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Editorial: Are Pre-Owned Games Good for the Industry?

This is a discussion on Editorial: Are Pre-Owned Games Good for the Industry? within the Trophy Guides, Reviews & Articles forum, part of the Everything PlayStation; Are Pre-owned Games good for the industry? Imagine this scenario; you walk into a video game store, with a limited ...

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    Editorial: Are Pre-Owned Games Good for the Industry?

    Are Pre-owned Games good for the industry?

    Imagine this scenario; you walk into a video game store, with a limited amount of cash to spend. You come to a crossroad; do you decide to buy the game pre-owned, and save money, or get it brand spanking new, but have to spend an extra $5-10? For most of us, the answer is pretty clear. People don’t buy pre-owned games because they want to have the smell of someone else’s home imbedded in the manual; they do so because it’s bloody cheap.

    However, saving money comes at a price (see what I did there?). It affects the company directly, for 100% of the profit goes to the store, not the actual developer and publisher of the game. You might argue that someone else had already purchased the game, and thus the company had already earned its profit. But in reality, the person who actually purchases the game traded it in to the store and earned some money back themselves. Now the store holds the game, and can sell it at their will, giving people the choice of buying the pre-owned versions or the new copy. Few people actually pick the latter when they can get a cheaper copy, and in all honesty why should they? Most people don’t consider the affect on a grand scale.

    Directors as such David Cage have voiced their opinion against pre-owned copies of his game being sold, claiming that according to trophy profiles that millions of people had gotten their hands on Heavy Rain without actually buying the game. Granted, they could have rented the game, but the point is that somehow millions have experienced Mr. Cage’s fine work of art without returning the favour. Of course, we can’t expect everyone to buy the new copy, especially when so many have tight budgets, however some should make a personal choice to buy the game new and support the company. Speaking personally I purchased Heavy Rain new, and thus I supported Quantic Dream and Sony’s effort to bring me this fine work of entertainment. The same goes for many games that I have purchased new; I wish to support the industry and the company themselves. Granted, that doesn’t mean you need to purchase every game new, but the most part it should – at least in my view- be a personal decision. With the addition of online passes, the choice of buying pre-owned games is somewhat unsavory if wish to play online.

    There is another side to the story, however. Stores need to make a profit as well; after all they provide us with the hours upon hours of browsing the shelves that we all love so much. But with prices set so high, it’s difficult to actually take in all these factors and make up your mind every time you make to purchase a game.

    You might also want to consider the expense of making the game. A great deal of money goes into making these games, and in some cases a profit is exceedingly difficult to come by. In some cases, the majority doesn’t even breakeven. So in short these companies need support. They provide us with days of entertainment, and even after we finish the game and put down the controller we can spend years mulling over our pleasant experiences. Wouldn’t you say that we owe it to the developers who make such under appreciated forms of art to spend a few more bucks? After all, if we weren’t gamers, were would we all be today? It’s because of these developers and companies that we are, and thus we should show our appreciation, wouldn’t you say?


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    Last edited by Kerwan_Ratchet; 09-17-2012 at 07:45 PM.




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    Well said. I agree with supporting the industry and I see no problem in them trying to still make money on pre-owned games by requiring online passes or day 1 DLC that comes with the game if you buy it new. I never really understood how people can rant about day 1 DLC's that comes with the game from new. As far as I know there isn't a game that have come out with a DLC on day 1 that didn't come with the disc.

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    Good read I buy new about 95% of the time. Only time I didnt is MGS4 last month and Mass Effect 2 same day I bought 3. I just cant agree with gamestop charging 4 or 5 dollars less then it new and they litallary did nothing but give the previous owner 10 bucks for it and got it back immediatly when they buy another game. Rather hook the devs up.

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    There is another aspect of the pre-owned sales that isn't taken into consideration here. Sometimes people will buy a game used if the IP is new or different from the genre, type, or characters they are familiar with. In this case they take less of a chance on a new property, but may come to like it and support future releases of the franchise.

    For my personal experience I know I bought the first Ratchet and Clank game used because I had heard good things about it but wasn't sure if it would live up to the hype. I enjoyed the game immensely and have since bought every release in the franchise as a new product to support it.

