Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Fuzzy Avatars Solved! Please re-upload your avatar if it was fuzzy!

[Column] General: Used Games and You

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,596MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

The used game market is one of the most controversial topics in gaming today. Do players "own" or "license" their games? In today's column, Genese Davis takes a look at the topic and offers some history and opinion about used games. Check it out and leave your opinions in the comments.

I had a lot of questions when this topic arose, so I headed over to the Pixel Legends studio and had a chat with the crew about pre-owned games. In the first five minutes they gave me a lot to think about by revealing new perspectives and proposing questions that I had overlooked. They suggested that if I look more closely at Microsoft’s attempts to implement new game-trading policies, I’d see benefits within the changes not only for gamers and publishers, but for the artists and developers that create our beloved games, too. 

Read more (and watch!) Genese Davis: Used Games and You.

image

Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

image

Comments

  • plutosamsplutosams Seattle, WAPosts: 49Member

    I like your conclusion...give a little get a little.    

    The biggest problem I find with the argument that "However, when you purchase or rent a used game, only the seller sees that money." is that ultimately when you purchase a game you purchased an item that is now your property meaning the developers no longer have any right to that so should not receive any income from reselling.  This is similar to building a house.  When you first build you pay for the construction; however everytime that house is resold the construction team does not get a portion of the payment...nor should they because you paid them for their services and now you are selling your property.  Construction teams don't complain that reselling your house keeps them from building "new" houses.

     
     
  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member

    The difference between Steam and Microsoft's attempt and DRM for physical games is that Steam didn't try to change the rules for an existing system. Valve created a new set of rules for a system that didn't really have a set of rules. If Microsoft had tried to make new rules for a new system, or tried to use the rules that Steam setup for a fully digital system, they would have had no issues.

    The other part of the Steam/Microsoft comparison that gets left out in articles like this is that Steam discounts games on a regular basis for their customers. Buying a used game isn't an issue because new games are often sold at used prices. It did not occur to anyone, including Microsoft, that at some point consumers would get less expensive games because they wouldn't. Most gamers probably don't care nearly as much about not being able to shared or trade games as they do the doubling of cost to themselves that not being able to trade or sell games would cause.

    And so Microsoft's attempt failed, and like children kicking sand in a sandbox because they didn't get their way, they attempted to punish consumers by removing the "extra features" that most people didn't care about anyway.

    Let's not forget that Microsoft's goal in the whole thing was to make more money off of their only division that is actually making money. If they were interested in helping developers they wouldn't have such exorbitant fees for updating even small, indie games. If they were truly interested in helping developers, they could just work out a deal with after market companies like GameStop to pay a "tax" to developers whenever they sold a used game.

    Now, to be clear, I'm fine with some system that allows developers to make money off of sales of after market games. But if publishers and developers really want to compete with the after market, then discounting their games on a time scale similar to the used games market is the way to go, because it's the cost that's driving it.

    **

    I like the house building analogy above.

    I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  • RocknissRockniss Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,034Member
    I see this as just more arm twisting to shape the culture of consumers. I see f2p games as a conniving method to take advantage of those that cant control thier spending, much like casino's take advantage of compulsive gamblers. It's all very unattractive. It gets in the way of just being able to relax. The used games restrictions are not relevant to my past habits, but the arm twisting in an effort to shape culture is where I draw the line. It's not just happening in the video game world but this isnt the place to talk work or politics.
  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,205Member Uncommon
    I don't really care about used game sales.  I don't buy used games and I don't sell my games.  I mostly buy all my games and music DRM free.  I support those options because I think they treats both the seller and the buyer fairly.
  • crack_foxcrack_fox WellingtonPosts: 402Member

    I have not owned a console since the Dreamcast. However, back then I relied on the sale of my old games to fund the purchase of new ones. Had I not been able to do so, I simply would have bought fewer games. I would have lost out on playing some great titles, and the developers of those titles would have made one less sale. 

     

    Back then, new console games were simply too expensive to take gambles on. The ability to buy and sell games made me much more willing to take a chance on less-widely acclaimed or hyped games. Without that ability, I would have been as conservative and risk averse with my money as an investor asked to support an innovative MMO.

     

    On the subject of Steam, I am not a fan. However, unlike Microsoft, Valve has credit in the bank when it comes to respect and trust from gamers. That is the prime reason why Steam is installed on my pc and why Origin is not. As the Windows 8 debacle shows, Microsoft does not go out of its way to win the respect of its customers, and that disrespect is repaid in kind.

