The Business of Used Games and Online Passes

The biggest problem I see is that a lot of people don't understand why there is a big fuss about used game sales and why online passes are in place from companies such as EA, Activision, or other game publishers. As a consumer, the most front-facing thing we notice is that if we buy a game used, we most likely have to buy a $10-$15 code to allow online play, which can instantly negate a discount we receive from buying the game used in the first place from a retail chain such as Best Buy or Gamestop.

So who is the blame for this? Who is taking away our discount and why does it even exist?

The entire onus has to do with the business model and market structure being capitalized on for used game sales from retailer companies like Gamestop, Amazon, Best Buy/Future Shop, and other major retailers. Plainly put, retailers have a very well-placed business plan that is entirely intended to circumvent profits from the business model of brand-new video game sales, which in turn directly affect the profits seen by the publisher and the revenue contract developer. So how does this work exactly? Let's back it up and bit and explain.

Part of this business plan from retailers involve aggressive incentives to get you to trade-in your games for store credit, which lets them stock up on used game units to re-sell at a higher profit margin. It significantly costs a retailer less money to give an aggressive consumer incentive to trade-in, than it does to just purchase stock that is brand new and shrink-wrapped from a publisher and pushing to sell that instead.

If you've walked into a Gamestop, you immediately notice just how hard their aggressive incentives are, with them trying to get you to trade-in games with full $25 store credits on premium titles, or trading in 2 or 3 used premium titles for one brand-new premium title. With such high incentive for the customer, it floods the retail market with used game stock in all these retailers, causing the publisher to lose significant profits due to a much lower demand for a retailer to buy brand-new shrink-wrapped copies.

On the consumer end, we don't really care about anything else if we see a game without an online pass system. All we see are games being sold at lower prices, and we buy them up because hey, who doesn't love a discount. There's nothing really wrong with this from the perspective of the consumer, and it was never an issue in the past because used games were not entirely common with the very limited incentive on trading in games back in the day. Other factors in contrast to the past include video game development costing significantly less back then, but I'm not here to discuss that. Speaking directly from a price point, renting video games was also a much larger business in the past during that time as well, but I'll speak a little more about that later.

If I wanted to be more consumer friendly, I could easily say sure, used games are a good thing because as a consumer, we just reap the benefits of lowered prices on games, and directly see a benefit even if the retailer's pockets get full. However, I can't in the right mind say that it's entirely fair for the developers, who see no part of this retailer-only revenue from used games. Developers are only able to actualize profits if the publishers are able to sell more brand-new units (or on contractual DLC sales), and if retailers have a system in place to circumvent that demand for brand-new games because of their generation of demand for used game sales, developers end up on the short-end of the stick. As noted before, the costs of game development are significantly more expensive these days, and unless they receive a considerable amount from a publisher as an investment grant, the developer has to bite the pill on the costs of development until they can sell their game.

It's already hard enough in between a publisher and a developer, and I can't help but think used game sales cause them to bite that pill even harder than they need to. It's reasons like this which cause me to believe the online pass system is important. While it may cost us a extra couple bucks, it's a system intended to keep things fair in between the retailer, publisher, and the developer, and I'm totally okay with that.

When talking about game rentals, the publishers contractually receive a large sum of money for their games which in part, the developers can see some revenue from, so that is not an issue. However, when speaking from a consumer's view, it does indeed sort of suck. To be fair however, the format of a video game simply has changed and evolved beyond the format it was when video game rentals were first conceptualized. Unfortunately, the business model and direction of video games have always been built with the intention of being bought at full price for an individual, and game rentals have always been an afterthought.

While I wouldn't know where to entirely point the finger, it's pretty easy to believe that the rental business like Blockbuster was simply not able to adapt to the changes in the business landscape of video games and the internet, much like they weren't business landscape of movies and the internet. It's the only real justification I have for this, but I think it makes sense. Either way, I really can't start pointing and wagging my finger at the publishers and developers until they start deciding to do something stupid like the locking up of offline content using an online pass, or something similar.

If there's one thing I want to set straight, it's that I'm never against consumer choice and straight up a hefty discount being offered to consumers is a good thing. Video games are a fair market item after it's been bought off the shelves, and has every right to be exchanged in a way that the first-hand consumer wishes. These are all good things which keep the prices of video games a little lower in rougher economical times. Where I have the dispute however, is the fact that used game sales is a hugely profitable business, where it is managed and fed solely by retailers, where they see all the revenues based on black hat marketing and feedback-loop sales techniques.

