Used games. It’s one of the biggest issues that most publishers and developers have with the gaming industry today. Why is that? The answer is simple: there is no money to be made when the consumer purchases a used product. The money goes directly to the seller, leaving the publisher high and dry with not a single penny of profit to be had in their multi-million dollar investment. This is an issue for the industry because if there are no profits from the games being developed, then there isn’t any money to continue developing the games we all love to play. So what’s the solution to this problem, if there even is one?
Publishers have been struggling to find ways to work around the selling of used games by attempting to earn at least a little bit of cash from the sells. The ‘Online Pass’ is one good example. Many gamers purchase their games to play online with their friends and others across the world, but if they prefer to purchase their games pre-owned, they may need to purchase a $10 online pass in order to do so. This has a two pronged effect: if the pre-owned game being purchased is relatively new, then it would actually be around the same price to just purchase the product new with the online pass included. If you’re a gamer looking to save a bit, then what’s the point of buying it used if it’s going cost the same regardless? Now if the game is older and on the cheap, perhaps it makes more sense and the publisher will at least make some money as opposed to receiving nothing at all.
Another thing that is being done are pre-order incentives. By offering exclusive content to those who pre-order an upcoming title, the likelihood of the consumer purchasing it new is far greater. Take Call of Duty: Black OPs 2 for instance. It received well over a million pre-orders simply because of the exclusive Nuketown Zombie Map that was being offered. Even now that the game is released, the map can still be acquired buy only if the game is being purchased new. It’s not even offered as a separate purchase online. Smart move.
Now even then though publishers are finding ways to earn a little money from the pre-owned game consumers, many would still prefer that they were done away with altogether. Rumors suggest that both Microsoft and Sony are implementing various ways to prevent their next home consoles from playing used games. Publishers would love this as it would single-handeldly solve their issues with pre-owned games in one fell swoop, but consumers would hate it… at least at first. The reason many gamers purchase used games to begin with is to save money. And who can blame them? The world economy is still in recession and it doesn’t seem that things will be improving any time soon. People want to save money and if that means purchasing a game used to save only $5, then it’ll be done. But the fact is is that if Microsoft and Sony were to go through with their rumored plans, then the pre-owned consumer would simply need to adjust. They would have to adjust. Sure, it may be borderline anti-consumerism, but if it’s the only option available then gamers will purchase their games regardless. They’re not just going to stop playing, right?
We have seen many, many publishers and developers go bankrupt this generation. THQ was the latest victim and as development costs continue to increase there will certainly be more. I’m not entirely opposed to used games, but I’m not really for them either. If Microsoft and Sony were to actually implement an anti-used feature in their next consoles then I wouldn’t shed a tear. Gamers need to understand that if you really want to see your favorite game series continue to be developed or just want to see something new altogehter, then avoid purchasing a title pre-owned and support the developer by buying their game new. It makes a difference.