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Editorial The Almighty Buck Games

Why Game Developers Should Shut Up About Used Games 590

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-that-they-will dept.
Ssquared22 writes "It may feel like a rip-off to some, but you've got to admit that paying $30 for Gears of War 2 sure beats paying $60! Game publishers and developers may not like it, but people are going to trade in used games for new games and those old games will be sold back to other people. There's nothing game developers can do to stop them, and companies like Gamestop continue to laugh all the way to the bank. In an article at Crispy Gamer, David Thomas dissects one of the most critical issues in gaming today: used games and merchants (online and brick-and-mortar) who specialize in this 'sleight of hand.'"
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Why Game Developers Should Shut Up About Used Games

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  • by flowsnake (1051494) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:05PM (#28720007)
    Let's say I buy $GAME second hand for $30. Perhaps I'll like it enough to buy the sequel $GAME_2 new, full price, when it comes out and not wait.
    • because they more affordable product to sell. This means more exposure for the new game because they can place them together leading to hopefully sales of the sequels

      Because I haven't found a big box retailer who has near the selection as local game shops.

    • by NotWithABang (1570431) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:11PM (#28720133)
      Who knows, developers could learn from this and say "hmm, maybe the average gamer can't afford $60 for our generic crap-of-the-month we're churning out, maybe if it was $30 in the first place, there wouldn't be a need for a Used market"
      Capitalism at work... though... I know... unbelievably wishful thinking.
      • by MrMarket (983874) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:12PM (#28721059) Journal
        Not sure how that would change the used market. You'll just have $30 new games selling for $15 used.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by zippthorne (748122)

          Because at $30, people might just keep the games, rather than get rid of them. Then the available used units is lower, driving the used price up.

          Or more people will buy at launch, killing the used games demand, driving the price down, but discouraging reselling because of the low price.

          There is a sweet spot price where noticeable economic activity occurs in the used market. You can destroy this by properly pricing your product (or not worrying about the used market, as it props up your initial pricing. A

      • by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:32PM (#28721333)

        No no no, you've got it all wrong. That's not capitalism, that's intelligent thought. The Capitalist way would be to try to enforce harsher DRM, outsource to an anti-cheat scheme that also lets you keep banning a steady number of people who will hopefully rebuy the game, and then blame piracy when the game doesnt sell well.

        After all those damn pirates are funding drugs AND terrorism AND undermining our rights and freedoms by helping terrorists who sell drugs and commit acts of terrorism. While on drugs.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by lennier (44736)

          This is your act of terrorism. (Boom!)
          This is your act of terrorism on drugs. (Wheee! Sploink. Moo?! )

          Any questions?

      • by sammyF70 (1154563) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @05:26PM (#28722989) Homepage Journal

        Who knows, maybe some people are just cheap and wouldn't get a NEW game even if it was cheaper, as long as they can get it for less (or free) and so it doesn't matter how expensive you sell your games?

        I'm writing games which admittedly can not be sold used (for ANDROID), but from my experience, some people just don't see the point in paying for games and either pirate the game ( 3 minutes top from install to refund) or play the game for the 24 hours they have and THEN ask for refunds. We're talking games selling between 0.99c and $2.99 here, so please don't tell me it's because they needed the money (after buying a $400 phone!?).
        Unrelated but noteworthy, on the other side of the spectrum, there seem to be people who will buy anything if it's *expensive* (cause we all know that free or cheap stuff can not be good). This showed when I raised the price for one of my games from 0.99c to $1.99 and I suddenly had 5 times as many sales.

        so ... selling normal games at $30 instead of $60 won't make any difference for people used to buy used games. They'll just keep on waiting for a ~used~ offer and buy that. It does, of course, increase the probability that the game will sell more earlier, as people who buy new games when they are discounted will hit earlier too. In the end though, you'll lose some benefit from the people who would have actually bought the game for the $60 pricetag.

      • time out (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TiggertheMad (556308) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @06:47PM (#28724053) Homepage Journal
        Developers aren't the problem. People keep saying 'developers' in this thread when they mean 'publishers'. Developers write code and debug physics engines, they don't set prices or worry about second tier markets.

        You are thinking of CEOs, who are whiny bitches regardless of the industry they are in...
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          This is incorrect. Mark Rein, from Epic, has been a very vocal opponent to used games and Epic are developers not publishers.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Samah (729132)

          Developers aren't the problem. People keep saying 'developers' in this thread when they mean 'publishers'. Developers write code and debug physics engines, they don't set prices or worry about second tier markets.

          FINALLY someone gets it. I'm a "developer" because I design, code, and debug software. I have absolutely no say when it comes to pricing and all that rubbish.
          Everyone please mod this story "publishers" and "!developers".

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lemming Mark (849014)

      Worked for me. I bought Halo 1 & 2 second hand, bought Halo 3 new when it was old and therefore cheap anyhow. Paid full whack for Halo Wars and probably will for OSDT and Halo: Reach, so long as the reviews indicate they're up to quality. For franchises I'm less fond of but nevertheless enjoy (e.g. GoW, L4D) I might wait to get the game second hand. If I had to buy *everything* new, I'd buy fewer games and wouldn't be inclined to "try out" franchises.

