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Do Games Industry Folks Buy Games New or Used? 79

Gamasutra has another of its usually-interesting Question of the Week features up, and this one deals with the issue of used games. The question : Do Games Industry Professionals Buy Their Games New or Used? A lot of anonymouse answers this week. From one mouse: "I buy both used and new games, depending upon what the price differential is, and availability (old games are hard to find 'new'). I think the used games market is good for the industry for two reason: * it increases the value of game--people buy games knowing that they can get money when they sell it back, and * the game gets greater exposure--the purchaser of the used game might not otherwise have played it. This does not mean that people have the right to steal our products by copying them, reselling the originals, and playing the copy. But we made a product and sold it to them. It is theirs. They are free to resell it, the same way you're free to resell your car, house, or furniture. - Anonymous, Microsoft"
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Do Games Industry Folks Buy Games New or Used?

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  • Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ShadowsHawk ( 916454 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:39PM (#16517763)
    I thought I purchased a license, not a product.
  • by kinglink ( 195330 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:46PM (#16517831)
    First off I work at ONE game development company, we get treated well, but this is not a standard for the industry.

    There's the same split in society. People who buy it immediatly, people who wait for reviews, and people who wait for price drops, there's no rule for the industry or for the game. And btw we go "ooh" and "ahhh" to tech demos. We have guys who buy every EA sports game, we have guys who buy none. We have guys who play Smash brothers every day at lunch. We have guys who haven't owned a video game system in years, but plays board games weekly. We have magic fans, we have Warhammer 40000 fans.

    However the best thing about my company is we get all that here. We can ask each other what's good or not. If we get sick of a game we sell it to someone else at the company, and there's a whole gamer culture here.

    But the simple answer is we do the same in the industry as outside the industry. The only bonus is you work with gamers so instead of having to go to ebay, you can trade internally, get similar prices and get it from reputable sources rather then some guy on ebay, but in the end it's not different then regular society except everyone here is likely a gamer in some way.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LavaDog ( 120310 )
      It's pretty much the same where I work. Since everyone's into video games I find out more about games that I'm interested in more than when I worked outside of the industry. If there's a lot of buzz about a game that I might like then I'll buy it new. Most times people will play through games and you can buy the games off of them really cheap or just borrow it. We have people that don't have some of the consoles, but will buy or borrow games and play them at work.

      I don't think we're any different than j
  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:49PM (#16517875) Homepage Journal
    Buy games? I never buy games. It's much easier to hide in the shadows and wait for a passing gamer. Then I sneak up behind him, slit his throat, and shake his lifeless corpse until games and food fall out of his pockets. Afterwards, I sometimes eat the corpse.

    Hideo Kojima
  • I am a programmer in the games industry. I buy games new, though I rarely have time to ever play them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
      I buy used specifically because I never get around to playing them. There's plenty of old used games that I haven't tried yet. Why would I spend $60 on a new game when I know that there's plenty of games that I haven't played, and want to play just as much for $15? There are a couple that I've bought new, but the vast majority of my games are bought used. And most of them remain unbeaten because I don't have the time to play all the way through.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Well...I pretty much have all of those "old" games because I bought them all when they were new... I usually pre-order every game and go get them on the release date. If they have a collectors,limited,or in any other way "special" edition, I get that. Sometimes I even play them within a week of release, but most often I get around to playing them about a year later, if at all. Usually it's when somebody says "hey, you have to try x" that I go home and dig it out and play it.

        It's probably some mild form
        • It's probably some mild form of insanity


          Good lord, man, you're every game industry worker's dream!

          You have to be kidding. You preorder everything? There's no way...

