Why the Used Game Model Needs Fixing (But Not Banning)

Don Reisinger - Jan 5, 2013
Why the Used Game Model Needs Fixing (But Not Banning)

With the recent unveiling of a Sony patent application indicating the company was thinking of killing off used games in the PlayStation 4, speculation has run rampant over how such a tool would affect the games industry. There seems to be a general sense that the implementation of such a product would potentially ruin GameStop, and would benefit game makers. Used games, some say, are bad news.

The reality is, used games aren’t really all that bad. In fact, there’s a good chance that the continued growth of used games is helping the industry in an immense way.

Unfortunately, being a gamer is an expensive proposition. In order to even start having the chance to play games, consumers must purchase a console that will set them back several hundred dollars, and then buy games that cost $60. If they want to play handheld titles, buying a device like the PlayStation Vita or Nintendo 3DS XL will once again cost them hundreds.

In a world where economies are slow to turn around and the future is decidedly in doubt, spending that kind of money on video games isn’t always a top priority. And as much as folks might want to enjoy the entertainment value provided by games, dropping $60 for a new title just doesn’t fit into budgets every month.

With used games, though, that changes. Used titles are notably cheaper than their new counterparts, making it more possible for gamers to get titles. And as those folks get titles, they become more invested in certain hardware, developers, and franchises. The result? A more engaged and entertained gaming community.

[aquote]A more engaged and entertained gaming community means more online customers[/aquote]

A more engaged and entertained gaming community means more customers that will sign up for online services, like Xbox Live. It also means that there will be a broader base of customers to whom developers can sell add-on packs and other goodies.

Now, I understand that the main issue with used games is that developers, who spend years of their lives creating games, aren’t actually getting anything in secondary sales. And I would fully agree that that’s wrong. But that’s not enough of a reason for me to believe that used games should be stricken from the industry.

Like it or not, I do believe that retailers have a responsibility to developers and publishers to share some of the revenue generated from used games. Yes, I know that such a move bucks a longstanding trend and GameStop and Amazon hate the thought of it, but there’s something to be said for being fair. And fairness would dictate paying developers for used sales.

How will such an agreement be made? I don’t know. How will the revenue split work? No idea. But it’s about time both sides – developers and retailers – come together and come to an agreement. The fact is, both parties benefit from used games. And it’s about time we all acknowledge that.

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