Electronic Arts is continuing to bang the drum over the evils of pre-owned videogame sales, saying the impact of the second-hand market represents a “critical situation” for the company.
In an interview with GamesIndustry, Jens Uwe Intat, EA’s general manager for European publishing, said the company is trying to find new ways to discourage pre-owned game sales by engaging consumers beyond the initial purchase of a game. “What we’re trying to do is build business models that are more and more online-supported with additional services and additional content that you get online,” he said. “So people will see the value in not just getting that physical disc to play at home alone, but actually playing those games online and paying for them.”
Intat said the second-hand market that exists for videogames is unique because it doesn’t involve a physical product that breaks down over time. “In our understanding of the business model we are actually giving away the rights to play, and if you just pass it on, pass it on, pass it on, that is not comparable to second-hand sales in the normal physical goods area where you have physical wear-out – second-hand cars, second-hand clothes, second-hand books… they’re all physically wearing out, so you have an inferior quality product. But digital goods is not actually becoming inferior in quality, so people passing that on is actually very challenging for us,” he said.
But while Intat said the burgeoning growth of the second-hand market is a “very critical situation” for EA, he added that the company was trying to address it in a positive way, rather than attempting to punish consumers for buying and selling used titles. “This is such a complex subject, we’re not going to be overly confrontational, we’re going to solve it with better, more interesting and online offerings going forward,” he said, “and that should actually solve the whole current dilemma.”
I don’t necessarily claim to have a better grasp of the situation than EA, but I maintain (and have for some time) that the pre-owned games market could represent a huge opportunity for videogame publishers willing to embrace the concept. EA may be able to stem the tide by offering greater value for those who choose not to trade in their games, but they could just as easily come across as punitive and money-grubbing, and there’s still no guarantee things will change in their favor. Why not try something different?