New Resident Evil Title Allows Just One Save--Ever

When it comes to video game sales, there's no love lost between game publishers and game retailers--particularly GameStop. Nearly half (48.1 percent) of GameStop's profits come from sales of used games. The company's entire business model is built around the acquisition and sale of previously owned games.

Such sales are pure profit to the company. GameStop has never released an estimate of how often the same copy of a game passes through a store, but the combination of a popular title and good location could easily lead to multiple resales.

Game publishers hate the fact that they're completely cut off from this revenue stream; a member of Lionhead Studios made headlines last May when he declared used game sales cause more financial damage than game piracy. This is arguably true, provided we assume that people who steal games wouldn't have bought them if the free copy wasn't available. Those who buy used games are demonstrating a willingness to pay for a product--but the people who created it aren't being compensated. It should also be noted that the majority of game publishers and studios don't seem to be against the inherent existence and resale of used games--their gripe is that they have no share of the proceeds.  

Here's where Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D ties in. The new 3DS title, according to Capcom, has a unique 'feature:' It can't be reset. How much this matters depends on what sort of game features the player cares about. "The Mercenaries" title refers to stand-alone arcade-style mini-missions that can be completed for time, high scores, or achievements. There's no campaign as such, which means gamers who pick the title up second-hand aren't technically missing out on anything. The minigames themselves originally shipped with RE4 and RE5.

When Eurogamer asked Capcom to explain why the company had chosen to damage the game's resale value, the company responded: "The game's value at second-hand in the UK is not affected by whether or not the game can have its data reset. Customers in the UK will not experience a reduced second-hand value should they wish to trade in their purchase."

We call bullsquid.

This is precisely what it looks like:  Capcom is testing the waters to see what the blowback will be and to what degree their decision will have on the game's primary and secondary sales. The company's frustration is absolutely understandable, but its attempt to limit the game's resale value will hit Resident Evil enthusiasts first, GameStop second. Maybe game developers and publishers deserve a share of used game sales--but gamers shouldn't be the ones being punished.