I don't expect anyone reading this to have a full understanding of how the business of retailing works, or even further back in the business chain on how games are decidedly sold from the perspective of the guys who wear the suit and ties, but hopefully this brings a little insight into a world that is beyond your $60; or less, plus the $10 or $15 if you buy a game used.

If you don’t feel like spending your money on online season passes, or trading in your used games for an insultingly small amount of cash, you can always get a better deal by checking out my personal blog at http://thedevilshaircut.wordpress.com/, or by following me on Twitter.

30 Comments
31 Comments
Edited by heatDrive88

I think this is the third time I've actually written about used game sales with a giant wall of text, but this is the first time I've ever thrown it all together into a blog. If you're reading this, I'm fully assuming you have some idea of how a retail market chain works, and where money trades hands in a sale of a video game from the point of a publisher getting the rights to a game, to when your game gets shrink-wrapped at the factory, to when you swipe your credit card at the Gamestop.

The biggest problem I see is that a lot of people don't understand why there is a big fuss about used game sales and why online passes are in place from companies such as EA, Activision, or other game publishers. As a consumer, the most front-facing thing we notice is that if we buy a game used, we most likely have to buy a $10-$15 code to allow online play, which can instantly negate a discount we receive from buying the game used in the first place from a retail chain such as Best Buy or Gamestop.

So who is the blame for this? Who is taking away our discount and why does it even exist? Well, let me explain.

About Online Passes and Used Games

The entire onus has to do with the business model and market structure being capitalized on for used game sales from retailer companies like Gamestop, Amazon, Best Buy/Future Shop, and other major retailers. Plainly put, retailers have a very well-placed business plan that is entirely intended to circumvent profits from the business model of brand-new video game sales, which in turn directly affect the profits seen by the publisher and the revenue contract developer. So how does this work exactly? Let's back it up and bit and explain.

Part of this business plan from retailers involve aggressive incentives to get you to trade-in your games for store credit, which lets them stock up on used game units to re-sell at a higher profit margin. It significantly costs a retailer less money to give an aggressive consumer incentive to trade-in, than it does to just purchase stock that is brand new and shrink-wrapped from a publisher and pushing to sell that instead.

If you've walked into a Gamestop, you immediately notice just how hard their aggressive incentives are, with them trying to get you to trade-in games with full $25 store credits on premium titles, or trading in 2 or 3 used premium titles for one brand-new premium title. With such high incentive for the customer, it floods the retail market with used game stock in all these retailers, causing the publisher to lose significant profits due to a much lower demand for a retailer to buy brand-new shrink-wrapped copies.

On the consumer end, we don't really care about anything else if we see a game without an online pass system. All we see are games being sold at lower prices, and we buy them up because hey, who doesn't love a discount. There's nothing really wrong with this from the perspective of the consumer, and it was never an issue in the past because used games were not entirely common with the very limited incentive on trading in games back in the day. Other factors in contrast to the past include video game development costing significantly less back then, but I'm not here to discuss that. Speaking directly from a price point, renting video games was also a much larger business in the past during that time as well, but I'll speak a little more about that later.

If I wanted to be more consumer friendly, I could easily say sure, used games are a good thing because as a consumer, we just reap the benefits of lowered prices on games, and directly see a benefit even if the retailer's pockets get full. However, I can't in the right mind say that it's entirely fair for the developers, who see no part of this retailer-only revenue from used games. Developers are only able to actualize profits if the publishers are able to sell more brand-new units (or on contractual DLC sales), and if retailers have a system in place to circumvent that demand for brand-new games because of their generation of demand for used game sales, developers end up on the short-end of the stick. As noted before, the costs of game development are significantly more expensive these days, and unless they receive a considerable amount from a publisher as an investment grant, the developer has to bite the pill on the costs of development until they can sell their game.

It's already hard enough in between a publisher and a developer, and I can't help but think used game sales cause them to bite that pill even harder than they need to. It's reasons like this which cause me to believe the online pass system is important. While it may cost us a extra couple bucks, it's a system intended to keep things fair in between the retailer, publisher, and the developer, and I'm okay with that.

Game Rentals

When talking about game rentals, the publishers contractually receive a large sum of money for their games which in part, the developers can see some revenue from, so that is not an issue. However, when speaking from a consumer's view, it does indeed sort of suck. To be fair however, the format of a video game simply has changed and evolved beyond the format it was when video game rentals were first conceptualized. Unfortunately, the business model and direction of video games have always been built with the intention of being bought at full price for an individual, and game rentals have always been an afterthought.

