The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 11
Used games are the devil, or at least
many developers, publishers, and even some gamer's think so. Money that should go to developers and
publishers when a used game is purchased instead goes to retailers
like GameStop. Some argue it is killing the industry.
All of this may be true, at least to
some extent. However, as is often the case, reality is much more
complicated, intricate, and confusing than at first glance.
Taking the used game industry at face
value brings obvious conclusions; developers and publishers are
losing money, and lots of it. GameStop and retailers like it buy old
games on the cheap, bump up the price, and then sell it for huge
profits. They cut out the middle-man - developers and publishers.
It only seems logical then that game creators would want to eliminate
the used game industry, and it looks like their voices might have
been heard. If current rumors about Xbox One and the blocking of used
games turn out to even be remotely true, it may signal the end as we
know it for used game retailers and even game rental services.
Used games must be bad then, right?
They just take money from the hard working developers who
painstakingly craft our favorite form of entertainment.
Not exactly. I'm here to make the point
that the used game industry is far less harmful than many would have
the industry believe, and while it definitely has its own problems,
used game retailers like GameStop provide much needed services and
value to both consumers and the industry as a whole.
One way is easing the financial burden.
As we all know, gaming is far from a cheap hobby. New games and
consoles put huge dents in our wallets and often times we save up
cash months and months in advance in preparation for our favorite new
games. This is where used games come in. By selling or trading old
games to retailers such as GameStop, gamers can lower the cost of
acquiring the latest and greatest titles. Though far from an unbiased
source, GameStop president Tony Bartel said 16 to 17 percent of new
games are fully paid for by trading in of older titles, with 70
percent of money returned to consumers through the selling of their
games going back at least in part to the purchasing of new titles.
GameStop President Tony Bartel
a recognized way to make these games more affordable. All three new
platforms understand that," Bartel said in an interview with Forbes
magazine. He went onto explain the importance of the ability to trade
and sell older games, which influences how console makers like Sony
make decisions with their new consoles.
people upgraded to PS3 they traded in their old systems and
libraries, which is why Sony made the move to not support backwards
compatibility with later iterations of PS3," he said. "That's why
the 'buy, sell, trade' model works well. It enables people to
purchase new games by trading in their old ones."
Securities analyst Michael Pachter, who often chimes in on the game
industry, estimates the company pays out around $1 billion yearly in
the form in-store credit for trade-ins.
billion dollars is used as a currency to buy new games," Pachter
said. "Most people who trade in used games don't turn around
and buy used games. They trade in used games so they can buy new
17 percent of new games being fully paid for by older titles doesn't
seem like a large enough reason to essentially cut developers out of
making additional money when their game is sold, and sold, and then
how much does GameStop actually make off used games?
sold $2.4 billion worth in used games in 2010, equaling over $1
billion in profits, as opposed to selling close to $4 billion worth
in new games and bringing in only $819 million. Those are some big
numbers, and it would seem to game developers are losing millions
upon millions of dollars while GameStop profits.
is however an important distinction that is often overlooked - many
games that are purchased used are titles that would not have been
know this personally to be true. I rarely buy used games as it is; I
have the money to be able to purchase new and I want to support the
developers who make the great products I love. When I do buy a used
game, it is usually for one of two reasons:
is a game I'm mildly interested it, but not enough to buy at full
retail price which is often 10+ more dollars than the used version.
it is a game (often a last generation title) that's hard to find new
or is ridiculously expensive new.
I can't find any hard numbers and this is simply an educated
conjecture on my part, but I suspect game developers and publishers
in actuality lose much less than the grand total of used game sales
would seem to indicate. Money conscious gamers buy used games for a
reason; because they cannot afford new. If there was no used option,
the new game very likely wouldn't have been sold at all.
inverse could be said as well. Popular mainstream titles aren't cheap
enough to encourage gamers to purchase used over new. Go to
GameStop.com and look at the majority of popular titles; Let's take
Call of Duty Black Ops II for an example. The used copy of the game
is only $5 cheaper than the new version. If I find I can't live
without the new Call of Duty, I'm not going to buy it used.
many ways the criticism leveled at the used game industry its no
different from many of the misconceptions associated with internet
piracy. Movie and music industry leaders have complained for years
that piracy is robbing them of huge amounts of money, and they have
done everything in their power to prevent it. None of it has worked,
and now research has shown that piracy, while maybe morally
questionable, may not be near as financially destructive as people
have believed. Pirates often download music, movies, or games they
wouldn't have purchased to begin with, or products that are hard to
find legally. Worth of mouth is another positive associated with
piracy. Large numbers of pirated copies of a show or game mean there
is large interest, but for whatever reason pirates are not obtaining
the product legally.
the used game industry often brings up questions about infringing on
the rights of consumers to sell or trade property they rightfully
purchased. The counterpoint often pointed to in gaming circles is
digital distribution, Valve's Steam platform in particular. Games
bought and installed digitally through Steam, EA's Origin or Blizzard
Entertainment's Battle.net distribution service can't be sold or
traded. Many publishers, as EA has shown, are interested in fighting
the used game market by selling games directly to consumers.
what's the difference? Millions use Steam and download games
digitally, despite being unable to sell or trade their game after
purchase. The reason is simple; services like Steam serve the same purpose the used game market and GameStop does.
regularly and routinely offers huge discounts on a huge variety of
games. Prices are often slashed on new and popular titles by 33
percent or more, while older and/or less popular games can see
discounts of 50, 75, or even 90 percent.
have several friends who have Steam library's of hundreds upon
hundreds of games. The vast majority of these games have barely been
touched. Why? Because my friends, like many others, buy most of the
games when they are heavily discounted and aren't financially
invested in them. My own Steam Library is filled with several dozen
indie games that I've purchased for under $3. We buy them simply
because they are cheap and might be fun. Would we have taken a chance
on the same games if they were at full retail price? Heck no.
runs directly parallel with the used game industry. GameStop sells
discounted titles for cheap, games that otherwise may not have even
been purchased. Without GameStop, there would be no place to purchase
cheaper physical games. The result would hurt the industry for all
the reasons outlined above, resulting in fewer gamers and fewer game
purchases all around.
games serve an important purpose. Trading older games for the latest
and greatest new titles is a critical part of affording games today.
Games that may not have been played otherwise are bought through the
used game market, and cheaper prices bring in more gamers than ever
before. Are game developers and publishers losing some money as a
result of the used game market? Certainly, but the industry is so
blinded by their belief that used games are bad that they fail to see
that pre-owned games might not be dealing near as much damage as
believed, and may actually help both developers and consumers.