Epic Games frontman Cliff Bleszinski thinks that the industry is rightly “scared” of used game sales – but that punishing the people who buy them isn’t the way to go.

In case you haven’t noticed, the pre-owned game trade has become a bit of a hot topic in the industry lately. Publishers and developers see no money from used game sales, but retailers like GameStop that encourage it defend the practice, saying that it lets consumers purchase more games.

One increasingly-common solution is EA’s “Project Ten Dollar” approach, which gives people who buy new games free DLC that otherwise must be purchased for about $10. It encourages people to buy the game new, and lets the publisher get some money even from pre-owned buyers – and similar plans have been adopted (or considered) by EA Sports, Ubisoft, and Sega.

But in an interview with Joystiq about Gears of War 3, Epic Games headliner Cliff(y B)leszinski said that he and his company weren’t sure if they necessarily wanted to follow suit with taking things away from the people who bought the game pre-owned.

“We want to find ways to positively incentivize first-time buyers to pick up the game new. Penalizing is not the best way to deal with things like that. You attract more flies with honey than with vinegar,” said Bleszinski.

That doesn’t mean that he’s unsympathetic to the problem of other developers, though. “[The industry] is nervous, right? It’s very scared about used game sales.” Gears is renowned for its multiplayer experience, but Bleszinski acknowledged that other genres carried additional risks. “I wouldn’t want to make a horror game right now – that’s only single-player – because a lot of players are like, ‘I rented it.'”

“You want to make a game that has a great single-player experience, but continues online, continues to breath.” But, on the other hand, punching in a 15-digit code every time you get a new game gets old, he said. “I put the game in and just ignore the code. It could be like free beer for life and I’d be like ‘whatever.’ So there’s got to be other ways to do it. We’ll see.”

I dunno, Cliffy. If it were free beer for life, I think I’d go through the trouble, personally.

Free beer aside, the man has a point, and I think lots of gamers would agree that punishing pre-owned buyers doesn’t feel right. But the trouble is, how do you do that without DLC codes and the like?


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