Do I frequently visit Gamestop or some second-hand store looking for a discount off of the latest games? Yes, of course I do, and why shouldn’t I? Recently the industry has accepted this absurd notion that used games shouldn’t have the same basic features as brand new off the shelf products. Online passes and content locked on the disc are only some of the ways both developers and publishers have taken a wrong stance against this issue. It all comes down to money, or at least that’s the basic excuse that these publishers (corporations) have used to defend their stance. Bullshit. The gaming industry is easily one of the most profitable entertainment industries in the world, and who knows; maybe the universe. So in general, I have an extremely difficult time taking that argument seriously. It all comes down to this silly notion of entitlement, and whether as a consumer we actually own the products we buy.

Based on the actions publishers have started to take against used games and consumers, it’s apparent that we as consumers are not supported.  This is somewhat amusing and extremely hypocritical of the industry. Take for instance the recent fight between the gaming industry and the state of California based on the sale of violent video games. Of course the main argument does have to do with whether it’s even constitutional; however it does provide insight into the huge double-standard that has emerged. Gamers and consumers alike were asked to step up and defend the industry, however when it comes down to it; the industry doesn’t even come close to repaying the favor to consumers. It’s a complete and unadulterated double-standard.

But let’s look back at the issue of money. Do publishers give up their right to extend their profits after the initial sale of their product? There’s no easy way to answer that, but I’d say yes. Those in the gaming industry shouldn’t have any special precedent over other entertainment mediums. I’m all for publishers earning an honest profit, however not at the expense of the consumer. Besides, gaming is a complex and young industry and there’s better ways to earn money after the initial sale; which doesn’t involve punishing the consumer.

What does this mean for second hand shops and businesses like Gamestop or Gamefly. Initially, nothing. As publishers and developers begin to accept this as the norm, that’s when problems will start to arise. Gamefly will die off incredibly quick since all of their business relies on rentals and used game sales. Which leads to another issue. What types of specifications will these online-passes have? Will it differ for each publisher? Will used-games be nothing more than an over-glorified demo? Also, what makes you think pieces of the singleplayer are safe? We’re already seeing Capcom and others locking pieces of content on the disc as DLC. I have no doubt that unless this issue is swiftly dealt with, that the entire game will have to be purchased again.

These types of practices are extremely disheartening, especially when its combined with the bogus DLC shenanigans we’ve been seeing the last few years.

What about the future of retail? Most people argue there will always be local places to purchase games, however more and more that doesn’t seem to be the case. Publishers have been increasingly keen on putting their product on places like Steam, PSN, or Xbox Live. The issue with this is consumers have yet to see any sort of benefit. I will defend Steam and a few other digital distribution services for stepping up and offering competitive and mostly fair pricing, however the console market must feel completely shameless. I love my PS3 and Xbox 360, however both services offer absolutely horrific and unfair pricing. Just take Warner Bros for instance with their recent pricing on DLC. Do you think they won’t do the same for full games? Even though these games are much cheaper to place on these services than retail; consumers will never see the benefits.

What do you guys believe? Do you think publishers should have a complete stranglehold over the market?

Let us know in the comment section.

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  • Dick Fartington
    July 11, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    We need to get all of the offending CEOs in the same room, and have their former fans yell at them for half an hour to get it into their thick fucking skulls that we will not tolerate their bullshit.

  • July 11, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    I have to disagree with you. I have bought many games new and used and think this is a fair system – and furthermore – it is leading to BETTER alternatives for the consumers. For example:

    1 – More aggressive pricing – I prefer to buy my games new to support the publishers. I have never liked Game Stop and never will, but, like everybody else, $60 a game gets pricey. Never in my 20 years of gaming have I seen games like Dead Space 2 or Portal 2 (triple A games) offer either incentives ($20 Amazon credit) or discounts within weeks of release before 2010. Now it is common place. In fact Portal 2 was $55 and a $20 credit at Amazon and Best Buy for pre-order – after the launch they dropped it to $40 within weeks for a promotion. This is without a doubt a bid to help buyers buy new and is driven by demand far more than any previous business model.

