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Even though we’re only into its second month, 2013 has already been an interesting year so far when it comes to gaming, as speculation for the next generation of consoles has been running rampant. Rumors have been floating around for quite some time now when it comes to the various aspects of these consoles, though most of these rumors have received quite a bit of criticism. Segway to the “anti-used game” stance that both the PS4 and Xbox 720 (these names have neither been confirmed nor denied, so we’ll just call the consoles this respectively for the time being) are rumored to be in favor of.
Used games, as we all know, have been a part of the industry for quite some time now, and for many have been quite the blessing (I admit to being one of those people). Whether it’s buying something used on a website at a discounted price or buying a used car, having the option to keep more money in our pockets is always welcome. But with more money in our pockets comes even more consequences on the companies that actually make the product. And for the game industry, it’s known to take a harder hit than most.
So, after hearing all the rumors, what’s my stance on the possible scenario (that is only a rumor, might I add) of these new consoles being “anti-used games”? I don’t want to make it seem like I’m being “that guy” who goes against the grain (okay, maybe I kind of want to), but I’d actually be completely understanding of this choice. Now of course, this is just where I stand, and you may not necessarily agree with it, so please don’t burn me by the stake if you are fully backing the corner of the used game market. I’m not here to say that the used market is terrible; I’m just here to state my opinion on why I’d understand and accept the choice to have a console that doesn’t allow for used games.
As I stated in brackets in the second paragraph, I’ve bought used games before. I’ve had times where a game I wanted to buy was substantially cheaper if I bought it used rather than new, and wanting to keep more cash for myself, I went with the used. However, I’ve haven’t done this for a couple years, as I started looking at used games the way I do now.
"Yeah, there aren't too many funny pictures about used games on the web. Just boxes of games on shelves. I promise I'll give you more than that!"
For one, the honest (and sometimes brutal) truth about the hobby of video gaming is that it is, in its very nature, expensive. I know that as gamers, we’ve found ourselves accustomed to shelling out $60 per new game, as that has become the established norm for new video game prices. The thing is, $60 isn’t just “chump change” (wow, didn’t think I’d ever use the phrase “chump change” in a blog), and whether you agree with the pricing or not, it is the standard price for a video game. I understand wanting to play video games, and that buying used may be for some the only financially viable way to do so. The thing is, and again the truth may be brutal to hear, maybe you shouldn’t be buying those types of games if that’s the case.
If you’re someone that has to be frugal with your money, video gaming just isn’t the right hobby for you. If you are in financial straits, then I’m truly sorry to hear that. But when you have to spend a little more than half of $100 per game, as well as have a console that, at this time, is currently around $300 by itself, it’s probably not the type of hobby you should be investing in. I know that it’s fun and, if you’re a long time gamer, probably is a big part of your life. But the thing about life is that you have sometimes have to make sacrifices, and if you can only afford to buy games on the cheap, it’s probably not something you shouldn’t be investing in at this time. (And to clarify, I’m directing this to people that play video games as a hobby, not just play a game every now and then. Those types of gamers are a different story)
Then there’s the issue of income for the gaming companies themselves, as well as the retailers who distribute the game. It’s not really a big secret that the developers and publishers make no profit from used game sales, as that goes directly to the retailer that’s selling the game. Some people have told me that companies like GameStop need the used game market, as that’s their main source of income, and that without it, they would more than likely go under. While it’s more than likely true those companies like GameStop make most of their profit off of used games and lose a substantial amount of income, it’s somewhat foolish to think that they would go under if they could no longer sell used games.
As of this time, GameStop has found plenty of ways to try and make a profit from avenues rather than used sales. Whether it’s online digital downloads or just simply getting a cut from the sale of new games, GameStop won’t go under if it was suddenly unable to sell used games. A good portion of gamers (including myself) still buy from there, and it’s not like everyone’s suddenly going to stop buying games from them just because they wouldn’t be able to sell used games. It’s found enough of a footing as a major games retailer that getting people to buy from them will more than likely no longer be a problem. This is all speculation, of course, but its speculation grounded in simple common sense.
As mentioned, the developers and publishers make no profit from used game sales, which leave them, as well as us, with a few problems. If people buy used games, the money they spent doesn’t go towards furthering the investment that the publishers and developers are making. The goal for a game, just like a movie, is to have the game not only be successful, but to (usually) make a profitable franchise out of said game. If you need proof of this, look no further than the highest selling game of all time (as of this writing), Call Of Duty: Black Ops II, as well as other games that are a part of a successful franchise with a number in their name that steadily goes higher. If people buy used over new, it kind of hinders this process.
Do I necessarily agree with trying to prohibit the sale of used games? Not really. I know what you’re thinking, “But Zach, didn’t you say earlier you have no problem with them making consoles that prohibit used game sales?” Just to clarify, I never said I agreed with the choice, I just said I understood and would accept it. I do like having the freedom to take a game I own over to a friend’s house, and playing it on their console, and vice versa. Making it to where I can only play a disc on one system, even if the game’s not used, does hinder me or my friend from possibly trying out a game that we might buy because we got the chance to play it. And to be honest, I’m actually someone that advocates the use of resale. My mom is in the business of selling vintage clothing, most of which she bought from others as well. It’s her main source of income, and not exactly something that we’d like to see restricted.
"Okay, I lied. Sue me (please dont)"
When writing this article, I thought of it not from the consumer side of things, but from the side of the people making the game. If I was making a game, I know that I’d want every cent I could get from what I made. I know that it’s less convenient for the consumer to have to buy new, but I’d rather support a game and possibly have it grow into something more than buy used and give the maker absolutely nothing. People may have problems with publishers like EA and Activision, but they’re the ones giving us these games (not EA and Activision specifically) to play. Why not show them support by paying for the new version of the game?
So, this could be considered a “controversial” article. Yeah, I’m not stopping there. I’ve already started writing some more blogs that don’t exactly go with the popular opinion (and it is my true opinion, scouts honor). As always, I hope you enjoyed the blog, whether you agree with it or not. I’d love to hear points from the other side of the coin (although support for what I have to say is always nice, just saying)!