    I have no problem with online passes or DLC being used to help a company recoup some of the money they lose to the pre-owned market, but to directly oppose the idea of pre-owned sales seems almost foolish to me. While I understand the example of David Cage's feeling toward the sales of Heavy Rain I would also question if he has considered that since his product was very different from the majority of the market that gamers were hesitant to take a chance on it. Now though after the game has so widely praised and by the number of players so high one has to wonder if the sales would be better with (not a direct) a sequel or game in the same type- since players would know what they were wading into and have an example of how it would play.

    The issue of used sales is a lot less black and white then much of the developer market seems to want to believe. While they seem to only view it as direct support or no support for the company there's more to it than that.
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    Great read, and I agree with supporting the industry. I buy my games new, except a few that I rented from GameFly, but I will eventually buy them new.

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    I buy used for older games when new is harder to find or is EA games. Personally if the lower the price for games down to $40 they would make more money as more people would buy them. What do they not understand about that idea.
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    I never buy second-hand unless I'm forced to by rarity. I don't like the thought of someone else's dirty fingers all over my games, or used DLC codes / online passes, scratched discs, dented cases etc. A $5 difference is not enough to warrant the risk, however small. $20 cheaper and I'll think about it.

    I believe in supporting developers, but not at full retail launch price, unless I really want the game. That happens only once or twice a year out of at least a hundred games I buy annually.

    As Randy said, the pricing point for games is more than the value I attach to them, particularly in Australia where we pay $90-$100 at launch, so I'll typically wait until the games drop to $20-$30. At that point developers make pennies to the pound, so just as developers have been looking for alternative funding sources like Kickstarter, they need to consider digital self-publishing at a more palatable price to the consumer and for a greater slice of the publishing pie.

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    Stores need to make a profit as well; after all they provide us with the hours upon hours of browsing the shelves that we all love so much.
    Lol, this happens to me, takes me about 2 hours to get a game.

    I buy most of my games brand new when it's a game I really want to support the developer and get what I asked for from the game but a few of the games I get are pre-owned and these are the games that I don't feel like shelling out $40-$60 on, games that I wasn't sure about.

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    I always buy used. In my area there is quite a difference between new and used, it's not just a matter of $5, but more like $15-20

    I know that used may not be the best for the industry, but I've never been the one to flock to the game store, or preordered a game when it first arrives on the shelves. They're expensive, and most times (unfortunately) you don't get the "bang for your buck"

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    I'm fairly neutral to that topic. I want to support the company with buying games new, but at the same time, I don't always have the money to buy a game new and instead can buy the game pre-owned. The only reason why I usually don't buy pre-owned games is because I don't always trust the condition of the discs of the games, mostly around the PS2 era at least.

    But my personal matter doesn't change the fact that I believe that both the company and the stores should earn profit. There are many people like me who wouldn't want to buy a game pre-owned, but there are also a handful of people who would want to buy it pre-owned because it's more affordable. I don't see why it's a bad thing if it's mostly a personal matter or a "I can/can't afford this" kind of situation.

    This is the main reason why I'm somewhat against Online Passes, to an extent. Not only do they cost an extra $5-10 to buy if you get a game used, but because it's an inconvenience to pre-owned buyers that they can easily say, "Screw it, I'm not buying this". I do understand that the developers need the profits that they can get, and the Online Passes helps them. On that part I'm in support with, but how would that affect the stores exactly? That's more money needed to spend on even providing a stock for the consumers to buy. It also limits the ability for someone to borrow a game and play online unless they by the pass themselves, and I'm one of those handful of people who like to borrow/let people borrow games. But if it helps the developers make more money, then I can't be 100% against it. The better financially a company is doing, the more likely we're going to see good deals from them.

    Thanks for posting this thread Kerwan, your post gave us some pretty good insight on the issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ant1th3s1s View Post

    I believe in supporting developers, but not at full retail launch price, unless I really want the game. That happens only once or twice a year out of at least a hundred games I buy annually.