          • Everything but sports games. To be completely honest though, I don't personally pre-order every game, my fiancee pre-orders at least half of them. Our friends at gamestop are continually reminding us that one or the other of us already has "that game" pre-ordered.
    • by Malkin ( 133793 )
      I am likewise a programmer in the industry, and I buy new, as well. I have, on rare occasion, had to buy a game used, because it simply wasn't available new. However, when given the option, I always buy new. I furthermore get pissed off at empty pre-order boxes taking up precious shelf space that could have a real game on it.
  • the percentage of new vs total games is always decreasing, because of the immense amount of games for non-supported consoles, etc. So over time, you have to buy more used games vs. new, assuming any fixed set of consoles.
  • by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) * on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:58PM (#16517979) Homepage Journal

    There is a lot of very reasonable commentary there. And a few whiners. The whiners are more fun.

    From Anonymous at the University of Texas [gamasutra.com], "Perhaps a moratorium on the sale of used copies of a title within the first month of its release." If you have a serious problem with used sales in the first month of release, your game is probably either too short, or just plain sucks. My friends with tigher budgets note that they typically have to what two or three months before the find used copies of game they want available.

    I'm also fond of Pierre-Luc Lachance at Ubisoft's response [gamasutra.com], "We can only try to sensitize people to the ethical integrity and fairness of buying new, first hand games." Ethical integrity? I'm curious about Pierre-Luc's view of the ethical integrity of purchasing a used car or a used book. Idiot.

    This anonymous comment takes the cake: [gamasutra.com]

    I NEVER buy used games, nor do I sell my old games. I am continually disappointed by the fact that I cannot convince many gamers to buy new. The age of hard copy is at an end. Digital distribution is coming and will be here to stay. Developers hands have been forced. Soon, small games presented on X Box Live and Nintendo Virtual Console will challenge hard copy games for profits. At this time the age of hard copy will end. Used game stores are pushing themselves out of business with hard handed tactics designed to force players to buy and sell used games.

    Again, I'm curious if anonymous has ever bought or sold a used car, CD, or book. Have the car, book, and music industries been forced to online distribution by resales? ("Now downloading Subaru Impreza 2006. 3% complete. Downloading at 6.02 zeptoatoms/second.") Also, exactly what "hard handed" tactics have used game stores engaged in? How do they force me to buy and sell used games? I've never been "forced" to sell them a game. When I buy a new game, they do sometimes offer me a used game ("You can save five bucks on a used copy"), but that's hardly a hard sell. They've never refused to sell me a new copy when one was available (which I usually do, as it's worth $5 to me to get a shiny new copy).

    There is a subset of the video game industry who are giant whiners. This isn't some conspiracy against video games; it's the free market. Resale of copyright protected works existed for hundreds of years before your industry even existed. Expecting to get some special protection makes you piss-poor capitalists.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer ( 890720 )

      Again, I'm curious if anonymous has ever bought or sold a used car, CD, or book. Have the car, book, and music industries been forced to online distribution by resales? ("Now downloading Subaru Impreza 2006. 3% complete. Downloading at 6.02 zeptoatoms/second.")

      I understand you're making light of the subject, but really, the car analogy is totally broken in this case.

      As to CDs, there's more to it than you make it seem. First, the cost of producing a music CD is far less than the cost of producing a top-tie

      • Why is it always the fault of the consumer that an industry is unprofitable? When the HELL did that become our fault?

        I'm a gamer, I've been gaming since pong, and I still buy tons of games. And I sell some back to the store, so I can buy more games. You know which ones I sell back? The ones that SUCK.

        If it's got no replay value, if it's got a crappy story, or a crappy interface, I sell it back. Why not? They don't care enough to make it fun, I don't care if they lose money on a new user.

        On the other hand, I have computers and game systems that I painstakingly maintain so I can keep playing the older games that I love. And I buy new copies when the media dies, or when they release an "updated" version that's compatible with newer hardware and drivers.

        So here's your wake up. Good products make good money. Good books are profitable, even when tons of used copies end up in the used bookstores, even though one person may buy the book and loan it to ten other people. That's what it means to be a good product.

