Used Games: Greed

I’m a believer in free market capitalism. Seriously. I am. It empowers both the customer and the producer. The customer will pay for the products and services they want. The producer will then produce the produce or create the service the customer wants to make money. It’s a symbiotic relationship in that way. Sure, it gets far more complex than that. But when you look at the nuts and bolts of it, this is free market capitalism.

One of the nice complexities of free market capitalism comes into play when the customer no longer wants the product they purchased. They have the option of selling the product. They could do this at a garage sale, advertise it in a newspaper, or go to a resale shop to get rid of it. This option has been around for about as long as products have been sold at shops.

Gamestop came about, filling the need for a video game specific resale business. Sure, they sold new games as well… but it was nice to have a place where gamers could buy and sell used games.

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This is where the problem begins. Video game developers didn’t get a cut of the profits when gamers sold their used games off. In a free market system, the video game developer would not see the used video game market as lost profits, but rather would focus on creating quality products within the resources they had. Work with what you have, not with what you want.

The moment video game consoles were equipped with internet connections, developers had a tool to make money off of used games. Sure, they claimed DLCs were there to help expand on the video game… give the gamer more experiences… more levels to go through.. etc. But is that really what DLCs are used for? Really? I’ve lost count of the video games that lets me purchase ammo, guns, lives, etc. I’m left with the impression DLCs are there to help nickle and dime the gamer.

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More than that… online passes. They added it to as many games as they could, letting gamers purchase the used games. But they wouldn’t get the entire game unless they would pay the developers a small tribute… err… I mean fee. A small fee. That way, they are increasing their profit margin and tapping into a market where THEY DO NOT BELONG.

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What do I mean by that? Why don’t video game developers belong in the used video game market ? They made the game, after all. Heck, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot realized that when gamers purchase used games, they remain invested in the video game industry and are likely to purchase new games. So clearly, they have a stake in used games! So, why don’t they belong there?

Free market capitalism.

Video game developers are not letting the market naturally develop and grow. Rather, they are trying to take control of the market by taking away rights that customers take for granted. It seems straight forward that we can resell anything we purchase. This was because we believed we owned the damned product that we purchased originally. But as it turns out, we do not. When there are things like online passes and DLCs, the game can’t be truly owned by the customer. The proof is when they try to resell it.

If they owned it, then there shouldn’t be a problem with selling it to another person. That person buying the used product should get exactly the same product as the one who originally purchased it.

Does that happen?

Nope. That’s because the company retains a sense of ownership over the product. They can force customers who dare purchased games used to pay them extra to have the same experience as buying it new. And they justify it by calling it “online passes.”

The video game industry is over-reaching here. If they aren’t making enough money to develop their AAA titles, then they should re-think their business model… as it is not working. Their traditional business model is dying, as it is not compatible with the realities of the modern day marketplace. They need to look at the customers and figure out what they want rather than punish customers for what is perfectly reasonable: buy used games.

Related Article: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2013-05-31-pre-owned-crackdown-is-a-sad-excuse-for-business-innovation

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