Bargains Are for Cheaters

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Anyway, there's one more thing. See, seeing a movie (which is the top dollar thing, right?) in a theatre comes at a price which ranges from country to country - and it scales with the fucking earning you can make in that country. My friend in UK wants to go see a movie? The theatre is going to cost them 10 pounds, which is roughly 12 euros. I wanna see a movie in Serbia? It's gonna cost me about 3.5 euros. Notice the difference? It takes into account the living standard of the country - not completely of course, but there's a decent effort at least and as a result we're no strangers to going to the cinema.

Now let's compare game prices. Starcraft 2 in UK? 42,5 euros. Starcraft 2 in Serbia? 57 euros. See anything wrong with this picture?

There's a very simple difference between the two though, people rarely fly over to Serbia to watch a movie in the cinema (dubbed or subbed?) for the sake of saving 6-7€. It is a lot easier to order games from there Online (or hell... even Hong Kong), there are (completely legal) Key Shops that are doing nothing else than buying cheap retail versions from Asia or Eastern Europe and resell the keys cheap to Western Europe/US etc. and throw away the physical product like:
And heck, I usually order most games I buy from myself cause they have cheaper prices and I can be sure they usually also have the original language on them...

Games are too expensive.

40 for Starcraft II? And you expect me not to buy used?

I'm not cheating anyone. It's the fuckwits who put the prices that high that are cheating consumers.

How exactly do you plan on getting StarCraft 2 used? Each product has an unique key you have to register before you can even start playing, that is invalid after that and you'd have to sell your account (and all your Blizzard games you activated with it) with it. Also you have to input some things like "Real Name" that might be later needed for payment information or if an account is hacked to recover it that cannot be changed after first account creation...

Something similar will ultimately be also the solution for all "console used games" woes, I predict at the latest during the next console generation there will probably be a system in place and "Accounts"/Unique-Keys will be as normal and often used as on the PC... seeing as Steam is heading for PS3 it might be even sooner...

Atmos Duality:
"Shelf Life" for any other product is a near-linear process.
Start high, slowly decline; the irony here is that prior to 2005, GAMES USED TO DO THIS (in my market this was especially true).

I could purchase Warcraft 3 in 2002 for 50 bucks. In 2003, it was 40. In 2005 it was 20, and I just bought a BRAND NEW COPY last year for 12.
I can name the same process for unused (new) copies of older titles up until that point. What happened?
Well, for starters, the number publishers declined rapidly in number as the Big Boys in each region (Squaresoft for Japan, EA and Vivendi in the US, Ubisoft in Europe) ate up their weakened competition.

Now, Publishers indisputably control the industry; they commission the games, they OWN the developers, they own the names, copyrights you name it. Sometimes, they even dictate production against a developer's will (due to contract obligations).

In fact, there is only one part of the industry the publisher does not completely control or own; Distribution.
Gamestop has, over the course of the last decade, systematically eliminated its competition through strong business practices, luck, and possibly some underhanded tactics (why yes, I have watched over half a dozen local game retailers mysteriously turn into Gamestops in the last 10 years).
They can stand toe to toe with any other major video game retailer...but more importantly, the big Publishers.

This is an age-old problem that has already been dealt with in every other industry; every manufacturer of every conceivable product ideally would want to cut out the middle-man.

This man -- as well as Shamus -- is exactly right. If anyone cares to go through my post history, I say pretty much this any time the argument comes up. It used to be that games started out at a high price, and then steadily dropped, until bottoming out at $10 for a jewel case release of a PC game, or $20 for a Greatest Hits or equivalent release for a console game. If one were to go to Walmart today, he would find that it is still possible to get PC games for $10 new, but they are almost all casual games and/or shovel ware. I've seen two games in the past year that were both $10 and "core" releases, and maybe three or four in the past five years.

One other thing that I haven't seen mentioned, is that the used game business was once much less parasitic. Before Gamestop bought out EB games, there was a good deal of competition -- both from other used game companies, and from marked down new games. Prices were low; I remember paying an average of $2-$8 for a used game right up until the buyout occurred. If a used game broke $20, it was because somebody traded it in within a couple of months of release.

In conclusion, this new mode is unsustainable. I can't speak for everyone, but I know the industry has received less money from me in the past several years. When the prices were lower, I got three or four new games a year, plus a pile of used ones. The only game I've bought new and not on a ridiculous sale in the last year was Assassin's Creed, and that only because it was one of the rare $10 PC games I mentioned earlier. Keep in mind that I had a job for a good chunk of this year, whereas I was a child working off of a fairly strict allowance during the time period when games actually dropped in price. With the extra income I'm getting as a young adult, I should be buying so much more; instead, I'm buying practically nothing, subsisting off of older used games, thrift shop finds, and the occasional steam sale. If the game companies expect high school or college aged customers to actually buy their products new, rather than buying used or pirating, they need to actually try to compete on the costs. They did it once before; I know they can do it again.