While I wouldn't know where to entirely point the finger, it's pretty easy to believe that the rental business like Blockbuster was simply not able to adapt to the changes in the business landscape of video games and the internet, much like they weren't business landscape of movies and the internet. It's the only real justification I have for this, but I think it makes sense. Either way, I really can't start pointing and wagging my finger at the publishers and developers until they start deciding to do something stupid like the locking up of offline content using an online pass, or something similar.

The Hot and Dirty

If there's one thing I want to set straight, it's that I'm never against consumer choice and straight up a hefty discount being offered to consumers is a good thing. Video games are a fair market item after it's been bought off the shelves, and has every right to be exchanged in a way that the first-hand consumer wishes. These are all good things which keep the prices of video games a little lower in rougher economical times. Where I have the dispute however, is the fact that used game sales is a hugely profitable business, where it is managed and fed solely by retailers, where they see all the revenues based on black hat marketing and feedback-loop sales techniques.

I don't expect anyone reading this to have a full understanding of how the business of retailing works, or even further back in the business chain on how games are decidedly sold from the perspective of the guys who wear the suit and ties, but hopefully this brings a little insight into a world that is beyond your $60; or less, plus the $10 or $15 if you buy a game used.

In my next piece, I'll try to talk about the flip-side of this coin and why I think online passes are detrimental as a band-aid solution for an already hot mess of a business model, and why I think the trending price of video games is spiraling out of control, which can pretty much nullify the entire basis of this blog.

Online
Edited by KaosAngel

I got no problem with it.  

PC games all use it, it's about time consoles start using it too.  Allow the console users to download the game from PSN/XBL at will once they put in the code like it would on Steam.  Online shouldn't be allowed for used copies anyway, just give people a rental of 3 days for a "trial online period", and after that just fork over the money for a serial.

PC users haven't complained about this, I don't understand why it's such a big deal now.

Posted by Seedofpower
@KaosAngel said:
" I got no problem with it.  PC games all use it, it's about time consoles start using it too.  Allow the console users to download the game from PSN/XBL at will once they put in the code like it would on Steam.  Online shouldn't be allowed for used copies anyway, just give people a rental of 3 days for a "trial online period", and after that just fork over the money for a serial.PC users haven't complained about this, I don't understand why it's such a big deal now. "
Change is harder for some than it is others.
Posted by heatDrive88
@KaosAngel: I don't have the numbers, so I'm just speculating - but I think it has to do with a mixture of the rising cost of game development, and the increased market share of the video game business itself, and the large multi-million dollar amounts that come with it.

In retrospect to your comment, I'm sure we could throw in tons of other factors like piracy on the PC and the monetary decline from the PC gaming market during the mid 1990's until Steam came around. But this is really just too big of a picture to paint right now.
Online
Posted by KaosAngel
@heatDrive88: At the end of the day for PC games, you are just spending the $60 on Starcraft II for the serial code.  That's it, you're paying for the serial.  I hope that the next wave of consoles post "Stream", the PS4 and Xbox 3, all have serials for their games.

Serial keys will kill the piracy for good, at least for online games, people can download them at anytime on any consoles, etc.  Devs just want money from the people buying it used, and you shouldn't be buying games used in the first place.  There's so many fucking stickers on used cases it's insane.  I need to buy a new case for each used game I buy just to have a clean case.

@Seedofpower: Meh, just start it and people will get used to it.  You're just paying for the damn serial.
Posted by kingzetta

People that have problems with online passes are bad people.

Posted by Jadeskye

It's long overdue. There should be a closed system. project 10 dollar for online play is a step forward.

Posted by Claude

If developers are hurting because of the resale of their games after they have been initially bought, maybe they should bully their way into the market or as you said, wait to go fully digital download. I don't play online that much, so I don't care about that. I buy used games from Gamestop all the time and enjoy them. Someone bought those games originally, so it's up to the developers to find a new market or their distributors and team up with someone.

Preorder bonuses for games at places like Gamestop and Steam show me that distributors and developers are hard at work making a buck with these people, so I feel fine buying used.

Posted by ajamafalous

Eh. It's just a CD Key.

