"Significant Barriers" Preventing Re-Selling Digital Console Games, GameStop Says

"If it does ever happen, we'll be the first to be in it."


Speaking today at its annual Investor Day event, GameStop COO Tony Bartel was asked if one day it might be possible for GameStop's famous buy/sell/trade model to extend to digital games. In short, as the company has said time and again, it doesn't look likely.

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Bartel said conversations with the platform-holders have taken place, but right now, there are "significant barriers" that are keeping this from happening.

"We've had discussions with the platform-holders and publishers," he said. "It is much more difficult than on the physical side of the business. There are some significant barriers to that happening that would have to be removed. We don't see it on a lot of roadmaps in terms of development right now."

If such a feature were to be made available, Bartel said he's sure GameStop would be involved.

"If it does ever happen, we'll be the first to be in it," he explained. "We keep very close in contact with the platform-holders but I really do not see that happening in the short term."

GameStop CEO Paul Raines added: "In Europe, there's a lot of conversation [about re-selling digital games] and in the United States it's wrapped up in a lot of issues."

Before today, GameStop merchandising director Eric Bright said such a system remains on the company's radar, but it's too soon for it to happen. "I think as the marketplace grows, it's certainly something that we're interested in and we'll continue to look at," Bright said last summer.

More recently, an Xbox survey in March asked users if they would be interesting in selling back their digital games for 10 percent of the purchase price. Xbox's Aaron Greenberg has since spoken up to say Microsoft is "not actively planning such a thing," and is instead only gauging interest in the idea.

Selling secondhand digital content is already commonplace in some PC games. But on consoles, digital content is often licensed to one profile, and then it cannot be transferred. But it appears GameStop is intent on changing this, even if it takes a while.

According to previous comments from GameStop executive vice president Mike Hogan, such a system would require a partnership between retailers like GameStop and publishers. In 2014, Hogan said GameStop was already having conversations with platform-holders like Microsoft and Sony to determine how they can work together for a used sales model for downloadable games.

While Sony hasn't weighed in on the matter, senior Xbox director Albert Penello said in September 2013 that support for trading, loaning, and reselling of digital Xbox One games will come sometime down the road. "I think we need to do that. That has to be part of the [Xbox One] experience," Penello said at the time.

Also at GameStop's Investor Day today, the company said the arrival of new consoles could be "imminent."

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