Developers/publishers don't have anything against the 2nd hand sale of their product per se, this was happening for damn well years and decades.

What people don't understand is that they're not hating on the customer trying to maybe sell a game to a friend (or give it to him) for a very low price or people selling them on eBay or similar, but that there's an actual problem in a parasitic industry living off the game sales and increasingly devouring more and more of their profits at near to no personal risk whatsoever... impact of which is that they open more and more stores/branches to make even more money, and upon seeing how much success (GameStop) is having in about ~30% of their total profit (being pure profit) coming from used sales and the rest from hardware sales and "other" (which would indicate that used game sales equal upwards of 40% of their total game sales taking hardware and other gadgets aside), other major retailers like Walmart, Amazon and BestBuy are already following suit with more to surely come if the developers don't do anything, united and fast...

Lowering prices won't work, as has already been stated some games DO lower their prices rather quickly (especially in Europe... can't say it for the US, but we don't really have that much of a problem with big-ass retailers fucking over both customers and publishers at the same time here) as said retailers will just lower the demanded buyout and sale price somewhat and be done with it... If they're buying the game for 10-20$ used from someone and either sell it for 45$ or 35$ won't make that much of a difference, as apparently the 5$ difference compared to an actual new product (not enough grasping the point of view of morality in actually wanting to reward developers for making a good game and making sure they do more of them in the future) seems to be enough to entice enough people to grab that copy instead of the "new" one anyway and they STILL make a pure profit of 15-35$ at almost no personal risk or additional costs.

Publishers simply cannot compete with them in any way, seeing as they are the ones paying for the actual game to be made, the marketing, salaries, shipping, legal fees and so on while carrying the risk of a game totally backfiring and flopping not even covering their expenses at the same time while all GameStop has to do is buy a product cheaper and sell the same one at a higher price being able to analyze how good certain things sell and how profitable they'd be bought and sold at a certain price... they're NOT in the same market to be able to compete with each other, so unique keys for each copy (especially the ones with an online component) or a service like Steam are really the only ways to go for them.

As I mentioned before in other threads, "used sales" are actually a lot worse for the publishers in a financial/business sense than piracy could ever be, because the consumers buying a used product indicate that they want to spend money on it (being it 5-10$ cheaper) and actually do it, while pirating something for free will not equal in actual money being transfered and lost to them.
They might even be willing to offer special deals on their games or sell them for a lower price after a time or on special occasions (leaving Activision Blizzard aside, they're just batshit greedy) like they already do with their Steam sales or special prices over the Internet, but there is no way to do that with retail products and a chain like GameStop would still be able to undercut them even then using their "unique business model" of screwing both customers and publishers.

Furthermore, buying software used (especially games) has nothing in common with buying a used TV, car, dishwasher or "whatever" WHATSOEVER.

While there is some software that you'll buy to keep it around, like say Windows, Office or Photoshop you will probably need for working and using it long-term, games are just largely throwaway entertainment products most people play through once (often offering only 6-20 hours of fun) and then either chuck them in a corner or reselling them.

THINK ABOUT IT, 1-2 days after the initial launch you will be able to get used copies of said product cheaper than its original price, and that "launch time" is mostly the only time said developers and publishers will see any money out of their product...ever. You do not buy a TV, car or dishwasher to use it for a day or two and resell it again, and there's always the fear that you'll buy something that will break down soon, is of bad quality or out of date and might need a lot of repairs (where the original dealers usually still make money) or is plain unsanitary when you buy those used that can be omitted from software sales.

You could compare it a lot more with movie and music sales (although both books and music albums take nowhere NEAR the amount of effort, manpower, money and risk it takes to create games), but as has already been said... you can actually pay dozens of different ways for those, buying a one-time-one-person-only theater or concert ticket to watch it once or several times with different people, buying said CD/DVD/BluRay a few months after, paying your cable/radio provider that pays for the rights to the movie for PayTV or watching it with commercial breaks on FreeTV, buying mp3s or movies from Online retailers like iTunes, renting them etc. etc.
It's not the same thing, and chances are said game even cost a lot more to produce sometimes.


How exactly do you plan on getting StarCraft 2 used? Each product has an unique key you have to register before you can even start playing, that is invalid after that and you'd have to sell your account (and all your Blizzard games you activated with it) with it. Also you have to input some things like "Real Name" that might be later needed for payment information or if an account is hacked to recover it that cannot be changed after first account creation...

