NEW OR USED
According to the gaming industry, used game sales is the plague that will destroy the financial viability of our favorite franchises. But this is a problem faced by several other industries on various levels. Used CD sales didn’t destroy the music industry. Instead the industry was forced to evolve and offer their products in a format, and at a price that consumers wanted. It’s far more convenient to grab a few songs or albums on iTunes or Amazon rather that deal with digging through racks of used media. Even in television there is a struggle to capitalize on content the way consumers want to view it. Used game sales are going to be around for a while because consumers want to purchase games at a lower price. It’s that simple. Games are too expensive.
Physical media is the root of this problem and digital distribution, in some form, will eventually be the solution. In the short term, pricing of new games will combat used game sales. Just weeks after release, new game prices will drop to compete with used pricing. The long term solution, in my opinion, has already been found. The model used by PSN, Xbox Live Arcade and Steam is the future. Give me a demo, let me play the first level, let me try the game on for size and then purchase the complete game digitally at a lower price. Let’s look at a specific example.
In a little over a week, Fallout: New Vegas will be released. It will retail at $59.99 and only be available on physical media. That is what creates the used game market. A large investment in a game you might – or might not – enjoy. While it still has some level of trade-in value, many will take their losses and trade the game in for a fraction of the price paid for it, thus seeding the used game market. Within a couple weeks of release, used copies will be available at GameStop for only $5 or $10 less than retail – giving the retailer as much or more profit than selling a new copy. The industry creates it’s own problem. But imagine that on release day you can get a limited version of the game for free – let’s call it a demo – much like the Arcade games. If you like it, unlock the rest of the game for $39.99. No packaging or distribution costs (other than those fees that go to XBL and PSN) and the game is available immediately. This distribution method alienates those without hard drive storage and high speed internet, so at a later date, release the game in its entirety on media – much like DLC is being offered now – but at a premium price. By the time this media gets to the used game market, it has little value compared to the price of purchasing digitally. Consumers will need to know they are saving the difference between the new and used game prices (plus the “lost” trade-in value of the game) when purchasing digitally. If game distributors move to this model, the used game market would eventually collapse and sales of “new” games via digital download would skyrocket.
“But I don’t have enough hard disk space for all those downloads.” Welcome to the world of PC gaming. I can’t count the number of hardware upgrades I have purchased in the past to be able to play new generations of PC games. Everything from more ram, better video cards, faster processors – game developers never used to shy away from pushing the edge and requiring systems to be current to run their games. Requiring more hard disk space and high speed internet is just the next phase of console gaming.
If I was able to purchase new releases digitally for the right price, and never have to change media in my console to play my games, I would probably never purchase another game on physical media – new or used. Financially it would be a win / win for the industry and for consumers – game prices would go down while total sales of new product go up. The losers would be retailers that depend on used game sales to survive, but due to the parasitic nature of their business model, that’s a funeral that just may be worth attending.
Until things change, used games will thrive, so – see the insets for sources to purchase used games on the web. Just click the images to go there and see their deals.
WHAT OUR WRITERS HAD TO SAY
Cooper Bibaud | Thirsty Robot | Profile | Twitter | I’ve always loved the idea of trade ins. Ever since I was a kid, I’d take my old Genesis games to this store that nobody seemed to know existed and I would trade 2 for 1’s all the time. Years later, up here in Canada we’ve got shops like EB Games and Gamestop where you can do a similar thing and receive trade in credit toward new and used games. At first, it was a very useful tool, and I did it all the time. Lately, I’ve noticed a trend where new games never drop down in price, and they charge nearly the same amount for used games with only a 5 dollar difference. Yet, the amount you receive back for the game is often less than half what they turn it around for. They seem to be getting stingier and stingier, and I find myself just opting to buy brand new now that the difference in price is so minimal, and it often will come with a reward for buying it new as opposed to the used copy.
On a separate note, I would like someone out there to figure out a way to put a value on used digital media. That is where the future is headed, and there needs to be some sort of way to ditch media you’ve downloaded and no longer need.
Sarah Brannan | FFXPrincess | Profile | Twitter | I purchase both! I don’t have a problem with having a game either new or used, as long as it works. If it’s a Special Edition or Collectors Item and is missing stuff, then obviously I will want a new one, but other than that, there’s no difference to me.
Scott diMonda | WCC5723 | Profile | Twitter | I purchase new games and before anyone says it must be nice to have a disposable income to choose that way, I will explain. I have my reasons but I do have an exception to the rule. Let’s face it, game stores that re-sell games are a rip off and their profit margin is higher on the used copies than the new copies. I hate nothing more than to see a kid walk into their local “GameGo” (fake name to protect the retail giant) and get pennies for a game to just have is resold to another customer at a 50% mark up (numbers are not exact but it sure seems like that much). I have bought games from friends and have given what they asked for the game but I have never bought a used copy from a retail giant.
