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Used games don't hurt new game sales, they  help , according to GameStop
Used games don't hurt new game sales, they help, according to GameStop Exclusive
July 26, 2012 | By Staff

July 26, 2012 | By Staff
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing, Exclusive

"We are giving them 17 percent toward the purchase of their games today. We have that form of unfunded discount that we give to the publishers."
- GameStop president Tony Bartel, speaking in a new Gamasutra feature about the impact of used games on the market.

According to GameStop, it generated $1.2 billion in trade-in credit for customers in 2011, of which 17 percent went to new sales -- and the retailer sells 25 to 30 percent of the new games in U.S., the most of any retailer.

On the other hand, noted developer David Braben (Kinectimals, Elite) told Gamasutra earlier this year that "preowned has really killed core games. In some cases, it's killed them dead. I know publishers who have stopped games in development because most shops won't reorder stock after initial release, because they rely on the churn from the resales."

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Todd Boyd
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The only logical solution, then, is to create a game with ACTUAL REPLAY VALUE...

Josh Rough
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Yes, because experiences like Shadow of the Colossus must be abandoned so that every single game you buy is something you can button-mash for eternity. Makes perfect sense. Why don't you lead the way?

Joe Wreschnig
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I don't see anything wrong with what Todd said. Replay value can come from a multi-layered or multi-path narrative just as much as it can from anything else.

Players view games as disposable partially because game developers view games as disposable. Developers that don't treat their games that way usually find the players treasure their games over years or decades as well.

Gregan Dunn
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Does this even matter anymore? Retail is all but dead now anyway. This "argument" (GameStop will would never have one this one... ever) was only relevant a year or two ago. Now... it's obvious the writing is on the wall and GameStop has helped contribute to it's own demise by getting greedy and biting the hand that feeds it.

Joe McGinn
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Retail is shrinking but it's still a huge part of the industry and, at least on console, there's no replacement for it yet. So yeah, it matters.

Mikhail Mukin
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hehe... I know it is president's job to... well - "not tell the truth" with a smile on his face... but come on... he knows used sales hurt new game sales a lot (and 17% is not compensating for this), we know it... So why keep pretending? It became a working busyness model for them, there is not much game industry can do about it apart from changing our own busyness model (or changing the law or making new consoles require paying something back to devs for each re-use).

Josh Rough
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Seriously. F#ck this guy. GameStop is a racket and the overwhelming majority of their revenue comes from a second-hand market that tosses peanuts at the industry and asks us to smile. They're digging their own grave by accelerating the irrelevance of retail and begging the industry to somehow plug them into digital. We all know the GameStop experience. It goes something like this...

(Used)GameStop: Welcome to (used)GameStop where you can buy every game you could possibly ever want pre-owned, or, if the display copy of a new game happens to be our last unit in stock, we'll sell it to you as new even though we've opened it - best of both worlds! How can I help you?

Me: Hi, I'd like game XYZ.

(Used)GameStop: Awesome! We've got it pre-owned for $54.99.

Me: No, I'd like it new.

(Used)GameStop: Hmmm... I don't think we have anymore new copies.

Me: Okay, I'll go somewhere else.

(Used)GameStop: Oh wait, yeah we do. My bad. Are you sure you don't want to buy it used?

Me: I'm sure. New please.

(Used)GameStop: Are you sure you're sure?

Me: NEW!

(Used)GameStop: Oh, okay, if you insist, but that game is reeeeeally hard and everybody's returning it, I'm just trying to save you $5 bucks.


(Used)GameStop: I can see that you're a man who knows what he wants. So. Can I sell you insurance in case you spill pee on it? A strategy guide? There's a selection of over 3000 pre-owned games surrounding you, would you like to buy some of those too? We've also got a couple of Wii controllers that just came in, and we're discounting one of those because we couldn't scrape all the nacho cheese off of it... but hey, that just adds some character, right?

Me: ...I'm buying elsewhere. Bye.

(Used)GameStop: Okay, okay, consumer choice is key! Just remember, when you want to sell that game, we'll buy it from you so we can sell it again! And again. And again. At near-full price.

Michael Pianta
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I worked at GameStop in 2004 and it was just like this. If a customer was trying to buy a new game, we were required to try and switch them to used and if they asked for a specific game we were required to show them the used one first. If you were talking to a secret shopper and you failed to do this then you could be written up and ultimately terminated.

Chris Skuller
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Yeah, it's exactly like this. I used to do most of my video game buying from Gamestop, but things have gotten so annoying with them that I rarely go there anymore. I'm especially tired of the near endless litany of questions you have to answer every time you try to buy from them:

Would you like to add game insurrance?
Can I sell you on a strategy guide?
What games would you like to preorder?
Can I sign you up for our Rewards program?