    As Randy said, the pricing point for games is more than the value I attach to them, particularly in Australia where we pay $90-$100 at launch, so I'll typically wait until the games drop to $20-$30. At that point developers make pennies to the pound, so just as developers have been looking for alternative funding sources like Kickstarter, they need to consider digital self-publishing at a more palatable price to the consumer and for a greater slice of the publishing pie.
    I only have bought a couple full games at full price also. I mostly bought HD collections this year and the cheap Ratchet game. I feel sorry for Australian gamer for paying $100 for retail. I couldn't buy many games for that price.
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    I mostly buy brand new games, just cause I can. Only buy pre-owned games if there's a good deal on them or if there's a game I haven't been able to get anywhere such as Rugby League Live.

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    I'll buy used when it's an older, cheaper game. This was a well-written article that brings both sides of the argument into light. People will obviously jump for cheaper games, especially when not all games these days are really worth dropping a full $60.


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    if game companies dont like pre owned games they should buy out the retailers that sell games used that way they can get profits from used games

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    The only games I buy full retail on are my sports games. I will not pay full price on something that has no type of enjoyable replay value.

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    Good read! I try to buy new but sometimes I'm just not able to...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Qurb View Post
    Lol, this happens to me, takes me about 2 hours to get a game.

    I buy most of my games brand new when it's a game I really want to support the developer and get what I asked for from the game but a few of the games I get are pre-owned and these are the games that I don't feel like shelling out $40-$60 on, games that I wasn't sure about.
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    This is an extremely well-written and well-though out article about a very divisive topic (elsewhere, I mean).

    As a full disclaimer, I worked in the video games industry--both as developer and publisher--for several years. I know that some online interactions are mandated by the first parties (MS, Sony, Nintendo), but to what extent that goes these days, I'm uncertain.

    However, I'm also someone with a limited budget, so I totally understand both sides of this. Personally, I prefer to buy new mostly because I've gotten discs in horrific condition when I've bought used, but sometimes, for older games, it's the only way to get them.

    While I do understand gamers' frustration with the price of games, it's also not a lie to say that the majority of less expensive budgeted games still cost upwards of 20 million, conservatively. That is a massive investment that is not easily recouped. Now, you may say that's not the consumers' problem, and you're right. But it still affects the consumer, insomuch as it affects the retail price.

    You may believe me when I say the vast majority of developers are not living fat off the land. Most of them work ridiculous hours for standard/decent payment. But I can assure you that it's hardly extravagant.

    For those who are on the fence about taking chances on games they're not sure of, that still cost around $60, why not rent them? That way, everyone's happy, and you can either buy or not buy later depending on how much you enjoyed the game.

    I think the ideal solution would be if GameStop and other stores acted as distributors more, and gave a percentage of used games sales to publishers. But of course, GameStop has no interest in doing so since, from their perspective, why should they? Except that their hardline stance is going to result in consoles and publishers taking steps to ensure that used games sales suffer. So... Honestly, I think that would've been the solution that would be best for everyone. Since that's not an option, though, I have no problem with online passes or whatever.

    Even if you buy the game used and have to purchase an online pass, it's still likely to be considerably cheaper than the game new. Right now, I think that's the best compromise. I don't particularly like microtransactions personally (please don't ask about my FFXIII-2 experiences, ha ha), but those are up to the consumer, so I don't really understand complaints about them--if you don't want them, don't buy them. On-disc content also doesn't bother me--it's a more efficient means of setting up future DLC. It's not really any different than if it'd been a true download, except that it's faster.

    Obviously, I draw a line at downloading game ISO's or the like, unless it's truly something unavailable by any means. There are such games, but generally (for me) they're in Japanese and out of print.

    It will be interesting to see where the next generation of consoles goes with this. My impression is that Sony is fairly happy with the current online pass system, though I did read the extensive disclaimer/warning on the new Dead Space 3, which basically tells you all the bad things that happen if you don't buy it new. I don't necessarily hold with all that, but Legal may have told them it was necessary... I guess we'll all see.

    Thanks again, TC, for a thoughtful, well-written essay.

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