You shouldn’t buy games second hand

I’m a huge believer in peoples right to their own opinion – I love it when people disagree with me, and I actively encourage it. I like nothing more than a good debate between two people who disagree with each other, but respect each others opinion enough to have a grown up chat about it.

Well, that’s not quite true, there are a few things I like more.

The less said the better really

However, I also think that there are certain things which are true, and if anyone disagrees with this particular opinion, they are wrong. Homoeopathic medicine, for instance. We know it does nothing, we’ve tested it, we’ve looked at the results, we are as certain as it’s possible to be that all homoeopathic medicines are no more effective at treating anything than a similarly administered placebo. Anyone who still thinks homoeopathy does do something is, therefore, wrong.

I am reasonably confident in applying this attitude to buying second hand games. It’s bad for the consumer, it’s bad for the games industry. People who have all ready heard this argument, feel free to skip this post as it’s basically a re-iteration of many other posts covering the same topic online. I am, however, occasionally surprised that intelligent, with it people (like our own Gaz) appear to be unaware of it, so I’ll add the argument here, in case anyone comes across it.

When you buy a second hand game from Game or HMV or Gamestop, every penny goes to the retailer (apart from the VAT or sales tax if you’re being pedantic). None of it goes to the developers or publishers, the people who actually made the game.

This means, in a very real way, that buying a game second hand is much worse for the games industry than piracy.

Why?

Fucking thrill me with your amazing argument, Mike

Well, the game publishers don’t set the price their games sell at. They can set a recommended retail price but this price can (and usually is) completely ignored by the retailers. As a result, the high street retailers have a vested interest in keeping 1st hand game prices high (£40ish) so that people will be more tempted to buy the game second hand (£30ish) and the retailer will make more money.

This is basically price fixing.

But why is it worse than piracy?

A lot of piracy occurs when people can’t afford to buy the game or want to try it before they buy it. In these cases, the game companies would either have not gotten any money anyway (if the player couldn’t afford it) or will be getting the money at a later date anyway.

The thing is, even if you only ever pirate games and never buy anything, that’s still better than only ever buying games second hand because in buying games second hand, you’re supporting the model I talked about earlier that price fixes 1st hand games.

So, to sum up, you should either buy your games first hand and stomach the extra cost or go the whole hog and pirate them. Oh, and you should *try* and buy your games digitally, if possible, as this maximises the profit that goes to the developers and publishers. Steam, for example, takes a 30% cut from all their sales, which is much more reasonable than the 70% taken by game.

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2 thoughts on “You shouldn’t buy games second hand

  1. Interesting argument, with just one crucial error – you assumed I meant buy it used from a shop. Wherever possible, I buy my used stuff from eBay. That way, the money goes back to someone who'll (probably) buy a game with it. Perhaps a new one. No money goes to the retailer, and you can usually get a game for less that it would retail for used as well.

    The second-hand market is vital to console games, far more so than PC games, because console games are much harder to pirate/use (but don't do that, kids – it's well naughty) and download services are much less advanced/much more restricted by walled gardens. Without it, the hardware user install base would be less, hardware costs would be higher as a result, fewer games would be played and made overall as the market would be smaller, fewer new games would be bought (because there'd be fewer console owners), fewer risks would be taken and the breadth of games available would suffer and we'd all be a lot poorer as a result. Nevertheless, I do agree that ALL the money going to GAME and chums is a bit of a stinker.

    So, if you can't find anyone selling what you want, at least buy it from a shop with some sort of loyalty card system. Get *something* out of them in return for your cash, even if it's only a few quid off of the next new game you do buy.

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  2. Yeah, buying from individuals is good – it keeps the money in the family as it were. As you say, the seller may well go and buy another game with it. It's much better than giving the money to Game, who will. I don't know. Build another tennis court in the CEO's house. It's a really expensive game I'm thinking about selling here.

    Not sure about it being difficult to pirate games on the 360 etc. but I chipped my wii in 20 minutes.

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