Posted by heatDrive88
@Claude said:
" If developers are hurting because of the resale of their games after they have been initially bought, maybe they should bully their way into the market or as you said, wait to go fully digital download. I don't play online that much, so I don't care about that. I buy used games from Gamestop all the time and enjoy them. Someone bought those games originally, so it's up to the developers to find a new market or their distributors and team up with someone. Preorder bonuses for games at places like Gamestop and Steam show me that distributors and developers are hard at work making a buck with these people, so I feel fine buying used. "
That's the thing, I fully agree with you. It's not like I'm anti-used game sales or anything like that. Video games are a fair market item after they have been sold, and I can wholeheartedly appreciate that. At the basis of it all for a consumer, a used game with disabled online (without an online pass) is automatically a set as a tiered product for purchase at a discounted rate, and that is a great thing for consumer choice. 

I'd never oppose the fact that used game sales allow gamers to get their hands on more games for cheaper regardless of the feature-set being sold. It's entirely the fact that used game sales is a hugely profitable business, which is being manifested and managed solely by one party (the retailers),  where they can see all the revenues based on black hat marketing and negative-loop sales techniques. 
Online
Posted by Claude
@heatDrive88 said:
" @Claude said:
" If developers are hurting because of the resale of their games after they have been initially bought, maybe they should bully their way into the market or as you said, wait to go fully digital download. I don't play online that much, so I don't care about that. I buy used games from Gamestop all the time and enjoy them. Someone bought those games originally, so it's up to the developers to find a new market or their distributors and team up with someone. Preorder bonuses for games at places like Gamestop and Steam show me that distributors and developers are hard at work making a buck with these people, so I feel fine buying used. "
That's the thing, I fully agree with you. It's not like I'm anti-used game sales or anything like that. Video games are a fair market item after they have been sold, and I can wholeheartedly appreciate that. At the basis of it all for a consumer, a used game with disabled online (without an online pass) is automatically a set as a tiered product for purchase at a discounted rate, and that is a great thing for consumer choice. 

I'd never oppose the fact that used game sales allow gamers to get their hands on more games for cheaper regardless of the feature-set being sold. It's entirely the fact that used game sales is a hugely profitable business, which is being manifested and managed solely by one party (the retailers),  where they can see all the revenues based on black hat marketing and negative-loop sales techniques. 
"
Maybe the distributors are just waiting to go fully download. They seem to like how Steam does it. To me, everyone is just trying to cash in before the big change. And those with a foothold, retailers, only have the power now. Things will change. Maybe the next Xbox 360 will be download only like steam and dare I say it, some cloud service as well.
Posted by Example1013

Yeah, used sales really killed the furniture, TV, computer, electronics, music, clothing, appliance, video, dishware, and vehicle industries. Did I miss any types of industries besides food?


Car sales often follow a similar business model to game sales, but the automotive industry seems to be doing alright overall. GameStop is a business, and the idea is to make money. Let's say 1,000,000 people buy a new game and return it, and then 1,000,000 people buy it used. that's still 1,000,000 games sold. And the real number of used game sales probably isn't even significant.
Edited by Sooty
@KaosAngel said: 

PC users haven't complained about this, I don't understand why it's such a big deal now. "

True but for PC games a lot of them can be used online after being bought second hand, ok well actually it's in the minority now but one notable game for me is Battlefield 2, you can buy that second hand and still go online.

I think Street Fighter IV can also be used online after being bought used.

I see online passes as a solid way to get money out of people pirating 360 games and then going online with them for sure.
Posted by Claude
@Ygg said:
" @KaosAngel said: 
PC users haven't complained about this, I don't understand why it's such a big deal now. "
True but for PC games a lot of them can be used online after being bought second hand, ok well actually it's in the minority now but one notable game for me is Battlefield 2, you can buy that second hand and still go online.I think Street Fighter IV can also be used online after being bought used. "
Used PC game in stores like Gamestop is a dead business. I trade in console games all the time, but PC games are for keeps when I buy them. With Steam, I can't trade in shit. I'm waiting for Steam to allow for trade in value or if you gift a game get credit or something.