      Another example of a slightly different nature: I

      • by Old97 (1341297) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:27PM (#28720403)

        It's like the old argument against piracy - but even more so.

        The "even more so" is that reselling a game and buying used games is perfectly legal and violates the rights of no one. Game developers need to respect the rights of their customers and shut up.

        • by AndrewNeo (979708) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:52PM (#28720783) Homepage

          Game developers need to respect the rights of their customers and shut up.

          Woah, calm down! Next you'll be suggesting that they should stop implementing DRM because the only people it stops from using their software are the legitimate customers!

        • by muuh-gnu (894733) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:59PM (#28720879)

          >The "even more so" is that reselling a game and buying used games is perfectly legal and
          >violates the rights of no one.

          Copying games instead of buying them would also be perfectly legal and would not violate anybodys rights if such rights had not been artificially _created_ (in a undemocratic way, by a small minority which commonly calls it "the oil of the 21st century", against the will of a large, really large body of people, who it is also rather fiercely enforced against) just in order to create a market where otherwise would be none (or a much smaller one).

          Thanks god we now have the Piratpartiet/Piratenpartei (the first legal representation of the internet itself, and the first generation of the "born digitals") we can vote for (and which we have successfully voted into the European parliament this summer) and reverse this ugly piece of corporate for-profit-censorship. Private, non commercial copying and sharing of culture and information will soon be perfectly legal again. Germany parliament is next, fall 2009.

          • by jcnnghm (538570) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:35PM (#28721397)

            So who is going to produce these multi-million dollar games when anyone can copyright and distribute them without restriction? You do realize there have been more than a few games that have cost over $40M to produce. The average PS3 game costs $15M before marketing. Hell, even Pacman cost $100K to develop in the 80s. Which business do you think is going to invest $15M in a product that they can't protect. I guess you could point to all the wonderful F/OSS games that are out there, like... wait.

            The only way copyright will be reformed is if considerably more restrictive DRM is developed, so you don't need the law to prevent people from duplicating your product. You'll probably see that anyway with online distribution to hurt the resale market.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by muuh-gnu (894733)

              >So who is going to produce these multi-million dollar games when anyone can copyright and
              >distribute them without restriction?

              If no one wants to pay for them, no one wants them produced. So if no one wants them to be produced... why should you produce them? (Kinda obvious, isn't it?)

              >You do realize there have been more than a few games that have cost over $40M to produce.

              They dont have to be produced if theres no market for them. (Kinda obvious, isn't it?)

              > so you don't need the law to prevent

              • by shmlco (594907) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @04:37PM (#28722355) Homepage

                "If no one wants to pay for them, no one wants them produced."

                BS. If all of those songs, movies, and games weren't wanted, then the whole P2P thing wouldn't exist. Pirates WANT the games, they just don't want to pay for them.

                Which means in my book that they're not pirates, but parasites.

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by geekoid (135745)

                  Some of us 'pirates' don't want to pay for a bad piece of software.
                  I ahve pirated software, and if I used it, I bought. Otherwise I deleted it.
                  When I can take a piece of software back to the store and get cash back, I'll stop.

                  Also I ahve a few songs not available for sale anymore.
                  Oh, the same with TV shows. I downloaded the first season of Bones. I liked the show, so I bought the DVDs.

                  Years ago I would pirate by recording TV show as they were broadcast! Then I would watch them later, or lend them to friends

              • by jcnnghm (538570) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @06:37PM (#28723925)

                I'm going to take GTA 4, and show you exactly why you are wrong.

                If no one wants to pay for them, no one wants them produced. So if no one wants them to be produced... why should you produce them? (Kinda obvious, isn't it?)

                GTA 4 sold over 13 million copies. Obviously, people did want it produced. The issue is, of those 13 million people, how many people would individually have the $100 million it cost to produce, and would be willing to spend $100 million to have a game produced, if after it was produced anyone could copy it. Probably none.

                They dont have to be produced if theres no market for them. (Kinda obvious, isn't it?)

                But there is a market for them, so long as they can't be freely copied so that the investors can get their money back. How else do games sell millions of copies.

                How about stopping the production of the product until the people realize (all by themselves, with no censorship and mass punishment laws needed) that they really really really have to pay you to get it?

                You should follow that up by wishing really really hard that you can really really alter human nature.

                And by the way, the law absolutely doesnt prevent anybody to "duplicate" your product, it just fuck ups the lives (really badly) of the few poor fellas who happen to get caught. The silent majority just keeps copying because nobody, really nobody outside of the circles directly profiting from copying prohibition considers sharing, copying and passing on of culture even remotely wrong or illegal.

                Bullshit. How many commercial vendors selling copied media exist and openly operate in the United States. None. How about in China? So the law doesn't work? You might want to reevaluate your notions.

                I'll even go so far as to help you out with your next most obvious line of reasoning, and why that won't work.