     

  • dwturduckendwturducken Des Moines, IAPosts: 14Member
    The critical flaw in the presented argument against used games is that it would make video games (correct me if I'm wrong) the ONLY physical purchase on the market which you would be unable to resell or to buy used. I mean, I understand the piracy concerns, but the same argument could be made for the hammer I bought at a yardsale or the Ford I bought used from a Honda dealership. It just doesn't work as an economic model. Besides, if I break my game disk, I can run down to the used game store and get another one.
  • OzivoisOzivois Phoenix, AZPosts: 598Member
    Microsoft and others should implement two ways to sell product: CD copies that can be traded/sold but also offer online-only versions. The online version would be sold at a nicely discounted price and allow the sharing features but the license will be locked to only one account at time of purchase.
  • OzivoisOzivois Phoenix, AZPosts: 598Member
    Originally posted by dwturducken
    The critical flaw in the presented argument against used games is that it would make video games (correct me if I'm wrong) the ONLY physical purchase on the market which you would be unable to resell or to buy used. I mean, I understand the piracy concerns, but the same argument could be made for the hammer I bought at a yardsale or the Ford I bought used from a Honda dealership. It just doesn't work as an economic model. Besides, if I break my game disk, I can run down to the used game store and get another one.

    You can't resell used food either, or condoms...

     

    Also, it is arguable that a game is a physical purchase since they can be digitally downloaded and likely would be in an online system. Most online games can't be sold either since they key is locked to the original purchaser's account.

  • sunshadow21sunshadow21 Omaha, NEPosts: 354Member
    The big differences between Steam and Microsoft is price and market. Steam games are cheap, so no one is concerned about the lack of a used game market; if they tried to charge full price like what Microsoft and the console game devs would almost certainly have tried to charge, they would not have survived very long. Second, Steam is operating in a PC market, which is very different from the console market; PC users a) typically don't move their PCs around very much or take them to places that might lack reliable internet, and b) are much, much more used to the mixing of physical media and online content. The average console player could still care less about an internet connection, despite the rise in popularity in the last generation of consoles, and consoles are still primarily seen as a good traveling system, something that requiring constant internet access would absolutely kill. Also, Microsoft would have done much better simply getting rid of the physical media entirely if they truly wanted an online only system. In the end, Microsoft, and apparently some game devs, fail to understand that the console market is not the same beast as the PC market, no matter how similar the machines themselves are, and cannot be treated as such. I can understand their goals, but until the console market itself changes, trying to treat consoles like a limited PC, which is basically what Microsoft was trying to do, will continue to fail.
  • DrakynnDrakynn The Pas, MBPosts: 2,030Member
    Originally posted by Ozivois
    Originally posted by dwturducken
    The critical flaw in the presented argument against used games is that it would make video games (correct me if I'm wrong) the ONLY physical purchase on the market which you would be unable to resell or to buy used. I mean, I understand the piracy concerns, but the same argument could be made for the hammer I bought at a yardsale or the Ford I bought used from a Honda dealership. It just doesn't work as an economic model. Besides, if I break my game disk, I can run down to the used game store and get another one.

    You can't resell used food either, or condoms...

     

    Also, it is arguable that a game is a physical purchase since they can be digitally downloaded and likely would be in an online system. Most online games can't be sold either since they key is locked to the original purchaser's account.

    You can't compare one use items with reusable ones that's just silly.

    I don't buy my games second hand all,I buy them when they are discounted in digital sales these days so the used game market doesn't affect me.But I don't see why Video Games are a special unique snowflake,why they should get special treatment that other media have not?

    Artists don't get a cut of reselling of their paintings,albums or dvds so why should the video game industry?

    Instead they should find ways to make purchasing a direct copy from them more attractive.Offer incentives and services or prices  to make buying second hand copies not seem worth it.

  • rojoArcueidrojoArcueid hell, NJPosts: 6,773Member Uncommon

    i buy used games when the digital version of the same game has a ridiculous price. I buy new games whenever the used alternative is almost the same and still needs online code to be purchased (which makes it more expensive). I also buy new games (physical and digital) when i really love the franchise, to show my support to the developer, as long as its priced well.

    Also, IMO digital sales should be cheaper than physical for obvious reasons.

     

    image
  • LugorsLugors colorado springs, COPosts: 180Member Common

    Why are games different from books and movies? First sale doctrine is fairly clear on the right to resell hard copies of books, music and movies. Steven King's ability to write his next novel is not affected by selling my copy of The Stand at a used book store. The legal precedent on digital media is murky, and the gaming industry is trying to exploit that in disregarding first sale doctrine. Of course every company wants to earn more money, I get that. But trying to brow beat your consumers into giving up rights they are entitled to is wrong. The rise in MMOs is in part due to companies switching from selling you a digital widget to providing you a service. And many companies are trying to shoehorn the service part into the digital widget. Sometimes it is value added, other times it is pure exploitation. Short filing a class action lawsuit, for which the economics are not strong enough to justify, the only action consumers can take is to vote with their wallets, which they seemed to be prepared to do with the next gen Xbox's DRM.

