Saturday, August 29, 2009

Used Game Sales Ramble

I wish I knew why my sound sync is off these days- but anyway: here's where I ramble on about used games...it's long...and out of sync.... Sorry! :)

33 comments:

Mark said...

Jaffe,

Ok forget the user car analogy. What about a used art work analogy? As long as the art work was kept in good condition, you get the same experience out of it. An art work sometimes sells for more than the original price as it ages. The original painter does not see a dime of the resales. Come on, I just think your argument is wrong.

Archminion said...

I get what you're saying, I know that game dev costs are so high now and as a developer you would need to sell as many copies as possible.

I as a collector actually buy a sealed copy to keep and a used copy off ebay to play.

I can see how many will disagree with what you are saying though- it's hard for ppl to take that in.

If pubs/devs were to get a cut of used retailer sales then great but so long as it wouldn't affect the customers in any way.

Killusion said...

IMO Jaffe has legitimate reason to dislike used games. Truth is it hurts game sales significantly.

Can't really say if i felt the same way if i was gamedev, it's a matter of greed.

John said...

Glad to see that comments are back up David.

Billy Brown said...

I personally avoid buying used games unless it's something that is difficult to find new such as an old PS2 game. I would rather have the satisfaction of knowing that I am the only person that has played it. If it's something that is out of my price range, as most new games currently are, I wait until it goes on sale on Amazon or another retailer. I am also one of those people who doesn't like to get his games from Gamestop in the first place because most of the games are already out of the wrapping and could have been played by the employees so they are essentially already used and I am still paying full price. Developers and publishers should get their cut and it would be nice to see them and used game retailers come to some sort of an agreement.

Luis said...

The problem is that people pain this as a developer/publisher VS gamers problem, when in reality it is a developer/publisher VS retail thing.

Retail should cut the devs a piece of their enormous used game sales profits, and gamers would be unaffected. Gamers will only suffer if retail greed forces the industry's hand.

Seriously, you can't blame people for not liking to see their work sold without them getting any profit out of it. As far as it affects devs and publishers, it's the same as piracy.

nunobaker said...

I think you make a good point that the consumer/customer should be able to find the best deal possible. There are plenty of good deals on new games happening. I bought Dissidia recently from Amazon w/ the promotion code and it was like $10 cheaper. I mean if I go to Gamestop and get it used in a month it will be the same price probably. But what I get new is the soundtrack.

Also, if you wait a few months you can surely get a game for almost half the price, and again probably less than you can get it used at Gamestop. I have seen SF IV for like $30 - $35 dollars recently. That was just released 4 - 5 months ago. Same goes for RE 5.

Lastly, I've heard the argument that you can buy and sell dvds and blu-rays as well and the movie companies are not as angry/frustrated etc. at this. But this is not the same b/c a movie makes a large proportion of its money from the theater (unless its direct to DVD - but those don't make any money, except the Disney ones). I agree w/ what you have said before that there should be some incentive to buy it new or at least a 4 - 6 month window where you can only buy new.

Martin said...

It's definitely a difficult problem to solve. You can't begrudge a developer or publisher to want to see their work bring in money. And you can't begrudge the customer for wanting to save some money on what will ostensibly be the same experience as the new game.

It seems almost like a see-saw. You (generic) introduce a digital distribution model which theoretically takes a portion of used games out of circulation. So your new sales numbers go up. On the other side of that, the availability of used games for the customers goes down, and so does their choice in how to buy their games.

@Archminion -- it would be nice if publishers and developers got a slice of that used game sale, but I don't think it'll happen without a huge shift in the way the business operates. There is zero incentive for a company like GameStop to start cutting them in at this stage in the game.

Archminion said...

anyway, 'the game'??

dying here Jaffe...!!!

So to be announced between dec and feb?

God I miss you talking about that instead...

Archminion said...

I want you to throw us a few more 'No Kane Do's' !!!

Archminion said...

@Martin:

I would think that if a company like Gamespot had to pay devs a cut then it's likely they would increase their prices to cover the cut. It is greed of course on the 2nd hand dealer's part.

This might then cause buyers to just avoid using the 2nd hand dealers and go for new games instead.

It's a fucked up circle cos then we just buy new (which is ok in it's self) but as some have mentioned it then restricts our choice.

I would love to see devs like ESP here and many others get an extra slice (hell we've all seen to many companies go down the pan recently) because it does keep companies afloat and it does help keep games creative as well imo because of the extra cash available.

The sad fact is that the general public (as in the majority) don't give a fuck about developers or how much it costs to make a game, they just want to see the end result for as cheap as possible.

It's only really the guys who actually look at the industry and realise it's not as easy as it was back in the 90's and earlier.

As an example I have a mate at work who would take a pirate copy of any newish game for £5 if you offered.

It aint as bad as the Amiga days but most ppl still want their games as cheap as possible.

Like I said, a circle of fuck.

Rick Lesley said...

I could not agree more with what you are saying here. I am not going to sit here and act like a saint and say that I have never bought a used game...I have. I did it before I knew the whole story behind used games and how the devs are missing out on money that stores like gamestop are keeping. I will still buy or trade used games that I cannot find anywhere in a store Most of the classic ps1 games have to be bought second hand, if they were still for sale new I would happily purchase them.

