If a collection society were founded that looked out for the interest of games industry publishers and the sale of their preowned titles, a system could be established whereby all retailers of secondhand games must sign up for a license. This would all be nice and legally binding, so any refusal to comply could result in nasty litigation and fines.
With a licensing system in place, publishers can finally start making money from preowned sales. The debate reverts to trivia and publishers such as EA can be fairly called out for any tactics they might employ to garnish their already respectable profit margin through online pass systems.
Of course, a problem could arise if retailers push the cost of the license back to the consumer. They could attempt to duck the license by removing preowned titles from shelves or they could raise store prices to compensate the license fee. This is unlikely to happen though, because these retailers are still in competition in a healthy market. They canít let a little thing like a license fee get in the way of consumer footfall.
The licensing system won't make consumer demand for traded in titles go away overnight; any retailers attempting to dodge the license by removing preowned titles will quickly see their customers switch to those retailers happy to bear the licensing costs to earn the extra custom.
The only negatively affected party, it seems, would be the retailer. They could moan and bitch initially, but when presented with the cold, hard fact that they were profiting from IP without rewarding the IP holder they'll have to swallow their pride and get on with selling games like they are supposed to.
Of course, two things would need to happen for preowned retail licensing to work: Someone would need to get up off their arse to set up such a society, and publishers would need to get up off their arses and back it up. A fairly ambitious undertaking, I know, but a task that would dramatically improve the industry wouldn't be without merit.
Online passes are a lazy alternative to giving a damn about the preowned games problem at the source. Garnishing the elephant in the room with a bedsheet just gives you an elephant with a bedsheet on its head.
Whether or not the licensing concept is feasible, Iíd nevertheless like to give a little advice to any publishers out there who are scared of preowned sales: Take a look around at how other industries, who have faced exactly the same problem in the past, have dealt with it. Also, donít automatically presume the best plan is to give the crappy end of the stick to the consumer.
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Kyle MacGregor Burleson 1