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GDC09: Understanding what Stardock's Goo means to the used PC games market


Stardock's Game Object Obfuscation (Goo) sounds super complex (and it is), but all we -- "the consumer" -- need to grasp is that it could very well open up a "used" PC games market. Although this sounds like something that would make publishers and developers irate, the clever part with Goo is those groups actually make coin off the transactions. Stardock is still being cagey about which publishers it has jumping on-board with this client-free DRM solution, but should be making announcements soon. We finally grasped the big picture of Goo while speaking with Stardock CEO Brad Wardell and using the glasses on the table in front of us to diagram how the system will work:

The super distilled basics (use picture above to follow along):
  • Seller: So, you bought a PC game and now want to sell it. You go to the Impulse Marketplace and -- if you accept the "used" price -- your license will transfer back to the publisher and the game can't be played anymore. The game is "sold."
  • Buyer: You want a game, but don't want to pay full price. You go to Impulse Marketplace and will be able to purchase this "used" license from the publisher through the service and download the game from the digital distribution service at a reduced price. That's it. Now you own the license and can sell it back whenever.
  • Publisher: Here's why publishers will probably like this system: The companies receive almost all the money -- minus Stardock's transaction fee -- from the resold license. Essentially, the publishers get to sell the same license several times and have entered the profitable "used" games market.
Goo will go live on April 7th. Considering this is all done through digital distribution, it's best to think of this whole concept as a "used license market" instead of a "used games market" -- there is no physical product changing hands. If Goo takes off, it means that consumers can get money for selling their PC games back to the publisher, and those who only buy "used" games have a secure new option. But, no matter what transaction occurs, the publishers are finally empowered and have cash flow in the used market.

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