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Why Buy Used? Just Pirate…

After all, the two are the exact same thing, right? I mean, where were YOU when the rest of us were delivering our support right to the developer’s cubicles? Way to be ungrateful. Let me just say it, Gamestop is just a games pimp with a shiny storefront. Amsterdam meets America, I say.

Hat-tip Syp.

You know, I try not to get too rankled. I really do. But, honestly, if you’re going to call people who buy used games thieves, fuck you. Let’s get something straight, it’s not MY job to price these games. It’s not MY job to market them so people want to buy them at launch. You want me to buy new, give me a reason to. Make it irresistible, get me excited so that I don’t wait the MONTHS it takes for a decent price drop at Gamestop. Give me something extra for buying from you. You know, be a salesman instead of a pusher (*cough* Kotick *cough*).

I buy lots of used games and I usually do it with a couple trade-ins of my own. In the last two years, I shudder to think of how much I’ve spent at Gamestop. So, believe me when I tell you, any game worth buying new will only be $5 cheaper to buy used for the first 90+ days. After that, maybe $7. Unless your game sucks, then it will be a lot cheaper – and who wants to buy it then, anyways. I’ll almost always pay the extra five dollars if that’s the scenario. Five bucks is nothing, and the peace of mind knowing the disc will be new is worth it.

Months later, when that game is still $59.99 in the store, and $39.99 at Gamestop, most people would choose to buy used. If you’re buying new at that point you either have a very specific reason, too much money, or failed your Home Economics class in high school.

I get that used games don’t benefit the developers. Except for market penetration, word of mouth, public perception, and future sales. It’s not like anyone felt skiddish about Game 1 and actually went out to buy Game 2. It’s not like any studio ever factored in used sales to determine how well their game was received. After all, who factors in their ENTIRE audience?

I empathize with people who want to show their appreciation for a product well done. That’s great, and, you know what, I like to do that too. Developer’s work hard and deserve to be well rewarded.

But that’s not the player’s job. It shouldn’t even be most player’s consideration, frankly. We can all sit in our recliners or computer chairs preaching all day long, but not one of us is directly sending money to a developer. We send it to the retailer, who sends it to the publisher, who sends it to the studio, who sends it home. Our job is to be responsible adults and make the best decisions for ourselves.

Developer’s not getting paid isn’t Gamestop’s fault. It is 100% the publisher. If you want people to stop going to Gamestop, quit being so bull-headed with your prices. The only thing used games stores prove is that a) games are priced too high to begin with; and, b) $60 price points don’t last. If people thought buying new was a good deal, they’d do it. But it’s not, so they don’t.

If given the choice, I would buy new. I’d buy new everything if I could. But, I respond to the choices I’m given. Case and point, I bought a washer and dryer this summer. It was expensive and I had a good deal on a used set downtown. I told the guy so. They tossed in a 5-year care plan and cut $130 off the tab. Even though it was still slightly more expensive, they made it worth my while. When it comes to games, I’ll buy new when I want it early.

Call us thieves if you want, but, you know what? We’re right. It’s really that simple. In America, consumers tell businesses how much their product is worth. You don’t charge $50 for a car wash. You don’t charge $5 for a four-wheeler. Gamestop doing well only shows that players aren’t satisfied with pig-headed moneygrubbing ala Bobby Kotick.

Responding to customer feedback is one of the earliest lessons new business owners learn. What’s the game industry’s excuse?

Oh, right. Over paid CEOs. Clueless investors. Unwarranted Inflation. Inability to adapt. Resistance to Change. Blanket greed.

It’s a good thing the game’s economy is a vacuum. I shudder to think how many used products would be available if the rest of the world was such a unique snowflake.

Get real. This is not the gamer’s problem.

You know what I’d like to hear? Why do you buy used? We all know that doing so “hurts game developers,” so what is it that gets you to sleep at night? Lord knows, thoughts of a grinning Bobby Kotick floating through my head just put me right out.


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  1. Chris "Syeric" Coke

    I’d just like to note that I don’t particularly hold this against Syncaine. I’ve been a fan of his blog for a while and, if there’s one thing you notice, it’s that he likes to stir up the pot. I resent the insinuation that we are somehow immoral people, but, frankly, when you accept the post for what it is, it becomes a lot more impersonal. And it worked. I wonder how many link backs he got today.

