Friday, August 27, 2010

Video game community divided on push to kill used game market

A very smart post from the video game web comic Penny Arcade about the use of DLC and one-time use codes to combat the used game market. The accompanying comic sums it up nicely:

As I've written before, this is a lot of anger from video game players about these business tactics. Video game companies do not profit from the sales of used games - and they lose potential sales to the used market.

From my own experience, there are some great games I plan to purchase, but I usually wait until a used copy sells for $30 or less. That's a game I was going to buy at some point, but because the used market is out there, I chose to save about $5 on it.

But the other side disagrees with this idea. As Daniel summed it up in the comment section of my last post on the used market:

I either wait until the price drops in half or buy previously played. Does this cut into the sales of a company? Not in the slightest, because I would never have bought the game new. Ever.
As Daniel admitted, these are the actions of one person. That's not a trend, and even if consumers like him were in the majority, people like me still exist - people who buy a used copy of a game we would have otherwise bought new - and that absolutely cuts into their profits. Even if the Daniels of the world buy DLC, which does go to the company, it is small potatoes compared to the missed profits the used market eliminated.

To avoid being misunderstood, let me clarify. I am not saying that video games companies deserve some special protection, or that used buyers are rogues or thieves. Occasionally I am one of those rogues, but if companies keep using one-time use codes, I will cave in and buy more new copies.

I do not support the other solutions, such as inspiring game players to buy new copies as an act of compassion to show support to the companies that produce them. This is asking people to sacrifice self-interest in order to help someone else's business.

Widening the divide between the quality of a used copy and a new one, on the other hand, does play to people's self interest. There is no difference between giving a bonus to new copies and taking away features from a used one.

Keep in mind that it's the people who buy new copies who are the customers, and they have to pay when other people get a good deal on a used copy. Since the company is losing sales to the used market but still needs to remain profitable, resulting cost hikes or the decision not to lower prices means more money comes from the pockets of customers who buy new copies.

1 comment:

  1. Of course by forcefully devaluing the second hand copy those who buy at release and then sell on after a couple of weeks will lose more money buying new and be less inclined to purchase games new.