Denis Dyack has been invested in the gaming industry for a long time. He founded Silicon Knights in 1992, and has visited the highs and lows of success and defeat often, from Eternal Darkness to Too Human. Dyack has always made his thoughts known, though not always with poise, and now he warns us that there may not be an industry soon due to used games.
"If used games continue the way that they are, it's going to cannibalize, there's not going to be an industry. People won't make those kinds of games. So I think that's inflated the price of games, and I think that prices would have come down if there was a longer tail, but there isn't."
Dyack's belief is that in the past, used games were not prevalent, and so game releases would have a "tail" of profit. This "recurring revenue" was important for companies to continue to create games over extended time-periods. It allowed developers to take risks, because they would have a library of games still providing funds 10-20 years after release.
"Now there is no tail. Literally, you will get most of your sales within three months of launch, which has created this really unhealthy extreme where you have to sell it really fast and then you have to do anything else to get money."
The result for consumers is varied, whether it be higher prices, toxic DRM, or DLC. Though Dyack's true source of dismay could be that publishers won't fund games unless they have a short development period and guaranteed profits. Think Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted, Mass Effect, and other highly profitable properties.
Six years ago Dyack guaranteed a Too Human trilogy. It was to be his magnum opus, his greatest work, but after poor sales the trilogy may never continue. Four years ago Dyack promised a new franchise unlike anything we had seen before, but all Silicon Knights has released since is X-Men: Destiny. Recently Silicon Knights has been racked with layoffs, due to a cancelation of a project by Activision. The status of Silicon Knights may or may not be relevant to this conversation, or it could be the root of it.
Dyack has a new project in the works for next generation systems. And when that game is released, its quality won't be determined by used game sales of Silicon Knights library, but by the passion and dedication of its developers.