Further discussion

May 23, 2013 by Tim

I’ve heard from a lot of people over the last day, and though I can’t respond to every email, there are a couple more points I’d like to talk about.

The first of which being to remind you that I have no skin in this game. Who buys or doesn’t buy a PS4 or X1 is of little consequence to me. The most I can do here is offer my personal opinion on things, from my viewpoint. And just because I’m not bothered by the X1’s feature list doesn’t mean I think the fact that you may be bothered by it is unreasonable. We just have to agree to disagree.

People tell me that buying used, discounted games is the only way they can afford to partake in the hobby on a restricted budget. I can sympathize with that… to a degree.

New games are priced down as time goes on. That’s the nature of retail. When products are no longer the hot new thing, they go on sale, get priced down, etc. For example, I could buy a new copy of Halo 4 right now from Gamestop for $39.99. I just had to wait six months. A used copy of that game is listed for $37.99.

If the “used” option was not available, I doubt anyone is going to squabble over $2. There’s no massive advantage to buying used in this situation.

Another example, Bioshock Infinite. Brand new, $39.99. Used, $37.99. And that game is only two months old. Again, if the used game market didn’t exist, you’d pay exactly the same price. You just have to wait a couple of months for the price to drop.

A newer game, last month’s Injustice, has not had its price drop yet. It’s still listed at $59.99. The used copy (which you cannot buy from GameStop’s website, likely due to limited stock) is  listed at $54.99.

In fact, the only place I could find a significant discount for a used game is by going back years. For instance, 2007’s Halo 3. $19.99 new, $7.99 used. That’s more than 50% in savings, and the only place I see saving significant money by buying used. On a game that’s nearly six years old.

So then the other side of the package is the selling of used games, which people do to fund another game purchase. Ok, now I’ve seen what GameStop offers for used games, and it’s laughable.

Here’s an example. Right now, if you trade in two “eligible” games (read: released within the last month or two), you can get a brand new game for only $9.99 (plus tax on the full price of the game). They’re essentially giving you $20 for each of the games that you just bought within the last month. They’ll turn around and list them for $40 or $50, essentially doubling their investment. (If you bring in older games, you need like ten of them just to exchange for one new game, and I can’t even wrap my head around how that’s worth it.)

But here’s what I’m thinking. If someone is tearing through two new games fast enough that they’re selling them back during the period that they’re actually worth anything, and struggles with money problems to do so… they’re in the wrong hobby. No, no, I’m kidding. But seriously, perhaps there’s a better solution developers/console manufacturers could offer. 

Perhaps Microsoft is already planning it. In the midst of their muddled, chaotic launch messaging, they did say you would be able to still buy/sell used games. They just didn’t specify you’d be able to do so to GameStop. But that’s okay, GameStop is bullshit anyway.

Let’s speculate for a moment here. It will help if you begin thinking of the disc you receive when you buy a game as strictly a delivery system. What you’re really purchasing is a license to access the content to your heart’s content.

You bring the game home, register it your console profile, and play the days away. But then the day comes when you’re bored of it. The way things function now, you bring it to GameStop, they give you $10 dollars for it. They sell it for $40 to some guy looking for that game, and the developer/publisher doesn’t see a dime of that second sale.

But what if the transaction was handled proprietarily, within the console’s domain. What if when you were done with the game, you place the license to it for sale on an Xbox Live auction house. You can set your own price (allowing supply and demand to work its magic) and upon sale, Microsoft takes a cut, similar to eBay. This cut can go where it’s supposed to (Microsoft, the developers and publishers), and you get credit in Microsoft Points or whatever the fuck their new currency is going to be on your account.

Hell, maybe you can then even still take the disc to GameStop where they’ll buy it for a buck or two (for those people who purchase a used license from the Xbox Auction House, but still want a physical copy of the disc on hand).

I don’t know, I’m just spitballing here, and this is probably wishful thinking, but I’m trying to illustrate that perhaps there are solutions that can make everyone happy. And since right now we have more misinformation than we have solid facts, perhaps we can just wait and see what the console makers have planned before hitting Defcon 1 on the nerdrage meter.

These companies want your money. They’re going to do what they can to get it. Settle down and give them a chance. You can still not buy the console come Christmas if they haven’t changed your mind.

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