        The same goes for games; one guy buys a copy and loans it to ten friends. If it sucks, those friends give it the hell back, and he trades it for a new game. But if it's good, they go get their own copy, and if it's really good, there AREN'T any used copies. That's the way it works.
        • Why is it always the fault of the consumer that an industry is unprofitable? When the HELL did that become our fault?

          It's not a question of fault, it's a question of pragmatism. The laws of the market (such as they are) are no more the consumer's fault than they are the fault of the producer.

          he same goes for games; one guy buys a copy and loans it to ten friends. If it sucks, those friends give it the hell back, and he trades it for a new game. But if it's good, they go get their own copy, and if it's re

          • Whatever. Why is it with games and games alone, people are terrified of the idea that games are resellable? This fantasy that, because you can't force every consumer to buy a new product, and every unsatisfied consumer to keep a crap product, that nothing good will ever come from the industry again.

            Economics, which you don't seem to know anything about, states that demand and supply are intimately connected, and that, and this is important, demand will create supply. If people want it, someone will find a w
    • by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @03:11PM (#16519991)
      Stores do try to get people to buy used instead of new but that's mostly because they can't subsist on the profit margins new games have.
      • The wholesale price for video games is roughly half of the RRP. The margins aren't thin at all.
        • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )
          I think we'd see more stores do special offers (x% off or take two get one for free) if that was true but I've never seen stores drop prices on (console) games by more than 10% when it wasn't a pricedrop set by the manufacturer or the store really wanted to get rid of that shelf space waster. But then again it may be different in the US, I hear they do get price drops there.
    • When I buy a new game, they do sometimes offer me a used game ("You can save five bucks on a used copy"), but that's hardly a hard sell. They've never refused to sell me a new copy when one was available (which I usually do, as it's worth $5 to me to get a shiny new copy).

      At GameStop, as well, if you buy a used game, you can return it for a full refund within 7 days if you don't like it. So not only is it $5 off, you actually get an opportunity to get your money back if you don't like it. If I'm still unc

    • by xero314 ( 722674 )

      I'm curious about Pierre-Luc's view of the ethical integrity of purchasing a used car or a used book.

      You are comparing two different things. Cars are not the same as books and video games or other media. Automobiles, and all machinery for that mater, have a limit life span and they cannot be copied for less than the original manufacturing cost. Purchasing a used car is purchasing something that has already had a portion of it's possible usage already expended, this is not true of used media. The content

  • I usually like to play the games and, if they were good, I buy them XD I also like to go from time to time to flea markets, you can get some bargains there. And I also buy old machines (starting from Atari 2600) and some software for them.
  • eBay (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:10PM (#16518143)
    What's odd to me is that they all talk like buying used games only happens at GameStop. Places like that are a huge ripoff. Almost all the games I buy are used and there are only two places that I really look:

    1) eBay gives you essentially the "real" value of the game.
    2) Amazon used&new will (rarely) give you a better deal than eBay and (usually) give you a higher confidence in not getting screwed over.

    I've found that eBay and Amazon used&new will typically have used stuff at similar prices. And always* significantly lower than going to a physical store.

    *Unless the game JUST came out.
  • Always new for me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by th1ckasabr1ck ( 752151 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:13PM (#16518201)

    I'm a game programmer and I always buy games new, unless it's an older game and I can only find it used. The money difference just isn't worth it for me to justify when it means not only getting a used product but also that I'm sending my money towards Gamestop/EB instead of a fellow developer.

    I am often surprised at how many of my co-workers buy games used.

    • by GWBasic ( 900357 )

      I am often surprised at how many of my co-workers buy games used.

      I'm a professional programmer too, (although I work in factory automation.) Let's face it, the product that our industry produces is, when you get down to the bits and bytes, information. Ultimatly, information has value and a shelf life. I get bothered when my peer information workers, wether they are programers, writers, musicians, screenwriters, actors, ect, insist that the general public pays inflated values for information.

