As part of a new Gamasutra feature interview, Frontier Developments' David Braben (Elite, Kinectimals) tells Gamasutra that the used game market keeps prices high and is even destroying the single-player form.
"The real problem when you think about it brutally, if you look at just core gamer games, pre-owned has really killed core games. In some cases, it's killed them dead. I know publishers who have stopped games in development because most shops won't reorder stock after initial release, because they rely on the churn from the resales," says Braben.
"It's killing single player games in particular, because they will get preowned, and it means your day one sales are it, making them super high risk. I mean, the idea of a game selling out used to be a good thing, but nowadays, those people who buy it on day one may well finish it and return it."
"People will say 'Oh well, I paid all this money and it's mine to do with as I will', but the problem is that's what's keeping the retail price up -- prices would have come down long ago if the industry was getting a share of the resells," Braben claims.
"Developers and publishers need that revenue to be able to keep doing high production value games, and so we keep seeing fewer and fewer of them," he says.
He should know. His studio's own project, The Outsider is in limbo -- because it's a story-based single player game, he says.
"The fundamental nature of it is of a story-based game, and from a design point of view, the story itself doesn't lend itself very well to being a multiplayer game other than as a tacked-on affair, which we've seen with quite a few games, and it's not generally worked."
"It just becomes a higher and higher risk... But justifying that is much harder at the moment," says Braben.
The full interview, in which he discusses his studio's work with the Kinect and why core gamers shouldn't fear the encroachment of casual titles on consoles, is live now on Gamasutra.