Overall I do not like the used game retailers as they rip of fellow gamers and let’s face it, with rising costs of gaming we are all looking for a bargain, but I don’t feel that “GameGo” is the answer to saving a few dollars.
Brian Heitzenrater | FrehleyzComet | Profile | Twitter | I totally support used games. I mostly sell my used games and turn that cash around into buying more games. I still try to buy new when I can, but I’m not too proud to buy a used game if it will save me money and is in good condition. I’m not going to fall for Gamestop’s ploy though. I’m not going to pay $55 for a used game when for $5 more I could just buy it brand new. GS, if you’re going to sell used games, please make it worth my while. Buyers, please stop paying Gamestop’s prices for used games! They are like the government when it comes to ripping you off with their used game prices. Hell, I’ve even seen where their used game prices are more than the same game new. If you’re going to buy used, Half.com and Amazon is where it’s at, or if you’re lucky enough to have a “mom and pop” game store near by.
Earlier this year, my wife and I wanted to buy a PS3. We looked all over the state (Pennsylvania) and even online and it was sold out EVERYWHERE! We didn’t know what to do, but then we remembered this one local store so we tried there. Well they were actually sold out as well, but they did just receive a returned 120gb PS3. They said they sold it to the dude about a month or so ago and he returned it because he needed the money. They were selling it for $75 cheaper than a new one, so we took the gamble. Man was it worth it. When we checked his memory, he had only played one game the whole time he owned it. So we got really lucky with it. My point is, I can’t imagine that we would have gotten that kind of information or price from Gamestop. They wouldn’t have known the history of that PS3. Hell, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they just made up a story just so they could get rid of it.
William Johnson | StylelessKnave | Profile | Twitter | I typically purchase most games used. Ever since I started spending my own my own to purchase games for my PS2 while I was in high school, it was really used games or nothing. Unless it was a title coming out that I had to have immediately. The last new game I bought was Modern Warfare 2, and Mass Effect 2 before that. I see used games as a great way for gamers to save a few dollars here and there. While though now, seeing the back lash that has come from the studios and developers saying that they are loosing money since a middle man like store such as Gamestop and EB Games gets a majority of the profit from me buying used, I do feel bad initially, but I dont loose sleep over it. And I hope that other gamers dont either. People will resale games all the time. Whether in the bricks and mortars like Gamestop, or over the net on sites like Craigslist, Amazon, or eBay. Cant stop, wont stop. When I want to pick up a game, and save some dollars for gas – I’ll buy used. But when a new game that I really want like the new Fallout coming out next month, I’ll buy it new.
Angel Pelaez | Reeve | Profile | Twitter | I do think you need to support developers by buying new games most of the time, but I strongly disagree when they are annualized and strong franchises. Franchises as Guitar Hero, Rock Band, FIFA and even Call of Duty don’t really offer a lot of new and fresh ideas each year, and yet they have massive marketing campaigns and sometimes expensive hardware, this is when I buy used videogames.
Some companies are already trying to “force” the consumer to always buy new games via exclusive DLC or online passes, but I feel trade-ins and the used games industry give the consumers the opportunity to experience games they woudn´t have played otherwise. Yes most of the time is all about the money, but I like to think that if I missed a great game from 2 or even 3 years ago, I will have the chance to get it for 15 bucks.
It is also important to know that there is a way to stop the used games market; digital distribution could finish it but it’s not time for that yet, so if our readers buy used games, I’d say they will keep doing it for a fair amount of time.
MY FINAL STIR
Chris Forbis | MensaDad | Profile | Twitter | Other than a few “must have on release day” titles, I buy used video games mainly from Family Video. They don’t buy or take trade-in games to mark them up for resale, they are just clearing out extra rental inventory after a title drops in rental demand. I also purchase (keep) rental games from Gamefly just because they have some unbelievable deals. The economics are quite simple. I have a limited budget for gaming and I can get twice as many titles if I am patient and purchase used titles.
The big exception to this is Xbox Live Arcade. I have been purchasing more downloadable games recently. I find that most XBLA titles are a great value for the price – and I know I am supporting future releases from the developers. The big game studios and distributers could learn a thing or two from these smaller studios that release direct to digital distribution and produce titles in chunks or “chapters” such as DeathSpank.
The rules for Stir are simple. I pick a topic and ask the Platform Nation writers, editors and staff to send me their opinions. Thanks go out to all the Platform Nation writers who contributed to Stir this week. They are all part of the best writing team in the industry and I couldn’t do this without them. Show them some love by viewing their other work or following them on Twitter.
Now, drop down into the comment box below and let us know what YOU think. Do you buy new or used video games?
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