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Question of the Week: Do Games Industry Professionals Buy Their Games New or Used?
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Question of the Week: Do Games Industry Professionals Buy Their Games New or Used?

October 20, 2006 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 5 Next

I stopped buying "new" games at Gamestop when I noticed they were shrinkwrapped in cheap, easy to tear bargain wrap instead of having the impossibly hard to open wrapping you find everywhere else. Talk about your shady business practices. On the other hand, game developers with budgets in the millions shouldn't gripe about losing a sale here and there because Joe Shmoe decided to save $5 and buy a used, scratched disc with no manual, and a case scribbled on in magic marker. If he wants to get ripped off, let 'em. The free market dictates that such businesses will exist, as crappy as they are. Instead of complaining, developers should stop making Gamestop a distribution channel and find some other method...downloadable, maybe? My advice to anyone who doesn't have tons of money to spend on games is simple. Buy a system that allows for backwards compatibility (like PS2, or 360), and buy first gen games brand new for half their original price. I just bought a 360, and can't believe the vast library of XBox games available at Best Buy, Circuit City, Toys R Us, etc. Sure, they're 2 years old, but who cares? Using this tact, I'm able to avoid Lamestop and give the developer my full support.

J Kelly, Sea Cow Games

I have bought used games - generally because by the time I bought them, they weren't available as new games any more. I might go out of my way to buy a game new to support the developer, but this is personal choice - there's no moral obligation to buy new. Once a game, or a book, or a record, or a DVD, is sold, the new owner of that copy of the item has always had a right to re-sell it. This is a fundamental right that comes with purchasing a product. Trying to re-write that fundamental rule of our society just so that publishers can make more money is wrong, plain and simple. The potential extra revenue for developers cannot justify the loss of a basic human freedom (and no amount of legal weaseling or contract verbiage can justify it, either).

George Rappolt, Hologic

The fact that I work in the industry doesn't affect how I purchase my games. If I can find a used copy that looks new for a cheaper price, I have no second thoughts about the purchase. It's an open market and the same rules apply for furniture, DVDs and games. If developers want to hurt the used games market, they need to find ways to make new games desirable, not seek ways to limit the economic liberties or handcuff players with EULAs - that no one ever reads - and lawyer talk that only hurt the industry's image by making publishers look crooked. The most obvious avenues are better games and lower prices. "Lower prices" needs little explanation. "Better games", on the other hand, means titles that very few players will quit on after only 2 or 3 hours of game play. The fact that we keep tricking consumers into purchasing 50$ boxes that are only worth 2 or 3 hours of their time is certainly instrumental in creating an offer on the used market, driving prices downward. I know I have no problem re-selling titles that I regret buying in the first place. No one should.

Marc Andre Caron, Delphine Software

Personally, I tend to buy new games, simply because I don't like the idea of getting a product that someone else has used before me. However, I think that there is nothing "wrong" with the used games business. While, as a game developer, I might prefer that all consumers shared my desire to buy "new" games, I think that it is the responsibility of the game publishers to create some incentive for them to do so. After all, I wager that there are few in this industry who could bemoan the used video game market while simultaneously claiming that they have never purchased a used DVD, used book, or other form of after-market media. Perhaps more importantly, I wonder if there is any conclusive way to estimate how many of the people who buy a game used (at a reduced price) would have purchased it at full-price anyway. Ultimately, there are plenty of solutions to this problem available to our industry. Online games and digitally downloaded games are obvious examples. If the industry is really interested in finding a way to get more money for its work, I would suggest that the video game rental market deserves at least as much attention as the used-game market...

Benjamin Hoyt

I buy both used and new games, depending upon what the price differential is, and availability (old games are hard to find 'new'). I think the used games market is good for the industry for two reason: * it increases the value of game--people buy games knowing that they can get money when they sell it back, and * the game gets greater exposure--the purchaser of the used game might not otherwise have played it. This does not mean that people have the right to steal our products by copying them, reselling the originals, and playing the copy. But we made a product and sold it to them. It is theirs. They are free to resell it, the same way you're free to resell your car, house, or furniture.


