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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] General: Used Games and You

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  SBFord

Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 13492

 
OP  9/04/13 5:24:16 PM#1

The used game market is one of the most controversial topics in gaming today. Do players "own" or "license" their games? In today's column, Genese Davis takes a look at the topic and offers some history and opinion about used games. Check it out and leave your opinions in the comments.

I had a lot of questions when this topic arose, so I headed over to the Pixel Legends studio and had a chat with the crew about pre-owned games. In the first five minutes they gave me a lot to think about by revealing new perspectives and proposing questions that I had overlooked. They suggested that if I look more closely at Microsoft’s attempts to implement new game-trading policies, I’d see benefits within the changes not only for gamers and publishers, but for the artists and developers that create our beloved games, too. 

Read more (and watch!) Genese Davis: Used Games and You.

Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

  plutosams

Novice Member

Joined: 6/20/12
Posts: 49

9/05/13 10:17:00 AM#2

I like your conclusion...give a little get a little.    

The biggest problem I find with the argument that "However, when you purchase or rent a used game, only the seller sees that money." is that ultimately when you purchase a game you purchased an item that is now your property meaning the developers no longer have any right to that so should not receive any income from reselling.  This is similar to building a house.  When you first build you pay for the construction; however everytime that house is resold the construction team does not get a portion of the payment...nor should they because you paid them for their services and now you are selling your property.  Construction teams don't complain that reselling your house keeps them from building "new" houses.

 
 
  lizardbones

Elite Member

Joined: 6/11/08
Posts: 10652

I think with my heart and move with my head.-Kongos

9/05/13 12:15:42 PM#3

The difference between Steam and Microsoft's attempt and DRM for physical games is that Steam didn't try to change the rules for an existing system. Valve created a new set of rules for a system that didn't really have a set of rules. If Microsoft had tried to make new rules for a new system, or tried to use the rules that Steam setup for a fully digital system, they would have had no issues.

The other part of the Steam/Microsoft comparison that gets left out in articles like this is that Steam discounts games on a regular basis for their customers. Buying a used game isn't an issue because new games are often sold at used prices. It did not occur to anyone, including Microsoft, that at some point consumers would get less expensive games because they wouldn't. Most gamers probably don't care nearly as much about not being able to shared or trade games as they do the doubling of cost to themselves that not being able to trade or sell games would cause.

And so Microsoft's attempt failed, and like children kicking sand in a sandbox because they didn't get their way, they attempted to punish consumers by removing the "extra features" that most people didn't care about anyway.

Let's not forget that Microsoft's goal in the whole thing was to make more money off of their only division that is actually making money. If they were interested in helping developers they wouldn't have such exorbitant fees for updating even small, indie games. If they were truly interested in helping developers, they could just work out a deal with after market companies like GameStop to pay a "tax" to developers whenever they sold a used game.

Now, to be clear, I'm fine with some system that allows developers to make money off of sales of after market games. But if publishers and developers really want to compete with the after market, then discounting their games on a time scale similar to the used games market is the way to go, because it's the cost that's driving it.

**

I like the house building analogy above.

For every large, complex problem, there is a simple, clear solution that also happens to be absolutely wrong.

  User Deleted
9/05/13 12:20:00 PM#4
I see this as just more arm twisting to shape the culture of consumers. I see f2p games as a conniving method to take advantage of those that cant control thier spending, much like casino's take advantage of compulsive gamblers. It's all very unattractive. It gets in the way of just being able to relax. The used games restrictions are not relevant to my past habits, but the arm twisting in an effort to shape culture is where I draw the line. It's not just happening in the video game world but this isnt the place to talk work or politics.
  Torvaldr

Elite Member

Joined: 6/10/09
Posts: 5824

9/05/13 1:03:33 PM#5
I don't really care about used game sales.  I don't buy used games and I don't sell my games.  I mostly buy all my games and music DRM free.  I support those options because I think they treats both the seller and the buyer fairly.