It's called "not buying the game". I used ScII as an example because of how expensive it is. I don't even like Starcraft.

'Got to admit.. this is pretty much my perception of the matter, and an increasing concern of mine as the used games begin, slowly, to contain more and more DRM-protected stuff.

Worst of all, in the past we did have a system of graduated prices, at least of a sort. Remember SoldOutSoftware and their ilk? Yeah, I don't think Assassin's Creed 2 will ever be entering their line of cheap re-releases, given the need to repair the DRM-damage Ubisoft did in their vain efforts to protect it (fat chance people like That will be running DRM servers indefinitely).

You know what the manufacturers should be focused on? MAKING GOOD GAMES.

A really good game will create demand, and players will pay for it. They won't want to wait three years and maybe never get it - they'll go and spend $50-$60 bucks for a new copy.

When you buy a used game, you're telling the developer "Yeah, I heard about it. I saw it on the shelf. I had friends who bought it and I might even have played it some at their houses, but I DIDN'T WANT IT. Not enough to pay full freight for it".

What the used game market does is benefit developers because it gives them the chance to redeem themselves to the part of the market that wasn't initially convinced their product was worthwhile. They don't make $ off the sale, but it's the best kind of free publicity they'll ever get for their future products.

A good enough game simply won't be available used (or in limited quantities). That's why HALO-3 is still $50 at GameStop - because nobody's selling it! Therefore a person who somehow resisted buying it when it first came out is likely to be forced to buy a new copy since used ones are scarce. Like trying to find a used copy of FF7 back in the day - impossible!

If all the game was good for - and all the connection it built with its players - was just 2-3 weeks of gameplay and then a quick dump at GameStop to trade in for something else, then whose fault is that? The player? GameStop? More likely the culprit there is the developer, for making a shiatty game with no lasting value.

Game developers wanna sell more games? Lower the prices. Yeah I know its not that simple and there are various aspects that result in game prices. But developers and retailers have to realize consumers are smarter and have more options. Gamestop and Walmart still wanna charge 50+ bucks for Modern Warfare 2 thats cool but if I'm a consumer paying roughly 35 bucks on ebay for the same exact game is more appealing.

This is why I buy games on sale on Steam. Sure, you can only do that if you don't care about new releases, but if you're just a casual gamer (in the sense that you play games casually, not necessarily that you play casual games), that's not really a problem. I really don't get why more developers don't do game sales, anyway. Especially when it's digital copies. The distribution price is very low compared to physical games (even if you figure that they're paying something to Valve to get the game on Steam or whatever other company/distribution platform they're using), so it's not like you're losing any money by marking down your games. Or sales, for that matter--Valve beat launch-day sales by marking Left 4 Dead down 50%. They literally sold more copies in a sale in February 2009 than they did on the release day in November 2008. Valve is getting crazy rich by selling their games for less money. It's simple math--why aren't other companies picking up on this?!

MW2 isn't worth $5. And Activision doesn't deserve your money anyway.

Besides, that money people get from selling games usually goes to buying more games, so why are they complaining?.

Because the damned publishers always want more, more, more. That's why.


THINK ABOUT IT, 1-2 days after the initial launch you will be able to get used copies of said product cheaper than its original price.

If the game is such that gamers who bought it on launch day (which generally means they were waiting for it to come out) will sell it in large numbers within 2 days because they're done with them, the game developer has done something very very wrong. It means the game has no interesting multiplayer, no lengthy singleplayer experience, and wasn't interesting enough to play again. A decent game should have at least one of those qualities.

I think the model that works (or used to) for PC games is decent, perhaps sped up a little. Full price at launch, then gradually lower the price. Those launch day buyers will have payed full price, but the resellers will have to compete with the lowered price for the new product. Combine it with new content that comes out later via DLCs (NOT DLCs that contain very neccesary content for the basic games), and you either give your original customers an incentive to keep the game, or get an opportunity to make money of any new owners.

And the argument on how different it is from buying a used TV is flawed IMHO. Yes, people generally keep using a TV longer than a game, but this doesn't change anything on the legality and morality of second hand sales. It's something publishers have to cope with. A buisness model for a car company that relies on all of its customers buying a full price new car, and going bankrupt if anyone buys it used is bad. If publishers can't make a profit from current games without everyone buying the game new, then their model is flawed and they should make cheaper games, with slightly less spectacular graphics. A shame perhaps, but it's the publisher's job to judge this, not whine like spoiled children that they could make more money if everyone in the world would just pay them $50 buck.

