New Games VS. Used Games -

Game Editorial

13 Comments | Add


Rate & Share:


Related Links:



  • Series:

New Games VS. Used Games

Does the used games market hurt the video game industry, or help it?

By Nadia Oxford     February 20, 2009

Is Used Games hurting the industry or helping it?


The mention of buying used games versus new fires up tempers and warms over the long-running debate about profits and ownership. But unlike arguments over systems and the superiority of one game over another, the lines are drawn pretty clearly in the debate over used games: consumers desperate to save a few bucks during hard times are typically on one side, and developers, who understandably get upset over lost profits, are on the other. There is definitely a middle road, though: developers who aren't necessarily happy with the existence of the used games market, but understand that it's an inevitability and can accept the positives.
Though the used games market might conjure up images of pushy game clerks trying every tactic to wrench consumers away from recent purchases, it's better to have the option than to shut down the used games trade entirely. Used games are necessary for the preservation of the hobby's history.
Preserving the Old Ways
There's no question that the used games market is vital for a retro games collector—and in fact, it's a great way to preserve gaming history. People might laugh and say “whatever” at the concept of gaming history, but we value the roots of other entertainment mediums. Who's to say we won't be sighing over a copy of Super Mario Bros. twenty years from now? Retro games have already made a huge impact on bloggers and other game sites, and it's not all about a nostalgia trip. Old games can be held up against new to see how the medium has progressed—and new titles like XSEED's Retro Game Challenge for the Nintendo DS pay a very fun homage to an older era of gaming. It might sound a little cheesy, but kids who grow up today playing Xbox 360 might be interested in seeing where it all began. That history should be accessible to them.
Downloads Aren't the Same
It's been suggested that the Virtual Console on the Wii, Xbox Live Arcade and the various retro gaming collections have eliminated the need for a used games market. That's a weak argument at best. While downloads have done wonders for reviving interest in retro games (not to mention the convenience), there are vital gaps missing in the tapestry. For instance, Terranigma, an SNES action-RPG that succeeded illusion of Gaia, appeared in Europe, but has yet to show up in any format in America other than as a ROM download. Square-Enix has been notorious for holding back much of their classic stable of RPGs. How about the original Super Smash Bros, Excite Bike 64, or Pilotwings? And speaking about video game-related wars, nothing fires up a message board more than an innocent inquiry about why Nintendo has been holding back on releasing Earthbound for the Virtual Console (the apparent answer: the similarities found in some of the game's music to other well-known songs recently stirred legal fears) .   
For a collector, nothing can replace a molded plastic cartridge with all its pack-in swag. Remember the rambling, full-color instruction booklets that used to come with Nintendo games? Remember the Nintendo Power inserts that offered free game tips? Remember the detailed maps and enemy listings? Online resources have long eliminated the need for elaborate pack-ins, and without the sale and exchange of used games, those extras would be lost forever.
The GameStop Beast
Naturally, the argument for or against used games isn't quite that straightforward. It's not likely Nintendo wants to chase down gamers who are buying up used copies of Mega Man 2 on eBay. The meat of the debate comes down to chains like GameStop, which can't exactly be praised for selling used games out of a concern for preserving gaming history. In fact, GameStop recently mentioned that it won't be accepting original Xbox trade-ins anymore.
But would any benefit come from cutting GameStop's appetite for used games? Should gamers be encouraged to buy used and support developers—or enjoy the pastime through whatever means are necessary? In this economy, saving five dollars on a new title by trading in an old one can make a difference.
Earlier this month, Sega Europe's president Mike Hayes told that he neither liked nor supported the second-hand games market, but he acknowledged that it's a “reality” that Sega is not going to waste time and resources to fight against. “[I]t's probably not on our top ten list of things that we need to take action and be concerned about," he said.
Hayes admitted that fighting against the market might turn consumers against game developers. "My reluctant view is that while I can understand that, if publishers were to try and enforce a non-second-hand market to the consumer, I think there would be relationship damage with the consumer.”
Hayes also recalled when the industry fought a similar battle with Blockbuster over rental games. Game rentals have since become a common sight at movie stores, and developers admit there's not much that can be done about them, Besides, rentals can be beneficial: they can cement a gamer's decision to purchase a title.
Old and New Working Together for a Better Future
Even GameStop's used games trade can be beneficial for the industry. Soren Johnson, who programmed Civilization 3 and worked on Spore, wrote a thoughtful blog entry in defense of used games. One of the points he makes is, quite simply, “the more players, the better.” When someone plays a game they love, word of mouth spreads, which is healthy for the industry overall. “[A] larger player base can benefit game developers who are ready to earn secondary income from their games,” Johnson said. “In-game ads are one source of this additional revenue, but the best scenario is downloadable content.”
The used games market is not likely to co-exist peacefully with developers any time soon. Even so, some companies are coming around to the fact that used games are not going to disappear into the night, nor should they; they're important pieces of history. It'd be best to find a way to work with used games rather than throwing up walls of copyrights and numbers, thereby avoiding the years of useless pain and fighting the RIAA has instigated by trying to cripple digital downloads in favor of CDs.


