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Amazon.com To Accept Game Trade-Ins 242

Posted by timothy
from the this-game-sucks-you-try-it dept.
revjtanton writes "Amid all the discussion and argument about Gamestop's two-billion-dollar trade-in industry it seems Amazon.com is getting in on the action. Like Gamestop, Amazon asks for the games to be in good condition, however they offer just a few more dollars for your discarded game (Gamestop listed Left 4 Dead for the 360 at $24 while Amazon had it at $26.50 trade-in value). Gamestop had already ruffled feathers in the developer and distribution communities with its practice of accepting used games; does Amazon joining the practice legitimize it?"
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Amazon.com To Accept Game Trade-Ins

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  • hmm? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FredFredrickson (1177871) * on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:28PM (#27081905) Homepage Journal
    Although Gamestop already "ruffled features" in the dev and distribution communities, I'd say what really legitimizes the practice of buying and selling used games is the First Sale Doctrine [wikipedia.org].

    That's like saying freedom of speech is only legitimate if everybody agrees with what you say... It's really quite different. It's legalized legitimacy is in the face of the fact that people disagree.
  • Huh. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:30PM (#27081935)

    "does Amazon joining the practice legitimize it?"

    Since when has it been illegal in any way or sense to sell your own property?

  • Good for Steam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TonyZahn (534930) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:31PM (#27081941) Homepage

    The more place that sell used games this way, the more developers will start moving to services like Steam to protect their revenue.

  • Re:hmm? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by houstonbofh (602064) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:31PM (#27081947)
    But they don't sell it to you, they "license" it. And if they keep saying it, it will be true. Just like me having a replica of something you also still have is "stealing" it from you when you still have it.
  • D'oh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vjmurphy (190266) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:34PM (#27081991) Homepage

    "does Amazon joining the practice legitimize it?"

    No, it was legitimate before Amazon joined in. I think you might mean "popularize" it, or something different.

  • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gUUU ... inus threevowels> on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:44PM (#27082095) Homepage Journal

    Because listing items is a serious PITA that's not worth the trouble? Between the options of:

    A) Get money now for the thing you want to get rid of
    B) Setup a web front, attract a buyer, work out delivery and payment details, package item properly, go to [UPS|FedEx|USPS] to send package, and then beg the buyer for feedback ...I know which one most people would choose. B only makes sense if you plan to do a significant volume.

  • Re:hmm? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vux984 (928602) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:48PM (#27082173)

    Whether you own it or not is one thing, but no publisher or developer has successfully argued that you do not have the right to resell a physical, original copy of a game.

    They don't need to make the argument if they can prevent me from doing it by technical means instead. Its the whole "What good is a phone call if you are unable to speak?" situation.

    I bought both portal and lost planet, in a box, with a disc, at a store. Do I have the right to resell them? Sure, do, but who ever buys them can't use them. The activation key is already used up, tied to my steam account.

    And I can't move a title out of my steam account. Either I hand over the password/login and all the games in it, or I don't. There is no way to separate out a title and say, here, this isn't mine anymore, and re-enable the activation key for someone else.

    Hell, per the EULA I can't even give the entire steam account away. (Not that I'd want to because I still want -some- of the games.)

    So, even if I do have the right to resell them, what good is it? I can't meaningfully exercise it.

  • Right Pricing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by meerling (1487879) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:49PM (#27082181)
    There is a much larger market for a $20-$30 game than a $50-$60 one. Even Steam has come out and said this. So let's see, if packaging, shipping and promotion work out to about $5 per unit, and you sell 100,000 at $60 each for a total profit of $5.5 million. But if you only sold them for $25 each, and the lower price increased units sold to 300,000, (reasonable expectation based on personal expectations and the info from Steam) then your total profit would be $6 million. Maybe it's just me, but it seems that many people either didn't take, or else failed economics 101. (more like economics 30). If you don't know what I'm babbling about, Increasing price Reduces unit sold, Decreasing price Increases units sold. Of course there are some constraints on that system, available supply, market window, economy of scale, etc, but for the most part they really don't bung up the basic principle. You want to sell low enough to sell enough units sold so that the total profit, not the per unit profit, is maximized. Right now, the software industry is failing in that aspect completely.
  • by Radish03 (248960) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:51PM (#27082205)
    In addition to the hassle of listing items and hoping for buyers that other posters mention, there is also the fact that Amazon takes a 15% commission, $0.99 per transaction fee, and $1.35 closing fee (source [amazon.com]). That $38 sale price translates into $29.96 for the seller (plus a small amount to cover shipping). $3.46 for a sure thing sale doesn't sound quite so bad.
  • by malkavian (9512) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:56PM (#27082295) Homepage
    Reselling games is recycling.. I usually just give 'em away to friends of mine who can't afford to get every game they want. They do the same to me sometimes. Just keeping the cycle going is a good thing. It's how the world's always worked, and humanity in general did ok out of it. The current trend to force obsolescence/disposal is more than morally grey; it's pretty morally black.
  • by techstar25 (556988) <techstar25NO@SPAMcfl.rr.com> on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:02PM (#27082383) Homepage Journal
    People trade their games to Gamestop because they don't want the hassle of selling them online. For instance, maybe they are just a kid, and their parents won't help, or maybe they just don't trust the internet.
    If you are going to go to the hassle of putting it online and then shipping it, why not just put it on ebay and make three times what Amazon would give you? I did a quick search of a few games, and Amazon's trade in value is still about a third of what you could get on ebay.
    I think Amazon is missing the point.
  • Steam (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Thaelon (250687) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:07PM (#27082473)

