Why Exactly Do Gamers Buy New Instead Of Used?

Provided it works, a pre-owned game is the same thing as a new game. As in, it's the same game. So why do people still prefer new games, when used ones are cheaper?

Research company Cowen and Company decided to go and find out, asking 1,300 people (of which 1,001 were gamers) what their motivations were in order to break down purchasing decisions into cold, hard statistics.

Unsurprisingly, one of the most common reasons people opted for new games over used ones (with 54 percent of respondents choosing this as a motivator) was the fact they simply wanted a fresh copy, one without fingerprints or scratches on the disc or a busted cover.

Another popular response was "timeliness", 49 percent of gamers wanting a game on the day it came out, not a day later down the line when people start trading it in.

Other motivators were "I want to access bonus content" (26 percent) and "I want to get a collector's edition of the game" (20 percent).

Interestingly, though, 70 percent of respondents — the biggest result by far — said they'll buy a game new if they "plan on playing it for a long time". Cowen's Doug Creutz explains this seemingly bizarre behaviour, saying "We suspect there is a behavioral psychology factor at work, where gamers have an easier time justifying the higher price of a new game if they expect to get more use/value out of it, even though the utility of new vs. used on that basis isn't any different".

Survey: What Makes Players Choose New Games Instead Of Used? [Gamasutra]


    The only reason I buy them new is because Ozgameshop only sells them new :P

    The only games I've bought new lately from an Australian retailer were:

    GT5: $77 Harvey Norman/ $64 Oz game shop
    Assassins Creed Brother Hood: Big W $74/ $61 Oz game shop
    Time Crisis Razing Storm: Big W $59/$55 Oz game shop.

    So you can see I only really buy from here if the price is so close its worth paying the extra for the convenience.

    I use ebay to buy hard to finds which are usually pre-owned.

      If you love Ozgameshop so much why don't you marry it? :p

        If he doesn't, I will! Hmm do polygamy laws count when websites are one of the parties involved?

    Yeah I'll only buy a game new if I want it on launch day. Anything after that I'm happy to buy it second hand.

    Unless of course you go to EB Games and the second hand one is $105 while brand new is $110. What a load of crap.

      But their brand new ones can be second hand if its after the day of launch (seven day return policy).

    what about the fact that "used" are usually only $5 cheaper and many people actually want to give money to the developers rather than the store?

      +1 Exactly - the price difference is so miniscule these days, and half the time the pre-owned boxes look mankey (yeah it's a word and I made it up) I did buy Borderlands used because it was incredibly cheap at the time ($28 compared to over $80 new) but the only other games I've bought pre-owned in the last 3 years were PS2, Gamecube games you can't buy new any more (like Metal Gear Solid 2, Metroid Prime or Simpsons Hit & Run)

        -1, You did NOT make up the word mankey :p

          Dammit you blew my high score!

          I used to buy pre-owned games when the price was extremely different to the RRP of the new ones.

          It is true though that you don't get that feeling that you do of buying a brand new game, it feels slightly inferior to it.

          But although supporting game developers is a good thing, in australia, price is also important and sometimes I find its better to go for a cheaper "used" version of the game as serves the same purpose even though i don't get the thrill of having a fresh game in my hand walking out of the shop.

    I'm of the opinion that "I don't know where it's been". I rarely buy second hand anything. I tend to buy new and look after it so it lasts. I would only buy second hand goods if I knew the person and I knew they took care of it as I would.


      i HATE used games... i have seen some really really nasty looking preowned titles in GAME and EB from time to time and it just makes you think "where the hell has that been?"

      new.. sealed... thats my preference... call me anal... call me OCD... i don't care i like my shiny new games :P

    Well I just deleted the epic rant I wrote here. Back to topic at hand.

    My two reasons would be 1. I want to support the developer 2. I don't want to get a wrecked second hand copy that is only marginally cheaper or in the case of importing, more expensive than buying new copy.

    It's weird, when I was buying PS2 games I didn't care if they were used or new. Now I'm getting PS3, I always try to get new if I can...don't know if it's because I can import them cheaply, or if it's become more of a big deal in recent years and so I'm happier to support devs.

    Also I guess I was getting PS2 games at the end of the life cycle so new ones were harder to find...

    I believe it's the same theory as buying books vs. borrowing books. Why buy a book when you can borrow it from the library for literally free?

    The study isn't making any sense.

      the reasons are the same, because you want to own a copy that's yours and you want to support the person/s who created it.

        I mean, the reasoning doesn't apply to buying new games only. It's quite logical to wanting to support whoever created something you think is awesome.

    Partly because I want it in mint condition, partly because of stuff like EA's one-time use codes in things like BFBC2 and NFS:HP, but mainly because I want some of my money to go to the developer.

    Then there's the fact that preowned games just aren't cheap enough vs brand new. If it was half the price I'd think about it, but for the sake of the $5 or $10 difference at most places, I'd rather just pay the extra for brand new.

    It's incredibly rare to find a used copy of a game that I can't buy cheaper elsewhere brand new. Throw in the whole moral justification about the money going only to retailers (not that I particularly care, but it's a fun argument to make) and I have bought incredibly few used games.

    It's already been said above...

    I'd prefer to pay $5 more for a new mint condition copy. Of course this argument is if you buy it from EB Games.

    I would go one step further - why would I buy a second hand copy (with a scratched disc, broken case and ripped manual) from EB Games for AUD95 when I can buy the game brand new from BigW for AUD80?

    Mainly cost makes me go buy the game down the line brand new.

    Foolish? No. These are one player games or titles that sold over two years ago.

    Fallout 3 and Batman: AA (GOTY editions): UNDER $50 EACH. Never used!
    (Batman's 3D glasses never opened!)