For reference, I only have a PC, only once bought some second-hand games that weren't for sale anymore, and still have a huge collection of legally bought games, a fair number bought at full price, and I wouldn't sell any... well, most of them... even if that was possible.

So, I just bought a DVD from Amazon. Nowadays, at least half of my substantial purchases are from Amazon, i.e. my last purchase was a personal floatation device for my new dragon boating habit.

All of my DVD purchases are from Amazon. I really thought $27 was a bit expensive for a Book of Eli Blu-ray, but right there beneath it in my shopping cart was "Used and New" starting at $12. So I paid $12 instead. It couldn't have been any easier. All of my used purchases on Amazon have been perfectly functional. Nothing unusual here for me, it just reminded me of this article. How hard is it really for the publishers to drop the price to $15 and score a sale on a box + disk that is nearly free to produce?

Anyway, Amazon just sent me an email inviting me to send in my copy of Brutal Legend as a trade in, which I declined because once in awhile I still like to boot up a stage battle and I can see playing though the story again someday. I'm just saying, my main source of media sales looks like they are all over the used market.

Hot damn, great idea! I think that retailers have started on this (save for the really high dollar games... at Wal-Mart I can get a new copy of Bayonetta for $30, but GTA IV is still $60). I wish more people would adopt this idea.

If big companies consider buying used popular games "cheating" then Im a cheater. With the way the economy is now 60$ for a game is a lot especially when so many good games come out within a short amount of time. Some people who are loyal are going to some how come up with the money for that game while still trying to save enough for food and stuff, so buying a used game is a alternative to play that game when all of there rich friends already have it. So to save a few bucks for money for other important things like bills and such i'll be known as a cheater to the companies.

Good article, but you missed one trick. Timescale. The other thing unique to games is that they can be completed in a week tops. This doesn't affect games with multiplayer so much, but that's a bad incentive for cramming multiplayer into all games (and besides, the experience of a multiplayer game degrades over time with the fan base). And companies like Gamestop actively pursue the people who complete a game in a week. They'll give you ridiculous deals for trading that game in, and as a result, you can buy cheaper games used practically at launch.

This should apply to movies right? But it doesn't, because of the gap between cinema release and DVD release, by the time the DVD comes out most people have already seen it and they only buy the DVD because they want to own it, not trade it in. And DVD companies don't actively court used sales in the same way.

The only other issue is shelf space. There is a huge disincentive for companies like Gamestop from giving cheaper old "new" games, shelf space. They make more from used sales and new expensive sales. Since they already try to give over a lot of space to used-on-release copies, I can see them deliberately not giving much space to cheaper new games, where they make practically no profit.


That's actually quite a lot of overhead. Leases are expensive, labor costs are expensive, warehousing and logistics is expensive. Retail is orders of magnitude more expensive than production when you're talking about entertainment media.

A developer might have a thousand employees working for a couple years to make a game, then the publisher might spend a few million on marketing.

A retailer has tens of thousands of employees and thousands of leases to pay for their stores, they spend the same kinds of money on marketing, and they maintain this overhead day-in, day-out, until the company no longer exists.

Dealing in used goods is every bit as expensive as dealing in new goods. Those goods are not any cheaper to warehouse, the employees who sell them are not paid lower wages, it does not require less fuel to ship them between locations. From an overhead perspective there is no difference between used and new. They are the same goods and require the same infrastructure.

It's not, they'd still pay the same leases and probably labor costs without used sales (albeit they probably wouldn't open so many new shops a year because they wouldn't be living the dream of old King Midas that is making money out of nothing. They still would need the shops and employees to sell new games that they need to sell the used ones... their shops wouldn't be automated without used sales. And seriously, "warehousing and logistics"...,+TX+76051&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=54.269804,32.783203&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=625+Westport+Pkwy,+Grapevine,+Tarrant,+Texas+76051&ll=32.9027,-97.08712&spn=0.003626,0.006968&t=h&z=18&iwloc=A

Warehouse. Operated by gamestop. Pretty huge, too.

I didn't intend to say they wouldn't have those expenses with new games, in fact I was trying to say that from an overhead perspective the costs are exactly the same between new and used, which seems to be what you're trying to say too.

What I was trying to say is that the overhead isn't the important issue, it's the initial investment. They make money hand over foot not because overhead is somehow lower, but because they're buying their used merchandise at a fraction of what it's sold for. It's like someone investing in lead futures and getting paid in the end as if they were gold futures.

If aggressive new-game pricing put pressure on that system it would drop out of favor. They're faced with offering people much more insulting prices for games and running short on supply (people will just walk away when they're offered the price of a soda for a game), or paying fair prices to buy their used stock and losing a lot of money any time their sales are less than optimal.