                You don't need one guy to fund it man. Everybody could throw in a little bit of money, man, like a coop, man, and people that had talent could add a little time, and they could work on a game idea. So there wouldn't be any profit man, it would just be totally community driven.

                And what happens if the game sucks.

                They could all just keep working on it.

                Or in the alternative, you could allow investors to shoulder that risk, and in exchange be allowed the exclusive right to distribute and charge for the produced material. This way, if the game sucks, you don't have to spend any money on it. But if the game is good, you've got to give the investor some money to cover his cost, plus some to cover his risk, plus some to provide a return on his investment to encourage him to take the risk to begin with. Of course, if people could just copy it, the investor wouldn't be able to recoup the investment, so he wouldn't be able to do it. So maybe there could be some kind of law for that. But that kind of brings us full circle doesn't it.

      • by MarkvW (1037596) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:11PM (#28721043)

        It's not a lost sale because the purchase price of the new game includes the resale value of that same game when it becomes used.

        In other words, they get to charge such high prices because users can sell the game later and recoup some of the loss.

        • by JStegmaier (1051176) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @04:13PM (#28721973)

          In other words, they get to charge such high prices because users can sell the game later and recoup some of the loss.

          Which completely explains why digitally distributed games are so much cheaper. You can't reseller them, and the publisher doesn't have to pay for packaging, shipping, etc.

          No, no wait. Digitally distributed games cost the exact same fucking amount.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:34PM (#28721363) Homepage Journal

        I've found a great money-saving approach to buying games that doesn't involve "used" games. Unfortunately, with more and more games having significant online components, it's going to be harder and harder to get full value from a used game if the company (EA for one example of a company that doesn't believe you own the thing you have purchased) doesn't want you to.

        I no longer jump on a brand new game, and instead wait until the price comes down, which it eventually does, every time. The wait can be from 2 or 3 months to as much as a year, but eventually the game will sell for about 1/4 of its original price. You can buy Bioshock or Fallout 3 or Far Cry 2 for about $19 bucks now, brand new. And when you get the game, you don't enjoy it any less because you didn't have it on day one.

        Even if it's a matter of wanting to have the game all your friends are playing, I've found it's easy enough for a group of friends to decide to wait a while to play the new game, unless your friends are dicks who have rich parents who will buy then anything they want at any price. I just today bought Left4Dead with three of my friends who had similarly waited. The four of us saved over $100 off the 0-day price, which'll pay for a nice bag of weed and some beer for the Left4Dead party we will surely have. The other benefit was we didn't have to all run out and upgrade our computers to play Left4Dead, because the normal rate of upgrading has already caught our systems up to the recommended system requirements. The video card I would have had to buy the first day Left4Dead came out probably dropped in price by 70% when I got around to buying it 8 months later.

        Realize, you don't have to do what advertisers and marketers tell you to do. It's possible to live a rich and fulfilled life without reacting to hype like a coke addicted monkey pulling a lever.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Talderas (1212466)

          You know, if you had bought L4D off steam when they ran a 50% price cut on it, you would have been able to get it sooner AND save your $100.

        • by Langfat (953252) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @04:08PM (#28721907) Homepage
          The only problem I see here is that me and my friends will whoop your ass at L4D because you don't know the maps the way we do since we've been playing from November. Sure you'll be fine against a group of no-mics, but me and my 3 friends will beat you and your 3 friends, hands down, every time, for the next few months... It's the same reason I wouldn't get into WoW now...I don't know what any of the shit does or how to effectively use it...
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by w0mprat (1317953)
          If you buy PC gaming hardware 6-12 months behind the bleeding edge you save an enormous amount of money too. If your doing the same buying games at the same level, you will likely be paying about half also. New games are almost never discounted within 6 months of release. Many stores start trying to move inevitable surplus stock after this.

          In one of those strange capitalist paradoxes, in terms of frames-per-second for your dollar you get massively more if you buy cheaper mid range hardware that has been
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:15PM (#28720197) Homepage

      I wont. I'm done paying full retail for games. I buy lots of games when they hit the $19.95 mark. almost no games I own cost more than that. I refuse to pay the stupid $70.00 each for a game. that's nuts.

      but then I also am the guy that pisses off the EB clerks and got Fallout 3 for $20.00 when they offered the guy turning it in $10.00 for it.

      I slapped the guy a 20 and he gave me the game. I left before the pimple faced manager could stop choking on his burger to yell at me.

      • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:42PM (#28720631) Homepage
        Arbitrage in action. [wikipedia.org] Gotta love it!
        • by timeOday (582209) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:33PM (#28721341)
          Yeah, sort of. The problem with hanging around used game shops waiting to over-bid them, is you are on their private property, effectively siphoning off part of their real estate lease, advertising, and employee costs, which allow anybody to get at least something for their game on impulse. I wouldn't blame EB if they banned you or the guy who sold you the game from their store.
      • by Backward Z (52442) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:28PM (#28721287)

        but then I also am the guy that pisses off the EB clerks and got Fallout 3 for $20.00 when they offered the guy turning it in $10.00 for it.

