Thursday, 13 May 2010

Are pre-owned games a good thing?

I must admit, I’ve never been a fan of pre-owned games. Ever since I was told not to put money in my mouth as you don’t know what kind of kinky stuff it might have been involved with, I seem to have applied the same logic to everything that is not fresh out of a factory. Apart from my various hygiene and quality stigmas though, are pre-owned games doing more harm than good?

The major problem with pre-owned games is that the publishers and more importantly the developers, don’t see a penny from the resale of their games. The only people that benefit from this are the customers, whether they are buying units to sell or games to play.

Whilst I can appreciate that games are expensive, and that the second hand market lets you pick up titles for cheap and get cash back for purchases you regret, it does mean that the developers end up getting less money and might struggle to make ends meet with their next project. This could result in a rushed or cut short production which means that an inferior product is released.

In a recent interview with Develop, co-founder of Blitz Games Studios, Andrew Oliver expressed his dismay over the situation.

“I understand why players do this, games are expensive and after a few weeks of playing you've either beaten it, or got bored of it so trading it back in to help pay for the next seems sensible when people are short of cash.”

He continued saying that, “while retail may be announcing a reasonable season, the money going back up the chain is a fraction of what it was only a few years ago. This is a much bigger problem than piracy on the main consoles.”

A bigger problem than piracy? Whether he is being over dramatic or not, it is clear that buying and selling pre-owned games are rustling feathers in places that we may not want them rustled in the long run.

I know that I’ve been banging on about this for quite a while, but I genuinely believe with all of my cognitive brain power that EA got it spot on with Mass Effect 2 and the Cerberus Network. In case you’ve been living under a rock, buried in a desert with a ball gag, ear muffs and a blindfold on, the Cerberus Network is accessed via a code you get with a retail copy of Mass Effect 2 to obtain in game content.

If you buy a copy second hand, the chances are you won’t get a valid code with it, meaning you need to go and buy one from EA if you want to enjoy the exclusive content. The system is genius as it helps the developers make customers out of those who buy second hand games. Then again, in this case, with the £10 price tag needed to access the network, it could well be better value for money to just go for a new copy.

The real winners when it comes to pre-owned games aren’t really the gamers, but the retailers. If you’ve ever walked into GAME or Gamestation and tried to trade in a game that no longer thrills you, it is very likely that they have offered you a price which is one up from them leaning over the counter and farting on you. Being offered £5 for a game that you know they will mark up and resell for £15 is just an insult and it makes me feel like some kind of man kettle, boiling my blood.

1 comment:

jen/haly said...

I also liked how EA did it with Mass Effect 2. I had a promo copy so I didn't have the code but I didn't begrudge paying for the relevant DLC.

I do tend to buy a fair amount of games pre-owned. Not usually new releases though, usually it's older titles that I missed out the first time round. Having said that, I have nothing against EA or other companies implementing these measures to encourage new purchases. It's only business after all. My wallet may not like it but my brain appreciates why it's done.