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Episode 005: The end of pre-owned video games?

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You thought we only took the largest question of humanity? Certainly not. But even the seemingly small questions of the Ask Adam League lead to very important answers. Are digital downloads, price of games and/or the economy going to kill the pre-owned video game market? Used video games for sale may be at an end. Economics and publisher’s rights discussed.

Length: 31 minutes
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6 Responses to Episode 005: The end of pre-owned video games?

  1. FNG 2010.12.24 6:10 pm

    This topic is an extraordinary hot-button topic for me, personally.

    My 2 cents:
    The consumer is being raped by retail outlets that do trade-ins. Giving somebody .50 to $20 for a game that was originally purchased for FAR more, then reselling that title for $5.00 less than the “new” version SHOULD be unacceptable… but consumers allow it… so it’s partially OUR fault.

    The developer/publisher crying about not seeing any of the profits from used games REALLY pisses me off. Blockbuster and other video rental locations sell previously viewed movies.. Stores like Movie Stop of FYE allow trade-in credit or cash for previously viewed movies… If the movie industry added a “view code” or an internet connection to ensure that the original purchaser is the only person watching the content, consumers would flip the **** out! It wouldn’t be tolerated!!!

    When Blu-Ray was in its infancy, the movie industry (and SONY) was pushing for discs (both games and movies) to “lock” themselves to the player so they couldn’t be resold… when consumers caught wind of this they backed off supporting the format and HD DVD was able to get a foothold.. I believe it may have impacted potential sales of the PS3 early on. Luckily this kind of “protection” wasn’t put in place and Blu-Ray eventually became the HD disc standard. (Actually, having Warner Bros. finally hop into bed with Sony ultimately killed their competition.)

    Crap.. where was I? oh yeah… my point. I guess what I’m ultimately trying to say is that the publishers/developers need to get the sand out of their vaginas and focus on making quality games, with original ideas, that don’t need to be patched 6 – 10 times for bugs that were known about BEFORE it shipped. Seeing a company FINISH a game before releasing it would be a refreshing change of pace. They wouldn’t have to worry about the resale of their games if their game was good enough to buy and KEEP. They could even continue to milk the consumer for more cash with quality DLC.. I’m talking about DLC that’s NOT on the disc I already paid for.. Now THAT really chaps my hide, but that’s a rant for another day.

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    1. Don The Producer 2010.12.25 4:41 am

      Thanks for the input FNG. The more I think about it after the episode the more I feel it’s not right that the game publishers demand a cut out of the profits of resale. I think it’s a betrayal of free market enterprise to force resellers to bring that money to the publishers as I liken the purchase of the game as a purchase of other goods like cars, books, DVDs and anything else. If the publisher wants to create DLC to squeeze more money out of the value of the game then so be it. But I don’t need to see any of my money for pre-owned games going to the publisher.

      I do see the other side of the coin however and how the publisher does get screwed from potential buyers who purchase a pre-owned copy of the game 2 weeks after it’s release because somebody decided to tear through the game and get a more ‘valuable’ trade-in. I still believe in free market enterprise even for reseller though.

      Kudos on the patches 🙂 My favorite game Mass Effect 2 was not without flaws. The game’s buggy as hell and I can’t see why it was released in that condition. I also hear that there’s been a long awaited patch for Fable III that was supposed to close up a game-ending bug.

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  2. glowstrz 2011.01.05 6:22 pm

    Let me start by saying that I work in the gaming industry and even I think the notion that the publisher should get some cut of the profits from a re-sold game is ridiculous!

    Publishers not getting a cut of these re-sold games is NOT going to hurt them anymore then it already has, which I believe to be a minor amount of money compared to originally sold games.

    While I work in the industry, I am not a huge gamer and was SHOCKED the first time I saw the cost of a “pre-owned” game at Game-Stop. The price was so high I thought that if I were to buy the game, I might as well buy a new one and be the original owner.

    On the other hand, as I understand it publishers do not provide a venue for which their customers can trade/sell games directly to them. If they did, THEN I could see them taking a cut of the sold game, obviously. Until they provide this option, they should not be complaining. As Don pointed out, this would be like car companies getting a cut of a old car, or a movie company getting a cut of an old CD. It makes no sense.