Curse you AquaScum!

  crack_fox

Novice Member

Joined: 7/09/04
Posts: 398

9/05/13 2:31:29 PM#6

I have not owned a console since the Dreamcast. However, back then I relied on the sale of my old games to fund the purchase of new ones. Had I not been able to do so, I simply would have bought fewer games. I would have lost out on playing some great titles, and the developers of those titles would have made one less sale. 

 

Back then, new console games were simply too expensive to take gambles on. The ability to buy and sell games made me much more willing to take a chance on less-widely acclaimed or hyped games. Without that ability, I would have been as conservative and risk averse with my money as an investor asked to support an innovative MMO.

 

On the subject of Steam, I am not a fan. However, unlike Microsoft, Valve has credit in the bank when it comes to respect and trust from gamers. That is the prime reason why Steam is installed on my pc and why Origin is not. As the Windows 8 debacle shows, Microsoft does not go out of its way to win the respect of its customers, and that disrespect is repaid in kind.

 

  dwturducken

Apprentice Member

Joined: 4/24/12
Posts: 13

9/05/13 3:33:17 PM#7
The critical flaw in the presented argument against used games is that it would make video games (correct me if I'm wrong) the ONLY physical purchase on the market which you would be unable to resell or to buy used. I mean, I understand the piracy concerns, but the same argument could be made for the hammer I bought at a yardsale or the Ford I bought used from a Honda dealership. It just doesn't work as an economic model. Besides, if I break my game disk, I can run down to the used game store and get another one.
  Ozivois

Novice Member

Joined: 4/17/10
Posts: 600

9/05/13 4:35:32 PM#8
Microsoft and others should implement two ways to sell product: CD copies that can be traded/sold but also offer online-only versions. The online version would be sold at a nicely discounted price and allow the sharing features but the license will be locked to only one account at time of purchase.
  Ozivois

Novice Member

Joined: 4/17/10
Posts: 600

9/05/13 4:40:16 PM#9
Originally posted by dwturducken
The critical flaw in the presented argument against used games is that it would make video games (correct me if I'm wrong) the ONLY physical purchase on the market which you would be unable to resell or to buy used. I mean, I understand the piracy concerns, but the same argument could be made for the hammer I bought at a yardsale or the Ford I bought used from a Honda dealership. It just doesn't work as an economic model. Besides, if I break my game disk, I can run down to the used game store and get another one.

You can't resell used food either, or condoms...

 

Also, it is arguable that a game is a physical purchase since they can be digitally downloaded and likely would be in an online system. Most online games can't be sold either since they key is locked to the original purchaser's account.

  sunshadow21

Novice Member

Joined: 8/15/04
Posts: 355

9/05/13 4:59:50 PM#10
The big differences between Steam and Microsoft is price and market. Steam games are cheap, so no one is concerned about the lack of a used game market; if they tried to charge full price like what Microsoft and the console game devs would almost certainly have tried to charge, they would not have survived very long. Second, Steam is operating in a PC market, which is very different from the console market; PC users a) typically don't move their PCs around very much or take them to places that might lack reliable internet, and b) are much, much more used to the mixing of physical media and online content. The average console player could still care less about an internet connection, despite the rise in popularity in the last generation of consoles, and consoles are still primarily seen as a good traveling system, something that requiring constant internet access would absolutely kill. Also, Microsoft would have done much better simply getting rid of the physical media entirely if they truly wanted an online only system. In the end, Microsoft, and apparently some game devs, fail to understand that the console market is not the same beast as the PC market, no matter how similar the machines themselves are, and cannot be treated as such. I can understand their goals, but until the console market itself changes, trying to treat consoles like a limited PC, which is basically what Microsoft was trying to do, will continue to fail.
  Drakynn

Novice Member

Joined: 3/02/08
Posts: 2051

9/05/13 5:11:17 PM#11
Originally posted by Ozivois
Originally posted by dwturducken
The critical flaw in the presented argument against used games is that it would make video games (correct me if I'm wrong) the ONLY physical purchase on the market which you would be unable to resell or to buy used. I mean, I understand the piracy concerns, but the same argument could be made for the hammer I bought at a yardsale or the Ford I bought used from a Honda dealership. It just doesn't work as an economic model. Besides, if I break my game disk, I can run down to the used game store and get another one.