JUST LET ME BUY WHAT I WANT AND GO HOME! The last and final time I bought something there the clerk who was ringing me up(I think she was the manager) started making conversation about games and after we talked for a bit she asked what games I was looking forward to in the future. I named a couple and she agreed that she was looking forward to those too.

Then when I went to cash out, I noticed my bill was about $20 higher than what it should have been. I asked about it and it turned out all the games I listed as being interested in she took the liberty of putting me down for a $5 preorder on all of them! This kind of hard-sell garbage is like something I would expect at a used car dealership, not a used game store.

I would have canceled my order completely, but I had preordered the $150 Gears 3 Collectors Edition and I wasn't sure I could get it elsewhere.

In short, Gamestop is a leech on the games industry. They don't serve the game designers properly and most importantly they don't serve their customers properly.

Joe Wreschnig
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If GameStop was selling used games at, say, 50% of its nominal price (which is pretty standard for other media) they wouldn't be pushing them nearly so hard because the cut they get from a used game would be comparable to the cut they get from a new game. But because there's no competition left in the used market they can put it up again at 80-90% of the nominal price.

The problem is that industry "solutions" to this problem refuse to focus on fixing the broken market, and just insist that used games can't exist or can't be a full game. That only hurts players with less money and scares people from trying games they aren't sure about.

What's needed isn't online passes or day-one free DLC, but the videogame equivalent of Half Price Books.

Michael Pianta
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Exactly. This would be the best solution. I prefer buying new, but what happens when games go out of print? What if I want to give a game to a friend or sibling? Hell, suppose I am strapped for cash - why shouldn't I be allowed to liquidate an asset I paid for? These kinds of transactions are a totally normal part of every other entertainment industry, and yet video games are supposed to be exempt from this? If I can't sell something or transfer ownership in anyway because I never fully owned it to begin with, then why is it worth money? Answer: it isn't. So I agree, the industry's approach is wrong and more competition in the used market would be very good.

Michael Rooney
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I think people are aware of the broken market, but there isn't really a good way for publishers/developers to change it outside of doing their best to kill it. Best Buy and a couple other major retailers picking up used game sales will help, but it may take a while for the market to stabilize at a healthy place.

The most reasonable thing that's been done is the online pass, which really forces used game sales to be at least $5-$15 cheaper than they are now. Unfortunately those carry a huge negative stigma.

k s
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We all know the industry is going digital and GameStops days are numbered, we should just ignore this guy and focus making great games gamers actually want, oh and not sell our games through GameStop.

Jeremiah Bond
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If everyone was Disney there wouldn't be an issue with used sales. Unfortunately, games are only as good as the first 50 hours of play. After that, they are just novelties. Used gaming is ultimately an acquired taste, of which frankly, I'm quite fond of.

Chris Dickerson
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Grueling day of work complete.

Stops on way home? Game store.

(first game store stop)
Me: Do you have a copy of ?
Clerk: I think so.. yes
Clerk: [Constant fumbling around and looking under the counter]
Me: Is that game open?
Clerk: Uhhh.. yeah.
Me: No thanks.

Gaming enthusiasts... unwrapping the game.. a fresh disc untouched by some tools' hands... why buy a new game that was their "demo"? I'm a freak I know...

(second game store stop)
Me: Do you have a copy of ?
Clerk: Nope!
Clerk: [Serious tone] Wait, did you pre-order?
Me: No.
Clerk: Nope! Sold them all.
Me: exit store ready to beat up Mickey Mouse

While waiting in line I read the "Benefits of Pre-Ordering" poster.

On launch day you will have a copy of the game!

Translation: the conglomerate that owns the chain of game stores has determined that it makes sense to send out NO more games than what was pre-ordered. If you don't pre-order, you will NOT see said game at this store for days. Explanation? See next benefit.
Bonus! Money off accessories, 20% off strategy guides, etc.

Essentially, limiting the sales on the release day enables them to upsale other products to go along with the game.
So... what about good will and being amiable to your customers? How much money did you lose irritating your customer because they didn't pre-order? If I wait for someone to review a game and I don't pre-order... I'm out of luck.

Granted, this irritation isn't always going to happen because I've experienced what I like the call the "Best Buy" effect before. I've been to the Game store and they've told me "pre-orders only" and I went across the street to Best Buy... they have a copy of the game.

No.. they didn't just have "a copy" of the game.. they had built a fort in the middle of the store out of copies of the game...

My condolences to any that might be clerks at these stores, I know you must take a lot of flak because of the corporate policies.

Mike Kasprzak
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"Used games don't hurt new game sales, they help"

Digital game sales don't hurt sales, just retail sales.