Op-Ed: Why buying second hand games isn’t so bad

Yesterday, Mike had a bit of a swipe at the pre-owned games market, regarding it as inherently wrong and bad for all concerned. Now, I respect Mike as both a human-being and a (semi) well-rounded person, but in my opinion, he is wrong.

As wrong as whatever the hell happened to Ellen’s mouth
For a start, it’s not really that bad for the consumer; they get a cheaper game that they may not have bought anyway. Stores that are currently haemorrhaging money get a little boost, while developers and publishes who have DLC or online passes for their games can make some money post-purchase, while in the meantime the customer may really like the game and decide to buy sequels and other games by the publisher at full-price. Idealistic, yes, but entirely plausible.
Is this really worse for industry than piracy? The difference is negligible but leans to favour pre-owned gamers. There are pirates and there are worse pirates; ones who will pirate a game and then think it’s decent enough to buy, and ones who will just download whatever the hell they want for free. Neither is fantastic, but one is easily more defendable than the other. The same can be applied to pre-owned gamers. There are those who buy a pre-owned game and like what they see and may buy a sequel or another game from the publisher at full price in the future, while there are those that just buy pre-owned. However, the former can’t support the industry while the latter can (through aforementioned DLC and online passes). That’s the difference
Also, while I don’t really agree with trading games into chain stores for the exact reasons Mike mentions, why shouldn’t a person be allowed to sell on a game they’ve bought second hand? People sell on cars, computers and books second hand but you don’t hear Ford, Dell and Penguin moaning about lost money in the same way that most games developers do (for example Quantic Dream). The sale of that one unit has been recorded. If someone is unhappy with that one unit, does this mean they have to either keep it forever or throw £40 down the drain? It’s not illegal to buy and sell pre-owned and nor should it be. 
Truth is true
In saying all of the above, I very rarely buy games pre-owned. I like unwrapping the cellophane of a new game, the perfect condition of the disc and supporting the developer. When I do, it’s for older games that just aren’t available new in stores, such as Dreamcast and PS2 games, which I think is as fair as you can get, really.
I do agree with Mike’s last sentiment though. The people who make and publish the game deserve the lion’s share of the money, and that’s why digital distribution is the way forward. Keeping money in the industry is important, otherwise more smaller developers will fall by the wayside. And even better to keep money away from companies that sell used games as new or take items out of sealed game boxes so you can’t have them.

3 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Why buying second hand games isn’t so bad

  1. Buying games from chain stores is bad for the consumer because it reduces profits that go to the developers and producers, meaning they have less money to pump into future projects and it encourages them to keep 1st hand price games high so people are more tempted to go for the 2nd hand option.

    I'd say it's worse for the industry than piracy because whilst piracy is widespread, it's no-where near as common as buying 2nd hand games is. I was really stunned when I went into my local Game to try and buy a copy of Dragon Age 2 for my GF on the 360 to find that as much shelf space was being devoted to 1st hand 360 titles as there was to PC games. That's how bad it's got.

    Your point about DLC is a good one, the problem is, it leads to terrible practices from produces, like how Capcom kept Resi 5's multiplayer mode back so they could sell it as DLC, despite the fact that this code was allready present on the disc.

    I wouldn't try and ban people buying second hand games, I just think they should try their hardest not to. This will speed the decline of chain stores like Game and end the unfair stranglehold they have on the market (which led to bullshit like them keeping Space Marine off the shelves for PC).

    I'm not hugely convinced by the idea of selling games on to be a “right”. It's your property so I suppose you can sell it if you want, but I can't sell on my steam games and I don't really want to. I suppose to me it seems a bit like trying to eat your cake and have it to. Spending £30 on 20 hours worth of entertainment and then trying to get a third of it back, I mean.


  2. Yeah, dlc that's just an unlock code is deplorable in the gaming world and the main thorn in my argument.

    The best medium for buying and selling 2nd hand is to avoid the chain stores all together and do it directly. I was being slightly pedantic with the 'not good for anyone' argument. Short term is good but yes, long term isn't so rosy.


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