A battle is brewing over used-game sales. THQ has begun gating multiplayer access to some new games with one-time codes that effectively lock out second-hand buyers. Cory Ledesma, one of the publisher's creative directors, was unapologetic when questioned about the issue by CVG:
I don't think we really care whether used game buyers are upset because new game buyers get everything. So if used game buyers are upset they don't get the online feature set I don't really have much sympathy for them.
That's a little blunt but we hope it doesn't disappoint people. We hope people understand that when the game's bought used we get cheated.
He has a point. As Penny Arcade echoes, neither publishers nor developers see a dime from used-game sales. The folks who buy second-hand aren't really their customers in the strictest sense.
One could argue that publishers and developers have already been paid once with the initial sale, but there's a bigger picture to consider. Retailers are increasingly buying up used games to sell to their customers. Gamestop has been doing this for years, and it's now been joined by Target and Best Buy.
Digital distribution systems like Steam skirt the issue entirely, and they may well be the future for the PC and consoles. Such services do cut retailers out of the loop, which may be why they're getting into the used-game business in the first place.