Piracy is another big issue why PC games are not a good profit for retailers. DRM...and old DRM. I still have copies of Ubisoft games with starforce on them. Who would buy that?
Posted by Sooty
@Claude said:
" @Ygg said:
" @KaosAngel said: 
PC users haven't complained about this, I don't understand why it's such a big deal now. "
True but for PC games a lot of them can be used online after being bought second hand, ok well actually it's in the minority now but one notable game for me is Battlefield 2, you can buy that second hand and still go online.I think Street Fighter IV can also be used online after being bought used. "
Used PC game in stores like Gamestop is a dead business. I trade in console games all the time, but PC games are for keeps when I buy them. With Steam, I can't trade in shit. I'm waiting for Steam to allow for trade in value or if you gift a game get credit or something. Piracy is another big issue why PC games are not a good profit for retailers. DRM...and old DRM. I still have copies of Ubisoft games with starforce on them. Who would buy that? "
I remember installing starforce with some Ubisoft game once and it pretty much broke my DVD drive, on the software side anyway, suddenly autorun wouldn't work. I had to do a system restore to remove the traces of that POS.
Posted by heatDrive88
@example1013: That's... not exactly how business works. Not at all. 

It's not just as simple as you trading your hard-earned money with a brick and mortar store or digitally from your credit card to an online service.  What you mainly need to be aware of is that every industry you've noted is a mixture of very different varying products which are consumed in very different ways (although to be fair, 80% of what you noted is just consumer electronics), and have very different product lifecycles with far greater differences in variables when it comes to how they are economically affected by a market. Regardless of that, it's not about the "industry". More specifically, it's about "products" and the market which it is sold, so whatever.

Just because apples and oranges are both fruit, doesn't mean they are sold the exact same way. You've got to look at the bigger picture, like how those products are brought to market retail, how they are conceptualized, how they are produced, etc. This is all related the product management and marketing/sales cycles, and every product has it's own unique processes of it's own. You simply don't bring a $30,000 car to market the same way you'd bring a $60 video game, and nor do you sell them the same way, regardless of second-hand markets.

I'm not expecting you to be an expert in knowing how commercial business is operated on these fronts, but I can assure you that it's far more complex than retailing and the exchange you make with a store. I also have no idea how old you are or what your current knowledge is of these things, and I'd go into further detail about this, but I really don't want to make an absolute gigantic wall of text which explains how business works, so I'll leave you with these related  links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_life_cycle_management_(marketing)

Online
Posted by Example1013
@heatDrive88: Well, I'm 19, but I think I know what you're saying well enough. I guess I'll just pretend I never posted that. I haven't actually been thinking very clearly about many things today, and I got into a discussion with my uncle about prison as rehabilitation where he was disagreeing with what I was saying, because I was actually saying something I didn't agree with the whole time.
Posted by heatDrive88
@example1013: That is a far more serious and shitty issue than anyone paying another $10 or $15 on top of a used video game. :((((
Online
Posted by Enigma777

Posted by Example1013
@heatDrive88 said:
" @example1013: That is a far more serious and shitty issue than anyone paying another $10 or $15 on top of a used video game. :(((( "
What, arguing a point I don't agree with, or the prison system?
Posted by heatDrive88
@example1013: Prison. 
Online
Posted by Example1013
@heatDrive88: Yeah, pretty much. We also had a related discussion about equal justice (my grandfather was also involved in this, but I wasn't arguing against any of his points).
Posted by Doctorchimp
@KaosAngel said:
" I got no problem with it.  PC games all use it, it's about time consoles start using it too.  Allow the console users to download the game from PSN/XBL at will once they put in the code like it would on Steam.  Online shouldn't be allowed for used copies anyway, just give people a rental of 3 days for a "trial online period", and after that just fork over the money for a serial.PC users haven't complained about this, I don't understand why it's such a big deal now. "
The simple reason is on average PC gamers are usually older or more mature.

Console people on average are a bunch of self-entitled morons. I am being dead serious with why I think people are throwing shit around.

@heatDrive88:
If you want to see a shit show post this blog on GameFAQs on a console board and see the endless comments that are trapped in self-entitlement and flawed logic. I have gone under the impression that people who are okay with Gamestop doing everything in their power to sell more used games but then throw a tantrum when developers fight back are lacking something....
Posted by heatDrive88
@example1013: Weird.

Maybe tomorrow or next week if I have time, I'll write a blog as to why I actually don't think Project 10 Dollar is a good idea as a temporary bandage on the whole issue, any why I think the majority of brand new video games are already too expensive. 

Does this totally invalidate the huge wall of text blog that I just wrote? OMGZ STAY TUNED TO FIND OUT
Online
Posted by heatDrive88
@Doctorchimp said:
"The simple reason is on average PC gamers are usually older or more mature.

Console people on average are a bunch of self-entitled morons. I am being dead serious with why I think people are throwing shit around.