        I slapped the guy a 20 and he gave me the game. I left before the pimple faced manager could stop choking on his burger to yell at me.

        Hell dude, I used to do that as a Gamestop employee.

        We did it all the time. New game comes out, we wait for someone to trade it in. No manager around means, "Hey man, the store will give you X dollars in store credit. I'll (as in me personally) will give you the same value in cash."

        So, by my book, you paid twice as much as you needed to for Fallout. If the guy turning it wanted to get cash from the store, he'd have gotten $8.00. Hahahaha.

        Man, I remember I got a PS2 for trade in value in cash, I bought a portable LCD screen that clicks onto a Gamecube for I think $35 (and the store was going to turn around and price it for $135!!!).

        Neon Genesis Evangelion box set for like $60... I sold a brand new Gamecube that I won from a convention to a customer for face value (but no tax so they saved like $20 or whatever)...

        And again, this was common practice. Local management looked the other way. Upper management wouldn't have.

        It's unrelated, but I feel like telling it: the best was when GTA: Vice City came out.

        Hype for GTA:VC was so ridiculously overblown (I remember having to make over 400 reservation phone calls before Gamestop started using automation) that we actually took reservations for the first three shipments of the game. Of course, it's worth noting here that this was kind of ridiculous to begin with because only about 70% of that first shipment's reservation holders will actually pick up, so at some point it was always inevitable that we'd get the go ahead to sell to walk-ins before we began satisfying second shipment reservations...

        Anyway, on release day, I got a phone call:

        "Hello, will you guys be selling second shipment reservations today?"

        "No, first shipment only. Sorry."

        "What if I gave you $50?"

        So I gave the guy my name and told him to ask for me when he came in, sold him the copy and came up $50 richer. I used this to justify my purchase of the game's soundtrack that night when I also picked up my copy of the game.

        The next day, when I came into work, there was a lot of hushed talk about the POS screwing up transactions yesterday. It turned out that whenever someone paid for a transaction on a debit card, the register would actually charge them for whatever value the most recent credit card transaction was charged. For some people it worked out to their disadvantage and if they came and complained we reimbursed them. Some people came out ahead and they got a walk. I was one of those people and I came up about $50.

        And it still makes me smile.

    • by B'Trey (111263) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:48PM (#28721557)

      Enjoy it while it lasts.

      The summary says Game publishers and developers may not like it, but people are going to trade in used games for new games and those old games will be sold back to other people. There's nothing game developers can do to stop them.

      Don't bet on it. C&C:4 will require a constant Internet connection to play. How long do you think it will be before other games follow? And how long do you think it will be before most games have something like Microsoft's so-called Genuine Advantage, where each game comes with a serial number that must be validated before the game will play? Once that serial number is registered, selling the CD doesn't do any good at all. And game companies are under no obligation to allow you to transfer that serial number to someone else. Register the serial number with the server via your PC or with your XBox live account or your PS3 Online account and the media becomes worthless. In fact, they could simply give the game disks away and require you to pay online to receive an activation number or token.

      Sure, the system can probably be cracked and it won't stop all piracy, but it will stop legal used games sales in its tracks.

      Goodbye Gamestop, we hardly knew ye.

      • by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @04:23PM (#28722103)

        Once that serial number is registered, selling the CD doesn't do any good at all. And game companies are under no obligation to allow you to transfer that serial number to someone else.

        I'm not sure about here, but in the EU, where citizens actually count for a damn, they'll probably impose that burden on copyright holders - you know, the idea that you, as the holder of some copyrighted work have the right to resell it to someone else with the expectation that they have the same utility as if they'd bought it new. Allowing companies to effectively legislate themselves new rights by deliberately collaring their products is wrong and should be seen as an abdication of copyright.

  • Contracting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hadlock (143607) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:05PM (#28720013) Homepage Journal

    There's nothing stopping major game publishers from creating their own chain of used game stores, and contracting (or just buy a majority share in) gamestop to manage them for the publishers. This seems like a pretty easy fix.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Monsuco (998964)
      There is no "fix", first sale says it is legal to resell a copyrighted work. Used game stores won't hurt game companies any more than used book stores hurt authors. All it means to these companies is that they are selling a copy and not a contract. Copyright should involve just that, the rights over making copies, not the rights over what is done with said copies after they are sold. Once sold, they shouldn't still own the work, they should just own the right to replicate the work.
      • by Hadlock (143607)

        Creating their own chain of stores allows them to legitimately resell their (and other publisher's) games, giving them a fair, competitive chance at that share of revenue, without resorting to bribing legislators into introducing new laws that might infringe on first sale doctrine.

      • Re:Contracting (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dimeglio (456244) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:52PM (#28720779)

        We should try to extend this to music especially downloaded music. Why is it that I can sell a used CD but, in some coutries, I can't sell a used iPod full of legally downloaded music? I suppose that's a definitive advantage of buying the CD vs downloading (on top of the quality).

  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:06PM (#28720025)

    Sony was going to have each game be locked to a single PS3 thus preventing the resale of the game.

