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Used Games – The Pick Your Poison of the Industry

by on February 15, 2013  

Gamers are always looking for a better deal that works in their favor. Whether it is saving a few extra dollars or getting more content for the value of a game, every little bit helps. Yet the same things that work out for the better for gamers in turn hurts the flip side of the equation, the makers of the games. And this is the major dilemma that everyone faces with the debate about used games. Which is the side that should get the better side of the deal, gamers who buy and play the games, or the people who work hard to create the things we all love the most? The grey area is incredibly large in this conundrum of morals and ethics. No matter which side of the debate everyone may agree with, not everybody will be satisfied.

The biggest issue with the topic of used games is the notion of morality when paying for a video game. This ultimately boils down to one debate: Should the customer receive a better deal at the expense of the money they pay not going to the developers and publishers of a video game? It is proven fact that when a consumer purchases a used game, a hundred percent of that money goes straight to the outlet supplying the used game, in many cases being GameStop, BestBuy, or any other used game retailer. This ultimately hurts the makers of the games since they lose out on a potential sale, preventing money that directly goes into the game maker’s pockets.

From one perspective this isn’t the consumer’s fault. It is natural and unpreventable that someone looking to buy a game is looking for the best deal they can find to fit what is in their wallet. Even something as minute as a five dollar difference could sway many people to purchase something that is pre-owned. At the same time, many have argued that being able to have the option of purchasing games used has benefited later releases of some games, allowing their sequels to sell better from having easier access to their predecessors. Taking away the ability for gamers to purchase games used is taking away an option that is every consumer’s right, and that is to find a better deal. Such an action would also be punishing gamers for something that is more the retail outlets fault, rather than the consumer.

At the same time this does not provide a definite solution, but instead brings about another problem. The makers of the game, and the publishers, lose out on money from the sale of used games. People who work tirelessly on the titles we all love to experience pore their blood, sweat, and tears into creating games with the purpose of making money in return. It is money that is used to provide their well-being and ability to continue making more games for us to buy. And while consumers may not be at fault for looking for better deals, and some blame may be better put on retailers for providing an easy outlet for such. Nobody can fault the game makers for looking at options to help sway things back in their favor. Options such as DRM, Online Passes, and more that help to discourage gamers from buying used titles and instead purchase brand new games. Even though many of those things annoy and at times are unfair to a consumer, they are the industry’s way of trying to bring more revenue back directly to the game makers and not to the middle man. In order for the game industry to continue to thrive and grow, money from gamers needs to go back to the game makers in order for them to continue surviving and providing more games to play.

Whichever direction or belief one may side with, both sides only provide another problem, which leads to an endless back and forth dilemma. An interesting thought however is the concept of digital distribution, through such outlets like Steam, PSN, Xbox Live, and others. In a situation like this, the debate of used games almost solves itself, where gamers get games directly from the game makers. This ultimately dissolves the concept of a used game, since there is no tangible media to buy and resell over and over again. Yet despite some believing that this is a definite solution that is inevitably coming, many more seem hesitant and unwilling to accept such a change away from physical media. For many years gamers have always attached to the thought of having a physical representation of their software, and taking it away would only cause other problems, both technological and ethical.

And this is what the debate of used games will always come down to, a debate about ethics and money. Should gamers be able to have freedom to get quality experiences at the expense of developers, or should developers be able to grow and thrive at the expense of consumer freedom of choice? While a change within the industry is inevitable regarding the problem, not everyone will be satisfied at the results such a change will bring. All sides of the argument favor one aspect of the problem while only bringing out other difficulties of the issue at hand. It is ultimately the biggest “pick your poison” scenario of the gaming industry, where all solutions to the problem have a bitter after taste that still leaves everyone thirsty for something else.

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