the logical conclusion?

    This reminds me of my early PC gaming days. A group of us would chip in for a game, then take turns in taking it home and playing it. I was about 10 years old at the time. If the game had been locked to 1 PC, we could not have done this, and they would have lost a sale. NOT gained sales, but lost, because we sure as hell couldnt afford a £30-40 brand new game EACH, but a £5-10 for a share of the game was acceptable.