Nintendo President: Used Games Are Bad For Consumers


Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime claims used games aren’t in the “best interest” of consumers, saying no other form of entertainment has a “vibrant used goods market.”

The pre-owned games trade is a big deal these days. Retailers love it, most publishers hate it, a few are willing to tolerate it as an unavoidable reality and gamers, by and large, seem to appreciate being able to use the value in their old games to help buy new ones and also the ability to try out unfamiliar titles without having to lay down the full price of a new release. But Fils-Aime has a different perspective entirely: He doesn’t dislike used game sales because it’s bad for Nintendo but because it’s bad for the consumer.

“We don’t believe used games are in the best interest of the consumer,” he said in an interview with VentureBeat. “We have products that consumers want to hold onto. They want to play all of the levels of a Zelda game and unlock all of the levels. A game like Personal Trainer Cooking has a long life. We believe used games aren’t in the consumer’s best interest.”

“Describe another form of entertainment that has a vibrant used goods market,” he continued. “Used books have never taken off. You don’t see businesses selling used music CDs or used DVDs. Why? The consumer likes having a brand-new experience and reliving it over and over again.”

I can’t dig up any evidence at all that this is an April Fool’s joke so I’m going to assume it’s not and just ask the question outright: Reggie, what the hell are you talking about? There are countless used bookstores all across North America. Every movie rental joint in the country has a used section. I drive my used car to get to them. The pre-owned games market is such a dominant topic of conversation these days precisely because it is in the best interests of consumers, who are less concerned with your profit margins than they are with maximizing their entertainment dollar.

In his defense I will concede that typical Wii gamers, ie., kids and moms, may be less likely to regularly trade their games at GameStop than the average 18-to-24-year-old 360 owner, a fact which has perhaps insulated Fils-Aime from the reality on the ground and given him a warped perception about what people do and do not expect to be able to do with things they consider “theirs.” But denying the very existence of used markets?

His concern extends not just to consumers, however, but also to retailers who are looking at jumping into the used games trade. Breaking into the market and establishing a niche is tough to do, so apparently it’s better to just not bother with it at all. “We just think it’s a bad idea. The one retailer that has a substantial business in this has figured out a way that is effective for the consumer,” he continued. “That’s tough for other retailers experimenting with this, in part because their employees don’t have the expertise in this market.”

I almost hope it is an April Fool’s joke.

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