    Sony decided against it when the fans made a stink.

    Lets not say that its "impossible" to stop the selling of used games. Its quite possible and they will do it when they feel they have to.

    • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:08PM (#28720073)

      Also as far as i know... If you buy a game on steam, its locked to your account and name and you can not resell it.

      The used game market is going to die when digital distribution takes over.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Sir_Sri (199544)

        I think most of us, even if we don't regularly buy things on steam are agreeable to binding a purchase to an account. I wish microsoft would adopt this logic so I could easily manage and transfer my licences between machines and so on.

        From there publishers need to dramatically drop (or even zero) the price of older titles as they move on to sequels (or new IP). There's really not much point in charging 20 or 30 bucks for assassins creed or bioshock now. If the put them on games for windows live, steam, i

      • by athakur999 (44340) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:20PM (#28720283) Journal

        You could, in theory, just sell your steam account itself to someone else. Of course, this means selling the entire collection of games in your account so you can't pick and choose. You could just set up a different account for each game you wanted to buy though.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vertinox (846076)

        Also as far as i know... If you buy a game on steam, its locked to your account and name and you can not resell it.

        True, but computer games in general are hard to resell even if you have the original box simply because of random DRM schemes and isn't specific to Steam.

        I personally would never buy a used computer game because of this.

        Console games on the other hand will always be easier to resell.

      • Digital distribution will take over when all 6 billion people on the planet get 10Gb/s for free.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by netruner (588721)
        Sadly enough, I think you're right. This is just another attempt by producers to exploit intellectual property laws beyond their original intention. I had to study First Sale Doctrine and how it applies to software in grad school. DMCA was only the first in a series of legal changes aimed at preventing a consumer from having any real "rights" when they pay for content.

        Hopefully we'll come to our senses before any real damage is done and re-evaluate the purpose of intellectual property's legal protectio
    • by Mortiss (812218) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:10PM (#28720109)

      Yeah,
      Thus ensuring that many people simply will not buy it because they not only cannot trade it but also cannot even take it to their friends places to play.

      That would be a very stupid move indeed.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Microsoft already addresses this issue by allowing you to Download your gamertag to only one Xbox 360 at a time. So if you go to your friends house you can DL your gamertag and all of your "Xbox live arcade games" can now be played on your friends xbox. Of course your home Xbox will now not be able to play them until you redownload your gamertag to your Xbox 360.

        So it is very possible that this will become a reality because it already very much is on Xbox Live. Its a HUGE pain in the ass tho.

        Sony is actuall

        • by SCPRedMage (838040) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:03PM (#28720941)
          Inaccurate.

          When you purchase game content on XBox Live, the purchase is tied to both the gamertag AND the console. Both can use the content freely. That is, you can use the content with that gamertag, regardless of console, and you can use it with that console, regardless of gamertag.

          To make this a little clearer, if you take your gamertag to a friend's system, while you are signed in to that gamertag, you'll be able to use any content you've ever purchased while signed in to that gamertag. Conversely, if a friend brings their gamertag over to your system, they will be able to play not only the content purchased with their gamertag, but the content purchased on that system, but only while using THAT system.
        • by Jonathan_S (25407) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:07PM (#28720987)

          Microsoft already addresses this issue by allowing you to Download your gamertag to only one Xbox 360 at a time. So if you go to your friends house you can DL your gamertag and all of your "Xbox live arcade games" can now be played on your friends xbox. Of course your home Xbox will now not be able to play them until you redownload your gamertag to your Xbox 360.

          Sort of. Microsoft ties a download to both your gamertag and your specific xbox.

          Log in as your gamertag and you can play the game from any console, like you said.
          But on the game's "home" console any gamertag can play it, even if your gamertag isn't there. (And once a year Microsoft will let you adjust the "home" console for your downloads; or they'll do it automatically for an RMA replacement console)

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Gizzmonic (412910)

      It's coming. I'll bet the next consoles have 'features' that prevent game resale. They think people will buy no matter what. I've been gaming for 25 years and I will not buy a game that I can't bring over to a friends' house. And no, giving your friend your PSN or Xbox Live info so they can download the game onto their console isn't the same. Takes too much coordination, time, and it could even cost money if your friend is on metered broadband.

  • Unless I'm missing something, it seems the OP is missing something... game publishers don't care if a certain new game is paid for with a certain old game. They still get paid full price for the new game.

    Sure, the publishers theoretically miss out on selling these old games to new people (b/c of the trade in), but it's been like that for some time - I would hope they'd be over it by now. This quick aging of titles is what contributes to such a fast development cycle on games, and is what pushes progre
    • by Dynedain (141758) <slashdot2 AT anthonymclin DOT com> on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:19PM (#28720253) Homepage

      But this is how the game publishers see it:

      5 million people are playing my game.
      500k people are pirating it.
      1 million people are buying it used.

      I get $30 for each new copy sold.

      Ergo, I am LOSING $15 million to piracy, and I am LOSING $30 million to second-hand sales.

