Is used game sales a scapegoat for other issues?

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Krakn3Dfx

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#1  Edited By Krakn3Dfx

Bun Kuchera on Penny Arcade posted an "article" called "The Xbox One will kill used games and control second-hand sales, and that’s great news (Really!)" this morning. The title of the article pretty much says it all, and he felt the need to emphasize it with 'Really!' in parenthesis at the end of it because, you know, he's obviously has his finger on the pulse of what's killing the video game industry. It's not completely out of whack marketing costs for games that don't deliver, it's not the cost of flying dozens to hundreds of reviewers to an isolated location for controlled demos, it's not publishers overspending on development over and over again with no real regard for how many copies of a game they need to sell to turn a profit.

No, at the end of the day, it's all about the evils of used game sales. On Twitter, he followed up by saying, "I'll be blunt: I'm fine for used games dying if it means people don't get laid off after every major release."

It's easy to make a blanket statement when it'll take years for it to be proven true or false. Used games, and used merchandise in general, have been a fact of life long before video games or the electricity needed to run them. To suddenly point out a used market as the evil that is killing gaming jobs is ludicrous and unsubstantiated, can't be substantiated in fact, because there's never been a time in the history of video games that it didn't exist. As far back as the Atari 2600 and NES, people would buy games, play them, and then sell them to friends or at yard sales/flea markets. Nintendo has "suffered" through used game sales and still remains one of the top 3 console makers in the last 30 years.

Another way to look at this would be, "What do I use the money I make selling used games on?" When I ask friends that question, it is almost unanimously the same answer: New games that are coming out. So you could argue that by removing the option to sell your used games that you have played, you are also removing money that would be used to buy new games. Personally, it's a rare occasion that I will trade or sell a game I've bought (I believe it's known as 'hording' in some circles), but I know from experience that my son's friends who don't have gaming parents most of the time will quickly turn around and trade in a copy of something like Uncharted to get credit pick up a new copy of whatever just came out, otherwise, they won't be able to buy the game at all. Sure there are times when they will spend used game credit on another used game, but in my experience running kids to Gamestop with my son to get games, it's more often a new game than an older game.

I think the home console gaming market is already in a precarious enough position at this point that slamming the door on used game sales could be devastating for the industry, as opposed to some sort of financial boon for it that publishers and journalists like Kuchera seem to think it will be. I guess we're in it to win it now though, so in a couple of years, we'll know if, in the end, this is what saved jobs or just took more of them.

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Marcsman

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#2  Edited By Marcsman

In 10-15 years when it all becomes digital this will be a mute point. Used games are going to die one way or the other.

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Sterling

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@marcsman: And the industry will still have its problems that is having now. Used games are no the problem.

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StarFoxA

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I think the promise that you can resell your game after you're done with it is a large part of why the general public purchases $60 games.

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#5  Edited By WilliamHenry

I won't say that used games have no affect on the industry, but they are not the reason for the industry's problems. They are most definitely a scapegoat for the real problems that exist. If used games were killed off entirely today, it wouldn't fix anything. Studios would still be shut down the day after they finish a game. Killing used games is not going to result in millions of more sales of new games, it will result in less sales of games as a whole.

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gaminghooligan

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#6  Edited By gaminghooligan

I agree with your points here. I personally funded the purchase of Sim City and NBA 2k13 (New games) by selling a handful of used games to my local game store which offers a fair and reasonable trade in value. If I hadn't had the option to do so I would have simply not bought the games. It's fine if people don't want to buy or sell used video-games, but to blame the people that do for studio closures is a little bit of a stretch imo. Why not blame poor marketing, for example? How about setting ridiculous goals for AAA titles that are almost unobtainable? Plus people have been trading games since consoles came about, if they think that they can change that without any blow back they are crazy. We'll see in the future if it has an effect, but as of right now I don't think that the root of the industries problems are used games.

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rebgav

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I'm fine for used games dying as long as it means puppies and rainbows for everyone YAY!

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Krakn3Dfx

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At least game journalists are finally agreeing with Denis Dyack about something.

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MEATBALL

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It's really weird seeing the press try to convince everyone to give up their consumer rights.

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EXTomar

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Used games are a reflection of a market that is very expensive with short duration value. This isn't so much like movies or TV where that too can be seen as expensive but quickly consumed because the product is "static". Games on the other hand change over time (new tech comes along, tactics change, bugs get revealed and are exploited or patched over, etc).

