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Future of used game sales- The Great Debate [roundtable]
So the rumours surrounding the Xbox720 and PS4 have included hints that they may be including new features to prevent the playing of second-hand games. From 'always on' internet requirements to game disc registration, the prevailing theory is that the coming generation is seeking to eliminate the used game market once and for all.

The question is, is this a good thing for the industry? Or will it bite them in the ass as the consumer base revolts? Will Nintendo continue to strike out on their own, or will they follow Microsoft and Sony? Is there a common ground that can be reached between consumers and publishers?

Lots of issues and opinions to consider, which means it's time for another Negative World Roundtable

So what's your view?

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Posted: 02/10/13, 08:03:45  - Edited by 
 on: 02/10/13, 08:04:12
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friendly debate was started in chat and we all thought it'd make a great thread. I personally think Nintendo will stand their ground, but certain publishers and game developers might not put their games on Nintendo systems. Nintendo actually might lose a lot of money for used game sales but I think they care more about the consumer then some other companies do. Nintendo could gain or lose developers depending on the consumer market reaction. If the media paints the Sony/Microsoft decision as a bad one it could increase game and system sales for Wii U/3DS. It could potentially be the only system where they allow consumers to share games with their friends, resell their games on ebay/craigslist/where ever and not forcing people to keep a game that is likely to collect dust.

I think developers can make money off used games but still appease the consumers.... but it doesn't sound like MS or Sony are going to do it that way if rumors are true. Gamefly and Gamestop would obviously lose a ton of business unless they maybe give developers a cut of their profits and work out some kind of deal.. Maybe Gamestop changes their tune and suddenly becomes a pro Nintendo company??
Posted: 02/10/13, 08:17:14  - Edited by 
 on: 02/10/13, 08:20:35
Wellsy529 said:
Nintendo actually might lose a lot of money for used game sales but I think they care more about the consumer then some other companies do.

That's why they'd never make you pay to upgrade your Virtual Console games right?
Posted: 02/10/13, 08:39:00
I'm not saying they're saints...that whole thing is a giant mess imo. It's a mixture of not having a good online infrastructure and them making some extra money. But if they had issues with used games right now I think they would have addressed it already. They legally fight piracy more then probably any other game developer for example.
Posted: 02/10/13, 08:44:05
On topic, I don't personally care about used games and there's plenty of people getting ripped off by Gamestop with the used game market, so it's not like this is all bad news for the consumer. Still, I agree with what was said in the other thread that the better answer is to make used games unappealing by having strong sales on new games where the money can almost all go to the publisher and developers, as with Steam.

I am in favor of things that get more money to the makers of video games, it might help to stop the current model that seems to be either huge big budget game or indie games and not as much in between.
Posted: 02/10/13, 08:49:41
Jargon said:
it might help to stop the current model that seems to be either huge big budget game or indie games and not as much in between.

I agree with this. One of my points that I made to Stephen in chat is that this push against used game sales only seems to have cropped up in recent years, and from big publishers like Activision, EA etc. As such I believe it's a direct result of the modern business model employed by these companies, where they will throw squillions into the development and marketing of a game, and need ridiculous amounts of sales to make a profit. All of a sudden sale cannibalizing used game sales become a big deal to them, whereas the issue wasn't as big in previous generations.

A massive overhaul of business practices on the development/publishing side would probably alleviate a lot of the related issues they've been having.
Posted: 02/10/13, 08:56:46  - Edited by 
 on: 02/10/13, 08:57:11
I believe developers should make more money per game but not at the expense of the consumer. I think I should be able to sell my game to a friend or online because I usually only want to play a game once or twice after beating it. Developers could make money off my used game sales if done properly but i don't think MS or Sony are doing it that way. You don't need to wipe it out entirely. Yes, Gamestop should either have to pay them or go away and stop ripping people off. But to not be able to bring a game to my friends house or to use gamefly and rent games? Thats the worst way to do it, and if sony and MS do that...I hope consumers are informed, get pissed, and take their business to Nintendo and make it known too and 3rd party developers would be forced to put their games on Wii U.