      The key is that the publishes don't view the second-hand sales environment as free marketing. That is to say, they don't see the benefits of having a wider audience exposure, which in turn causes overall sales and first-sales to rise. Instead they look at second-hand sales as missed opportunities, assuming that they should have been first-sale purchases, and scream that they are losing revenue. Complete bullshit way of thinking about it, but when all you care about is the bottom line, then your goal is to have the absolute maximum number of people paying you the maximum price.

      Of course the used-market game retailers put the price of the used games barely less than the new ones (compare to a pawn shop for example) which only further reinforces the mentality that the retailers are trying to screw the publishers.

  • Lower your price! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by darkmeridian (119044) <william...chuang@@@gmail...com> on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:08PM (#28720075) Homepage

    Game companies should progressively lower prices of their games as time passes. This would eat up the used game market.

    • by iron-kurton (891451) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:14PM (#28720175)
      Same should be done with music. Eventually, you'll start getting paid to listen to Van Halen's Jump (as one should be)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MBGMorden (803437)

      This age old argument applied to music doesn't generally apply to games. Take any blockbuster title that was $59.95 a year ago and it's almost certainly going to be $39.95 today. Give it another year and it'll probably be down to $19.95. Most quality games will stay at at least $19.95 for the duration of it's host system's mainstream life cycle, but the unpopular games will go even lower - $10 or less isn't uncommon.

      Not saying I agree with the publishers whining - IMHO they should just suck it up and acc

    • by v(*_*)vvvv (233078) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:40PM (#28721449)

      Game companies should progressively lower prices

      They actually do, with their re-releasing of hit titles for about half price. This actually started partly to curb the used game market.

      But why isn't anyone asking why games are so expensive in the first place? If supply and demand are suppose to govern the market price, then where there is unlimited supply, there should be aggressive price competition to lure in business. Yet, with games (and music), you find indifference.

      I thought this was called price fixing and was illegal.

  • Don't get it... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by navygeek (1044768) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:11PM (#28720121)
    Honestly, the argument against being able to buy used games is not one I understand. It's no different than buying a used car and as soon as someone suggested there be sanctions against reselling cars, there would be a public outcry. In both instances you can buy the brand new item for full retail price - or wait a while and get it in slightly worse condition and maybe not with all the extras that originally came with the item. In both cases the reseller (we'll say Gamestop and your local car dealership) make a profit over what they bought the used item for. In both cases the customer is paying more than they otherwise would if they bought it directly from the person selling it to the reseller. And in both cases you're dealing with shady, underhanded people.
    • by Itchyeyes (908311)

      Just to play the devil's advocate, someone in the development community would say that the difference is that while a car's condition depreciates through use, a used game plays exactly the same as a new one. And there's a bit of truth to that. A used game typically only sells for about 10% less than a new copy at somewhere like Gamestop, while used car values drop precipitously over time.

      The problem here is one of buyer's and seller's expectations. Publishers and developers do not want to sell you games.

    • I agree with you in spirit, but

      In both instances you can buy the brand new item for full retail price - or wait a while and get it in slightly worse condition and maybe not with all the extras that originally came with the item.

      breaks the analogy. This is a digital product. The used version is exactly the same as the new version (assuming the packaging & manual are included).

      While this doesn't really destroy your point, it does help explain why the used game market presents such a problem for game pr

  • by stmfreak (230369) <(stmfreak) (at) (gmail.com)> on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:12PM (#28720139) Journal

    It is a simple case of seller's remorse. They lure you to the table with the advertising that you are buying a product. A physical good you can re-use, re-cycle, trade, sell, etc. And they make you pay a premium price for that product.

    Then they whine that you are trading, re-using, selling and undermining their sales. What they really wanted was for you to pay a product price ($60) for a license.

    It's pretty clear that the free market (blockbuster) has established the value of a license at $3-$5 per week. But I don't think the game studios would be happy if they sold ten million physical copies on launch day for $5 a pop either.

    • by radish (98371)

      It's pretty clear that the free market (blockbuster) has established the value of a license at $3-$5 per week. But I don't think the game studios would be happy if they sold ten million physical copies on launch day for $5 a pop either.

      I'm not sure the gamers would be happy about having to pay $5 a week forever if they want to keep those copies, either. Rental exists for gaming just like movies, and the individual consumer can choose which they prefer. Even selling at "product" prices (whatever that means)

  • "sleight of hand" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:13PM (#28720153) Homepage Journal

    Anyone who describes selling used anything this way is clearly so out of touch with reality that their opinion on the subject isn't worth listening to.

    The primary reason that game developers (and marketers) should shut up about used games? It's not because it may act as advertising for their future games, although that's a valid economic argument. It's because if you buy something, you own it, and it is yours to do with as you wish. Don't talk about "selling" people games if you're not willing to, you know, sell them. Rent them out, whatever. But when you agree to have your products on store shelves (store, not rental facility) or listed as "for sale" in online catalogs, you are giving up the right to control what people do with the physical media after they buy them. Period. End of story. Game over, man, game over.

    Movie studios, music labels, book publishers: you too.