    I wish someone would bring some first sale doctrine to Steam.

    I cannot sell my "used" steam games to anyone for any price. This is not to say that steam doesn't have its benefits. But losing the ability to sell old games is a tough one to swallow.

    And they typically charge the same as if I'd gotten some tangible assets I could resell even though I can't.

    The ruckus being caused among developers and publishers exactly the same being caused among the RIAA/MPAA. The business model of making something intangible and selling copies of it printed on plastic discs for a premium is faltering towards obsolescence.

    Basically they had a money printing machine, and now they're whining that people have found ways to cut into their fat profit margins. Forgive me if I just consider that another aspect of the market instead of sympathizing.

  • Re:Good for Steam (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WankersRevenge (452399) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:10PM (#27082521)
    Protect their revenue? They've already been payed. There's nothing to protect. Here's my little nugget ... if the just lowered the prices of their games, they might actually make more money in volume. Sixty bucks is a lot of money. Even before I was married and had a lot of disposable income, I still balked at that price point. It's way beyond an impulse purchase. Buying a new game is like an investment requiring a lot of research. So these days I wait until the game price that I want drop like a rock, and then I scoop them up without any thought. If I don't like the game, it doesn't matter ... after all what's twenty bucks?
  • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:24PM (#27082687)

    Do you think that you'd be able to create a library today if they weren't already historically entrenched?

    I've been buying and selling used games since 1990. It's never been illegal or morally gray. Some licences (which I no longer have to reference) said something along the lines of "you may only sell this game if you remove all copies".

    The game publishers are only squawking about it because they, like the *AA, think that every used copy is a lost sale.

    I buy used games because they charge too much for new games, and almost every new game is a crappy (albeit shinier) copy of a game that came out 10 years ago.

  • by Ioldanach (88584) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:34PM (#27082809)

    I buy used games because they charge too much for new games, and almost every new game is a crappy (albeit shinier) copy of a game that came out 10 years ago.

    Plus that game that it's a remake of that came out even 5 years ago required the latest and greatest hardware. My latest modest PC makes those old games shine like new again.

  • Re:hmm? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vux984 (928602) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:57PM (#27083201)

    I would think that if the law says you are allowed to sell a copy of the game, it would be against that law to prevent the re-sale.

    That's the problem. They won't stop me from selling it to a new owner. They've just set it up, so that there is no point, because the new owner can't do anything with it. There is nothing 'illegal' about it, and so there is really nothing to challenge them on.

    Essentially, they are selling you a 'consumable activation ticket' with your media and box. You can resell it all you want, but the activation ticket is only consumable once. And the media and box is basically pointless with out it.

    Sort of like selling you Cellphones bundled with a prepaid card. If you use the cellphone and consume the card, you can resell the phone, but the card is all used up. And the new owner has to buy a new card. No problem so far... but with PC games, they don't sell the cards separately, so what good is a used cellphone?... and even if they did sell the cards separately, they'd just charge the full price of the game for it.

    And of course, with a cellphone needing a pre-paid airtime card makes sense... with a video game its purely an artificial constraint for the sole purpose of preventing you from being able to transfer the game to someone else... of course they phrase it terms of the 'valuable steam account services like instant messaging and player matching' that they are providing you.

