Spore, Civ 4 Designer Defends Used Games


Myth: everybody hates the used games market, except for players (and GameStop).

Lately, there seems to be a lot of fuss being made in the game industry, as publishers continue to decry used game sales as the harbinger of doom. Some are even coming up with new, creative means to thwart gamers seeking their thrills at a discounted price. In a recent essay titled “The Case for Used Games,” game designer Soren Johnson (known for is work on Civilization 4 and Spore) explains why used game sales are not the devil in the flesh.

Curiously, Johnson begins his treatise by defending GameStop. The retailer indeed peddles new games and accessories, but it also moves a ton of used games through its lucrative trade-in program. Johnson argues GameStop is an actual part of the gaming industry and an important one at that. “One has a hard time imagining how the overall games market would be healthier without a strong retail chain dedicated purely to gaming,” he notes.

Furthermore, Johnson says the used games market increases buyers’ perceived vale of new games. “People will pay more for a new game because they know they can get some of that money back when they trade it in at the local GameStop,” he said. “Importantly, this perceived value exists whether the consumer actually sells the game or keeps it.”

Much like matinee movie tickets, lower airline prices on weekends, and even different versions of Windows, used games are often the only affordable option for many gamers (including younger players) to purchase games. He suggests it’s important for the industry to keep these “price-sensitive” customers in the system and away from software piracy. Also, bringing in more players to purchase and enjoy the games developers have created – even if they’re used – is a good thing. It promotes growth in the gaming community and word of mouth sales that can prove beneficial, he said.

With another angle to the ongoing argument now out in the open, it’s time for you, the players, to weigh in on the subject.

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