I found out today that I am worse than a software pirate:
“For us it’s probably a no-lose even with piracy as it is,” shrugged West. “But, as I say, second-hand sales cost us more in the long-run than piracy these days.”
Most of today’s key video game outlets – Game, HMV, Amazon – and even some supermarkets (Tesco) buy and then resell used games from customers. Game publishers have developed a number of initiatives to counter-attack this, the most popular being EA’s Online Pass, which bundles a free code with new games that can be redeemed to enable multiplayer or receive downloadable content. Whoever buys the game second hand won’t get a free code, which means they’ll have to buy a replica online for around $10.
Why do game publishers and developers not like second-hand game sales? Because they don’t get any money for the transaction – the shop reaps all the rewards.
I must be the worst video game customer they have. I remember playing my first video games on an Atari 2600 A LONG time ago. I’ve owned virtually all of the Nintendo, Playstation and X-Box systems that have been created. You could call me an old school gamer. When I am playing multiplayer games online I have to remember that I’ve been playing games longer than some of my opponents have been alive (so why are they so much better than me?). I am passing the tradition to my children with our Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS systems. They play the Nintendo games while I keep the X-Box 360 for myself.
This habit can get to be expensive, considering how long I have been buying video games. When I got out of college, found a job and started paying for these systems and games myself I realized just how expensive it could be. I decided then to stop chasing the latest and greatest video game. I wait now for the prices to drop significantly in the used market before I buy a title (except for Gears of War 2 and 3 – I’ve gotta have those now!).
This keeps me significantly behind the curve for new video games. I don’t mind so much when I’m paying a lot less for the game than others do. I keep all of the games that I buy after I have finished playing them. When the next X-Box or Nintendo system comes out I have plenty of hardware to trade for a system upgrade and a few games. Then the clock starts again on buying new games. When I am fortunate enough to receive a Christmas bonus from work I take advantage of the holiday deals and buy enough games to last me for most of the next year. With a full time job, a loving wife and three kids, a fierce Geocaching habit and a strenuous work out schedule I don’t have the time to keep up with the pace of video game development.
When a hot new title hits the market and comes back used a few days later the used price isn’t that much different from the new price. When there is a five dollar difference I go ahead and buy the new game (if I truly can’t wait for the price to come down). The extra few dollars buys me an unblemished copy with no scratches. Have you ever seen how scratched up a used game can become? Of course, the developers don’t see any of the dollars from a resale but they have already made their money on the initial sale of that product. You can be sure that the person that brings the game back takes a heavy loss on the trade in value. I know I have at times.
I bet I am more typical than you would think. All of the kids that played Atari with me are surely still gamers now, right? To call us worse than software pirates is nothing short of insulting. I almost felt bad for Lionhead (almost) until I read this:
Fortunately, Lionhead has already managed to cover development costs with first-hand Xbox 360 sales, which are “in their millions”.
Wait a minute, you have already covered your development costs and have turned a tidy profit? Why are you complaining about this? When I studied economics in college we called this rent seeking behavior. As such, it should be dismissed out of hand. To the developers I say “meh, I will continue buying your games used.” Create something as good as Gears of War 2 and 3 and I will buy it at the midnight release party. Otherwise, please take your profits, shelve the atrocious behavior and get busy developing the next profitable title.