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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 4 of 5 Next

Personally, I love buying used games. They're cheap, and just as good as buying them new (most of the time at least). Also, the used games sections of stores are a haven of niche games that I was interested in playing, but not interested enough to spend $50 on it, like "Raze's Hell", it cost me $10 bucks and I'm having a blast with it (those Kewtletts say the darndest things). My point is: buying used games allows me to buy great games on the cheap, which is beneficial, as I get exposed to all sorts of different game play and level design; it's good for me as both a gamer and amateur level designer. Siply put: used games allow me to get more bang for my buck (example: "Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay" is relatively short game, albeit a very good one, and seven to eight hours of game play is not worth $50, $30 maybe, but not $50).

Michael Miles-Coccaro

I do not buy used games, unless it's an old game that is no longer available on shelves. In fact, I go out of my way to not buy games, or anything else, at any store or site that sells used games. For the same reason, I avoid game rentals of any kind. Until we get deals in place to get some money out of these transactions, it's unconscionable that anyone in the industry would (And we have a lot of debate on the issue around the office. A lot of people can present a very good counter argument as to why they don't think it causes any harm.).


I tend to buy only new if at all possible. I do so for a few reasons. 1. I like the complete package with manuals and all. 2. I like to register my games and feel justified in registering new games vs. used. 3. Sometimes used games have a problem that is not visible. 4. Having traded in some old titles towards new titles or equipment I find the trade-in value terrible at the stores and they destroy boxes and manuals at least for portable games. I don't like that at all. I only go the used route for out of circulation hard to find games where the publisher no longer offers an option to be a new in the box version of an older game. So to me used is a last resort and I would try to find a new or boxed complete version online before ever going to a store for a used game. Lastly if you do not support titles by buying new then the game company may not continue to make the type of games you want. I really want good RPGs on my Gameboy DS and other consoles. I want to support the companies that make the games I buy. No signal is clearer than supporting a game developers bottom line; else why produce the game in the first place?

Geoff Schardein, Seapine Software, Inc.

I try to buy new games whenever I can, seeing how these are the purchases that will financially reward a development house. I especially make it a point to purchase new games when I believe that a company took a risk in releasing a certain game. Reservation goodies have occasionally convinced me to pick up a game earlier than I originally planned on. I find myself falling for art books, sound track CDs, or little figurines the most. Some niche developers with dedicated fan-bases have offered certain exclusive goodies for reserving or purchasing games through their company stores, put multi-game grab bags on deep discount for a limited time that undercut the price of a used version and use other tactics to make buying direct hard to resist. There are times I feel like the market is very inflexible about prices. Say you tried Game X, like Game X but don't think it's worth the full $49.99 plus tax. Well beyond it's release, I know retailers are likely to be charging full price for it unless it's a super hot game and goes into the $19.99 "Best Sellers" lines that every console has. In cases like these, I'll just go straight for a used copy that's at the price I'm willing to pay. I'd be curious to see if the US market adopted the strategy of re-releasing games under a discount label and price after a certain amount of time, regardless if the title sold a million units or whatever the requirement for becoming a "Greatest Hits" game is.


Where is the concern supposed to come from? As a publisher and/or developer, well before my game is in the "used game" bin I'm already looking ahead to my next title. If we're to push ahead with this medium, who buys what or what's available where during the second retail cycle of our old games shouldn't be our concern. Maybe I'm missing the context of the question.

Matthew Allmer, Rendered Vision

I buy used games simply because new titles are overpriced. Retailers make large profit margins from this avenue simply due to customer ignorance. Used games can be sold online for two or three times the value offered by major storefronts, or traded for other used games of equal or lesser value. Unfortunately, some people are not aware of this, and others are wary of not getting paid from online transactions. I am not concerned about the effect of the used games market on game publishers because they are obviously not worried by the possibility of lost sales. Instead of reducing retail prices to compete with this threat, prices are now returning to levels not seen since the heyday of SNES or N64 titles. In those days, high prices were justified by the cost of expensive ROM cartridges, and today they are attributed to the costs of development required to produce high quality graphics and game play for next generation titles. If console publishers are to be believed, this explanation raises two questions. First, why didn't retail prices drop more significantly after the transition from cartridge based games to disc based games? At the time, consumers were led to believe that the vast savings introduced by disc based games would be reflected at retail, but average game prices only dropped from seventy dollars to fifty after the transition. Secondly, why haven't rising development costs affected the retail value of PC titles? Considering the fact that game development on the PC platform is always on the leading edge due to the lack of hardware constraints inherit to consoles, PC games should always cost more. Yet historically, PC games have always sold for less than console games, even in light of the rampant piracy on the PC platform that causes more financial losses than the used console games market. This leads me to believe that other underlying factors are at play to explain the current pricing model, and since the console makers exert a degree of control over development costs not applicable to the PC market, only they have the real answer to this question.


I think it's easy to forget that there are a lot of people out there who can't afford to buy all the games they want at full price. I certainly can't. At the same time it's really hard to wait for a game you want to go down in price on it's own. I can also say that I do buy used, and will continue to do so because quite honestly you can't count on media representations and game play videos to tell you whether you'll like playing it. And I don't feel like laying down $60 to test pilot a game. Besides, I know I've started following companies because of games I bought used. I got a copy of Halo used - now I'm a fan. I have Halo 2 and I'm going to get Halo 3. Isn't that worth the discount?


I buy "used" mostly, because I am in a situation right now where I must account for every penny I get(I am on limited income of less than $200 a month). When(if) my situation improves, I plan to buy more games and new games.

Nora Rich

I don't buy used games, but I also don't pay full price and would rather wait until it drops in price or buy it from discounters. The cost of game development is skyrocketing at least for now, and until that levels off in a way where less man hours are spent in the process, the developer community will continue to bleed money (except for the very few games which make a lot of course). I am concerned, but there are many ways to make money from the gaming community. In the end, you must cater to the customer and really deliver what they want. I know that for myself, the kinds of games I wish for or the kinds of technologies I am waiting for, I may have to wait a long time before I am satisfied enough to pay large amounts for the mostly idiotic games that are being produced these days.

Armen Levonian, SCEA

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