You can't resell used food either, or condoms...

 

Also, it is arguable that a game is a physical purchase since they can be digitally downloaded and likely would be in an online system. Most online games can't be sold either since they key is locked to the original purchaser's account.

You can't compare one use items with reusable ones that's just silly.

I don't buy my games second hand all,I buy them when they are discounted in digital sales these days so the used game market doesn't affect me.But I don't see why Video Games are a special unique snowflake,why they should get special treatment that other media have not?

Artists don't get a cut of reselling of their paintings,albums or dvds so why should the video game industry?

Instead they should find ways to make purchasing a direct copy from them more attractive.Offer incentives and services or prices  to make buying second hand copies not seem worth it.

  rojoArcueid

Elite Member

Joined: 8/13/09
Posts: 5610

"It is double pleasure to deceive the deceiver". - Niccolo Machiavelli

9/05/13 5:25:37 PM#12

i buy used games when the digital version of the same game has a ridiculous price. I buy new games whenever the used alternative is almost the same and still needs online code to be purchased (which makes it more expensive). I also buy new games (physical and digital) when i really love the franchise, to show my support to the developer, as long as its priced well.

Also, IMO digital sales should be cheaper than physical for obvious reasons.

 

My endgame begins with character creation and ends with a new mmorpg

  Lugors

Hard Core Member

Joined: 10/06/12
Posts: 174

9/05/13 6:14:32 PM#13

Why are games different from books and movies? First sale doctrine is fairly clear on the right to resell hard copies of books, music and movies. Steven King's ability to write his next novel is not affected by selling my copy of The Stand at a used book store. The legal precedent on digital media is murky, and the gaming industry is trying to exploit that in disregarding first sale doctrine. Of course every company wants to earn more money, I get that. But trying to brow beat your consumers into giving up rights they are entitled to is wrong. The rise in MMOs is in part due to companies switching from selling you a digital widget to providing you a service. And many companies are trying to shoehorn the service part into the digital widget. Sometimes it is value added, other times it is pure exploitation. Short filing a class action lawsuit, for which the economics are not strong enough to justify, the only action consumers can take is to vote with their wallets, which they seemed to be prepared to do with the next gen Xbox's DRM.

  Talonsin

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 7/19/06
Posts: 1056

9/05/13 7:03:00 PM#14

I find the legal rights of software to be total crap!  Why can I buy a $500 TV, use it for a year and then sell or trade it but if I buy a game for $50 i am only buying the right to play it myself.  This whole software licensing thing is getting more and more out of control each year.  The entire reason we are in this mess is due to Microsoft paying off (lobbying) the US government to impose these totally unrealistic ownership rights on software back in the 80's. 

Once I buy something, it should be mine.  I'm tired of fat-cat developers and corporate CEO's whining about the need for DRM and how bad software piracy hurts them while they live in fricken mansions and take private jets to work.  I'm sure software piracy hurt Lord British so bad he could not afford a second trip into space or the other castle he wanted on the french riviera.

  Wylf

Advanced Member

Joined: 4/13/13
Posts: 117

9/05/13 7:08:50 PM#15

Everyone wants a discount Genese. The consequences be damned. Look at the prevalence of the F2P market, though it has dumbed down our games, people play because they feel they are getting something for FREE. Even though Free is a fiction.

I do disagree with you about Steam. I submit that it is not loved, but unfortunately has become a necessary evil. I enjoyed the video.  Keep up the good work.

 
  Rusque

Hard Core Member

Joined: 6/08/10
Posts: 1726

9/05/13 7:20:44 PM#16
Originally posted by lizardbones

The difference between Steam and Microsoft's attempt and DRM for physical games is that Steam didn't try to change the rules for an existing system. Valve created a new set of rules for a system that didn't really have a set of rules. If Microsoft had tried to make new rules for a new system, or tried to use the rules that Steam setup for a fully digital system, they would have had no issues.

