Used Games = End of Gaming Industry

Used Game Sales

Rising Used Game Sales

Another in a long line of articles on the subject of second-hand or used games over at PC World. This time blog author Matt Peckham opines:

To hear some publishers tell it, used game sales are the devil’s work, and we–meaning us consumers–the devil’s henchmen.

We’re buying too many used games, you see, and in our patient thrift, we’re destroying the very thing we’re supposed to love.

Not the games themselves, mind you–first-class game development is flourishing with or without the World of Warcraft’s and Call of Duty’s–but, if we buy the corporate line, the ability of game publishers to reap increasingly massive revenues.

Read the full article HERE.

Nothing new, really. Industry reports indicate used game sales are cutting into new game sales. Publishers and developers feel the pinch. Consumers and retailers don’t see the problem. The economy gets some punching bag action. And finally, it’s suggested the “model” might be changing – moving towards more DLC and online content.

And what of online content? In China, where piracy is ubiquitous, there is virtually NO piracy or second hand sale of domestic game product. But then, there are no physical game good here – everything is online. What box product does exist comes from outside – Western games pirated and copied ad nauseum. Chinese gamers LOVE Western games – but what little money they pay for them will never reach the publishers or developers who made them. How different is this from second hand sales, BTW?

China’s game operators know how to run their businesses. They’ve built a model which disallows competition from developers, pirates, retailers or consumers. It’s a closed-loop system enforced by government regulation and licensing. And I guarantee you Western publishers would have adopted the model in a heartbeat if they could have.

Ideal models regulated by Communist edict aside, what’s stopping Western publishers from evolving? Simple: They’re too invested in the protected market model competitively evolved over the previous two decades. The one in which their ability to spend ridiculous sums of money on development, marketing and distribution guarantees they’re the only “legitimate” publishing organizations around. It’s only with the advent of “disruptors” like publisher-independent development organizations (see Valve), innovative hardware technologies (see Nintendo), and online distribution platforms (see Facebook, iPhone, Steam) that the old model is challenged.

The old guard, AAA publishers are backed into a corner. If they’ve not yet secured their online strategy then it’s likely too late. Dependency on a retail model that even the retailers admit is broken is, this late in the game, is a ticket to ride the way of the dinosaurs.

But then, that’s what we’re talking about here, isn’t it? Dinosaurs. And the little mammals nipping at their remains. It’s evolution in action. Should we feel bad about nature taking its course? Look at Asia to see the future – where the mice have evolved into men and are taking over the world. Deride the current model, poke at the dying beasts, and imagine what tomorrow will bring. A better world?

In all of this, never forget dear consumer, it’s YOU these beasts are feeding on. Nom nom.

6 responses to “Used Games = End of Gaming Industry”

  1. Microsoft is in the perfect possition to corner this market with Steam, but they’re kind of lolly gagging around… do what steam hasn’t done… mod friendly front end and plug-in enabled… let sites who have their own store plug into the Windows Games For Live service… Microsoft can take a little off the top but both companies flurish for this…

  2. Yeah, we were talking about this at The Escapist forums; we’ve been buying used games for over a decade & almost all of the games we get are discontinued. When it comes to used games on sale that are still new & on sale, the used price & availablility of used copies tends to reflect the popularity of the game: if there are tons of cheap used games, then people want to get rid of it. If there are limited expencive copies, it’s because most people don;t want to part with the game.

  3. personally i always buy second hand games,
    because it’s like 50% cheaper, it looks the same in most cases like the new ones and tops i can always fix up the box, paint parts or renew it.
    and personally i don’t understand the hype around new games because i get disappointed quite easily from games because i’m a harsh critic, so i usually wait for a year until the buzz is out download it, play it and then if it’s good enough go and buy it first hand if it’s fantastic (like Alice) and second if it’s OK.

  4. There is an obvious solution to this; lower the prices of of new games. If you want people to buy new, then give them a reason to. Especially when you take into account the fact the most people take really good care of what they buy, when they sell it back then the next person, maybe next few people, get a game that is in ‘like-new’ condition.

    Also, start making new games that are worth buying new. I don’t know how everybody else feels, but I’m getting pretty sick Halo, Call of Duty, and all those other huge franchises; don’t get me wrong, they are all great games, but let’s face it, for the most part they are all basically the same as their predecessors.

    The industry as a whole needs to take some chances and stop letting purposefully shitty games (example: 2/3 of Wii games) into the market place with some self-standards and, as I said above, lower prices. The game developers aren’t the only people going through recession.

  5. yeah, i agree with the ‘lower prices’ concept as well. sell more games at lower prices means more people willing to make a 1st-time purchase. but you’ll never get traditional publishers to see how lowering prices does anything other than devalue their IP.

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