  • by Javi0084 (926402) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:04PM (#27083339)
    Not to mention the commission you need to pay Amazon.
  • by forceman130 (1233754) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @08:08PM (#27085133)

    "A Steam gift purchase is a one-time transfer--after the recipient has activated and installed the game, it is a non-refundable game in his or her Steam games collection. Also note that you may only gift new purchases--you may not transfer games you already own. That'd be like wrapping up and presenting the toaster you've used every morning for the past year."

    Wow, that quote really steams me. Who are they to say that I can't gift a toaster I've used if I so choose. Seriously, the attitude that developers have about the "specialness" of software incenses me - why is software so special that it can only be rented (sorry, licensed), not owned? I wish I had the coin to sue them over the First Sale Doctrine.

  • Re:hmm? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cajun Hell (725246) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @08:29PM (#27085397) Homepage Journal

    If you don't buy the game in protest of the DRM the developer will decide that PC games have no market any longer

    So? It's not my problem if they come to a stupid conclusion. There will always be someone who wants money, and is smart enough to avoid pulling defeat from the jaws of victory.

    They really have all the angles covered now.

    If they forgot the angle for obtaining revenue, then I wouldn't say they have all the angles just yet. They can't have my money unless they change. They are paying developers and office rent, and then not bothering to try to sell me the game. I can out-wait them.

  • Re:hmm? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vux984 (928602) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @08:44PM (#27085587)

    The prevailing argument seems to be that, since re-selling is legal, you should be able to do it completely unregulated, regardless of the damage it does to the industries that provide you that content.

    If the industry is being that damaged by it, something is wrong with the industry.

    Should used bicycle sales be outlawed because it too significantly reduces the number of new customers. The classifieds are chock full of used mountain bikes, road bikes...

    Hey used cars too, for that matter, and dear god the auto industry could use a boost. We should pass regulations that prevent people from selling used cars... that'll boost the demand for new cars right?

    So, if 10,000 copies of a game sell, but they go through a million hands due to rampant resales that the publishers/developers never see a cent of, well, there goes another dev. And that publisher, just had the same thing happen to their top 10 titles, so no more publisher. Guess there are no more devs or publishers left who can operate profitable businesses to provide your content.

    Boo fucking hoo. If that's what is happening you business model is wrong. Assuming people are paying at least $15 for the used copy, and 'a million hands' bought it at that price; then you could have made $15 Million dollars selling it at that price, instead of $500K selling 10k copies for @$50 each.

    Ah, but the 'resale market' would just price them at $5 and we'd be back where we started. No. We wouldn't. Because gamestop wouldn't get into the market of buying and selling used games if the price point was $5. They'd have to buying them from customers for 50 cents just to make $4.5 margin... that's not really worth it to them given the number scratched discs, and related costs that they'll have to absorb, and even if it was viable for them at that price, who is going to go to the trouble of selling their games back to gamestop etc if they only get a lousy 50 cents?

    The old hacker creed of "information should be free" may be the prevailing attitude on /., but it's taken to unsustainable and asinine levels both here and among "content consumers" in general, as if you have have a constitutional right to the (millions of dollars and tens of thousands of people months spent developing titles) games you consume every year without paying a dime.

    Look if that's truly unsustainable, then it should just stop!!

    Either charge what you need to make the money back / set the pricing so that you recoup your costs, or stop making that sort of game. World of Goo made money hand over fist. Portal too.

    If the movie industry tomorrow decided they wanted to make a 2Billion dollar movies, and then decided that the only way they could pay for it is if the government applies regulations and taxes to force everyone in the country to pay for it... then guess what DON'T MAKE THAT MOVIE.

    I'm sure there are all sorts of flaws in my own dissertation, but if someone can provide a REAL business model that doesn't involve making every game subscription based (MMO) or based on 90% multiplayer (COD4) to keep people from selling them over and over and over again, I'd love to hear it.

    How about like every other business model, set your game budget around the reality of the market, rather than demand regulations to distort the market in a way you'd like.

    Or hey, how about this... let people who get your game used 'register it' for a small fee. Profit from those transfers rather than ban them outright.

    Let people buy a used copy of Portal (a $20 title in a box at retail), and transfer the registration key on it to another steam user for $2. Sure its $18 less than if you'd sold a new copy... but how much do you REALLY make on a retail game sale anyway (after distribution and channel costs) which we've just bypassed? Not $20. Now at least if that box passes through a million hands you've just made another $2 million bucks.

