Used Games: The Great Debate


By JSixGun

There is an enormous discussion taking place in the gaming world right now, and that discussion is zeroing in on the role used games play in the market; both for the consumer and the developer. It really hit a crescendo this week when purported news of the “Next-Box” came out claiming that Microsoft was looking into blocking used games, or at the very least inhibiting them. Now let me be clear from the very beginning, in most cases I feel politics has no use in gaming blogs, and political bloviating from both sides can be found plastered on the internet in a fashion that would only rival porn and the “congratulations you won” pages  you get when you make a typo typing in a website. However, I will make no attempt to hide throughout this post that I am a rugged capitalist in every aspect of the word; so rugged in fact that if Bear Grylls was an economic system he would take lessons from me on what plants make you gassy. That being said, I make no attempt to stand on a soap box, this is just one guy’s humble opinion in which if you don’t agree you are wrong. I kid, I kid!

"Congratulations you’ve won. You are the 1 millionth reader of my article!”

Number one, I’m not going to go in depth like many sites already have of the injustice of Microsoft for supposedly considering nipping used game sales in the bud.  Let’s get real. This isn’t going to happen. They simply will not do it. Why? My answer for any issue when it comes to business decisions always comes down to one word, the market. Aghast! I know right? Contrary to common belief the market is not a dirty word. It is the very vehicle that drives the notion of the invisible hand, which Adam Smith wrote so eloquently about so long ago. It rides the tides of consumerism, which every one of us is a definitive factor. In short, and in a far less pretentious use of words, a business will not act in a manner (knowingly) that will result in a net capital loss.

If Microsoft where to try it, what do you think would happen? The PS4 would out sale it 10 to 1. The reason for this goes far beyond the obvious, being that people would invest in the system that didn’t inhibit used games. But why would they do this? Consumer’s (i.e. you) want options; they want choice. Many of you are probably like me and hardly buy a single used game ever, because you like to support the developer’s who make the games you enjoy. However, if Microsoft went a long with such a blunder you would almost immediately jump ship to Sony’s loving arms. Not because you only buy used games, but because you want the ability to if you ever decide you would like to do so. Microsoft IS NOT going to send you running into Sony’s embrace; they’re not dumb. In fact they are borderline brilliant. They as a company have been so efficient in the past at controlling the market that courts have had to bust them up. Court’s don’t have to bust up companies that don’t have a clue what they’re doing.  So it’s not going to happen…from Microsoft at least.

Downloadable Content: the developer’s tool to fight back.

Developer’s have had enough of companies like Gamestop, Bestbuy, and Amazon skimming free monies off their product with no royalties by engaging in the sale of used games. As a result, the market is being inundated with perks for buying new games, some that go so far as buying access to online play. Is this bad? Well it depends on who you ask and the opined answer will assuredly vary from person to person. To the budget gamer this is probably extremely aggravating. To the guy like me it’s really not all that bad, considering I buy literally almost all my games brand new. Sow which one’s right, the budget gamer or me? Neither. Or more truthfully, according to the market, whichever one there is the most of. If the number of people who buy games are budget gamers and greatly outnumber guys like me, eventually developer’s will see a net loss in creating incentives for new purchasers. If this happens, they’ll stop. Again, they won’t hurt themselves to make a point. They have investor’s, and employees and the number one goal is profit.

If they find it doesn’t hurt the bottom line, but helps it, they will continue. No matter what people scream at the top of there lungs on every forum on the internet, if sales increase they’ll do it. And they should. If that special gun and armor isn’t worth a new buy for you, than fine- don’t buy it new. However, don’t complain because you didn’t get it. As long as it doesn’t change the core game play, than it’s nothing more than a perk or an incentive and should be viewed as such. They are trying to give you the consumer a bonus for supporting them as a company. If you don’t want to pony up the cash to get the bonus, no one is making you. That’s the beauty of the market. You make a vote with your cash everyday. If enough people, like you, make the same vote, your position will win. If you don’t like the system, don’t buy. Boycott any game that tries it. If enough consumer’s feel like you do the developer’s will change the system. If most consumers don’t care enough to not buy, well shrug it off with the realization that in this area, at least, you’re not on the side of the market. Because like I stated, the company will always be on the side of the market. They make business decisions; not opinion decisions.

I don’t care what you think, EA’s bathrooms do not look like this.

