A lot of people are talking about used games at the moment. THQ creative director Cory Ledesma feels that developers get "cheated" anytime of their games get bought used, and although they're not being as vocal about it, a number of publishers are currently experimenting with ways to make money from those of you who buy their games used rather than new. One publisher getting in on the action is THQ, which after doing something similar with UFC 2010 Undisputed recently announced that used buyers would have to spend an additional $10 to play WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2011 online.
Unsurprisingly, the reaction from what appears to be the majority of gamers--or at least of the most vocal ones--is less than positive:
- "new games already cost 60 f***ing dollars... why can't they just leave the also high-priced used games alone?!"
- "always looking for ways to screw the buyers. it's a freaking GAME, let us PLAY IT!!!"
- "They already got paid once, somebody had to buy it new for it to be used in the first place."
- "Game Publishers: Stop Raping Gamers' Wallets! Nuff said!!"
- "Nice, way to go on alienating a fanbase and people who sometimes don't have 60 bucks to spend on a game, so instead they go for the used games."
There are plenty of people sticking up for the games companies as well, of course, but what I find most surprising is that very few people on either side of the argument appear to see stores such as GameStop as the bad guys in this scenario. Maybe it's because they're too busy attacking each other.
For the record, I don't have a problem with there being a used games market; I very rarely buy used games myself, but I've been known to trade in used games against new purchases from time to time, and recently I've been selling off a few of my old games on Glyde.com. What I do have a problem with, though, is used games that sell for almost as much as new games, and for significantly more than the customer trading the game in was given.
It's been a while since I traded in any games at my local GameStop, but I don't think I've ever received more than $20 for an individual game. Now, I daresay they go a little higher than that if you're trading in something released very recently (you tell me), but I'd be extremely surprised if it's ever as high as, say, $35. Maybe I'm wrong, but the impression I get is that when GameStop (which I have nothing against, by the way, they just happen to be the only brick-and-mortar games store I ever go to) puts used games on the shelf with a $55 price tag, that's a serious mark-up on what they paid for it. I've even had these $55 games offered to me at the counter after waiting in line with my $60 new copy, and told that buying new games is crazy by the cashiers on more than one occasion, but that's a gripe for another day.
The point I'm doing a horrible job of getting around to making is that , in my opinion, it's the stores selling used games that are being greedy. It's not the gamers who prefer to save money by getting their games used, and it's definitely not the developers who'd like a return on all of the time and money they invest in making games that are the problem. We should absolutely have the right to purchase games used, but do any of us really want that right to come at the expense of the developers who work so hard creating the games we love? I'd like to think not.
By charging $10 to unlock online play in used copies, games companies are at least getting a share of the money they've earned, and I for one am all for it. No, it's not a perfect solution. And yes, it sucks if you want to use your copy of a game on multiple consoles or with multiple family members' profiles. But what else can they do? I'm sure it won't be long before a better solution is forthcoming, but in the meantime I'd like to toss a couple of thoughts and questions out there:
- What if those $55 used games were sold for $45 instead? Retailers would still make a decent margin on them, and you'd have the option (but wouldn't be obligated) to spend the $10 you saved on a code to unlock online play.
- What if new games came not with just one single-use online code but two or three? That way a game bought new could be used by two family members, for example, and if only one of the codes was used it would retain more of it's value the first time it was traded in.
Maybe physical game discs and cartridges will be a thing of the past before this mess gets sorted out, but I doubt it. Where do you guys stand on this issue? Do you sympathize with the games companies who are taking risks by investing millions of dollars in game development? Or maybe you feel bad for the game stores that are coming under fire for doing the same perfectly legal things that they've always done, because now the games companies have figured out a way to get a slice of their action?
I'm interested to see you your comments. :)