    Then there is the issue of DLC. When I first heard of this idea I thought it was brilliant! It would save the publisher and consumer $, fast, easy, etc. But people don’t like it because they can’t hold it in their hands and say, “I own this!” My suggestion to the gaming companies, is yes, have your DLC and let people burn a hard copy. If you do that, people would buy more. (I don’t know what techy stuff would be necessary, but I’m sure it could be done).

    I also agree with FNG. Make solid, functioning games and people will be less likely to sell them. After you play a board game, you don’t sell it, because you want to play it again.

    On the other hand. Possibly it is the nature of video games, you play through and then it’s over? And why not sell it to GameStop or to someone on craigslist and get some of your money back? Then you can take the money and buy something else. I think possibly the industry is unique like that.

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    1. Don The Producer 2011.01.06 2:32 pm

      I just recently purchased some DLC for Mass Effect 2. I don’t usually do the DLC thing but in this instance I found it worthwhile. I’ve got some more guns, armor, characters and side quests to go through now allowing me to enjoy the game with some new material. Do I feel that these new content is not tangible? Well, it’s not but I don’t feel like I can easily lose this stuff. The licenses are on my Xbox360 and can be transferred over to another system with all of my other purchased and acquired content. But honestly, that’s as far as I would want to see the upsell go for these games.
      Why should the publishers get a cut and if they did how would it be possible. Sure they could demand that GameStop hand over a few bucks when they sell a used game but what about the mom-and-pop stores, what about independent sellers like the average guy that wants to hand over a game to a friend for some money? Is that going to be illegal? How do you regulate such a policy? Sounds like it’d be unfair to make the big box stores fork over a reselling fee and not anyone else.

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      1. The Adam 2011.01.09 7:12 pm

        The idea is not to FORCE any issue to anyones hand. The idea is offer the option that people can buy into. Mom and Pop fit into the equation perfectly as the option is open to them as well.
        DLC to me is a different beast. Assuming that all consoles dealt with DLC in a way which wasn’t bound to only a specific console but was somehow bound to a specific person and the content was available indefinitely, I still am not a fan of DLC overall. I participate in DLC but I have had to accept that it has a flaw. You cannot TRY most DLC. Being digital, we have given away the understanding of observing it before we buy. Some places have done reviews on DLC to help in this, but you have to seek it out. The DLC itself is a double edged sword. In some cases it could be fantastic and well worth the price. In many others it’s simply flawwed and terrible.
        Then how do you price it? How many people bought the game determines it’s pricing. So does how many people play it online. Whether or not they track it is determined on the company at hand. The reselling of games can completely affect DLC’s pricing as in EA’s case.
        It’s a highly complex issue which I personally don’t care about too much as I don’t buy used games. The benefit of this system is that it would help both new and used owners as well as DLC purchases in the long run.
        I will admit that a few of my DLC purchases were well made but there are others which just didn’t really do the trick. I am now less likely to purchase certain content.
        Best trick to get me to purchase content? Low price. Pretty simple for me I guess. I’m digitally easy. -The Adam

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    2. The Adam 2011.01.09 7:06 pm

      You are right, the industry IS unique like that. So comparing it to a car company loses value.
      Cars are not created in the same ways as video games. The steps involved are not nearly as complicated. Do not believe however I don’t think making a car is hard, from concept, to design, to test, to execution, it can be a costly endeavor. But that is where things change.
      In video games, there is one major publisher. This publisher doesn’t always own the companies which it asks to make games. They bid out and the game developer then has to create a title. The publisher can choose to have as much, or as little, control over the content of the game as they wish. Since they back the money, the creator has to abide. Now, all of this seems meaningless when it gets into the hands of the end consumer. It is not.
      At the end of the day, we are looking for the result of having a better cost of games to the consumer. That’s all most people seem to care about. The logic behind letting the publishers in is competition. If you can agree that competition helps lower prices, then you can agree that the moment one of the larger publishers chooses to take some of the used profits over the initial profits and sell the original game cheaper then so shall the other publishers.
      See, at the end, it isn’t JUST the consumer who can get screwed. It is also the DEVELOPER. Publishers do not create the content. They simply fund it. That’s their main purpose. Sure, they can have input, sure they can force content, but at the end of the day all they are is a bank. Each Publisher runs things different. The people who win with my idea is everyone. Sure, publishers MIGHT make a little more money, but so will developers, the consumer, and depending how the deal is held even the game company.
      If a strategy makes all games cheaper to both produce and sell, and still keeps the profit high for those involved, then why wouldn’t it be a winning plan? -The Adam

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