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GameStop explains why MS and Sony shouldn’t restrict used games

Thursday, 7th March 2013 17:58 GMT By Phil Owen

GameStop president Tony Bartel had some words for Forbes about why the rumored always-online-never-play-used-games next Xbox might be a bad idea. “Console manufacturers understand that recent surveys indicate 60+ percent of video game consumers would be less likely to purchase a new console that did not play pre-owned games.”


But surveys aren’t always accurate or include a representative sample, somebody at Microsoft might say. To which Bartel would would reply with some more concrete numbers:

“Also, used games generate more than $1 billion of trade credit annually, 70 percent of which is credited towards purchasing new games and new hardware.”

That right there gets to the heart of it. More people buy more new games when they can sell or trade their old ones..

What do y’all think? Do you even care about the secondhand market? Does its existence influence your buying habits?

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17 Comments

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  1. DSB

    “Because then we’d be even more fucked”.

    The end.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Cobra951

    It’s not only Gamestop who would be fucked, though. I would argue that every consumer would suffer. Certainly the less affluent ones would. I waste no love on GS and their ripoff policies, but I have to support them in this campaign.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. melonbuster1

    Can’t support bloodsuckers .they feed on the weak poor consumer. Used games will be there for the old systems. Used systems will always be there. But the developers need to get paid. Far too many of them had to close shop because of bootlegging and the used games market. Death to gamestop

    #3 1 year ago
  4. orakaa

    @3: I guess math was to hard for you in school?

    Try to get serious and intelligent for a minute there. Please. 70% of the money gathered by used game sales go DIRECTLY towards NEW GAMES. Used games money fuel new games market.

    Do you seriously think gamers would buy a new FIFA each year for 60 dollars if they couldn’t sell the old (useless) one? Do you think people’s pocket have magical money coming out of their wallet?
    Cut used games, prevent them and the only thing you’ll get is a MASSIVE shrink in the number of new games sold.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. DSB

    @4 A Gamestop survey that supports Gamestops argument? SHOCKING.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. Stardog

    I bought 3/4 pre-owned PS3 games when I bought a PS3, including Heavy Rain.

    Now I’ll be buying Beyond on day one because I liked Heavy Rain…

    I wouldn’t have bought Heavy Rain at new price.

    #6 1 year ago
  7. orakaa

    @5: we are not talking about the survey, damnit!

    Look around you. I, personally don’t sell my old games but I’m one of the only gamer around me who isn’t doing so. In France we have many different video game shops and they’re filled with used games… and if you pay attention and just stay there a saturday and WATCH, you’ll see many gamers coming in to sell their games… and use that money to finance the purchase of new games.

    We don’t have Gamestop here, so I won’t even start to make a judgment on them, but they’re right on this subject: cut used games and gamers will suffer, and there will be less new games sold

    #7 1 year ago
  8. orakaa

    I work and have a good income, but amongst gamers, how many still live by their parents? How many are students or young workers with low income?

    Millions.

    Do you think their wallet (or their parents’) are unlimited? If a student with low money buy the last COD but can’t resell it, he’ll be stuck with it, and he won’t have that extra money (from the sale of the used game) to buy the next one.

    #8 1 year ago
  9. Yoshi

    Look at them getting all cocky now because it’s not happening :P I bet they were shitting themselves a few months ago when Sony did that patent XD

    #9 1 year ago
  10. fearmonkey

    I don’t sell my games but I do buy used games from gamefly and very rarely at Gamestop. Most of the games I buy used I would never buy new unless severely marked down. So, if MS or Sony decide to limit used games, I’ll focus my buying power more on Steam or other digital download sites when they have major sales. This would only hurt them in the end.

    What is probably going to happen is that publishers will be allowed to make the choice on whether a game uses the tech or not, and this was probably something that EA and Activision demanded from both Sony and MS.
    This will benefit Madden and COD games, as they now can make you buy the game which enforces that “Subscription” type of system, where you have to pay to play, used wont help you. I would bet Bungie’s Destiny would be a good choice for this tech as well EA’s biggest sports franchises.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. mightyhokie

    I don’t really buy anything but new games. I occasionally do trade in games to get those new games. So basically this affects me zero amount. I’m a huge fan of my 360 and have been very excited to buy the new one when it comes out…until they said they were not going to allow people to play used games.