Let me also make this quick counter point, which is perfectly logical. Some of you may argue that three net used games equals the credit of buying an actual new game, and that without used games, new game sales would actually lower. The reasoning behind this is that people utilize the used game system as a mechanism to get new games, by trading them in. I actually think this argument is intriguing, and it really couldn’t be proved as valid or invalid without some fair measure of study. However, let’s face it:  universities aren’t going to give you tenure if you figure it out so no one probably will ever take the time to do so. And while I give it credence as a valid point, I’d have to wager that it really wouldn’t amount to a substantial game changer. Plus lets be honest about places like Gamestop; they just aren’t giving you a good deal. $5 off a used game? Are you kidding me? My Commander Shepard is worth having what ever new purchase DLC he can get his hands on for a measly $5. That’s my decision as a consumer at least. What’s yours?

-JSixGun

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3 Comments to “Used Games: The Great Debate”

  1. If M$ decides to block used games on it’s next gen console, it will be one console I’m not buying.

    I’m a budget gamer. I WILL NOT pay $60+ for a game. I’m fond of saying ‘there are no $60 games only $60 drink coasters.’ For the most, part this is true. There are games I will buy new when they go on sale but I will not pay $60 for one.

    I don’t mind one bit if pre-order versions come with extras that are only available in the pre-order version. The only caveat being that if they are weapons or anything that could possibly change the dynamics of on line game play then they must eventually become available for purchase later on. Buying virtual items for my Live avatar or making my BF3 toon look different than all the other toons running around the battlefield doesn’t float my boat, I can live without those things. But I understand there is a market for such frivolous purchases.

    Here’s the thing, if I wouldn’t pay $60 for a game to begin with, why would I pay $60 if you try and force me into it? Another point; I would never have paid $60 for Bioshock 2, but I found it at Blockbuster used for $10, played it, LOVED IT. Found Bioshock 1 on sale for dirt cheap (brand new), bought that (after I had already rented and played it, it’s still sitting there, unopened in its plastic wrapper) and I will be purchasing the new Bioshock when I see it on sale. If I hadn’t had the benefit of diving into this franchise dirt cheap I might never have discovered it and the developers would never have seen a dime of my money.

    Some games are well worth the $60, Skyrim (which I borrowed from a friend because my gaming budget was met this year!) FIFA 12 (which we found on sale for about $35,) and Battlefield 3 (another $35 Xmas sale purchase) come to mind. If I had a bigger gaming budget I might have paid $60 for them but I don’t, so I didn’t, but I did buy them on sale, brand new. Most games they make are shovel-ware. Not even worth $10. Good enough to play once and that’s it. Quintessential rentals.

    All this whining by the developers is just more capitalism gone awry. Instead of focusing on the profits they are making, they are focusing on the profits they believe they should be making. I believe I should win the lottery, I’ve certainly purchased enough tickets, you don’t see me whining when other people win it. STFU and make a good game that people will want to play and the FREE MARKET will prevail and you WILL make money. While many in society have not seen an increase in pay for over 10 years now the gaming industry is not starving. Just whining.

    I’m a firm believer in the free market too, in this case the free market is screaming loud and clear that there is a VALID market here and the capitalists are fighting it tooth and nail. The thing about “capitalists” today is that their version of a free market ain’t so “free.”

    And to be honest, if all I’m getting is $5 off a used game I’m more inclined to just buy it new (I want a bargain not half assed RE-SALE price.) But if I can pick up something I might never have thought about buying in a million years for under $20 and I get into the franchise, it’s kind of a win-win for the developer regardless of whether I got it used or in a bargain bin.

    As far as people reselling their games, it’s their property to resell. All the fine print overpaid lawyers come up with in the world can’t change that.

    Phew, wow, had a lot to say on that, sorry dude. Rant over!

  2. Just one more thing…

    I also like and agree with the way Electronic Arts has been handling it by charging people for the on-line pass. I believe that is a perfectly reasonable approach to the situation.

    Okay, sorry dude, I’ll STFU now.

    • I solidly agree with 95% of what your spitting here. My only point of contention is a difference of opinion on the developer’s. I don’t think they’re whining; I can imagine it is frustrating to see the resale of an item you spent years making with profits going solely to another company (i.e. Gamestop). Not that I blame Gamestop either, mind you. In all actuality if I was Gamestop I would be under cutting everyone in used game sales. They’re just a business trying to make a profit too.

      There is absolutely no problem with budget gamers in the least! We all enjoy the same things. It’s up to the developer’s, publisher’s, and retailer’s to figure how they get our money. My hats off to them for every dollar they can make out of me, you, and the rest of us.

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