  • TalonsinTalonsin Posts: 1,468Member Uncommon

    I find the legal rights of software to be total crap!  Why can I buy a $500 TV, use it for a year and then sell or trade it but if I buy a game for $50 i am only buying the right to play it myself.  This whole software licensing thing is getting more and more out of control each year.  The entire reason we are in this mess is due to Microsoft paying off (lobbying) the US government to impose these totally unrealistic ownership rights on software back in the 80's. 

    Once I buy something, it should be mine.  I'm tired of fat-cat developers and corporate CEO's whining about the need for DRM and how bad software piracy hurts them while they live in fricken mansions and take private jets to work.  I'm sure software piracy hurt Lord British so bad he could not afford a second trip into space or the other castle he wanted on the french riviera.

  • WylfWylf Brentwood, CAPosts: 159Member

    Everyone wants a discount Genese. The consequences be damned. Look at the prevalence of the F2P market, though it has dumbed down our games, people play because they feel they are getting something for FREE. Even though Free is a fiction.

    I do disagree with you about Steam. I submit that it is not loved, but unfortunately has become a necessary evil. I enjoyed the video.  Keep up the good work.

     
  • RusqueRusque Las Vegas, NVPosts: 2,228Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by lizardbones

    The difference between Steam and Microsoft's attempt and DRM for physical games is that Steam didn't try to change the rules for an existing system. Valve created a new set of rules for a system that didn't really have a set of rules. If Microsoft had tried to make new rules for a new system, or tried to use the rules that Steam setup for a fully digital system, they would have had no issues.

    The other part of the Steam/Microsoft comparison that gets left out in articles like this is that Steam discounts games on a regular basis for their customers. Buying a used game isn't an issue because new games are often sold at used prices. It did not occur to anyone, including Microsoft, that at some point consumers would get less expensive games because they wouldn't. Most gamers probably don't care nearly as much about not being able to shared or trade games as they do the doubling of cost to themselves that not being able to trade or sell games would cause.

    And so Microsoft's attempt failed, and like children kicking sand in a sandbox because they didn't get their way, they attempted to punish consumers by removing the "extra features" that most people didn't care about anyway.

    Let's not forget that Microsoft's goal in the whole thing was to make more money off of their only division that is actually making money. If they were interested in helping developers they wouldn't have such exorbitant fees for updating even small, indie games. If they were truly interested in helping developers, they could just work out a deal with after market companies like GameStop to pay a "tax" to developers whenever they sold a used game.

    Now, to be clear, I'm fine with some system that allows developers to make money off of sales of after market games. But if publishers and developers really want to compete with the after market, then discounting their games on a time scale similar to the used games market is the way to go, because it's the cost that's driving it.

    **

    I like the house building analogy above.

    +1 to everything here.

     

    I'd also like to add a quite important point of difference between MS Xbox ecosystem and Steam.

     

    Steam offers sales like you said, but it's also competitive within a larger market. There are other digital services and you can still purchase physical media from big box stores, amazon, ebay, list goes on.

     

    The xbox system is close. And that's why it's a scary proposition to allow them to control DRM on the hardware side. The consumer would have had no alternative outside of simply not purchasing an xbox. Players choose steam and that's a distinction that MS failed to understand.

    There is no incentive to offer 75% off on xbox games if you control the entire market of xbox games. Steam offers lots of sales to remain the lead service in digital PC game distribution. Console games only get cheap years after they've been out (or when they're used). I got Skyrim for $40 two weeks after the game launched from one of the other digital services (may have been gamefly digital, can't remember now). It was a two day sale and I was more than happy to grab it at that price, not that it wasn't worth the full $60, but I was in the middle of some other games and held off while I finished them.

     

    I'm all for digital distribution, but the market has to be open and competitive, otherwise we'll just get bent over.

  • sketocafesketocafe StoupaPosts: 801Member Uncommon
    However much the gaming industry likes to talk about licenses, the fact of the matter is that for games on physical media everyone involved has been treating them as if they were no different from other copyrighted items such as books. If developers want to say that used sales are a problem then they're saying that gamers themselves are the problem, because the used games industry exists only to facilitate our rights to sell our legitimately purchased copyrighted products.
  • OzmodanOzmodan Hilliard, OHPosts: 7,187Member Uncommon

    This pretty much just effects the console market.  Not much of a market for used PC games.  Go into any Gamestop, you can count the PC games on one hand.  Most MMO's games register the client and ti is not transferable.

