Soren Johnson — who wrote the code for Civilisation 3 and 4 and is now a designer for EA Maxis, working on spore — spoke a few words of charity on behalf of used games and resellers on his personal blog this week. It puts this emerging debate in several thoughtful contexts. Notably, the resale of games increases the perception that they have monetary value, and that is a powerful concept that connects more gamers to games. Especially in times like these.
His other ideas: Stop bashing GameStop, as it is part of the games industry too, and does more good as a keystone retailer than any harm it does as a used game reseller. Also, a secondary market represents beneficial market segmentation — think selling the same product at different price points, keeping cost-conscious consumers in the customer base. And in his point about the perceived value of games, Johnson argues that customers are willing to pay more for things if they feel they have to option to sell them back later at a reasonable value.
One other thing. Johnson raises the point about downloadable content, that used games grow the population of gamers, and more of them is better in the end for developers and publishers. I'd like to expand on that. If downloadable content is going to be free on retail versions, premium on used, then the industry would be wise, right now, to treat this as it would any other marketing pitch, and cut the crap that makes it seem like it's being withheld from honest gamers as a punishment. An example of premium DLC that takes advantage of, without being hostile to, used-game buyers would be something like Guitar Hero tracks, which Johnson mentions. An example of spiteful DLC would be making you pay for the conclusion of a game's story if you bought the copy used.
The Cased for Used Games [Designer Notes, Soren Johnson]