Monday, September 28, 2009

Used game sales fuel new game sales

Here's an interesting tidbit. According to this article, Game Crazy noticed that a not-insignificant percentage of new game sales were paid for by trade-in dollars. While publishers whine and cry over used game sales hurting their bottom line and doing everything they can to stop it, here's a data point that shows that because people are free to sell back their used games, they then have the money to go buy a new game.

Granted, this is coming from a store that deals in used game sales, so they have a bias in putting out information that favors their business model. Still, facts are facts. I know people who do this very thing, trade in several games and buy a new game with the proceeds. I couldn't guess the percentage, but it's still interesting to add to the discussion.

The whining from the publishers, of course, is based on a faulty premise that is often applied to piracy (in fact, I contend a lot of anti-used measures are implemented under the guise of cracking down on piracy), that every used game sale (or pirated game) is a lost retail sale. In a way, it's saying just because some people were willing to spend [some lower price X] on a used copy of the game, the same people would've been just as willing to spend [higher amount Y] on the exact same game, new. It's absurd. Why not extend that to say if they were willing to spend [Y], they'll be willing to spend [even higher amount Z], and start charging $150 per game?

Meanwhile, Sony and Microsoft continue to show they just don't get it. In their quest to eliminate used game sales and gain complete control over distribution and the market itself, they continue to show they just can't compete. Microsoft continues to release games via its "Games on Demand" service at price points higher than retail, and Sony just announced that they have abandoned any plans to let users trade in their disc-based games for digital copies for their new drive-less handheld, the PSP-Go.

"Digital distribution is the future," goes the common refrain in public forums on the topic. So it would seem, the future involves getting less product (no disc, no manual) for a limited time (many, many stories of games getting lost in hardware shuffles) with less rights (can't rent, loan, trade, return, or re-sell) for more cost. Where, exactly, is the progress here?