    Until MMO's become more common on consoles, I do not see this as a issue.

  • larrypsylarrypsy Laguna Woods, CAPosts: 34Member

    Fact: If we don't support developers.....

  • mrputtsmrputts Beaver, PAPosts: 197Member

    1.The Video game industry is a Multi billion dollar industry, and thats with pre-owned.

    2. Preowned games are purchased by people that might not have otherwise bought the game.

    3. Some games are not worth 60 dollars. And used games make games be worth what the market says they are. 

    4. My best anecdote: Right before Gears of war 3 came out I re-bought Gears 1 so a friend and I could run through all 3 games in a row. I picked it up used for 5 bucks. Gears of war is still 20 dollars on xbox.com digital marketplace.  Gears 1 is not worth $20 dollars anymore.

     

    Ea is like a poo fingered midas ~ShakyMo

  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member


    Originally posted by mrputts
    1.The Video game industry is a Multi billion dollar industry, and thats with pre-owned.

    2. Preowned games are purchased by people that might not have otherwise bought the game.

    3. Some games are not worth 60 dollars. And used games make games be worth what the market says they are. 

    4. My best anecdote: Right before Gears of war 3 came out I re-bought Gears 1 so a friend and I could run through all 3 games in a row. I picked it up used for 5 bucks. Gears of war is still 20 dollars on xbox.com digital marketplace.  Gears 1 is not worth $20 dollars anymore.  



    If developers are ever successful in curtailing used game sales, that game would be worth $20, because it wouldn't be available anywhere else. It would probably be "worth" more than $20.

    That is a practical application of Rusque's post talking about Microsoft's closed market ideas. This idea would apply if Microsoft controls the used game market through "licensing" rather than an agreement to pay a "tax" to developers and publishers. Used games would sell for what Microsoft wants them sold for, not what the market wants to buy them for. Substitute "Sony" for "Microsoft" if it makes you feel any better. Nearly any attempt to control value in a market rather than let competition decide value is bad for consumers.

    I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member

    Finally, I would just like to say that I find the idea of trying to curtail or control sales of used games an attempt to make more money through the "Way of the Weasel", rather than make more money through making better games. People who make better games make more money. If the system that's worked since video games started doesn't work for a developer or publisher, then maybe the games they are making just aren't that good or are the wrong games for the market.

    I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  • Crazy_StickCrazy_Stick Privacy Preferred, NCPosts: 1,059Member

    We are moving into an age where we do not truly own anything but rather rent it from business institutions be it our books, our games, our cars, our homes, our furniture, our silverware, our very cash control through crediting, even our educational certifications, and such a consumer model by its very nature devalues personal freedom and worth while putting Big Banker Bob in the drivers seat, giving them the control I supposedly earned. They have no real checks on them aside from divining what the average consumer will tolerate.

     

    Frankly, if MS and EA had their way I would not be able to buy a game disc for myself and then give it to family members once finished because in their corporate mind it cost them a sale. Its not about providing a cheaper alternative to ownership for the average spender but rather maximizing profit from every product produced and retaining control of it once you are through. The day I purchased their product at the store or online for download is the day they received fair market value for it and I attained ownership of property with all rights entailed.

     

    I WILL NOT accept restriction on the purchase of used games anymore than I would for used cars at the local dealership to prevent being beholden to a closed market they control. I WILL NOT compromise. To do so is not reasonable it is foolish.

  • didjeramadidjerama MirPosts: 201Member

    Why are games trying to become special snowflake?

    I buy a car, i use a car i sell a car.

    I buy a game, i use a game i sell a game.

    Its all the same. Anyway in EU theres no problem as its regulated by law, if i want to sell my game i can sell my game be it physical or digital.

    And for whiney developers/publishers: start producing good games people want to hold on to, not crap that you want to sell after whole 10 hours it took to play through it.

     
  • ET3DET3D Posts: 227Member Uncommon

    "when you purchase or rent a used game, only the seller sees that money"

    The seller often uses the money to buy more games, so the money does go back to the game industry.

    Personally, I would have liked to see how Microsoft's system would have played out. It was supposed to be optional, and it wasn't supposed to prevent selling used games, just taxing the sale. We never got far enough to understand how it would apply to people selling games on eBay.

    I don't believe that taxing or preventing used game sales will really make publishers more money, but I think this needs to be played out, in the same way Ubisoft went for draconic online DRM then dialed it down because it apparently hurt more than it helped. Publishers need to see for themselves that this doesn't work, and an optional system is the best way to do it. It could also potentially work, making console game prices cheaper in the long run. In either case, I'd rather have this played out than have people make unsubstantiated claims one way or another.

Sign In or Register to comment.