The other part of the Steam/Microsoft comparison that gets left out in articles like this is that Steam discounts games on a regular basis for their customers. Buying a used game isn't an issue because new games are often sold at used prices. It did not occur to anyone, including Microsoft, that at some point consumers would get less expensive games because they wouldn't. Most gamers probably don't care nearly as much about not being able to shared or trade games as they do the doubling of cost to themselves that not being able to trade or sell games would cause.

And so Microsoft's attempt failed, and like children kicking sand in a sandbox because they didn't get their way, they attempted to punish consumers by removing the "extra features" that most people didn't care about anyway.

Let's not forget that Microsoft's goal in the whole thing was to make more money off of their only division that is actually making money. If they were interested in helping developers they wouldn't have such exorbitant fees for updating even small, indie games. If they were truly interested in helping developers, they could just work out a deal with after market companies like GameStop to pay a "tax" to developers whenever they sold a used game.

Now, to be clear, I'm fine with some system that allows developers to make money off of sales of after market games. But if publishers and developers really want to compete with the after market, then discounting their games on a time scale similar to the used games market is the way to go, because it's the cost that's driving it.

**

I like the house building analogy above.

+1 to everything here.

 

I'd also like to add a quite important point of difference between MS Xbox ecosystem and Steam.

 

Steam offers sales like you said, but it's also competitive within a larger market. There are other digital services and you can still purchase physical media from big box stores, amazon, ebay, list goes on.

 

The xbox system is close. And that's why it's a scary proposition to allow them to control DRM on the hardware side. The consumer would have had no alternative outside of simply not purchasing an xbox. Players choose steam and that's a distinction that MS failed to understand.

There is no incentive to offer 75% off on xbox games if you control the entire market of xbox games. Steam offers lots of sales to remain the lead service in digital PC game distribution. Console games only get cheap years after they've been out (or when they're used). I got Skyrim for $40 two weeks after the game launched from one of the other digital services (may have been gamefly digital, can't remember now). It was a two day sale and I was more than happy to grab it at that price, not that it wasn't worth the full $60, but I was in the middle of some other games and held off while I finished them.

 

I'm all for digital distribution, but the market has to be open and competitive, otherwise we'll just get bent over.

  sketocafe

Hard Core Member

Joined: 7/19/11
Posts: 590

9/06/13 8:56:11 AM#17
However much the gaming industry likes to talk about licenses, the fact of the matter is that for games on physical media everyone involved has been treating them as if they were no different from other copyrighted items such as books. If developers want to say that used sales are a problem then they're saying that gamers themselves are the problem, because the used games industry exists only to facilitate our rights to sell our legitimately purchased copyrighted products.
  Ozmodan

Elite Member

Joined: 2/27/07
Posts: 6682

9/06/13 9:00:53 AM#18

This pretty much just effects the console market.  Not much of a market for used PC games.  Go into any Gamestop, you can count the PC games on one hand.  Most MMO's games register the client and ti is not transferable.

Until MMO's become more common on consoles, I do not see this as a issue.

  larrypsy

Novice Member

Joined: 12/17/06
Posts: 34

9/06/13 10:54:17 PM#19

Fact: If we don't support developers.....

  mrputts

Advanced Member

Joined: 2/23/05
Posts: 175

9/07/13 7:22:28 AM#20

1.The Video game industry is a Multi billion dollar industry, and thats with pre-owned.

2. Preowned games are purchased by people that might not have otherwise bought the game.

3. Some games are not worth 60 dollars. And used games make games be worth what the market says they are. 

4. My best anecdote: Right before Gears of war 3 came out I re-bought Gears 1 so a friend and I could run through all 3 games in a row. I picked it up used for 5 bucks. Gears of war is still 20 dollars on xbox.com digital marketplace.  Gears 1 is not worth $20 dollars anymore.

 

Ea is like a poo fingered midas ~ShakyMo

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