Many times you are obliged to buy used games. Most of the titles just stay a month on the front shelf. Try to buy a new "Luigi's Mansion" or "Katamari Damacy" .... you have to buy used ones. The guilty is partly the publishers that only emphasize on recent titles and don't keep a catalog.


I do not buy used game very often, although I admit that I do at times. I like knowing that my money will go to hard working developers and that I am supporting their efforts and contribution to them staying in the industry. The thing is this is not always an option. More often then not when I buy a used game it is because the new copies of the game are no longer kept in stock. Maybe it is because I like the more obscure games but in my experience a few months after the release of a game there are no more new copies to be found. I can see two big reasons for this to happen, the demand for the game was more then the new stock would allow, or there were so many games resold to the game store that there was no need to order any more new ones. With that in mind, I think customers should have the opportunity to resell or return their purchase. There are a lot of reasons to resell a game: The game is not what you thought it was, you picked it up to play with friends and the friend changed their minds on it, you got bored of the game too quickly and it is now more valuable as a trade in then it is a potentials source of entertainment. To fight against used games I think developers should be thinking about keeping customer 1 from wanting to let the game go more then keeping customer 2 from buying the used product. To keep used game from selling developers will have to be make games that customers will want to hold on to.


This tricky question can also be turned around to ask a similar question: Do you buy used DVD's or used CD's, even though the artists and labels don't see a dime? The answer is yes, for a multitude of reasons: 1. The game/dvd/cd is out of print and you can't get it any other way. 2. You can't find it new, but it's sitting there used. 3. You can't afford $60 for a new game, but $15 is easier to take, especially if there's no demo and you're not sure if you want to invest $60 in the game. The good news is that used games can bring attention to the company, as well as potential sequels based off the name alone, so even if a customer buys one game used, when another game comes out by that company or a sequel comes out, the chance of the customer buying it new increases because they know of the first game. Personally, if a customer found a game of mine used, and bought it, I'd be quite happy because s/he's still playing my game! That's what matters most - getting my game in their hands and on their minds. Hopefully they'll like the game enough to buy the next one new. Even if he's buying used copies of my games (for whatever reason), at least he's playing my game. Maybe his friends will play it and want to own it too, so there's still potential for new users and new buyers, even when dealing with used games.


Personally, I don't purchase used games anymore. It's not just a matter of the money not going to the developer or the publisher, but also a matter of the retail stores giving bottom dollar in trade-in value, then charging $5 dollars less than full price. Some gamers have to utilize the trade-in system to play games they wouldn't normally be able to afford, and they are basically being screwed hard by the retailer chains. That said, if someone buys a used car, that money doesn't go to the manufacturer. If someone purchases used CDs, that money doesn't go to the artist. The game industry should not operate any differently. If we are so concerned with the amount of money we are losing or not making because of used games, we should be looking at the price point of our goods, and the quality of the product. This is an interestingly timed question, given the $60 price point for next gen games. Focus on delivering better quality at a reasonable price, rather than trying to point the finger at sources of lost revenue. Also, i believe with XBL and other digital distribution sources we will be able to offer gamers a taste or what we offer via demos, so maybe they won't be so tentative to purchase a new copy of the game.


I mostly always buy new, though I'll admit I do look for the cheapest prices, I rarely buy games full price. The only time I've bought used games is if it's an old game which is no longer available new at retail, or if the used game is cheap (i.e. $5 or cheaper) and I have just a little interest in the title. Otherwise, it's NEW or NOTHING!

Tim Hunter, Digital Lifeforms

Whatever money you lose because a gamer bought a $15 used game rather than a $40 new game is a false loss when the gamer didn't have $40 in the first place. Besides, that $15 went to a store which probably paid $5 for the game, and that $5 was given to a gamer who probably put it toward another game. The $10 in profit will be partially used to stock new games. The used game market thus pumps an additional $5-15 into the industry. So as long as new and used games are sold side-by-side, the money still goes into the industry. I don't see that changing in the near future, and the alternative is for that game to sit in some gamer's house taking up space and never being played. That doesn't put any money into the game industry at all, and it doesn't expose the artistry of that game to a new player either. Overall, it's a net positive for all involved, including the industry.

Caliban Darklock, Darklock Communications

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