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Used Games Are Not The Problem With The Video Games Industry

By Sean W. On Jun 22, 2013 2

A whole shelf of pre owned and used games

This opinion piece here is in response to this video that was recommended for me to watch that supported the abolishment of used video games.  They also argued that games can not be compared to DVDs, music or any of those formats for various reasons.  I’ve watched the whole video and here is my response on why used games are not the problem.

This is bit of a rant so I apologize in advance.

A quick look at used games

In the video,the main part of his argument starts that since games only gets one chance to make a sale then they can’t be compared to movies, music and DVDs as in those fields, the items produced allow those producers of the products to make money in different ways. Also that used games can’t be compared to cars as they degrade over time hence the word used.  But music and the movie industry each developed these new revenue streams over time along side new technology that was being developed.  As the ability to watch movies at home came about, then came the revenue stream as known as home movie watching and the home movie buying market was created.

The Games industry is young and it need to continue to add revenue streams as technology comes out. Now people aren’t going to be happy if they loose something they’ve become familiar with simply because someone else wants to make more money or regulate it.  The game industry needs to find new ways of adding revenue to the existing models.  Micro-tranactions are already the result of this.  People complain about them but as long as they don’t interfere with the basic gaming experience, most find them find.

Limiting used games at this point is not the answer, the industry will naturally go forward into digital downloads anyway so there’s no real need to push people there.  For those who love physical goods will be kept to those devices as the rest of the world passes them by, but that’s fine.

“What if it was and the developers got paid upfront a large sum of money for access to the game for a period of a year.”

As I was thinking about it, especially since this super long discussion started with a comment on how Sony is ruining industry by allowing used games, and after watching that video, which was well thought, Sony could actually be building a new revenue stream for these publishers.  Some rumors have been going around that Sony’s Gaikai service could be like a Netflix for games.  What if it was and the developers got paid upfront a large sum of money for access to the game for a period of a year. Or what if they could pay out as people play their games like radio stations who plays an artist’s song, the developer would get a ‘royalty”. It’s possible and we have no idea what will be developed in the future. What if Sony doesn’t do that and a new company we didn’t expect like Google does it and is successful, the industry will move forward and follow the new technology.

As technology improves, new revenue steams must be created, just like DVDs, Movies, CD’s and more.  The thing that many people just forget is that there is a used market is because people like to buy, sell and trade things, services, anything, used or new, doesn’t matter.  People like to buy things they don’t need all the time, why restrict what makes people happy.  Some people just like to buy things used, some like to buy new. Me, I only buy games new but I don’t have a problem with used games or those who buy them.

I work at a store that traffics used musical instruments, very few new instruments.  The people who comes through my front door love looking for deals and finding that diamond in the rough.  People like used games the same way, plus it’s more bang for the buck.  Older games should also be considered advertisements for the studio who made the game to potentially get a customer for life.  Maybe game developers need to think of their gamers as long term customers who they can market future games to.  This is like how, after you buy something from a store and the store gets your information and sends you future advertisement in the mail to get them to buy stuff again.  Stores do it, why not game developers? I’m not saying this previous example is the solution, but it’s the kind of thinking that needs to happen at game development houses.

“Just a thought, maybe allow gamers to host their own games.”

As far as the servers’ cost example given the the video, maybe the game designers should make the games so gamers themselves can turn their games into the server, like it’s done on some PC and select console games. This way anytime a person wants to play a game and someone else is online, they can meet up, and there’s no main server in the cloud being maintained by the developer.  Just a thought, maybe allow gamers to host their own games.

As far as Gamestop goes, no one forces anyone to sell anything at Gamestop. Technology has given us many differently was to sell our games.  If you don’t like Gamestop’s policies, don’t shop there. Buy on Amazon, Best Buy, GOG, Steam, etc. There’s many other avenues to buy, sell and trade games without stepping foot in a  Gamestop or similar store.  If their profits drops, their prices will drop and they will lose that margin that so many people hate.

The used market isn’t the reason games do not sell for cheaper digitally when compared to physical copies, it’s because the publishers and stores do not want to drop the perceived value of the product so soon after launch.  The majority of game sales still happen in stores and to loose those sales would be far more substantial than any used game losses. The publishers sell the product to a store and the store is expected to sell a number of copies for a profit they’ve projected.  If they don’t sell and the game is discounted, the retailers will give less money to the publisher for making a less profitable sale. Both the store and the publisher looses. If a game never sells and is sent back to the publisher, the store lost valuable retail space over a long period of time where a more profitable product could have sat.  The publisher didn’t sell the product so they lost just my making that product.  These publishers take chances on games like gambling, sometimes they win, sometimes they lose, but at no point should they be trying to fix the gambling system in their favor so they win more. In the long run, less people will play those games in that fixed system and everyone will lose.

What do you think? Leave a comment if you agree or disagree and make your argument sound.

  • ruefrak

    The problem is that each time a gaming studio closes, everyone blames it on the used game market. It’s never that the studio made crappy games, or made the same game again and again, but used games are to blame. I think the real problem is that there are just too many studios for the size of the market. Games are being made for multiple platforms, and even if you were to take just one console, there are more AAA games released in a year than most people could reasonably make time for. It has nothing to do with the fact some people buy games used. Pontiac and Saturn are no longer around making cars not because the used car market drove them out of business but because the market isn’t large enough to sustain an infinite number of car companies.
    The beauty of all this is that gaming studios will close and go out of business, and from their ashes new studios will be created and blossom. No company stays at the top for long and it provides and incentive for the little guy to try and make it big. Not every AAA game is going to be a blockbuster when there is more supply than demand. Not every big budget movie is going to be a blockbuster if there are too many. But the industry will survive and because of the competition, the good studios will thrive.

  • dirkradke

    I always BUY NEW games. However, I do TRADE in my USED GAMES to be able to afford more new games. I would say this affects my purchasing decisions at least 5 times a year. So in other words the used game market allows me to buy 5 new games that I would not have purchased if the used game market didn’t exist. So any argument to me that restricts the sale of used games is bogus.