    2 – With all manner of outlets trying to get in on the game sales market consumers have far more choices to pick up games at a competitive price than ever before. Especially considering online retailers with release day delivery and low price guarantees.

    3 – Buying older games will now be even cheaper as they will be discounted as not having online access. often times after several years the servers for these games are turned off and not reflected in the price at Game Stop. This will no longer be the case.

    4 – Many games have been adding multiplayer in an attempt to have gamers hang on to the game longer. In my opinion most of these were not very good and felt tacked on. I now have the option of buying a game like Bioshock 2 for $10 cheaper than a new copy since I never intend to play it online.

    Lastly buying used in any market there are always concessions. New cars are in better shape with better warranties – same thing for new homes. However when someone buys a used game they expect to have everything in perfect shape and the EXACT same product and access as if they bought new. This is what makes no sense to me. I agree that there should be an incentive for buying digital copies: cheaper to produce and get to me should mean cheaper for me as well. I don’t think its perfect and don’t disagree with everything in your article but there are ways to buy games cheaper and still support the publisher. That’s what I am in favor of.

    • ThisGameGenSucksBalls
      July 11, 2011 at 8:57 pm


      you don’t seem to look at things from a time perspective.

      games cost $60!!! man! plus all the extras, full of charge. Games used to cost $40, and before that, well… maybe the Atari, the NeoGeo and Sega Saturn came around as expensive but today’s gaming price tag is just way up there.

      you say online is cool? how long you think it can stay that way? what will happen to all your DLC once the next Gen arrives? now you have a HUGE problem -complete dependability. They want you to be their bank for life. They do this with locked saves etc.. but in the long run it looks like a pretty shitty service model.

      True gamers we had enough of this Generation.

    • hazelam
      July 12, 2011 at 12:50 am

      houses and cars are in better condition new because they have wear and tear, not because they have features that are deliberately disabled.
      games are usually the same because they’re digital on a hardwearing medium, well relatively hardwearing, i’ve had plenty of scratched preowned games, which i guess throws the “preowned games are the same as new” argument out the window.
      quite frankly saying that because the games don’t wear out like cars and houses the publishers have the right to deliberately disable features is just beyond ridiculous.

      and lastly, but most importantly.
      the publisher has no right to prevent preowned sales.
      once we buy the game off them, or the store, we own that copy, and one of the rights of ownership is being able to transfer ownership to another person or to a business..
      that could be done by giving it to a friend, selling it on ebay, donating it to a charity shop or trading it in at a store.
      if we decided to do that, the publisher would actually be breaking the law by trying to prevent us from doing so.

  • Randy
    July 11, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    It all comes down to…. MAKE A GOOD GAME AND GAMERS WILL KEEP IT!!!

  • ThisGameGenSucksBalls
    July 11, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    if you see this game gen from a wider vantage point you have to admit we are being ripped off as consumers. The problem is many consumers will buy all that extra crap publishers are putting out there that should already come inside your disc. Gaming industry, young as it is, is looking really immature from where I’m standing. Just don’t go crying to mamma once the backlash goes up your a&%!

    nuff said

    • Jimmy Lara
      July 11, 2011 at 9:05 pm

      Dammit i told myself i would never need to use this outside of school, but if my math is correct then games should have only increased around $5 due to inflation if they were priced at $40 back then, and those games would be around $35 today (new). IDK where $60 came from but that is just to high.

  • Icey
    July 12, 2011 at 3:38 am

    Whilst I can certainly see both sides of the argument in the end I primarily disagree with this article and agree with the comments by Alexstevenw.

    I think a key problem is with the turn around time of second hand games. If used games were only available after a couple of months that would be one thing but second hand copies can be on the shelf within one day of the new release which clearly eats into new sales.

    Of course the counter argument is if games were not so short and were actually worth keeping then used games would not be back on sale so fast.

    I’ve read many posts where people are threatening they will never buy games from xyz company again. If the people who are complaining are those who only buy second hand games in the first place it’s not like the developer/publisher are loosing a sale so the threat is meaningless.

    Ultimately one by one it seems all the publishers are going down the same road of “project $10” so either we accept this change or stop buying them altogether.

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