To be clear: Giving buyers more ways to buy at their convient is good. Taking away the buyer's options after sale is bad. I never sell games back nor do I buy used (actually I did so twice and only in odd circumstances) but I see the reason why this market exists and don't think it is abnormal. If the vendors want to make the used market irrelevant they need to make finding, buying and handling the product as cheap, effortless, and as fast as possible. This stupidness with "having the disk, buying another license" is not it because it costs more, is a hassle and negates being the quickness of using a disk installer.

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cloudyimpulse

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#11  Edited By cloudyimpulse

@extomar said:

Used games are a reflection of a market that is very expensive with short duration value. This isn't so much like movies or TV where that too can be seen as expensive but quickly consumed because the product is "static". Games on the other hand change over time (new tech comes along, tactics change, bugs get revealed and are exploited or patched over, etc).

To be clear: Giving buyers more ways to buy at their convient is good. Taking away the buyer's options after sale is bad. I never sell games back nor do I buy used (actually I did so twice and only in odd circumstances) but I see the reason why this market exists and don't think it is abnormal. If the vendors want to make the used market irrelevant they need to make finding, buying and handling the product as cheap, effortless, and as fast as possible. This stupidness with "having the disk, buying another license" is not it because it costs more, is a hassle and negates being the quickness of using a disk installer.

Agreed.

Wonder if Microsoft believes that all these used game consumers will just automatically jump on the buy new bandwagon. It's more realistic that they'll just wait till the price jumps down to a reasonable price. Thus negating any new game sales they were hoping for in the short term while the price is at $59.99. I could be wrong, but like others have stated.

With that said. I'm getting the feeling that Microsoft is going to announce a program where you can still sell your games back to a Gamestop or Bestbuy, and those companies will be able to print out on a receipt a new code when someone comes to purchase a used game. Similar to how Gamestop deals with DLC or Xbox Digital Point Cards. They just print out the code at purchase and you'll use that instead of the one that comes in the box. Then the question would be, who determines that used game price. Gamestop or Microsoft. Just a theory.

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JasonR86

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I have a lot of concerns with the X1/Xone/Xbone. "ONE" of them is how they are going to handle used games. Another is that apparently no one at Microsoft has any idea how the damn thing works.

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#13  Edited By Chibithor

It's basically like piracy. It's the reason why all these games failed, so we need SecuROM or Ubisoft's DRM. In both cases people can get the games with no money going to publishers/devs so I can see why they'd want to put a stop to it. Also in both cases the attempts to stop them are probably bad ideas.

I hope Sony goes for some man of the people approach. I don't buy used or sell my games, but I think it'd be a pretty good indicator of how they'll handle things in the future when it comes to things I personally care about.

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When I read that article at Penny Arcade I was looking for the sarcasm tags and to find people supporting that train of thought baffling. I also kept thinking of the South Park episode, "They took our jobs!".

If it was not for the used game/rental/friend loan market I would not have been able to play games as a kid. By blocking these markets the next generation of gamers are not going to be console gamers, they are going to be phone/tablet gamers where they can buy $1 games (you can argue that this has already happened by the MS announcement).

Lastly the Ben Kuchera twitter, "I'll be blunt: I'm fine for used games dying if it means people don't get laid off after every major release." is what is wrong with gaming "journalist"/reviews. They don't give honest opinions or reviews because they love the products/people and don't want to hurt anyone feelings/fired.

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#15  Edited By Rabbi_Mafia

I don't think you can blame used games solely but also used games will eventually fail once the primary means of buying a game on anything is digital. Just a thought but I think if somehow we could digitally sell our "used" games then in that sense used games wouldn't die. So I get done playing my digital copy of Assassin Creed 17 I can sell it back just like it was a real hard copy. . . I also think the trading games this way could be interesting as well. With the "cloud" let my friends borrow one of my games.

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FlipperDesert

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The idea of not being able to share games with other consoles bugs me, but ultimately it's just one of many business practices that puts me off gaming recently. It's an expensive hobby, and anything I do get quickly loses value so when I do sell my games it's because I'm really desperate for money.

The real dark cynic in me can't help but wonder if this is all going to lead to another crash and that maybe they deserve it.

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#17  Edited By Gaff

To quote Pachter: "It's a profit deal!"

To assume that publishers are going to keep their studios fully staffed after a game and its DLC is done just because they can suddenly afford to because of this is just wishful thinking.

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Nekroskop

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#18  Edited By Nekroskop

Ben Cawabunga should shut his privileged ass up. There are tons of people who actually buy used games. Not everyone gets games for free via. their job.

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#19  Edited By bacongames

@starfoxa said:

I think the promise that you can resell your game after you're done with it is a large part of why the general public purchases $60 games.