As always, the best solution is to give more to the customers.
Publishers should take the $59.55 that it doesn't cost to burn a DVD and package games with what are normally Preorder "extras" - strategy guides, soundtrack CDs, stickers, coupons, you name it. The more stuff a game comes with, the more likely it is that the first owner will lose some of it, creating more risk for second-hand buyers than scratches on the disc.
Consumables increase the chance to 100%. Imagine if every (new) copy of Halo 3 came with a bottle of that Plasma Rifle-flavored Mountain Dew. The first owner of the game would drink all the Mountain Dew, leaving whoever they might sell the game to with none of it. Sure, you could just buy the disc alone, but if you want some of that limited edition(!) 'Dew, you've gotta buy a brand new disc.

Yes! Shamus you are my personal hero. You tell em, man. I'd quote the entire second page for truth if such a thing were possible.

I didn't even understand my own consumer behaviour until you laid it out like that. It's completely true though - I avoided CoD4 for a good two years while I waited for it to come down in price, and it never did. I only ever got hold of it when it was bought for me as a present, and even then it was the used version.

Publishers are trying to make this seem like GameStop (I'm in the UK, but we have our own GameStops here, called Game, HMV and Gamestation) is being evil, but it all comes down to a reluctance to lower the price of an already hugely pricey item, years after interest has died down.

You tell em Shamus!

Hmm. I'm not sure this is entirely accurate there, Shamus...

At least... Not around here.

I'm too poor to pay full price for just about any game.

But, I routinely buy games that are between 1 and 3 years old, new, for about 10-15. Which is about 1/3 of the normal price.

For PC games, things go back even further.

Wait about 1-3 years, and you the price routinely drops from about 40, to 15, and for games that are 5-10 years old, 'new' copies can get down to about 3 (less than 10% of the original cost.)

Granted, it takes a long time, but it's precisely the situation you are describing as being hypothetical.

Or, is America really so much more messed up than Europe?

A single copy of a game, sold once to a customer, is then sold on by said customer--or traded in and then sold by a company again.

Regardless of the screeching about being cheated, I don't get to sell you, say, a stack of bricks and then demand more money if you sell it on yourself. That was one copy, produced once and sold as new once--not five copies, regardless of how many people owned it after it was first sold.

Most PC games seem to scale down in price over time, as normal (which is one of the reasons why I prefer PC gaming), and of course there's always Steam.

Console games don't seem to fare as well on that scale, with Nintendo games being the worst culprits. (I've had my eye on a few Wii games over the years; there's more than one which I would like to buy, but only when they drop in price [I don't want them that much]. But three years later, some of the titles have only dropped by about US$5 in price. It's crazy.)

Personally, tho I mainly buy PC, where there isn't really a used market, When I can buy on Steam for 75% off, why would I go to Gamestop and pay them 10% less than release date new price on an old, used game?

I think he's got a point about , as ever, punishing the legit buyers with project ten dollar in terms of registering, access codes, online activation and the like, so here's an idea.

The game, when installed, calls back to the main server, if it's within 1 or 2 (or 3 or whatever) months of the release date, everything is immediately unlocked for free. No messing about. After that, the whole ten dollar activation thing comes into it.

The problem with it is, there's a huge audience of the game buying public who aren't even gamers, never mind savvy, Escapist reading gamers, who won't KNOW that there's a catch to buying preowned and that they're buying a gift that'll cost the birthday boy ten bucks to play.

If they want to cut down on preowned sales, they need a big red banner across the game box stating 'WARNING - IF PREOWNED THIS GAME WILL COST $10 EXTRA TO PLAY WHEN INSTALLED', because Gamestop sure ain't gonna advertise the fact, and I doubt they'll reduce their prices by $10 until they're forced to.

Gamestop can't really be blamed for it either, $10 profit on a brand new game, or take in old games from customers, file the disc and wait, then resell it for about $30 profit, it's not a tricky financial decision.

The games industry really do need to find a way to either make new games a better deal for the consumer (hint - make Steam style games cheaper than the boxed version, you idiots, it costs almost nothing to distribute and we CAN'T resell them), or just accept that it happens, like piracy, and just take the profits you're already making.

Maybe the next wave of consoles will come with a 1 or 2 TB hard drive as standard, and make them easily swappable, opening the way for a Steam style store from Nintendo, Sony and MS, selling ALL console games direct thru the internet straight to the console, leaving Gamestop trying to sell their last 50,000 copies of FIFA 07 and Madden 06 for a dollar each.

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