In a wide-ranging interview with Crispy Gamer, Hal Halpin, the president of the Entertainment Consumers Association, calls Senator and gamers' preferred punching bag Joe Lieberman "largely misunderstood and painted with a very broad brush." "While I haven't agreed with much of what he has said in the past, he alone among legislators was responsible for effecting non-legislative change in our business and he did it with a lot of class, I might add" Halpin said.Halpin said that comes from a meeting with Lieberman back when Halpin headed the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association, the one in which Lieberman asked retailers to card for mature purposes, and Halpin's group agreed. "The IEMA retailers saw that as the gold standard and met the challenge head-on and reacted quickly and efficiently – changing the way in which games were sold, forever," Halpin said. You might resent some of the things Lieberman has said about the cultural value of video games, but Halpin's right, non-legislative, self-policed solutions are definitely preferable to nothing and, if effective, can ward off future regulatory attempts (especially at the state level) by arguing they're redundant to what's already in place. (In addition to the larger censorship arguments). Also in the interview, Halpin weighs in on everyone's favorite hot-button topic of late, the resale of used games.
I understand the concerns that developer friends of mine have about not getting a second bite of the apple, a phrase they borrow from their filmmaking counterparts. In the movie business, they produce a theatrical version and then DVD, Blu-ray, Video on Demand (VoD), PSP and pay-per-view versions… hence second (and more) bites at the apple. With games as media, there’s often only a single swipe opportunity. They don’t view multiple platforms, or SKUs, as multiple bites. They just see rental and used as businesses in which they don’t get to participate. And while I understand and appreciate their perspective – having debated the subject on countless trade show panels and with developer friends – I’m still not convinced that rental and used are bad for the sector. We’ve witnessed how rental has provided a low-cost venue for people to try before you buy; same for used. We’ve also used those two distribution outlets to show investors and analysts that we’re relatively recession-proof BECAUSE they exist as low cost entry points for consumers. It seems a bit disingenuous to me that we then turn around and condemn those same outlets, after accepting the institutional investor’s money. Going forward, I’m sure that the industry will figure out ways to add value to the first sale so that it becomes less impactful though.