This Week In The Business: Used Games Put Consumers In ‘Awkward Spot’

What's happened in the business of video games this past week ...

QUOTE | "We need to curb [used games] on the retail side. We're putting the consumers in an awkward spot and we shouldn't have to." — Ready at Dawn boss Ru Weerasuriya, saying that GameStop and other outlets exploit developers and consumers.

QUOTE | "Publishers rock. They can be awesome. ... But allow us the choice to self publish, or work with a publisher we choose for ourselves." — Mike Bithell, indie developer, discussing Microsoft's move to open up the Xbox One to indies.

STAT | 7.7 million — Number of current subscribers to World of Warcraft, down 600,000 from last quarter; the MMORPG hit its high point in 2010 with 12 million subscribers.

QUOTE | "Microsoft may have the benefit of a 2-3x unit advantage at launch compared to Sony's PS4." — Analyst Colin Sebastian, saying info from the supply chain suggests the Xbox One may outship the PS4.

QUOTE | "If a game is really good, it should be all word of mouth, in a perfect world." — Paula Cuneo, VP of transmedia marketing for Meteor Entertainment, explaining why they're not spending money on Hawken advertising.

STAT | $US8.2 billion — Amount it cost Activision to buy itself back from Vivendi; the company is now owned 63 per cent by the public, 12 per cent by Vivendi, and 24 per cent by an investment group headed by CEO Bobby Kotick.

QUOTE | "Just because we have Bejeweled or Plants vs. Zombies doesn't mean we can do a crappy job." — PopCap founder John Vechey, describing the need to keep constant pressure on making a good game.

STAT | 2 million — Number of copies of SimCity Online that EA has sold so far, despite initial troubles, EA Labels president Frank Gibeau said "SimCity is a success.".

This Week in the Business courtesy of GamesIndustry International

Image by auremar [Shutterstock]


    I think Weerasuriya's right to identify price points as an issue in the used games debate. If someone pays $60 for a new game and then sells it a week later they obviously didn't consider it to be worth $60. If someone buys a used copy for $50 instead of a new copy for $60 they obviously didn't consider it to be worth $60, or at least didn't think so strongly enough to choose to pay the full price.

    Nerfing used copies through the use of online passes and such does serve to bridge some or all of the value gap between a new and a used copy but does nothing to address the problem that, for many people, the price will have been too high to begin with.

      This may be short sighted of me (I am the first to admit I don't have a business brain) but wouldn't it make sense to have a user driven market? So for a digital system allow an initial copy purchased at full price, then allow a resale (with forfeit of use for the original owner). Set a minimum resale price (say 25% of original price), then give around half the sale to microsoft/sony/nintendo and the publisher. Set this up in a marketplace similar to eBay and the incentive will be to get the highest price possible out of a resale (which will benefit all). This means that better games will get resold at higher prices, increasing profit for publishers and reducing costs for gamers. Plus companies such as Microsoft will get exclusive data on what games sell/resell well which is always a bonus (at least in their eyes, anyway). The major drawcard I can see is that this may see a major split in the console market between games with replayability and single play stories, and there is the possibility that prices may increase to compensate for the new market, but it seems like a system that would benefit both sides of the fence...maybe...I guess

        Not everyone has outstanding internet, It took me 11 hours to download Mass effect 1 on PS3 (11GB), I buy all my games new but i can understand if someone wants a used copy, Restrictions such as online pass fix the issue of Used copies to a degree, but digital is a long process that can cause people to pay large fees on their Internet, (not everyone has unlimited Internet either), personally i prefer disc over digital anyday.

    The reason GameStop is maximizing profit is because apart from the low margins on new software they can see the digital future where their shops are no longer needed.They know they only have 5 years or so left.

    The platform holders and publishers should embrace this digital steam to cut out retail by pricing games on digital cheaper than retail.If a game is say $60 new and $55 used a non tradable digital version should be $40, sure you might make a bit less up front but at least you get to control your games more and reduce the used market.

    But short-sighted greed means that this hasn't happened, at least judgeing by the digital prices I see on Xbox market place ane PSN where recently The Last Of Us was $15 more than I could find at retail.

      I'm with you on this. Although I won't say 5 years. But this generation I see digital distribution coming at a 1:1 with traditional retail. Next Generation will see much less.

      As to the Platform Holders and the Publishers vs the Retail industry. Both accuse the other of holding them to ransom. Publishers tell us they can not lower the digital price because of Retailers who tell us the Publishers refuse to lower the price of the physical version. My conclusion from this is one or both groups are lying to us.

        It's pretty safe to assume that anyone who is getting money out of you is lying to you. :)

        Well if they expect us to go digital, they can't charge us for access to our internet (PS+ or Microsoft Gold). THat said not everyone has brilliant internet with some downloads taking 11+ hours (Mass effect 1) and 1gb DlC taking 60 minutes. I don't always have time to download, it is substantially easier to go to EB (Australia) or JB-HI-Fi.

          Background DL it over night.

          I'm sure that the paid subscription system is not going away since now both Sony and Microsoft are making it compulsory.

    "Xbox One may outship the PS4" - ship being the key word there.

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