      Not every

  • Either works. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jythie ( 914043 )
    I work for a small game dev studio. I almost always by used, partly because I browse the used rack and go 'oh! I remember that game I never played! 10 bucks, sure, I'll give it a try'. If I am really interseted in a game I'll buy it new but that is pretty rare (GalCiv 2 would be such an example). I never sell my old games though.
    • But what if all your customers done the same? Particularly small developers need every sale they can get, because it doesn't help them if they made "the great game that nobody bought" (Beyond good and Evil anyone?)
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by jythie ( 914043 )
        Our customers do and we know it. Thier upgrade cycle is built into our planning and cost structure, so it works out. I think the number I tend to hear is for any given year, about two thirds of our software is used copies being reused rather then new.
      • If all your customers did then where are the used games coming from? Or did one person buy it new and that one copy keeps getting circulated?
  • ..I almost never bought any games. Now I buy more frequently, but more out of game-play mechanics curiosity than to actually enjoy the game itself.

    I quit recently though. I just can't get past the feeling that the once thriving wealth of audacious ideas and awe has become a barren wasteland of production devices and factory mass-marketism. Yes yes I know, don't worry. I'll do one better *myself*, even if it takes me a 100 years. I'll enjoy working on that, at least..

    • Let me get this straight. You bought games solely due to game-play mechanics curiosity, and then want to create a game with totally new and audacious ideas and awe?

      I can see why you would want to see what others have done, to see what works and what doesn't. But how does that give you brand new ideas. At worst you would create something that followed what not to do, at best you would create something that took all the good ideas and combined them into something really cool. But in neither of those ca

      • Boy, aren't we critical today :)

        To be innovative isn't all that difficult, but what makes it hard to put it in a fun game is wrapping it up in game play mechanics that work for the player. Hence my interest. If you think out of the box (experience and books aside), fantasy and innovation (and fun) come easy. Then you take it step by step, and try to see how to make it possible technically. If you start with the premise that everything is here already, you might just as well close the industry down and give
  • by miyako ( 632510 ) <miyakoNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:02PM (#16518937) Homepage Journal
    Just like most other people here, I buy games both new and used. When I was younger and on a budget I would often sell games in order to get new games- now that I have a job I tend to hang on to my older games (especially since I realized how much I've spent re-buying games for the sake of nostalgia).
    I generally don't buy games when the first come out- simply because I already have a backlog of games that I need to get through as it is- so when I do go to buy a game there are generally used copies available. Most of the time though, if there is a new copy I'll buy it.
    I think that there is some psychological value of having a new game- from peeling off the cellophane and cursing for hours as you try to get those stickers off the edge so you can actually open the case to the smell of freshly stamped pastic and toner from the instruction manual.
  • by Pvt_Waldo ( 459439 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:24PM (#16519245)
    There is no such thing as a "used" game on Steam or other license/DRM management content systems. If someone sells you a "used" original CD of a game that's already been registered on Steam (for example), it's a fair bet that the CD key was already tied to a Steam account and it won't work for you.
    • "There is no such thing as a "used" game on Steam or other license/DRM management content systems."

      Well if you wanted to be able to sell your games that you bought on steam all you would need to do is register one account per game, then sell the account. It IS possible, as well it should be, i wouldn't be surprised to see this type of feature in the future on these new distro platforms.

      If I could "unsubscribe" a game from my steam (using your steam example) subscription and then sell it to another steam use
      • by Pvt_Waldo ( 459439 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @04:21PM (#16520881)
        The catch is, you can't sell your Steam account - it's not allowed by the license. Here is part of the Subscriber Agreement [steampowered.com]

        When you complete Steam's registration process, you create a Steam account ("Account"). Your Account may also include billing information you provide to us for the purchase of Subscriptions. You are solely responsible for all activity on your Account and for the security of your computer system. You may not reveal, share or otherwise allow others to use your password or Account. You agree that you are personally responsible for the use of your password and Account and for all of the communication and activity on Steam that results from use of your login name and password. You may not sell or charge others for the right to use your Account, or otherwise transfer your Account.

