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Xbox One: why single-use codes are good for indie games

Are single-use codes the worst idea Microsoft had so far? Yes! It´s Zune-tastic. But this move by Microsoft opens some great opportunities for indie game developers.
[original blog post]

Are single-use codes the worst idea Microsoft had so far?
Yes! It´s Zune-tastic


Stop Thief

There is nothing wrong about making money with games. It´s true that neither publishers nor Console makers are earning anything on the resale of a game. So why is this good for indie games?

As indie developers we should be very interested to reach out to our community and be part of them. We are gamers that make games for other gamers - out of passion, out of love and to earn some cash. So with single-use codes Microsoft is driving more people towards indie games. Maybe not on their console system, where the same rules apply - indie or not. But on all the other device. And these are much much larger markets than consoles could ever be. But why should indie games be in favor of used games?

Used games keep the community alive
Many gamers, me included, wait till they get a cheaper used copy of the game till they get in on the action. By doing so, they support the long tail for the game and keep it´s community fresh, active and vibrant. This in turn encourages older players to stay online. It also encourages new players to buy the game, as there still is an active community. But what about single player games?

DLCs to the rescue
Both single- and multi-player games have DLCs, IAPs and other additional content. This is a good opportunity to earn some cash from second hand players. But the second hand players will also strengthen the marked for the new and old players. Who buys DLCs for a dead game? With a community still alive and active, you can sell more DLCs and other content over a longer time

Tell a friend...
While second hand gamers might not buy the game from you, they will spread the word about the game and invite their friends to get that game too. A smart developer would rather encourage to get more players who don't pay but spread the word, than less that pay but end up with a much smaller community. After all, these are all legit and legal players.

Don't beat the hand that feeds you
Punishing and criminalizing your customers never was a good idea. Just like you can re-sell any other product, like cars, tvs, bikes, clothing and books, you have a right to resell your games. A used book is just as good as a new one. By punishing your customers and limiting their right to resell their games, you effectively tell them that they are not your community. They are rather your cash cows that you want to rule, while limiting their rights in all aspects. Not a good idea

Reward and engage
The smart way is to do the opposite of Microsoft now. Pull even more gamers towards indie games:

  • reward original buyers with extra content that is account bound
  • reward long time players in the same way
  • hand out free guest passes and reward active players with them
  • sell bundles and packs to lower original prices and reach more players
  • encourage to re-sell a game - more players, means more IAP and DLC sales
  • make "shared games" that allow players to invite friends on weekends or other days to play with them for free (like a build-in guest pass)
  • enable players to have their friend rent the game, rather then buy it. You get more money and more players for gamers that might otherwise not have considered to buy your games - but limit their account options in turn (for example they might loose their XP when the rental period ends).
The backward  thinking concepts of Microsoft could mean a new age of indie game power coming our way. The more restrictive the big companies get, the better we can reach the market and bring frustrated players where the real fun is: Indie Games!

CC picture by http://www.flickr.com/photos/iamdez/4772972323/

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