An all out war has been declared on used games and I have to wonder…are used games really that bad? Obviously there are negative connotations to buying used over new and clearly you should buy new when you can, but…well, does it even matter? One question you have to continuously ask yourself is how am I benefitting (or robbing) the developer?
Jim Sterling made an interesting point with one of his recent Jimquisitions where he quoted a stat saying that Gamestop really only makes about pennies on the dollar for any brand spanking new copy sold for a game (which I don’t know how valid that is) and that their entire market is pretty much dependent on used game sales, warranties, accessories, and so on (which we all know).
Previously, if I saw two games back to back with different prices, I would select the lower price, which usually meant a used copy. These days I put a little more thought into it by A) not shopping at Gamestop at all unless I absolutely have to (there are some Gamestop exclusives), B) attempting to buy new if and only if the game is as close as it can be to the original drop date and for the maximum price possible that will definitively assist the developer, and C) only buying games brand spanking new that I actually WANT to support and have put enough time and thought into definitely wanting them for the new price.
As you can tell, there’s a lot that I consider when buying a game brand new. This is because, well…I often don’t. Now no, I’m not trying to be hypocritical here; I just boil it down to a fine science. Torchlight 2? Pre-ordered. Shadowrun Returns? The same. Last Story? You know it. Usually, though, I won’t do that because what if the game ends up sucking, what if I beat it in two days, what if I don’t meet system specs, etc.
But let’s back up a little in time and go back to when I was a kid. I didn’t really have an allowance growing up. I would get videogames for Christmas and sometimes on birthdays. Even then, none of that was guaranteed and rarely did I have a say in what I got or when. So Chrono Trigger, for example, I got for Christmas the year it came out, but I couldn’t tell you when exactly my dad bought it, so for all I know he may have bought it well after the first distribution, meaning the developer could have potentially made less and so on.
When you’re a kid, borrowing, renting, and trials are the way to go. But now? Well, now the Xbox One wants to try to get rid of that saying the developers are being robbed blind. Really? Which developers? Look, indie developers are one thing, but they have outlets. Further, Microsoft doesn’t give two shits about indie developers in the first place, so I very highly doubt it’s “for the little guy.”
And I’m certainly not saying big name companies aren’t making good games. What I AM saying is they’re not the ones we need to worry about anytime soon unless they implode in on themselves from bad business decisions, which wouldn’t have anything to do with us in the first place. I’m going to switch back here and talk more about Gamestop and why I don’t really like them.
GS in particular is a bottom feeder company. They make money solely based on the fact that gamers like a deal, but they don’t want to provide you a deal. How does that work? Why, by taking used games back for pennies on the dollar, then charging only about $5 less than the new copy sitting right next to it!
And despite exclusive DLC, online passes, and all this being done already, MS thinks they’re going to combat this by doing all this ridiculous bullshit that they really don’t need to do in the first place because it’s probably not even THEIR OWN GAMES made by THEIR OWN DEVELOPERS that are getting fucked over.
Because there’s NO WAY Microsoft would ever make enough money on this.
No, they’re going to screw themselves in the short and long run because nobody likes DRM, online passes, or any of that bullshit. There’s always going to be piracy (don’t copy that floppy lol) and they’re going to get more clever and all they’re waiting for is bullshit like this to happen so they can open up more convenience to the customer by providing something THEY SHOULD ALREADY BE GETTING…and for free.
Sure, it’s illegal, but that’s never stopped people before and it won’t now either. Let me present you with a hypothetical scenario. I go online, get a Playstation 2 emulator, and then illegally download Shin Megami Tensei – Nocturne. Am I doing something wrong? Yes. Is it hurting the developer? No.
Let me repeat that: it is NOT hurting the developer. Why? Because even if I should go to a Gamestop or wherever the fuck else right now, actually FIND a brand new copy for Nocturne, and buy it, none of that is going to Atlus. It’s not happening. That game is nearly 10 years old and hasn’t been ported to anything recently where I could potentially buy it right now to further support Atlus, Shin Megami Tensei, or anything of the sort.
I’m not saying you SHOULD, but…
If anything, it would be a good idea to buy it at a local, independent store so that it’s a local buy and they make money, but that would be the extent of it. So how long should you wait before you buy used? Well, that’s the tricky part. Some companies continue to make money per sale depending on where and how you buy their product.
You have stuff like Steam where their prices fluctuate, but ultimately, there are enough awesome sales going on that it’s totally worth grabbing shit. Look, I’m going to wrap this up here. If I have a game, whether it’s used, borrowed, rented, new, or whatever, I should be able to play it without restrictions.
If I rented or borrowed it, then I obviously didn’t have enough confidence to buy the game brand new, but I was interested in it, so I wanted to try it out. “Oh, but free trials fix that problem.” Really? So hey, that Brutal Legend trial covered ALL aspects of the game, including driving around looking for shit to do, the godawful RTS system, the poorly thought out multiplayer aspect, and the repetitive combat system, didn’t it?
You LIED to me!
Wait, no…it didn’t. Those aspects were all suspiciously ABSENT. It wasn’t until after I purchased the game that I realized it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, though I still had a lot of fun with it. And no, that game is not an isolated entry. There have been plenty of games I’ve played in the past where the first chapter or whatever was badass, but then it’s not so great.
Now, you know, I’m not saying that literal DAYS after the drop of a game you’re interested in that you should be picking up a used copy…that’s just shitty of you. However, if it’s been a year or so…yeah, why the fuck not? Besides, the different companies can still make a shit ton of money on DLC which really doesn’t cost them THAT much to make and is fairly affordable, though not all DLC is awesome, obviously.
If it’s a game you know you want, buy it new, if you can. If you can’t, just wait for the price to drop. I think we can all live with that, but we need more options for trials, so I don’t think abolishing the used game market is the way to go. Besides that, where it’s not time sensitive, sometimes used is the only option…but why the hell would I ever buy your game, even years later, if you have all these fucking restrictions and shit on them?
So you’re telling me that, potentially, if I purchase a used game 5 years after it comes out, I might have to pay additional money on top of it, sign in 5 times to different online systems, put up with sluggish DRM, AND be severely limited on how I can actually play the game just because “you say so?” Well, THAT seems good for the consumer…
If anything, their own demographical blindness is going to lead these lemming developers off a cliff. And really, that’s all I have to say about that.