  • The Law (Score:5, Informative)

    by Absolut187 (816431) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:13PM (#28720163) Homepage

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-sale_doctrine [wikipedia.org]

    Any studios arguing that copyright rights prevent sale of a used game are just plain WRONG.

    But we need to be vigilant and make sure we get out and ACTUALLY VOTE for politicians who will keep it that way!

    • by pilgrim23 (716938)
      the same has been true of used books for some 10 generations. But the digital world will soon make that a thing of the past. Then once only digital books are available they will be printed in ASCII, no in Rich Text, no in PDF, no .docx no Kendel reader no....in a standard that will LAST for another 10 generations! or not...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dltaylor (7510)

      Like there are any.

      The Demopublican Party in the US is owned by its largest contributors, not the voters. Both wings of the party are, therefore, fully invested in "preserving intellectual property rights".

      Since, unlike places where your vote might count (Germany, for instance, with proportional representation in the Bundestag), the Demopublican Party has managed to set up gerrymandered districts across the US to be sure that no new party can obtain a significant presence in any legislature, nor can enough

  • by Sj0 (472011)

    It's idiotic to say game developers can't do anything about used games. There's plenty they can do.

    Blizzard has some great strategies for making their games virtually unsellable: Make the multiplayer a central feature, then make it so the one and only key will be deactivated if multiple copies are detected, or make the whole game multiplayer.

    Valve's steam, despite my love for it(There are no game stores where I live so being able to play a game without spending 16 hours driving to the city and back is very

  • by Itchyeyes (908311) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:21PM (#28720301) Homepage

    Developers and publishers are under the, mistaken, impression that they're missing out on huge revenue stream through used games. Let's assume that I buy a game for $60. Once I'm done with it, I sell it, either through Gamestop or Amazon for about $20 net. They take a $10 commission and sell it to someone else for $30. In this scenario developers seem to think that they've missed out on a single $60 from the person who bought it at $30 used, but that just isn't the case.

    First of all, the person who waited for a used copy at $30 isn't going to spend $60 in the absence of a used copy. They're going to wait until the new copies are about $30 and buy it then. Giving them fewer choices of how to spend their money does not magically give them more money to spend. Also, the person who bought the game at $60, didn't just buy a game. They bought a game that they knew they could sell for ~$20. By stripping out the ability to resell the game you lower the value of the game to the initial buyer as well. So without the used option, the developer doesn't get two $60 sales, they get one $40 sale and one $30 sale. But they have to pay for all the production, shipping, packing, etc... costs for a second copy of the game as well. So at the end of the day the net gain is more or less zero.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "It may feel like a rip-off to some, but you've got to admit that paying $30 for a used IKEA couch sure beats paying $60! Couch manufactures and craftsmnet may not like it, but people are going to buy new couches and those old couches will be sold back to other people. There's nothing couch manufactures can do to stop them, and people who hold garage sales or use craig's list continue to laugh all the way to the bank. In an article at Cheap Buys, Dave Thomas, eating Wendy's burgers from the grave, dissects

  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:24PM (#28720353) Homepage

    On one hand, they want to act like "the thing" is the media upon which the games are distributed. This is why they don't want to replace media that has been damaged at any reasonable cost. On the other hand, they want to act like "the thing" is also the software license and not the media itself and so they want to deny the license to resell the media by asserting that users are not allowed to transfer the license to use the software and data within.

    You can't have it both ways. If the media is the thing, then they don't need to replace my damaged disks for a reasonable fee but they can't prevent me from selling them either. If the software/data contained is the thing, then they should offer media replacement services at a reasonable cost FOREVER or at least offer a means to back up the data and to play the backup copies. (They should not be allowed to back out of this by saying a game is discontinued and replacement copies are no longer available... they can just print more! And any company that buys the original company and copyrights to the software/data should ALSO be required under the same licensing agreement...) and then they can disallow the right to resell the media.

    At the moment, the paradigm appears to be in favor of the media being "the thing" as the behavior of the game publishers and the console makers seem to bear this out. (That is to say, no backup copies are playable and no replacement guarantees are available.) And since the media is the thing, they can't restrict what I do with it and damn the DMCA as it is an unjust law and I will violate it every time it gets in the way of my fair use.

  • As we move towards digital, and not physical methods of owning our content this is only natural. Take music, in the past I could sell a CD when I got bored of it. Now that's impossible, I either buy it from iTunes and am unable to sell it in the future, or I just pirate it for free. The second one is much more popular. Game companies trying to alienate people that actually buy their product are just setting themselves up for future piracy.
  • can you imagine just how much money companies like Atari, Sega and Nintendo would be if this sort of thing were getting started in video games?
    If the publishers (and back then, the console manufacturer was the publisher) all got a cut of the profits each time the game was resold? They'd all be swamped with the income from eBay alone!