Showing items 1 - 10 of 13
1 2 >  >>  
erikx111 2/20/2009 1:19:43 AM

I don't believe there is anything the game developers can do about the used game market even if they wanted to.   While I'm pretty sure that the developers can lay the groundwork on smaller companies like Gamestop to halt it.  There is now way they would be able to stop a giant like Blockbuster which is owned by Viacom, which I'm sure would fight tooth and nail to defend a great sense of revenue. To me while this article, points out the pro's and cons of used games in the market. There's nothing to be done about it.  Once something is owned, it can be sold again, and that involves almost anything.  You'd have to shut down ebay and every flee market , it's just not possible.

tricky11 2/20/2009 1:54:33 AM

Of course it's cheaper to buy used video games and you could use your extra penny to buy wow gold . They have to understand that it's better that consumers  buys used games than pirated cd.

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 2/20/2009 4:34:32 AM

Even if they did - which they clearly won't - there will always be a way around it.  What's to stop people from selling their games at garage sells, in the classifieds, etc. on the cheap and in turn finding other people that are doing the same that might have games that they want.  Or even if people started doing it through craigslist or eBay, something in those veins.  They'd never get what they intended. At least they are smart enough unlike the RIAA - not necesarrily talking about their battle against downloadable content - not to fight it and see that there is some benefit to it.  But maybe the RIAA and the game industry can make their prodcuts cheaper and encourage people to buy new ones straight from the company/developers.  Some places still have CDs for fifteen bucks.  Hell, CDs shouldn't even be ten bucks if you ask me.  Look how ling they've been around.  And don't tell me that that's the way it has to be.  Look what Radiohead did with their album In Rainbows (look it up) and see how successful they were in doing a different approach.  The same goes for the gaming industry.  The games could afford to be cheaper and instead of putting out 2 of 5 titles that are great maybe they can eliminate some of the games that are complete garbage to cut down costs.  A lot of games on the market now seem like filler.  That's just my opinion.

gimpythewonder 2/20/2009 2:53:32 PM

even if game companies wanted to do something there is no legal basis for suing companies like gamestop.  Its called 'Right of First Sale' which is how public libraries are able to loan out materials legally to all-comers.  Once you purchase an item (book, album, game) you are the owner of said item and can do whatever the hell you want w/ it including selling it to someone else.  for game companies to be upset by this is preposterous, they already got their $$ the first go 'round.  it'd be the same if book publishers wanted to shut down used books stores, idiotic

dbrock06 2/23/2009 7:21:38 PM

This past Christmas Gamestop had a sale buy 2 used games and get a third free.  I bought Drakes Fortune, Oblivion, and Bioshock, all used.  I probably wouldn't have tried most of these games if I didn't get them used.  I loved all of them!.  Because I bought them used and loved them so much, I now intend on buying the next installment of all of these games new.  So in my case, and I am sure in others as well, Buying the used game is actually creating business for their future new games. 

hanso 2/24/2009 7:07:11 AM

That's definitely true dbrock.  Not everyone will shell out $60 for a new IP but they will buy them use and if they like it a lot they will buy the sequel at full price.  Same thing happened to me with Bioshock and I can't wait for the sequel.  I actually have been planning to buy Drake's Fortune when it lowers in price so I can get the sequel if I like the original.

Used games are the way to go a lot of times, even with new titles so can sometimes find them being sold a week after release.  I got SFIV last week new, I checked this weekend and 3 game stop near buy had it used for $55, add to that a 10% discount (cause I got that membership card they sell) and the game would've cost me $52 including tax, vs the $63 I paid for it new.  That's a $11 difference and all I had to do was wait a week.  You know no one could've messed the game up in less than a week, so you can get it in good condition.

Not only that but with the new features of being able to download the game to your hard drive, you don't have to worry about the disc being too scratched if you do get it used.  Finally, if you subscribe to gamestop email, each week they send out coupons and like every 6-8 weeks they'll start sending out %20 off on used games, so you can get them even cheaper.

Used games pwns!

dbrock06 2/25/2009 11:19:37 AM

Hanso,   I was reluctant to get/play Drakes Fortune, but once I started I couldn't stop playing.  There is also a download for Trophies as well which in all honesty makes games a little more dun to play.  The one thing I miss about my 360 was the achievements.

You will definitely be happy once you play the game.  I can almost see this is as a movie too.  The voice acting was spot on and the story was very good.  When you get a chance pick it up.

swisshammer 5/15/2009 2:37:50 PM

And last I checked, you can't download the original Contra on the Wii. So buying the actual hardcopy is the only way to go (Or download an emulator).

Markweee 8/8/2009 6:40:19 AM

The above example shows how a developer can write their own converter class and then define it under a user provided name. Once defined, a Converter can be attached to any number of mappings through the @Convert annotation or in an XML mapping file. EclipseLink also provides out of the box converters for handing primitive value and type conversions and some database specific data types.

project management diploma AND PhD business AND online degree school

Markweee 8/21/2009 4:11:13 AM

The worst thing that a Government can do is make an Individual dependant on the State, yet successive New Zealand Governments have made Welfare nearly impossible to avoid. Working for Families is Bad Legislation; more could have been achieved more efficiently if we had a lower and flatter tax regime.



1 2 >  >>  


You must be logged in to leave a comment. Please click here to login.