As I've been saying today (because hot damn dat Ben Kuchera sure is fun to hang in effigy I guess), I'm super curious what will happen when this stuff will get out into the wild. If that is as true as the statement implies, then the sales should have an appreciable drop after the policy gets implemented. That or you'll see a greater number of people migrate to different platforms (PC, PS4, phone/tablet) and leaving the strategy behind.

Honestly though, the discussion over used games isn't that hard to figure out. Companies with the advent of digital and other things have the opportunity to make revenue from a market specifically sprung up to make money and distribute games after the initial sale. They want more money and they'd rather try and hope it works because hell man it's better to do it and know than leave that revenue stream untapped. In response to this initiative, people have chosen to interpret it in one of three ways: apathy because their situation isn't that bad/relevant, support because they see the financial state of the industry and want more capital influx to people making games or they are counter-reacting to complaints, or rejection because they either rely on the trade-in system and/or they have a very ideological view of consumer rights and such.

This has always been my attitude with things like this but I say bring it on. Let's make it a fight, let's ruffle the feathers and blow up some shit and see what happens after all the dust has settled.

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GaspoweR

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@krakn3dfx: Good points, sir. As a side note, I tend to take Ben Kuchera articles now with a grain (perhaps a spoonful) of salt because of how he handled that Erik Kain debacle and showed how arrogant and hypocritical Kuchera is as a person.

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ez123

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Maybe the people who pirate some games use the money they save to buy new copies. It doesn't mean much. One being legal doesn't exactly mean much either to the game makers/publishers. They see no money from used games or pirated copies. I don't believe it's a scapegoat, it is THE issue.

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Krakn3Dfx

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Post on Gaf kind of says it all.

"it's all used games that did this. Used games made Capcom make some horrible design decisions on DmC and piss off the entire fanbase. Used games made Activision and EA flood the market with guitar games and accessories long after people stopped caring. Used games made Microsoft make a fourth Gears of War game that nobody asked for from a developer nobody cares about. Used games made Sony pump out another God of War game after they spent the past few years flooding the market with HD remasters. Used games made Sony make a Smash Bros clone with no appealing characters to help sell it. Used games made Bizarre Creations make James Bond and racing games no-one wanted. Used games make publishers shutter studios the moment the game they were working on goes gold, before they've even had a chance to sell a single new copy, let alone a used one."

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tourgen

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@gaspower said:

@krakn3dfx: Good points, sir. As a side note, I tend to take Ben Kuchera articles now with a grain (perhaps a spoonful) of salt because of how he handled that Erik Kain debacle and showed how arrogant and hypocritical Kuchera is as a person.

yup. pretty much my thoughts exactly.

Every secondary market that has ever existed always props up the primary market. Used game sales fund new game purchases.

Driving people away from gaming completely with abusive deals for the consumer is the real danger to the industry. Sure, you won't give up gaming, I won't give up gaming, but plenty of other people not as deep into it will. They'll just say, "Fuck It, I have other things I can spend this cash on." and bam, sales of the next triple-A game just dropped by 1.

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nights

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Maybe if companies stopped spending gazillions of dollars on uninspired, focus-tested garbage, they wouldn't be in the position they're in now.

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ZombieSpace

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Games are fucking expensive where i live in europe so i do rely on used games. I will be buying a PS4 if sony doesn't decide to go the same route as microsoft.

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#26  Edited By GaspoweR

Games are fucking expensive where i live in europe so i do rely on used games. I will be buying a PS4 if sony doesn't decide to go the same route as microsoft.

Sony though hasn't really confirm anything in regards to their stance on used games. At the very least Microsoft has said that the ability to trade and buy used games is still in effect but they just haven't given any specifics other than what is already out there (i.e. fees, games tied to accounts, etc.) Let's just wait until E3 rolls around and hopefully we'll get some answers by then.

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In a world where Tomb Raider and Hitman sell 3 million copies and are considered Under-performing by their publisher, then used games aren't the problem, marketing budgets are.

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I can only imagine that Sony purposefully didn't give a concrete answer for their used game stuff, waiting to see if Microsoft would open the door for them. If MS and Sony both disallow used games, where are people going to go? If not being able to buy used games is the issue, you aren't exactly going to find a thriving market on the PC. I just think it's too good an opportunity for them to pass up.

If price is the issue, I think that could be solved by having actual sales (i.e. Steam-level, none of this $10 off bullshit) once in a while. I have to think that MS and Sony will be jumping on the 'huge sales' bandwagon by the time the next console generation ends; I mean, hell, PS+ is almost at that level already. It's a goddamn steal.

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#29  Edited By neoepoch
@nights said:

Maybe if companies stopped spending gazillions of dollars on uninspired, focus-tested garbage, they wouldn't be in the position they're in now.

