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2:59 AM on 05.30.2013

Tonight, I watched a video that was posted by a British gamer named Total Biscuit where he makes an argument against used game sales. Used games have been a hot topic lately and this is one of the few commentaries on the subject that goes against popular opinion. However, while Mr. Biscuit does a good job of explaining the particulars of the used game market and the effects it has on the consumer, he doesn't make a compelling case against it. In summary, his suggestion is to "deal with it."

He begins by explaining his experience of the used game market as an employee for GAME, the supposed British equivalent of Gamestop. As a business, their objective is to push used games sales over new game sales because there is a much higher profit margin for the store when a customer buys used. His argument that used games are essentially no different than new games is sound. The experience is the same, more or less. I am familiar with Gamestop's practice of selling used games for a mere $5 cheaper than the new copy sitting next to it. And if there is a 90-95% profit for the store on a used sale, the numbers are pretty staggering. So it's understandable that developers and publishers would want to strike at that point because it's a substantial amount of money that they will never see for a product they created. However, this isn't a problem for the consumer, who ends up feeling the retaliatory inconvenience and cost of anti-used game measures. This is a matter between the publisher/developer and Gamestop/GAME. It's on the game makers to demand a better deal when it comes to used game sales. This boils down to greed on the part of stores like Gamestop or GAME. If they are going to hawk used merchandise as the core of their business then I think it's fair for the creators of said merchandise to demand a higher cut of the sale since it's potentially infringing on new sales of their game.

Total Biscuit also mentions the various revenue streams that other forms of media enjoy as compared to video games. Once again this is a sound explanation, but he shows great indifference towards the cost of these items. Purchasing a brand new Blu-ray movie is around $30. A new book is probably half that (even less if it's digital). Music is dirt cheap these days even if buying tangible media. He even goes so far to equate the production of a audio compact disc to a promotional item, intended to get people interested enough to plunk down the real money to see a live performance. This doesn't happen with games. A new game is going to cost you $60, most times regardless of the method of distribution. If you spring for the season pass you're looking at $80. $80! That is quite an investment on the part of the consumer. Now I'm the type that is perfectly fine with buying things on Steam or from iTunes even with the knowledge that I don't technically own the product or any right to resell it. And why should I if I'm paying $1-$15. That's rental-esque money and good value if it's something I can replay whenever I feel like it. If the game sucks, oh well, I'm out a few bucks. To give another example, if I go to the movie theatre and watch a movie that I don't enjoy, at least it only cost me $10 for the ticket. Gamers are being asked to put down $60-$80 for new game releases with no guarantee that they will enjoy the game. And the one recourse that we have is to sell the game back to the store for a modest amount of credit or money that we can put towards the purchase of something else. 

I have no qualms about developers and publishers asking players to pay a small fee for a multiplayer license or delivering DLC to fans of their products for some extra bank. I don't even mind the season pass. One of the best DLC purchases I made was the season pass for LA Noire. Obviously, a lot has to do with loyalty towards a brand or developer which is why I will probably put down the money for the season pass for the Last of Us. It's a great way for game makers to reward their fans while at the same time locking up some additional revenue. But greater respect needs to be paid to the consumer when we're asked to put down large sums of money to buy a video game brand new. If the end of used games is coming, there is no guarantee (or precedence for that matter) that game publishers and developers will lower the cost of purchasing a video game, especially since they are already charging $60 for digital versions any way. When console manufacturers use their systems as a platform against used games, it only hurts the consumer. We are the ones that have to pay for a business relationship that unanimously favors one side over the other. We are the ones that lose out when our ability to resell a product like we would any other tangible item on Earth is undermined because of the toxic relationship between game makers and stores like Gamestop or GAME. These companies need to sort themselves out because used games aren't the problem and consumers shouldn't be footing the bill for it.

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