    Next up offer better deals to people with more games registered. I'm not go

  • Re:Good for Steam (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Crumplecorn (904797) on Friday March 06, 2009 @08:42AM (#27089973)

    And I never, ever, plan on selling any of that to a used game company. Not because I have moral issues with it, but because for me, being able to go back and replay Dungeon Keeper 2 once every three years is worth the effort.

    So, it's worth the effort of keeping physical media around in order to be able to replay them forever, but you are willing to give up the ability to replay them forever (by using steam) in order to avoid the effort.

    Steam proponents are priceless.

  • by amoeba1911 (978485) on Friday March 06, 2009 @12:18PM (#27092325) Homepage
    "That'd be like wrapping up and presenting the toaster you've used every morning for the past year."
    Does Steam really say that? Holy crap they do: https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?p_faqid=549#gifts-whatare [steampowered.com]

    <SteamFiction>
    Yea... you can't give your old toaster to people or sell it. That's just nasty. It would be like selling the house you lived in every day for the past five years. Why would you want to sell your old house? Ewww... everyone knows you're supposed to burn it to the ground and have the next people on the land build a brand new house.

    Same with cars, you can't sell your old used car once you drive it out of the dealer's lot, the title has your name on it and it is non transferable. Nobody else would possibly want that car you farted in while driving on muddy streets. Only the car dealer has the right to sell cars to people.

    Same with clothing, you can't give/sell/donate your old clothing because once you wear it, it is yours forever. If you die, you have to bury your entire wardrobe with you.

    Software is a whole lot more personal than a house, a car, and clothing. Ewww, why would you want to install software that's already been installed on someone else's computer? That's nasty! Ewww.... that's just plain nasty.
    </SteamFiction>

    Now back to the shocking reality. Steam is so out of touch with reality.
    People can actually sell used houses and their used cars and even their old used clothing and if someone wants to give away or sell their old used toaster they very well can, and someone who is less fortunate who can't afford a brand new toaster can actually buy a used toaster and use it. A quick ebay search reveals dozens of used toasters for sale. Preventing people from selling their used software that they purchased is objectionable and unnatural at the least, possibly criminal.
  • by Chosen Reject (842143) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:48PM (#27093549)
    Reading your other posts I know that you've thought this through. I'm happy for you. You made a decision you're happy with. Good for you. And no, I'm not being sarcastic. However, I have made a choice different than yours based on my preferences.

    Valve has said (so I've heard) that they'll unlock all the games if they were to go under. In that case, I'm happy and I'll make backups just like you have said you are doing with your disks. But, let's assume Steam does die, that when it does I will still care about the games I have, and that they don't release an unlock patch. Then, I will pirate the games and I will still be happy. All of those things are possibilities. That is, it is possible Steam will go under in my lifetime. It is possible that I will still want/be able to play the games I have when that happens. It is possible that Valve will go back on their word and not release a patch. All possibilities. None of it definite.

    I like the games I have. I want to play them. So I decided that I would use Steam and all its attendant benefits. Namely, for me, that I don't have to worry about backing up disks, I don't have to worry about putting in a disk or even mounting it with Daemon Tools or similar, I don't have to worry about copying disks in such a way to bypass copy protection schemes. I could go to a friends house across the country and download all my games and play them on his computer. Another benefit is I get to play Steam-only games legitimately such as Portal and the Half-Life series without having to use a crappy console version. You have decided you don't want to play those games (at least not an a PC). Fine, maybe they aren't your cup of tea. Maybe it's a sacrifice you're willing to make. But that was your choice and this one is mine. Do I have a problem with it? Nope. Like I said, I'm a happy user. If a problem came up where I was screwed over, I assure you I have a back up plan. It's called thepiratebay.org.
  • by Crumplecorn (904797) on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:17PM (#27094029)

    I'm surprised you, or anyone, are so willing to support bad practice by a company. To use a real-world analogy, if you bought physical games from a certain supplier, and that supplier had a habit of pushing dodgy merchandise, you would just fork over cash for the dodgy stuff because you could always pirate it instead if something goes wrong? Geez, we sure are a long way from the days when people complained about crappy service. Now they pay for it!

    Well, if it works for you, good for you, and no sarcasm here either. Some people just don't give a damn, and that's fine (I don't about many things). Try not to think too harshly of those who, like me, have some antipathy for such disregard towards the state of the industry though. We can't help ourselves [xkcd.com].

    And, on the upside, with Steam users so willing to accept the downsides, we'll never see a better Steam where you get the benefits without the compromises. Which is nice, in a petty kind of way.

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