@heatDrive88: If you want to see a shit show post this blog on GameFAQs on a console board and see the endless comments that are trapped in self-entitlement and flawed logic. I have gone under the impression that people who are okay with Gamestop doing everything in their power to sell more used games but then throw a tantrum when developers fight back are lacking something.... "
That's maybe a bit too harsh. For the average consumer of video games, you can't expect every consumer to have full-knowing knowledge of how business cycles work, let alone how video games are bought and sold. In fact, it's pretty unfair considering the immense age span that video games are marketed towards. 

Even when that is considered for the adults, the process of retail business is built to be black-box to make things easy for the end-user to consume/buy. It's not built or meant to be transparently understood for an end-user (or even some employees within the chain), but that's a whole different discussion on it's own.
Online
Edited by tourgen

Publishers want it both ways.  They want consumers to think of it as a sale but they want to retain as much control as possible of the good they "sold" after the fact with a shrink-wrap EULA, online serial codes, and other customer abuses.  Gamestop is putting their lie to the test.  The secondary market is forcing the publishers hand and it's pissing them off.  If it's really a sale people are allowed to resale what they own.  If it's truely a single-user license agreement the software publishing houses need to man up or STFU.


Single user licenses are worth less and they know it.  They want both ends of the deal at the consumers expense, and they think they can blow enough marketing smoke to get it to work.
Posted by heatDrive88
@tourgen: This is almost exactly what I was going to write about in another blog. 

While Project $10 looks great on the outside and yes, does it's as advertised job at getting the kickbacks that is deserves on used game sales, it still doesn't fix the overall business model that is equally flawed on both sides of the publisher and the retailer. Project $10 is purely a reactionary band-aid solution that covers up a slew of other issues when it comes to pricing models and licensing as you've noted.

I know a commonplace solution that many people are suggesting is moving everything to the cloud for downloadable titles, it's a decent idea but it still completely omits any one who doesn't have a console that is hooked up to the internet, and introduces all sorts of license authorization issues if you don't have connectivity, unless it goes in the direction of amazing like an Amazon Kindle which offers free 3G internet to just handle authorization. That would be pretty insane and amazing.

Even then, it doesn't even scratch the surface of the whole discussion about paying for a service vs. owning a physical and tangible product, but I think when (and if) Microsoft decides to take care of license migration from Xbox Live to their next console, it will be a landmark precedent as to how software user licenses will work on consoles.

For my PS3 brethen, the reason I think Microsoft will be the ones to set that precedent is simply due to their history of success within the online marketplace. It's kind of obvious in that way, but the PS3 has given me no reason to believe it will introduce any sort of standardization unless they significantly improve their current services.
Online
Posted by Maelstrom

Seems to me too many people are more than happy to let these publishers trample all over their consumer rights in their incessant quest for more profit. I'm not buying their sob story about second hand sales. Adapt or die, simple as that. Just ask Blockbuster or the horse and buggy. Just don't try to kill my consumer rights to resell my property in the process.

Posted by tourgen
@heatDrive88: you make some very good points.  I don't have anything really to add beyond where we're at now.  I hope people read your post.

Maybe the only thing I can say is that publishers were crying crocodile tears over the death of PC gaming as they migrated to the consoles, and then Valve comes along with a decent deal for the consumer, close to painless DRM, and an awesome technical platform for distribution and makes a KILLING.  And it's not like Steam games can't be pirated either.  Somehow Valve can release free expansions/DLC and still make money too.

How odd.  Maybe abusing your customers isn't the best business model?
Posted by Valkyr

I'm ok with online pass if it helps the developer/publisher but also if it encourages them to keep releasing content for example DICE with the BC2 VIP codes.I recommend you to bypass retailers, you should look for friends or someone other way, that want to trade the game you want to buy, they get more money than trading in to Gamestop and you also pay less, win win situation.

Edited by PenguinDust

Personally I wish publishers would more to the compartmentalized game distribution system which has been suggested in the past.  Basically, you pay for what you use, so if I only want the single-player, I only pay for the single-player, and vice-versa.  As a consumer, I don't care how it's all put together or what hoops businesses have to jump through to make a profit, I just want it at a reasonable price.  If publishers were more proactive in making console games affordable l don't think this would be as big an issue.  I can buy Battlefield Bad Company 2 off Steam right now for $20 but it will cost twice that for a 360 version from Amazon or Walmart.  Perhaps the answer is to move to an entirely digital distribution system but, of course not everyone has an internet connection and as is the case with PSN right now, those systems can be compromised.