        In other words, once you get the game, it's yours. You can't sell it used. And the more games that move to this kind of system (or to Steam itself) the fewer used games there will be in existance.

    • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )
      Um, you realize you can sell those Steam games used if you pay Valve 10$ to unregister your key?
  • by peterpi ( 585134 )
    No, we don't buy new or used. We're all far too busy to play games :(
  • Always buy new (Score:3, Informative)

    by fahrvergnugen ( 228539 ) <fahrv@noSPAM.hotmail.com> on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:41PM (#16519519) Homepage
    I always buy new. Not because I like the publishers, but because I fucking hate EB Games.
    • I agree. I'll buy a used game if it is a deal and it's being sold at EB, but lately every time I go in there, the used games are going for $5 less than new games! Gee, thanks for the incentive to buy used. Forget it. And selling games back is the worst, it is a worse deal than selling books back to the university bookstore. Nowadays I just buy new games and keep my old ones.
  • FTA:

    I always go for the new games. New as in "factory sealed". I take great care of my games and buying something that was tossed, dropped or sat on, no matter at how low a price, is simply disgusting to me. -Pierre-Luc Lachance, Ubisoft

    I whole-heartedly agree with this comment.

    Almost every single time I go to buy a "used" copy of a game, usually because a new copy is not available, the game is in terrible condition. I wonder if the common game stores even bother checking these things, or just acc

    • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )
      I wonder if the common game stores even bother checking these things, or just accept them and go.

      I've seen a clerk reject every single game a customer brought in because the disc was scratched so they do check but I guess they have varying standards so some will accept a disc in a condition that's unacceptable to you.
  • Get out more demos (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RyoShin ( 610051 ) <tukaro@NoSPam.gmail.com> on Friday October 20, 2006 @07:10PM (#16523297) Homepage Journal
    Incidentally, I've been part of a debate on 4chan (ZOMG) over the past day or two about the comparison between piracy and used games. Someone mentioned that they would be more interested in buying games new if they could get a demo for the game.

    Frankly, I agree. These days, especially as a college student, I'm hard pressed to shell out for a $50 that got so-so reviews, only to be able to get 60% (if that) of my initial purchase by selling it used if I think it sucks. A lot of the people I know who pirate games say they do so to give it a "test drive". While they certainly could be trying to clear their conscience, I think this makes sense. The problem is that for those who do it, they usually finish the base game and have no real reason to go out and pick up the real copy at that point.

    What game companies (and I mean ALL game companies) need to do is put out more demo discs. Yes, they cost money, but that would likely be offset by more new sales.

    Hell, they might not even have to take a loss on it. I would gladly pay a small monthly fee (~$5) to receive a demo disc each month for games coming out in the next month or three. A level here, a video collage there, and it would really help with my decisions and picking where to spend my money. Not a small picking, either; even if all I get is a movie, I want at least 10 previews on each disc. Even a full battle from an RPG would work, as I could gauge the battle system.

    The Big Three already do this, but the discs are only available for retailers and generally are only updated four times a year (if that!). A few PC Game Magazines also have this, but I've seen none for the XBox or PS2 (and I don't actively look, so I could have missed them).

    With all three consoles coming online, hopefully demos will increase. I believe XBox Live already has free downloadable demos, while Nintendo (and possibly Sony) have hinted at a similar thing, which will also work with their handhelds.

    People buy used because they're worried about the financial hit. As the prices of games increase (might we see $80 for MGS4?), the demand for used games will only increase.
  • I work in the games industry, and whether I buy new or used depends a lot on how much I want the game and how highly I value it. I consider many new games as overpriced and will very rarely buy a game for more than £30; up until recently that meant that I rarely bought new console games, but as the PS2 and Xbox games now tend to be £29.95 new, I'm more likely to buy new.

    Certainly so-called 'ethics' doesn't come into it; I have no objection at all to people buying and selling secondhand copies of

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor