As I’ve said here before, I think that used games are an integral component in the value proposition presented to gamers. There are some people that don’t believe they should pay $60 for a game, and thus, wait a week or so for a game to launch and then head to a place like GameStop to buy a cheaper, used version.
I can understand where they’re coming from. Games are expensive. And with an economy that’s still not exactly recovering at the most rapid speed, spending a considerable amount of cash on a title just doesn’t make sense for some folks – especially when it comes time to pay the bills and ensure that the lights are on and food is on the table.
That’s why I’m a little concerned with news that the Xbox One will support used games to a point. According to Microsoft, it’ll be up to the publishers to decide whether their titles will be capable of being turned in and sold at a reduced price to other customers. And judging by the immense backlash across the industry surrounding used titles, there might be a good chance that many of the publishers opt out of allowing used games to be sold. After all, why should they lose all of the revenue?
Unfortunately, deciding which side makes the best argument isn’t too easy. On one hand, there are several companies that are watching game retailers profit off their titles without making a dime. On the other hand, there is a large number of people that need to pay less for video games or face the reality of getting out of the space entirely. So, while companies might think that they’re earning more, in reality, they’re not.
That’s why I think it’s important that we consider how important used games really are. According to the latest data from research firm NPD, U.S. consumers spent $559 million on used or rented video games in the first quarter, alone. That means that there’s a solid chance that used and rented games spending could exceed $2 billion this year. That’s a huge market – and one that the game market needs desperately.
What I’m seeing from Microsoft is an attempt to play mediator. The company doesn’t want to totally kill off the used game market, realizing that it could spell the end of the Xbox One, but it also wants to placate publishers that have watched billions of dollars in revenue slip through their grasps over the years.
What I think Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo must do is start to take the used game market into their own hands. Microsoft and Sony, especially, could deliver a service in which console owners could turn in the rights to their games, digitally, and then others could buy that at a reduced price. Publishers could then get a cut of that revenue. If Microsoft truly wants to play mediator, that’s the way to do it.
Used games are important. In fact, they’re very important. But without the right handling, the industry could find itself in deep water with consumers. Used games can stay put – they just need to be handled in a way that benefits all parties.