    Im one of those 360 fans totally unaffected by MS’s decision to ban used games that will NOT buy the 720 if that happens. I’m an artist and all for protecting intellectual properties. But there has to be a better way. I hope this is just a rumor to make people pissed then MS comes out and says ‘we will NOT be banning used games’ so it seems that much more happy news. I hope.

    #11 1 year ago
  12. DSB

    @7,8 I don’t think games are expensive enough to be considered luxury items. They’ve been a lot more expensive in my lifetime, and I’m 27. They’re more expensive on consoles than they should be, but nobody wants to critisize their beloved console manufacturers, so in all likelihood nobody’s going to complain enough to change that.

    There are a million things wrong with publishers and what they’re doing these days too, but the economic reality is that you only have an industry as long as people buy new. Since a used videogame doesn’t lose value compared to a new videogame it’s a hard argument to make, that it’s somehow a seperate economy.

    They both compete for the same customers, with the main difference being that the used game is cheaper, and only provides profits for the retailer, not the producer.

    That’s great if you want to see more Gamestops opening everywhere, but bad if you want newer and better games.

    #12 1 year ago
  13. salarta

    The only way used game restriction wouldn’t be an absolutely terrible thing is if 1) the “lock” on used games no longer after at most a few years, 2) special versions of these games were made available to rental stores and libraries and the like, and 3) they instituted a system similar to Apple’s iTunes where you could have it accessible from 5 devices or more with an ability to remove it from one device and “free up a slot” somewhere other than the device itself.

    If these three did not happen, then disallowing used games would hurt sales far more than any supposed gains. It would guarantee people not buying the consoles in favor of just getting a better PC and using Steam. If a system breaks down and it’s outside warranty or was never taken online to verify game purchases, does that mean you have to buy a whole new copy of a game just to play it? What if it’s 20 years from now when support for the system is dead, you want to play a game (or version of it) that has never been remade or re-released, and you want to use a new system to play a game you bought?

    And that’s not even taking into account how asinine video game publishers are these days. Any claims that prices of video games would go down with used game sales out of the way is a blatant lie, and it would be sheer idiocy for anyone to believe that. Nor would quality improve due to “greater budget” thanks to “higher revenues” (assuming that would even happen). In reality, video game publishers would mark up their prices higher because they don’t have the price of used games to rein them in; either you pay their full price five years after the game was released or you never get to play the game. Meanwhile, these companies wouldn’t add more bang for your buck in the main game because they know they can get away with withholding the content as DLC to make people pay extra. Not to mention companies like Capcom; they were seriously considering making fans of Mega Man pay for a demo of Mega Man Legends 3 to “prove they want the game.” Without having to worry about used games, what’s to stop companies from forcing consumers to pay to play a demo of a highly anticipated and desired game?

    No, unless an “anti-used games” policy was very lenient, it would be a disaster. It would also be extremely stupid on the part of console makers considering that video game publishers are scapegoating lower sales of many games as due to “console volatility.” These publishers are already considering abandoning the console market, an anti-used games policy isn’t going to change that.

    #13 1 year ago
  14. DSB

    @13 It would be quite the stroke of irony if everybody flocked to Steam and the PC, given that it has essentially annhilated the used game market. Maybe it isn’t the imperative that everybody wants to make it.

    The third paragraph doesn’t make any sense.

    There’s no way to control what a company spends, and there’s no way to make publishers not suck. So far I agree. The idea that it would drive prices up is just idiotic though.

    On the digital PC market, only very few stores offer you any kind of credit on the return of games, and a lot of stores don’t even allow you to go back on a sale, even though it’s EU legislation.. But it’s still the most competitive market that I can ever remember seeing.

    Digital services are actually selling games at zero percent margins, just to attract customers. You know that the competition is in a pretty good place when people actually sell products at a loss in the war for customers.

    If I was being facetious, I might say “That’s what getting rid of used games gets you!”, but the fact is just that publishers largely don’t have to worry about retailers cannibalizing their sales in the digital market, and the much better returns on every game sold (even if you don’t take into account the rampant competition) makes it very easy to keep prices lower for everyone involved.

