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Love/Hate: Used Gaming


For the record, all of the consoles I own are used, aside from my wii. I have a launch 360 which I picked up for ninety bucks and an rrod fix, a psp with many scratches in the screen, a ds with a failing L button that seems to act up a few days after cleaning the button contact, an xbox which seems to wheeze just trying to read discs, a ps2 that won't read correctly half of the time, and many others. Yet in sacrificing some cosmetic aspects of these consoles, I could afford to own them all. As an estimate, 90% of the games that I own are used, and very few of the titles I had bought new were at regular price. This could be a result of having a family that isn't exactly well off, but it is likely to have more to do with my current gaming habits. I play games a lot, and almost never one at a time; which is likely the explanation as to why I seldom rent. Used games are an answer to my gaming habits, and for that I love them. Rather dropping fifty/sixty bucks on a new game, I'd much rather spend twenty on three different games. Rather than owning a shiny new 360, I can get a ps2, Gamecube, and a used 360 for around the same price. It's almost an addiction, I spend about half the time looking for good deals, the other half playing the games.

However, something changed last year in how I perceived these deals; I started feeling more and more like a leech. I would always go the used option, even if the new game was only a couple of bucks more, and half the time I would get a wrecked manual or the game sans packaging. I would look for these deals, putting money into the hands of the people reselling them, rather than the developers that had actually created the game. I saw developers closing their doors, never creating another game quite like the one I had purchased used a few weeks ago. I felt more and more guilty, almost ashamed that I and others like me could have caused people to lose their jobs. I thought, I'm against piracy, yet I feel giving money to a person for someone else's work is perfectly fine?

Recently, I've strayed from this line of thinking, as I'll still buy a lot of games used, just to offset the other purchases. It's almost feeling like I'm buying two used, one new at this point, which is a much better ratio than what I previously was at. I certainly don't think lowly of other people who buy games used at this point either. (Annoyingly, a problem I used to have.)

I now have a steady part-time job (rather than shoveling sidewalks and the like), so purchasing games is much easier, I'm a teen with very few financial obligations. I'm more likely to splurge on a new game rather than buy it used depending on the game. I still feel no remorse when picking up used copies of say, Modern Warfare 2, or when picking up previous-gen games, but I still feel a pang of remorse when buying it used from a lesser known developer. I feel that I might be causing some of their financial troubles, however silly the idea may sound. It is strange, or hypocritical, of me to think this as well; I have no qualms buying other media used such as music, movies, or manufactured goods.

So I still love the used games. Despite their ability to hurt a developer, it's still my preferred method of buying games (and consoles). It would seem that there are few ways to solve the problem, as I know almost any person who loves a certain media will buy things used to satiate their want for it, or to soften the blow coming from their next bills. For gaming however, there is what seems to be a solution.

Steam. It's a lovely platform, despite my inability to play anything newer than Half Life 1. It has sales often, and will lower the price of older games all the while advertising these changes in price. Rather than simply being marked down at a store, steam takes these to be an event of sorts, which revitalizes the sales of otherwise stagnant games. It's seemingly a solution to my problems other than the problems found within digital distribution itself (ie, no trading or selling, games can go away with no way to transfer rights to other people leaving some who will not be able to play it, etc.), and they seem to be fairly liberal with their sales. At the moment, steam is a great platform, and I hope it stays that way while I build a gaming capable PC.

So used gaming is a good, and bad thing. There are developers (Strangely, they are often the ones that are not hurting in sales like activision and co.) which will kick and scream to get rid of used gaming as a whole, but it allows a lot of people to experience a lot of games they never would have had the chance to if they had to pay for each game at new price. This could lead them to buy more niche titles direct from the developers, which is certainly not a bad thing. Maybe consoles wouldn't be quite as plagued by the problems of used games if their companies took a model similar to steam. And no Sony, the pspgo's business model doesn't count.
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About that1dude24one of us since 7:48 AM on 03.07.2009

Because some people apparently read these things:
My Top (8?) Favorite Games:
(In no particular order)
8. Half Life 2 and its subsequent episodes
7. Braid
6. Final Fantasy VI
5. Team Fortress 2
4. Cave Story
3. Disgaea
2. Persona 4
1. Majora's Mask

Also, listen to these albums. You will not regret it.
(Band name - suggested album)
Opeth - Damnation
Lunatic Soul - Lunatic Soul
Dream Theater - Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory
Isis - In the Absence of Truth
Riverside - Rapid Eye Movement
Porcupine tree - Deadwing, or, to generalize:

My musical tastes