As the war against used game sales heats up, it seems that gamers are the ones caught in the crossfire. When EA announced their “Project $10” initiative to get a slice of the secondary market, gamers were in an uproar. (Some of you may know “Project $10” better as a now common feature in new games: Online Passes.)
The most recent escalation by Capcom makes EA look like a knight in shining armor by comparison. Capcom confirmed today that copies of Resident Evil: Mercenaries for the 3DS will have a single save file for the life of the game card. That save file cannot be erased or altered in any way. Not only does this mean that anyone buying a used copy will have some or all of the game already completed, but you cannot even loan the game to a friend or share with a sibling.
I believe that a line has been crossed. It is one thing for a publisher to attempt to cash in on the extremely lucrative secondary market. It is another to significantly cripple a physical copy of a game such that it’s playability by a second party is greatly diminished. Perhaps Capcom’s philosophy is that a crippled game card is still more transferable than a digital download. Even if this is the case, I do not believe we can excuse this action.
Consumers have come to understand the limitations of purchasing a digital copy of any form of media. Often, the tradeoff is that games are available for a lower cost to compensate. What Capcom fails to comprehend is that there is a psychological difference between how consumers view ownership of a digital copy versus a physical copy. Forcing this shift in perception on gamers has already backfired, as evidenced by the outcry across the Internet today.
Capcom, between your poor support of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, your re-re-release of Street Fighter IV, a nickel-and-dime approach to Dead Rising 2 and, now, this latest affront, you are losing the support of gamers. Those of us who have been fans since Mega Man first’s battle against Dr. Wily on the NES are losing faith, and I think you’ll find the sales of Resident Evil: Mercenaries will reflect that.