    Of course, we must also consider the opposite side of the scale - if by law, the publishers always had to have a cut of the money when the game was resold, then I suspect the
  • by 192939495969798999 (58312) <info AT devinmoore DOT com> on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:31PM (#28720457) Homepage Journal

    You can't "sell" just one digital copy of anything, since each digital copy can be reproduced AND distributed at essentially zero cost to anyone. The concept of buying and selling goods applies only to tangible goods with a fixed lifespan. How can you "sell" just one digital copy of something and have it retain a tangible quality? You can't. The idea that a used game can sell for anything says that the economy is strong. If piracy really applied to digital media, then there would be no used market whatsoever. Furthermore, the tangible item (a disc) is exactly why game makers shy away from digital distribution -- DD removes the only tangible good they are selling and destroys the ability to control any of the distro rights (i.e. the main income stream).

  • Gamestop blows (Score:3, Informative)

    by furby076 (1461805) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:33PM (#28720477) Homepage
    I can't stand places like gamestop. $60 game (brand new). They buy it back for $10 to $15. They resell it at $55. No wonder they are laughing all the way to the bank - they are ripping off their consumers.

    Craigslist/Ebay and other similar sites is the way to buy used games.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sethb (9355)
      You might also want to check out Goozex [goozex.com]. You trade your games to other gamers for points there. If a game is 500 points, you get all 500 points, and Goozex.com gets a buck on each transaction. It's not perfect, as you'll sometimes have to wait a few days/weeks to get the game you want, or for someone to want your game, but there's not a middleman making $30 off each used game transaction.

      (Yes, that's my referral code in the Goozex link) :)
  • >people are going to trade in used games for new games and those old games will be sold back to other people. There's nothing game developers can do to stop them...

    Exactly! Nothing they can do at all! They should just stop complaining about it and move on.

    On a completely unrelated note, can someone please post instructions on how I can resell the games I've downloaded for my Wii and Xbox 360? Also, I've got some downloaded books for my Kindle that I'm tired of and want to sell. I know I can do these

  • The entities complaining that used game sales are costing them money need to do the same thing as all whiners - face the reality, and do something that actually has a shot of working.

    Enough with this trying to cherry-pick the characteristics of physical and non-physical products that suit your current business model the best.

    In the case of used game sales, they simply need to get in on the action. Forget resale of discs; that's a lost cause. In the near future, even where those items still exist, they'll

  • As a gamer who almost never plays single player story games more than once trading in is a HUGH savings to me since I will only play the title once it just gathers dust otherwise.

    Purchase new title at full price $60
    Finish the title in two weeks - one month
    Trade it in at high value (still new and popular) get $40
    Purchase another title that was used for $50
    Total cost for two single player experiences $70

    If game developers had their way it would cost me $120 for the same single play through experiences.

    For REA

  • I've said it before and I'll say it again. Anyone who buys used games from Gamestop and their ilk is a sap. Anyone who believes they're sticking it to developers and publishers by doing so is an even bigger sap. Used games from these retailers is one of the biggest sucker deals I've seen in years, $5 to $10 off games with battered, dirty cases, missing instruction manuals and worn, scratched discs. Even more ridiculous is how little they offer customers for used games.

    I can't count the times I've seen used

  • by harl (84412) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:26PM (#28721249)

    Alice has $90.
    Bob has $30.

    No used:
    Alice buys Gears of War.
    Money given to studios - $60

    With used:
    Alice buys Gears of War.
    Alice sells GoW to Bob.
    Alice buys GoW2
    Money given to studios - $120

    Used stores allow people who don't have enough to buy games new or don't want to buy games new to funnel their money to those who do.

    Additionally it exposes more people to games sowing the seeds for future full price purchases when their spending habits and/or income changes.

  • digital "property" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ephemeriis (315124) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @04:29PM (#28722219) Homepage

    I like computers... I make my living fixing them... I thoroughly enjoy video games... But I really hate what digital media has done to the concepts of property and ownership.

    Used to be that I'd buy a book, or a record, or a board game, or a deck of cards - and nobody would question for a moment that I owned those things. They were my property. I could do with them whatever I wanted. After I finished reading the book I could donate it to the local library, or hand it off to a friend, or sell it to a used bookstore. If the original author of that book showed up at my garage sale and complained that I was selling his book he would have been laughed at.

    These days, however, we don't actually own anything. We've just been given a temporary license to use the thing. And when I'm done playing my video game, or done reading my ebook, or done listening to my MP3, I'm not really able to do much with it. Sure, I can sell a video game to someone else... But the DRM involved is making it hard just to re-install the game on your own computer, much less transfer ownership to someone else.

    The worst part isn't that this is happening... Of course a company is going to do everything they can to make money - that's what businesses do. So I don't blame EA or Microsoft or whoever for trying to prevent the selling of used video games. The worst part is that it is being allowed to happen. Nobody is laughing at these guys. Their arguments aren't being rebuffed. They aren't being thrown out of court. These folks are claiming that the $60 I paid for a video game didn't actually buy me a video game, and everyone just kind of shrugs and nods and goes along with it.

  • Steam (Score:3, Informative)

    by danieltdp (1287734) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @06:01PM (#28723451)
    That's why I hate steam. Try yourself to sell a used game that is curently registered in your steam account (like Half Life 2)....

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