    #14 1 year ago
  15. salarta

    @14: The reason for people flocking to Steam and the PC in the wake of an anti-used games policy on consoles is simple: if they’re too restricted on where they can play their physical disc, then why buy the console and the game on that console? If your access is going to be restricted, at least Steam restricts it by account instead of device, and you can get the games at a significantly lower price. And sure, PCs technically count as a “restriction by device,” but PCs can do more than just play video games, ultimately making a purchase of a stronger PC into a much better investment than paying for a separate video game console. This includes that you’re practically guaranteed backwards compatibility on a PC for the games you have on Steam, even if you have to take a few extra steps to make it happen.

    The digital PC market, and the sales and prices within it, are happening while the used game market is still running. There’s a vested interest in luring people to the digital end: people that buy digital can’t resell the game, and people buying digital means the publishers having to spend less on manufacturing which includes not only the disc and case but in some cases (though increasingly less so) instruction manuals. And this is pretty rare currently, but some companies such as EA are launching Steam-like environments of their own since they see digital as a way to possibly cut out the middlemen of brick and mortar stores and manufacturers to maximize profits.

    The idea that video game publishers are selling their products at a loss solely to “win a war for customers” is, and I’m sorry if this seems personal since it’s not intended that way, ridiculous. They know, or at least I hope they know, that any meaningful levels of consumers building “brand loyalty” only happens at the platform/hardware level, NOT at the software level. Yes, you have fanboys and fangirls for just about any video game publisher, but the average consumer isn’t going to go “Well this Capcom game looks like a masterpiece and I’m absolutely dying to play it, but no thanks, I’d rather have a less thrilling experience on this latest Squeenix game since I’m so devoted to them.” Good will from consumers buying and playing great games by a company only increases their chances of buying other games by that company; it doesn’t cause people to actively disregard what other companies put out.

    Or to put it shorter and simpler: making your games cheaper to the point where you don’t turn a profit doesn’t serve a long-term goal of putting the competition out of business or even at a significant disadvantage. You’d sooner put yourself out of business, because unlike the Sony-Microsoft-Nintendo trifecta, there are WAY too many options at the software level.

    Where selling games at a loss digitally DOES serve these companies is steering the industry in a direction where they get more revenue for lower cost in the future, on their terms and under their control. Again, fewer (and in the future, potentially no) middlemen, no manufacturing needs, consumers can’t resell a game since it’s locked to their account, and hell, Steam’s format shows it’s possible for these companies to deactivate access to the games whenever they want because as the agreement states, you’re not paying to OWN the game, only paying for the license to play it. When it’s on a physical disc, there’s still a chance that consumers, even with DRM restrictions, can play the game whenever they want with the right hardware. But when it’s on a cloud, these companies can set down rules that they can yank access any time they want. Doom 3 is being remade and re-released for purchase at full price? Disable access to the original game so that consumers have to buy the remake if they ever want to play the game again.

    Admittedly, I do not think companies would go so far as to actually disable access to an old game purely to force people to buy a newer version at full price.

    But I think I’ve made my point clear: promoting digital sales, and providing low prices of them, has nothing to do with beating the competition. It has to do with trying to seize fuller control of how and where consumers can access the games, and through that, greater control of pricing.

    #15 1 year ago
  16. DSB

    Quite a lot of that has absolutely no bearing on what I wrote.

    Publishers aren’t selling anything at a loss, there’s no way they’re going to forego their pound of flesh. The retailers are the ones who assume the loss. The idea you put forward was that curbing used game sales would lead to higher prices, which is nonsense, because cutthroat competition among the retailers ensure that it won’t.

    There’s no telling what a business will actually do, but it’s only logical that by keeping production costs low, and curbing measures that cannibalize profits, like used games or piracy (ie by putting it on Steam) you essentially provide them with the best possible environment to lower prices, not the opposite.

    #16 1 year ago
  17. monkees19

    I’ve always been on the used bandwagon. I buy a lot of games secondhand, even though usually I get them on eBay not GameStop. I’m part of that 60%+ that wouldn’t buy a console if I can’t play used games on it.

    #17 1 year ago