  2. Stabs

    Well Syncaine and PA both seem to have the following two attributes in common:
    1) They don’t buy second hand games. (I wonder if they buy other things second hand. Second hand houses hurt builders).
    2) They are trying to boost post count by courting controversy. This is usually a losing strategy. A blog where someone isn’t really posting what he thinks but writing for the hit counter is simply less interesting than a blog where someone is being straight.

  3. Syl

    I know it sounds cynical but I was thinking the exact same thing after reading about this issue. I commented on another blog that I find it rather sick that in times where we should do all we can to be a bit more ecological, more and more industries try to find ways to make us buy more instead of less and make sharing items or services impossible.
    I will share, re-sell and buy old as long as I like – I believe the responsibility lies with them to look for alternative product models (I’m all for less hardware, more digital), not me. And indeed this will only drive people to more piracy imo.

    1. Chris "Syeric" Coke

      Agreed. It certainly doesn’t make me want to stop going to Gamestop.

  4. Bootae

    I bet all those yelling “thief!” would buy a used car, a house or in fact anything else. None of which benefits the people that designed and built them in the first place. The filthy tea leaves.

  5. Andrew

    Nice rant, Chris. I definitely agree that the root cause of this “problem” is too high initial prices, combined with the fact that games seem to hold their $60 price point forever.

    I’d buy way more games (and thus support way more developers) if games were cheaper… but the publishers stubbornly refuse to see this, instead insisting that the high prices are necessary to defer not only the direct cost of development, but also the indirect “costs” of used sales and piracy. The maddening thing is, raising prices only increases the appeal of buying used or pirating games.

    Once console-based digital distribution improves a little bit more, cosole publishers would be well-advised to follow the path that the PC market has taken with Steam (and other smaller services). Lower prices and frequent sales have spiked revenues across the board.

    1. Chris

      Man, I sure hope you’re right and digital distribution takes a hint from the PC gaming scene. I’d like to buy new and make sure I’m supporting the developer. As someone looking at starting a family soon, it would be irresponsible of me to choose the $60 option over the $40. If I could buy a download for cheaper than a retail box, I’d sacrifice the physical disc in a second. For me, and I suspect lots of others, it’s not that we don’t care about the companies making these games, it’s simply that Gamestop does a better job of serving our demographic than the actual publisher. Having that change would be an awesome, if unlikely, thing.

  6. xXJayeDuBXx

    I couldn’t have said it better myself, well done! Syncaine is good for a laugh now and again, but it’s unfortunate that he has to drum up controversy in order to gain some traffic to his blog.

  7. Tesh

    I buy used games because they are cheaper. It’s that simple, and that’s my choice as a consumer. (It’s also why I don’t pay subscriptions for games, incidentally, but buy content, like Guild Wars.) If they want my money, they had darn well better court my wallet, not tell me I’m an immoral pirate.

  8. Jomu

    Good post; per your picture; i just hate it when a trade in is worth just under the 8$ minimum for promos 😛

  9. Twan

    Good post. I wish I had a Steam Solution (day 1 release and all) for my PS3.

  10. Xerb

    I dug a bit deeper into this myself. Check out the article here: http://lagwar.com/home/archives/13220#more-13220

  11. Sam

    Personally when I see a game I really want, I rarely nowadays buy the day it is released. I wait a few months or longer for title to go down to $20 new. I Just think $60 is too much for what we get. manuals are getting smaller and even the box packaging is getting flimsier with less plastic and the back of case is sometimes cut out in such a way that 50% of the plastic is missing.

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  1. The Best Of The Rest: Crocodile Dundee Edition | We Fly Spitfires - MMORPG Blog

    […] Chris takes a look at buying used games vs pirating them. […]

  2. Used Posts « Tish Tosh Tesh

    […] MBP, PvD, GBN and Syp have good posts on it (with links to other good ones), so I won’t reiterate […]

  3. LAGWAR | GAMING'S BEST IN TOP NOTCH MEDIOCRITY » Blog Archive » Editor’s Blog: Used Game Sales Piracy?

    […] The Interwebs have gone nuts over a controversial subject posted over at Penny Arcade concerning whether or not buying used games is good or not for the industry.  Some bloggers have even taken it a step further and have begun to compare buying used software to outright piracy (See Syncane).  Although there are extremists who believe it’s piracy in the fullest extent, there are still others who believe it’s more a question of my right to spend my money the way I want to (See Syp’s post at Biobreak or Chris at Game by Night). […]

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