There is also potentially this issue
Free to play games being brought to consoles! That also would eliminate used games in another fashion...but if you've ever played these games on facebook you can spend WAY more then $60 on that game to get anywhere in it
Posted: 02/10/13, 09:04:56  - Edited by 
 on: 02/10/13, 09:09:35
Why is that a big deal again?

Publishers are greedy, narrowminded pigs who only look at the negatives of Used Games. As a developer i'm happy if someone at least plays my game, money is just a side-effect.
Posted: 02/10/13, 09:22:27
I'm a huge advocate of digital distribution. That said there is also a right and wrong way to do it. Look at what Steam did. They, single handedly, destroyed all brick and mortar PC sales within five years of inception.

But they did it by providing a better service than the competition, not by stifling it. What Microsoft and Sony are proposing isn't benefiting the consumer in any way. You want to destroy Gamestop? Adopt a Steam like model and straight up beat them for customers. If Gamestop is selling a relatively new game for $40 used, have a weekend sale where you sell it for $34.99. Valve has done this and they won by flat out being better.

Microsoft and Sony aren't proposing a plan where they are better. They are proposing a plan where instead of having to compete they just win via default. It's fucked up and absurd. I hope they crash and burn.
Posted: 02/10/13, 10:25:55  - Edited by 
 on: 02/10/13, 10:26:55

That might well be an issue but used game sales only really became the issue they are now when there was a retailer basically thriving off of it. It is much more common place and as such more widely done.
Posted: 02/10/13, 11:44:16
I imagine the game will be tied to your account so you will still be able to play on a friends system if you logon much like PSN and XBLA games work now.
Posted: 02/10/13, 12:25:56
I don't see Nintendo playing follow the leader any time soon, especially not on this particular issue. If anything, the fact they're allowing people to trade-in games will cause retailers to further push the WiiU and 3DS. The UK chain GAME, in particular, makes the majority of their bottom line off of pre-owned games sales; and I presume GameStop is the same. So, if Sony and Microsoft disrupted this business model in a major way, that'd be the death of either games at retail as a concept, or the death of Sony/Microsoft games at retail at the very least.

Of course, in the case of the latter, buying games online is slowly becoming more and more commonplace (approx. 30% of all UK games sales are by mail/web order, apparently); and both Microsoft and Sony will both be pushing their own digital marketplaces, so I doubt they'll care much about losing the retail sector, especially as more and more of it gets eaten up by ordering online and digital distribution.
Posted: 02/10/13, 14:22:18
So they kill off used games then push digital distribution but keep it the same price as discs because we no longer have the power to resell our discs so they wouldn't need to make digital copies any cheaper to promote sales they're just forcing our hand. Two always online systems that don't allow used games....sounds like the perfect time to start ditching disc sales and push harder for digital copies. They'll save a lot of money
Posted: 02/10/13, 17:16:30
I don't buy second hand games but I do sell what I'm done with. Without that option I would buy far fewer games or wait for them to be dirt cheap.

I have to wonder who is pushing for this to happen. The obvious answer would seem to be the publishers, but perhaps it's just the platform holders. Microsoft wants their cut on every disc that changes hands. If Sony is smart they won't join in.

Seems to me there's a faulty logic behind these plans. The intention is that killing 2nd hand sales will force everyone to buy a brand new copy of a game at full RRP, but the more likely result is:

a) More people wait for bargain bin prices on games that aren't 100% must-have

b) More people pass on games altogether

c) More people will justify game piracy

Two out of three of those answers result in no money to the developers, and they all encourage what's increasingly wrong with the games industry, a lack of creative risk taking.

With development costs at least doubling next-gen (source: Epic Games) this kind of move is not only anti-consumer, it will make it even harder for anything but a few AAA games per year to get big enough sales to cover their costs.

It's a crazy gamble, imo.
Posted: 02/10/13, 17:36:24  - Edited by 
 on: 02/10/13, 19:08:20

I like games of all shapes and sizes.

By saying that developers shouldn't care about making money, you're playing right into greedy publishers' hands.
Posted: 02/10/13, 18:38:55
I'm curious, what physical games do you buy at full price and keep forever? And do you ever buy digital versions of retail games at full price or do you always wait for a sale?

