War on Used Games

So once again as the next generation of gaming consoles is getting ready to come out, we have stories about how the major players are going to end used games. While I understand both sides of the argument; how with the economy the way it is, used games are vital in keeping gaming alive, or when someone purchases a used game the developers see none of that money. Fine arguments, but at the rate things are going it’ll be moot before they solve it. Just like audio CDs back in the day.

If my memory is correct, back in the ‘90s there was a war developing over stores that would buy your used CDs and then reselling them. Those for used CDs said it gave consumers a cheaper alternative to find and discover new music without having the risk of spending a lot of money to find out you don’t like the CD you just bought. Think about it, you spent 20 on a CD and then find out it was crap. Before these stores you shit out of luck. With the stores you could go in, sell or trade it in for store credit, and at least get something out of your loss. This was at least a partial win for the consumer. When the artists realized they weren’t getting their share from used CDs, they started attempting to get those places shut down. Now some artists saw a backlash from their fans and decided to drop the whole thing. Some never did.

The point of that is to show how moot it is now. While there are some places that still do buy/sell used CDs, most people are now getting their music off of digital downloads. I figure pretty soon stores like those above will become totally obsolete as more and more people start getting music the digital way. Now while the music companies made noise about used CDs they never really pushed for the shutting down of them. I think they realized that, and I found this to be true of myself, that someone purchasing a used CD of an artist that was then unknown to the purchaser, could end up leading to more legitimate purchases of said artist in the future. To tell the truth, most used CDs weren’t all that much cheaper from the new ones. Depending on the artist, you’d be lucky if it was 5 dollars cheaper.

Gamestop is used as the main example of the seller of used games, so I will use them as well. In general, when I’ve gone to Gamestop to get a game I will look at the used games first, especially since the games I look for are older ones anyway. However the great majority of the time the price for the used is close enough to the new price that I just buy the new. I don’t fully understand who would buy the used games considering the price, it seem to me that they (at least for my pocketbook) price the used games to the point where it only makes sense to buy new.

So what can the game companies do, to encourage people to buy new and not used. I think they already are doing quite a bit. DLC and special content make quite the incentive to purchase new. You buy a used game that has some kind of DLC you want and the code that comes in the box has already been used once, you’re stuck. In general people playing used games can’t really take advantage of all the online experiences that the new buyers can. The companies keep doing this, they’ll be in good shape until they get to future.

The future, digital downloads. Just like with music and movies, games are really starting to get their share of the digital domain. It’s happening quite a bit on PCs and it stands to reason that it will and can start happening on a larger scale than it already is on consoles. Once that happens and gamers no longer have to go and get discs for their games, all this argument of used games will be moot.

So I say to the console people, let used games be played as they already are. You know as well as I do that in 5 years or so, this whole argument is going to be moot. Besides you don’t want to go and piss off your customers, maybe turning them away from gaming in the hunt for more affordable entertainment and then risk not getting them back.

Least that’s my opinion.

So, until next time….


Originally published January 8, 2013