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The Case Against Used Games

Before I get into it, this is where I am coming from: I have a background in businessy things,and every once in a while, people post business things, either as a story, in the comments. Most of the time, these are harmless enough, but every once in a while, it is just flat out wrong. When people say that games should be sold at half price, that companies should take a major hit in sales to improve PR, it kind of sets me off. I mean no disrespect by this, but most of the people on Destructoid are not my most trusted resources when it comes to business practices, and maybe the companies who operate as a business actually know what they are doing. I will admit I am not to be the most trusted resource either, but I wanted to give my two cents, and today I want to focus on used games. My recommendation for listening for this post: Sympathy for the Devil of course.

Argument number one: games are too expensive, so of course people will trade them in! Sixty dollars is pretty steep for a game, and when multiple games come out, that is a hassle right? I remember back in the day when Super Mario RPG cost...wait, sixty dollars still? All SNES games cost me sisxy back then, and NES games started at fifty as well. I don't want to seem all crotchedy and remembering the 'good ol days' back when you could get coffee for a nickel, but inflation is clearly working in our favor here. Today's money is worth less, and the price stayed the same, so a game should be cheaper now than it was before. Actually, there are places online where you can view/apply the cpi to get an approximate value (ftp://ftp.bls.gov/pub/special.requests/cpi/cpiai.txt has the full tables). Long story short, Super Mario RPG would now 'cost' around 42 dollars. Please keep in mind too that today's game cost to develop is probably higher right now, and compared to NES games, you are getting a crazy amount of content.

I seriously googled inflation, and this was the first thing that came up. Awesome.

Argument number two: people leverage used games to buy new games, and support the market. For who? I know that people will say that a used game sale is not a lost sale, and the same argument goes for piracy. In the eyes of the business who produces the games it is at very least a potential sale. So let's say you trade in three games to buy a new game, and for the sake of simplicity, all 3 games were made by the same publisher. They just lost 3 games worth of potential revenue, and gained one games worth. Not such a good deal. Without revenue, developers will close, without developers, we don't get games. I recall many posts saying this kind of thinking is 'short sighted', and I tend to agree....

A lot of people bring up argument 2.5: Other industries deal with used sales all the time, but they don't seem to suffer because of it. Which industry? Lets start high: car industry. That's a big one, and you don't hear complaints, right? That's because a car will automatically devalue itself until someone who had the car has to buy another one. Natural degradation of the product leads to another purchase, and it doesn't matter who the end user of that product was (insert easy Xbox joke from 2006\7 here). I should suggest that companies start doing that! Oh wait, Capcom has tried and there was crazy backlash (Resident Evil 3d, and Pac Man/Galaga). Maybe it isn't the right way to go, but the logic they are applying is easy to understand, and from a business perspective, I sympathize with them (even though it is a dick move, even though I buy new). While then, video games aren't cars, they are more like movies or music. iTunes has such insane DRM and other restrictions that it makes what gamers put up with look like a joke. Hey, you just bought a song! A SONG! And it won't play on anything that doesn't have m4a support, and it is locked to your account which you can only have on five computers and you have to sync it to your registered iProduct and fuck this, I buy mp3s free of DRM from amazon! Think what Microsoft does with timed exclusives is bad? Movie to DVD transitions typically take four months (source: http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2006/03/6497.ars) and depending on the box office success can take even longer. Can you imagine if there was literally [b]no way[b] for you to play a used video game for half a year until after it was released? So we gamers, we have it easy.

I really, really hate Apple, so it makes me happy to see that 'drm' on google returns Apple hate. Or you know, I would feel that way if I were petty (which I'm not...honest).

Argument 3: The sequel sells better because of the original. How many games do you think get a sequel? The game industry is crazy cut throat today. What we have seen, is that if your title isn't a hit, You (Kaos) Lose(Visceral) Your (Pandemic) Job (Codemasters). The fact is that if a majority of a studios sales come from used games, I argue they are more likely to close down than they are to make a sequel (and Kaos isn't taking Homefront 2, so another company gets to celebrate the boon from used games. Go system!). As an aside, even if you buy an old game new, there is a chance that the publisher wont see any money anyway, if the game store doesn't restock the game. The only advantage to buying new is to stick it to Game Stop (or whoever) and that might be totally worth it anyway. So what makes a sequel sell better than the original? If you had a chance to do something twice, and hear all of the feedback from the original, what might you do? Fixing the problems would be rather high on the list for me. Maybe sequels sell better because they are better games (Castlenvania for the NES, of course, being the exception).

This originally wasn't meant to ride the latest Jimquisition, but I want to talk to one of his points: disrespecting gamers time. Here's what I want you to do: Load this video.

(or this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utsvltzxtm4 )

Watch it. It is 13 minutes long. Around ten minutes of names, scrolling. Every single one of those people worked on Deus Ex. Some of them may have worked on this game for years. How many people do you think that was? How many man hours do you think they spent creating this product for you? Take five minutes. Close your eyes. Think of every person you talked to in the last six months. How do you think that list and the list of people in the credits compare. Imagine every one of your relatives who can work. I can come up with maybe thirty. In the first minute of Deus Ex's credits, there are about 40 people mentioned. For many their main source of income is from the game you just played. By buying it used you say that you appreciate what they did, but not enough for them to make some money off of it. And we are wasting their time? (This sentiment goes double for piracy, even though the math isn't quite the same). Buying used is going to restaurant and not leaving a tip. It's being able to afford a night out on the town, but bringing along your shitty kid, because you can't hire a baby sitter. The last thing I wanted to say is on the humanity topic is I hate when people say it is greedy for a business to try to stay in business. They have to pay their employees, they have to maintain a facility, get food, take care of families, and we get to enjoy the fruits of their labors and support them.

To be realistic for a bit, I know some people can't always afford to buy a new game. It is unrealistic to expect everyone to spend money to support the people who made the game, and in many cases it is too late to make a difference anyway. All I'm saying is maybe you can take the time to enter a code to play online. Maybe you can spend money on used game passes to support people who made them. Maybe instead of complaining about how games aren't free, and you can't plug them in and go instantly, you can have fun, you know, enjoy playing the game.

This is a very good place to start having fun (on a budget!)
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About taterchimpone of us since 6:01 PM on 06.06.2008

My Belmont Run for Dark Souls can be seen


I also did a blind run of the DLC, which you can view

And here

I also covered the progress of building my own gaming PC. I had no experience, and overall, it wasn't all bad! If you are on the fence about it, I suggest you read about my efforts

And here

The series never had a part 3, because I was having waaaaay too much fun playing it. Suffice to say that it does alright these days.

Thanks for stopping by my blawg!
Xbox LIVE:Taterchimp


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