Re-saleability is hugely important to me. I'm not cheap or on a super tight budget all the time, but I only keep my favorite Nintendo games (new classics) and a few 3rd party titles that are really special to me, eg. Rune Factory Frontier. Everything else gets ebayed eventually. And I never buy digital downloads of retail games at full price. I always wait for a big discount. I only buy indie downloads on Steam and the eShop at full price.
Posted: 02/10/13, 19:46:20

I generally wait for sales, although I buy some Nintendo games at full price knowing they won't likely drop in price anytime soon. Recently, I've bought NSMB2 digitally and Xenoblade at full price.

But the entire reason why digital downloads is such a better model is because people like you and I who always wait for sales are still valuable to all the parties. At retail, we're either screwing the retailer by buying on sale, or screwing the publisher/developer by buying used. The retailer makes up for it by buying used games for cheap via trade ins and then selling them for more. The publisher/developer makes up for it by starting the games at $60 so that they get the most out of the people who are willing to buy the game on day one.

Now, without having to worry about people buying used, I could see publishers starting off games at lower prices or perhaps being more likely to do a second run at a lower price point. I guess if this goes forward we'll see what happens, but I don't see the current retail model working too much longer, especially when digital downloads can make everyone but the middle man happier.
Posted: 02/10/13, 20:15:59
Maybe Nintendo could just open their own retail stores. Come in, play games, buy games and merch, etc. I'm still astounded that Nintendo doesn't have more merchandise out there (even though there's way more of it today than there was when I was a kid).
Posted: 02/10/13, 20:44:29
Don't they have a store like that in New York City? I'd like to see the concept expanded across a whole chain of stores, but I don't know whether it'd be popular. I mean, it's not like they can go for the "apple store" aesthetic; and something more like a traditional game store would only really attract kids, their parents and die-hard Nintendo fans.

Jargon said:

Now, without having to worry about people buying used, I could see publishers starting off games at lower prices or perhaps being more likely to do a second run at a lower price point. I guess if this goes forward we'll see what happens, but I don't see the current retail model working too much longer, especially when digital downloads can make everyone but the middle man happier.
I agree that the current retail model is unsustainable - there's only a finite number of games out there, and as more and more publishers find ways to incentivise purchasing brand-new; there's less and less of an incentive in buying games pre-owned, since you're still gonna spend Ł8 extra to get the content the publisher has decided to withhold from you... if you can purchase it at all. You're no longer getting "the same thing, but cheaper"; no matter how much the reps at your local game store stress you are.

So, if that happens to all games, then retailers will either start to push trade-ins on systems where this is not a problem (IE - Nintendo systems), or will have to find new ways of subsidising the costs of new games (the wholesale price is set in such a way that the stores have a pretty low profit margin, about 5-10% if they're lucky). This'll either result in game stores selling more semi-related whatnot (walkthrough guides, merchandise and accessories); or just giving up on the whole "selling games" thing and shutting up shop. However, if the UK chain GAME's previous ventures in selling merchandise are any indication, games stores couldn't sell related merchandise (except maybe t-shirts) to save their lives.
Posted: 02/10/13, 22:04:45
If you're a game designer doing it for the money, you're doing it wrong.
Posted: 02/11/13, 12:04:18
That sounds absolutely crazy to me. Of course they're doing it for the money. And they should be!

As for used games, I don't mind them. I have very rarely bought or sold used games, but they do exist as a legitimate part of the market. The preorder system thrives on those people who constantly cycle through new games and then sell them back. Preorders are very important to those same publishers who cry foul at used games. Gamestop has also never ripped anybody off. I don't remember anybody being forced into Gamestop to buy or sell used. They provide a service many people use.
Steam is still something I'm wrapping my head around. Everybody points to the brilliance of Valve, but they were working in an environment quite dissimilar to consoles. They have never needed to take the risk of manufacturing a single piece of hardware and started with the potential install base of every single PC owner. That's why a Valve developed Steambox seems crazy to me. Why take on that cost?
Posted: 02/11/13, 15:14:45
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