New or Used? What's Your Fancy?

It’s no surprise to any of us that gamers almost always have an opinion on most everything related to the subject of games. That’s what things like video game reviews are all about. Whether we like or hate a game we make sure to let people know why. Opinions don’t always necessarily need to be about a score a game received, but can be about a specific developer, a company, CEO, game designer, etc. The list goes on and on.

If you’ve found yourself on this site, then you most likely buy and play video games. How you got those games in your possession is all up to you. Which brings me to topic at hand. Do you buy your games new or used, and why?

This is a question I posed to some peeps at The Game Fanatics. We came up with a few reasons as to why we decided to choose to buy one over the other. Naturally, most of the discussion revolved around profit and loss. Economic reasoning behind buying a copy new or used. From the point of view of a developer, buyer, and seller.

Some reasons behind choosing to buy a new copy versus a used one were because the seller of that used copy is getting ripped off. If someone sells a game back to a store, they get store credit, and more often than not it’s nowhere near the amount that the store will turn around and resell that game for.

Another reason was that the developer of said game is also getting “screwed out” of money if someone buys a copy of their game used instead of new. Whenever a store like GameStop sells a used copy, no profit made from that copy will ever be seen by the eyes of the development team.

William explained it very well during our discussion:
[quote]Not only is that vastly unfair to the consumers, but it is screwing the developers out of a lot of money. Money they not only deserve for making the game, but could be used to grow the studio and make more games in the future.[/quote]

Used games are the reason things like online passes exist. It’s just a last ditch attempt at the developer trying to make some sort of profit from a used copy. If you ask me though, I’d say it’s more of a way to discourage buying a used copy. When you think about it, most games that are relevant to online play are fairly new. The used copy of that title will most likely sell for 5 dollars less than a new copy, 10 dollars if you’re lucky. The online pass for that game will cost you somewhere around 10 bucks. So instead of saving a few dollars now you spent a bit over or around what buying a new copy would have gotten you anyway.

It’s slightly different when a consumer decides to walk into the store and pick up the used copy of a game themselves. They  see the new one and see a used copy for 15 bucks less. So they pick it up. Cool, there’s nothing wrong with that, maybe with the 15 bucks they saved they’ll put 5 dollars toward a reservation. The consumer isn’t effectively thinking in their heads “Aww, sweet! I totally just screwed Company A out of 50 bucks right there!” They just want to buy a game to add to their collection.

But what about when a person walks in and grabs the new copy and takes it up the register? What happens then? Jasdeep raised a good point here.

[quote]Actively encouraging customers to buy a used copy of a game rather than a new one is blatantly wrong. They’re effectively taking money out of publisher and developer pockets.[/quote]

Which can be true to a certain extent. Worker Bill practices what they’ve been trained for and says something along the lines of, “I think we have this game used, it’s a few bucks cheaper. Want to get it used instead?” Customer Brian now has a choice to make, and more often than not they’ll choose the copy that costs less. In this certain situation, Brian was fully prepared to pay full retail price for that copy. Everyone was going to win here, gamer, publisher, seller, and developer. By doing this the seller essentially just took a profit from right under the publisher and developer.

Image Found on Destructoid

What GameStop is doing here isn’t illegal. If one looks at it from a point of view where morals and emotions play no part in a purchase at all, it’s a great deal. The person who originally owned that copy turned over ownership to GameStop for a price, now GameStop is turning around and doing the same to someone else who wants that copy, and now they’re getting it for less.

Another way gamers may decide to buy their games can be disconnected from moral or emotional influences like mentioned above. Instead of thinking about how buying a used game may affect others, how about just think about what you want to do? That’s not a bad thing to do. Money is tight these days. If you’re saving a few bucks on a used copy or buying an old classic copy of a game you absolutely need in your collection, why not just get it used?  It’s a lot more logical and less messy. Which is how Tavia said she decides how to buy her games.

[quote]If it was easy and cheap to buy older games from the developers/publishers I would. But I’m not going to pay full price for Kameo or Crackdown when I know there’s no demand to justify the price.

I’m more driven by economics and convenience than emotions or moral stances when it comes to game purchases.[/quote]

Jen actually used to work at GameStop herself,

[quote][At GameStop] I had to deal with used games every damn day. We would end up with 50+ Madden 2001, it was really a pain. I would buy used games from my own store, only because I knew I would get a good case and a good looking copy of the game. Nowadays, I will buy new, unless I’m hunting for a retro game to add to my collection.[/quote]
Which brings up the other side of the spectrum of used copies. What about trade-ins? From the looks of it, it looked like Ben was the one who’s practiced the trade-in system from the customer point of view the most out of all of us.

[quote]I used to trade in games all the time, it was the primary way I could even afford new games when I was younger and before I got my first job. Also, it is total crap that they don’t give you a decent amount of trade in monies. I recently traded in a bunch of older stuff I have on PC now or just don’t play, in order to get a 3DS. Old DS games like New Super Mario Bros. and Mario Kart got me around $18 each. Those are 4 year old DS games.
Similarly, I got about the same for the Orange Box and Fallout 3 (not GOTY). for games that came out that long ago, that’s a pretty good deal. Some games they do give you next to nothing for but there are plenty of exceptions. And it is much easier to sell these games in bulk to a store than buy them on Craigslist or ebay or something.[/quote]

Trade-ins totally make sense from the perspective of someone who has no other means of getting a hold of extra cash to put towards a new video game purchase. And not only that, but for some people it doesn’t make sense to hold on to a copy of a game you’re never going to play again. Rather than let it gather dust, why not sell it and get a some store credit to pick up a new title?

In an effort to eliminate used copies in this generation of consoles and PC, there’s been digital downloads introduced. And that’s where things like Steam and Origin come into the picture. Gamers buy a copy and download it straight to their hard drive. There’s no middle man anymore and no way to get credit back for a game you don’t feel like playing anymore. Or so we thought.

Jasdeep mentioned the company Green Man Gaming. They’re essentially the same as Steam or Origin where they provide gamers with PC games direct from their website available for instant play once the download finishes. It is slightly different due to the fact that you can actually sell back your purchased games for credit towards a new one. If you care to learn more about them check out their site here.

In retrospective, used games can have both good or bad repercussions depending on which way you look at them. They can be good in the sense that you save a few bucks, add an old title to your collection of games, and help you buy new ones by trading in an old game or two. The negative effects one might see would be that it can be harmful to the development of games and the games industry as a whole in the long run, and the selling and buying of used games can also be seen as a rip off to customers as well.

Technically, neither decision is right or wrong. It all really has to do with what YOU want to do. What matters most to me is that we all continue to enjoy games for what they are, experiences to share with one another. As long as I always have someone to talk to about games I’ll be happy. In the end, no matter what you do, remember, “Keep calm, and game on”.

Since we’re on the topic of GameStop, check out the last two images below to get a laugh or two, featuring a pre-owned pizza and two used copies of the same game at different prices.


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