And if they didn't hire way more people than they needed to actually develop the game. You see the ridiculous number of people in the credits of a game, and a ton of those same folk get laid off. The publishers hire way more than they need in order to produce "BIGGER, BETTER, AND MORE BADASS GAMES!", but it really isn't all that necessary to make a good game. Like you can scale things down and iterate and polish up something smaller and make a better experience than having to go even bigger.

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Sony is letting Microsoft take the bad press for now but I predict that they will follow suit. This is the publisher's agenda and if Sony wants strong 3rd party titles from EA, Activision, ect then they are going to promote the publishers' agenda as well.

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#31  Edited By InsaneGenis

@marcsman: This is the correct answer. Am I saddened about it? Yes, but this is reality.

What is reality also, is this issue is NOT about used games. This is about modding consoles and stealing games. I personally know 3 people involved in this. This is ony about thwarting thieves. Why won't they come out and say it? Because you think the shitstorm over the used game controversy is bad, think if they called their customers thieves. Do I personally enjoy this state of the industry? Hell no! It's the truth though.

A few are ruining this all for the rest of this. Will keeping thieves from stealing games solve the financial state of gaming? I have absolutely no idea and can't say otherwise because we currently live in a culture of people stealing games.

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If you are going to get rid of used games you need to reduce prices, and you need to offer a bigger catalog of older games. Basically, you need to be Steam. Forcing people to pay $60 or nothing isn't good, and it will only exacerbate problems. If everything is going to go digital and the used market is going to disappear anyways then console makers need to get used to the idea of selling a greater variety of games cheaper.

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@marcsman said:

In 10-15 years when it all becomes digital this will be a mute point. Used games are going to die one way or the other.

Genuinely not being patronising or attacking but it's "moot point" in that context.

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@fengshuigod: I think they honesty will. Microsoft was sort of asses about this this generation by forcing price levels. We are really headed towards all in one systems. You'll be able to play ipad or android games on your tv, you'll download bigger games to a hard drive attached to your tv. You'll be able to stream games etc. we are in that in between time where Steam services are the future, it's just a matter of the market and tech catching up to it. That's why Microsoft hyped the number of servers they intend to implement. That's why Sony and xbox are pcs.

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Post on Gaf kind of says it all.

"it's all used games that did this. Used games made Capcom make some horrible design decisions on DmC and piss off the entire fanbase. Used games made Activision and EA flood the market with guitar games and accessories long after people stopped caring. Used games made Microsoft make a fourth Gears of War game that nobody asked for from a developer nobody cares about. Used games made Sony pump out another God of War game after they spent the past few years flooding the market with HD remasters. Used games made Sony make a Smash Bros clone with no appealing characters to help sell it. Used games made Bizarre Creations make James Bond and racing games no-one wanted. Used games make publishers shutter studios the moment the game they were working on goes gold, before they've even had a chance to sell a single new copy, let alone a used one."

Used games killed my dog, used games made me do crack, used games invaded Poland...

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toowalrus

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@marcsman said:

In 10-15 years when it all becomes digital this will be a mute point. Used games are going to die one way or the other.

heh, mute point

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#37  Edited By Slag

Ben Kuchera and the video game industry at large are badly badly out of touch with how the consumer market actually works.

Ban used games while keeping new game prices at 60 bucks + DLC and watch the console market crash and burn. They will price lower and middle class Americans out of videogames.

That being said if Microsoft does what Steam did, which is to dramatically lower the price of digital releases, they may get people to go along with the DRM.

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ExplodeMode

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I bought my house from someone else, think of all those poor construction workers that didn't get to build a new one.

Why are video game bloggers the biggest corporate apologists on earth?

Sony is letting Microsoft take the bad press for now but I predict that they will follow suit. This is the publisher's agenda and if Sony wants strong 3rd party titles from EA, Activision, ect then they are going to promote the publishers' agenda as well.

Possibly, but publishers go where the audience is. If they were all about a DRM and cd-key mandate every game of the last 5 years would have been a PC exclusive. But they weren't, because the bulk of the audience was on consoles.

If Sony were to not do this and everyone bought into PS4, the publishers would go PS4, because they don't get to say where the market is.

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selfconfessedcynic

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Great thread, happy to hear everyone's thoughts on this. Personally, I agree that digital is the future, and I barely ever buy a used game, so in the end - not being an analyst or economist - I have no input on the matter beyond what has already been said.

What I do hope is that Sony doesn't follow the same practices - not because I want them to "win" or anything like that, but because I hope the consumers get to vote on this once and for all.

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