    In other cases:

    Bioshock: Under $20
    Mass Effect: Under $30
    Fable II: Brand new under $40
    Scene It titles:
    - First game and controllers: $12!
    - Second game $16!
    (Yes, WITH controllers was CHEAPER! Awesome if you're a movie buff like me.)

    The list goes on.

    Even Red Dead I got lower than $90 because I bought during the EOFY sale.

    Smart timing and lack of buying "with the rest of the flock" leaves money for the big releases that NEED to be gotten new.

      Batman AA is on sale on Steam ATM for $5

    For me its the satisfaction of peeling the plastic on a new game and knowing that there shouldnt be any scratches.

      I'm with you there, I have an obsession with de-plastising (?) games/dvds, etc... It's something I love to do.

      I have purchased pre-owned in the past, but generally it's been when I haven't got around to picking up a game and have no real choice, but I will always make sure that the case and disc are acceptable before purchasing. Otherwise I'll keep looking.

    My main reason is wanting to support the developer so they'll make more awesome games. Of course there can be other reasons like pre-order bonuses or getting it ASAP. But for the games I'm most excited about primarily I wanna send a message(and teh cashes) to the developer that they've made something awesome and they should continue on with said awesomeness.

    Games I'm only marginally interested in however I'm likely to watch eBay until I can get a great deal or only pick up if they're the weekly special on Play-Asia (their weekly specials are at pretty freakin' awesome prices). So for these sorta games I couldn't care less about new or used as long as the price is right.

    I import new games, which is cheaper than buying local used games, which normally saves you barely $10 of the RRP.

    My decision is 50% wanting the best price and 50% prefering my money goes to the developers.

    I wouldn't much care if the local games retailers dissapeared, there's plenty of other ways to buy games, but I'd care a lot if the people who actually make the games dissapear.

    I buy my games *digital*. The whole new vs used thing doesn't come up. Steam sells most games cheaper than I could get them anywhere else and I've never been really into collecting boxes.

    That said I would probably buy new rather than used given the choice. I trust myself, I don't really trust second hand discs. With a jacket I might be able to spot issues, with a disc I have to wait until I get home, then take it back if it doesn't work etc.

    I totally buy a new game just for that mint smell... XD

    really everyone i know is a stingy tightass and are willing to screw the developers out of their money by buying used(which i still think if your gonna do that you may as well pirate)

    i buy new to support the devs, collector's edition, first day buy in most case's. Oh and that Big PC one(we don't have second hand games :D)

    " even though the utility of new vs. used on that basis isn’t any different”."

    You don't get the same utility out of them because a new copy will be in better condition 2 months down the track, so when you sell it you will get a better price.

    Therefore with salvage, you end up with a lower utility per dollar price with a new copy.

    I only would buy new if i really wanted it on launch day. The last game i did that for was Transformers WfC but thats cause i'm a fanboy. Most things i will wait for the price to drop.

    I bought Mass effect 1 for $13 second hand. $13!!!!


      I used to have an issue with preowned, but now I don't care. On the rare occasion *X game chain* has a cheap game, it might be in the pre-owned section and that's where I'll buy it from.

      $100AUD for a new game can burn in a chemical fire.

    I buy new because my folks instilled a fear in me that anything used is automatically inferior and has probably been slobbered on by filthy cretins.

    Logically, I know this is irrational bollocks but I still feel unclean when I pass by the used shelf.

    "...70 percent of respondents — the biggest result by far — said they’ll buy a game new if they “plan on playing it for a long time”. Cowen’s Doug Creutz explains this seemingly bizarre behaviour, saying “We suspect there is a behavioral psychology factor at work, where gamers have an easier time justifying the higher price of a new game if they expect to get more use/value out of it,..."

    ^^ That's me!

    ... Sometimes new is cheaper. I pretty much only buy new stuff when it gets marked down below the value of a second-hand copy.

    I buy new to support the industry. Of course that doesn't mean I pay anywhere near the full asking price on anything, but I always buy new.

    Why the surprise? Somehow within 10 years of digital music piracy 'crippling' the record companies, DVDs and BDs are being bought and sold more and more, perhaps on the back of piracy being used as a try/buy. iTunes and those cute little iPods legitimised digital distribution, to the point where MOST music is now purchased digitally.

    Games companies- as with all markets claiming to lose out to piracy or other 'nil-revenue streams'- make out that 'me buying Mass Effect 1 for $19 preowned' correlates to them losing $20 since I didnt buy it new. What they fail to admit is that many people would NOT otherwise get their hands on as many games AT ALL. But perhaps getting ME1 and ME2 on the cheap makes me MORE likely to buy ME3 at launch, since otherwise I might not have touched the series at all.

    What the games companies dislike about preowned stock in games shops is that it is a STRATEGIC method of cutting down the developer/distributors' own profits while maximising the retailers'. Games company sells game only once to shop, shop sells it brand-new only once to customer and then potentially 3-or-more times buys-back and resells it second-hand.

    Nintendo dont chase down people listing Pokemon Battle Rev on eBay, but they hate seeing it resell for $90 second-hand in a game shop that paid the seller half that, and does not pass any of the resultant margin on to the Big N. Of course, if Ninty still printed the disc it wouldnt have such a high perceived value...

    Ask Activision if they are very worried about Black Ops trade-ins yet. Of course not, they are counting money. But when the sell-thru plateaus and the suits want answers, it will be at the top of some list on some PowerPoint Presentation in the shadowless fluorescent ActiBliz offices.

    I'm definitely serving a generous helping of supporting the developers with a side order of frustrated at shameless greed from EB for undercutting new titles by the minimum amount possible to make pure profit with a splash of not wanting anyone else to have touched it

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