The main thing is that there has to be some equilibrium between the stores reselling games and the companies that make them. I just don't think it is right to make a profit off of their product and not give them any sort of compensation in return. I don't think this would harm the used game market for consumers, I think that should continue. I just think stores selling the used games need to give the some portion of the sale to the creators and publisher.

Steven said...

I looked into selling some of my old games to a store here in nz once a few years back but the prices they offer are extremely low. Considering the low buy back price stores use, and extremely high markup it surprises me that it's such a large market.

Anyhow, how about devs/pubs having their own used car section? Have an offer for their old unwanted games and a used section.

Either way i guess in the end it's still trying to cut the retailers out.

bowlbyspeaks said...

I think some sort of agreement has got to be reached between the retailers and the publishers/developers/platform holders, because what's going on at the moment is pretty diabolical. At the same time, I don't think the consumer should be punished by having their ability to re-sell what they own taken away.

I also hate what the retailers are doing, though. They are making just so much money off the industry without giving anything back financially, and they're also getting away with putting a ridiculous profit margin on second-hand product; they are effectively ripping both us and industry off by putting such a high markup on second hand products and by only offering to buy from the customer for so little.

And what's at least one of reasons they're getting away with this? Game prices are too high, and nobody wants to pay £34.99 or £39.99 for something they're not sure they're going to like or whether they're get the value out of it. It's too much money on the table for too little of a guarantee.

And if lower prices mean games that don't look quite as pretty or games that are a little shorter than before, then fine – as long as a game is fun or entertaining and can provide a reasonable amount of entertainment, I am in.

JPLC said...

I have one thing to say about used games that is kinda on topic I suppose: games should stop going out of print so fast. Sometimes the game I want is just out of print, and thus I have to buy it used (maybe I waited a few months before buying, maybe even a year). I'd gladly pay for a brand new copy, but the fact is that, once it's out of print (or at least no longer on shelves, but I suppose that's the same or similar thing), used is the only way to secure a copy. I know your argument is more toward those buying used on newish titles, but I just needed to get that off my chest.

Also, I was going to mention used DVD sales, but as someone previously mentioned, films get a lot of their dough from theatres. I assume it's somewhat similar for used CDs in that concerts are where the most money is made (I think).

Martin said...

Perhaps those people would be interested to know that game prices have come down over time, rather than go up as other entertainment mediums have.

I have a receipt still from buying (well, my parents did the buying) Final Fantasy III for the SNES. $89.99. No used options.

N64 wasn't much better. It wasn't until discs came along that the prices plummeted, and they did only as long as it took to solidify in the consumer mind that cart-based games were no longer affordable or superior. During this time $30 new games weren't unheard of. Price creep ... crept in, and now we see ourselves at $60 for a new game.

Conversely, during that same period of time, the price of admission to a movie theater has increased (in my area) by about 125%. Don't really have data on other entertainment mediums, but I'd assume book prices have increased.

Music hasn't really done much on the price front, other than give us the a-la-carte option.

/rant

Archminion said...

to Martin again:

Yep, How far can it go before the pricing structure finally catches up?

I remember paying 40 quid for Snes and megadrive (genesis) games!!

The prices aren't that bad now at all.

Anyway, who's got a Neo Geo?

Anonymous said...

The thing people seem to miss with the used car analogy (and other similar analogies), is that in no other reseller system does the used product become available for barely any noticible price difference mere days after it's release. You dont find used cars being resold 1000 dollars under the new car price a week after that car was 'released'. You dont see this happening with books, music, movies, or any other entertainment product.

Anonymous said...

I suppose one relatively simple solution to the dilemma could be to prohibit sales and trade-ins of used games that are still profitable for all associated parties for the time being, up until they go out of print.

AclayPS3 said...

I've always bought all my games new. The ONLY game I bought used was ICO, back in 2001 or 2002, and I only bought it used because even way back then, I couldn't find a new copy in a store.

Instead of people just waiting to get a game used, I don't see why they just don't wait a few months until the game drops in price (maybe $20 bucks or so) and then buy it.

And I would never sell my games back either because I keep all mine for collection purposes, and they have a sentimental value to me.

I mean, there's some games I have that I haven't even touched in YEARS, but I still keep them because everytime I look at them, I always get memories in my head from playing those games, and all the good times I had while playing them.

$60 bucks for a video game isn't that cheap, but because of the price of new games, I'm VERY selective of what games I buy first, and usually I go after the AAA caliber titles of high quality at $59.99 first.

Rangoth the Quasi-Evil said...

Man for years I have heard this complaint that used game sales takes money out of a developers hand. Guess what? ITS A LOAD OF CRAP. Does Levi's complain when I buy jeans from a thrift store? No.

You may say its not the same...bullshit. Used games have dings, scratches, and tears. The manual may not be there. The disc can have some issues. Is it mainly the same? Yes. JUST LIKE MOST USED ITEMS! You already got paid by Sony for the title you have made Jaffe so no money comes out of your mouth. If the publisher wants to curb used game sales then give a reason to buy it new just like car makers do!

Either that or lower the price. I hear a couple people are out of work.

Gerry said...

Jaffe,

If its any consulation to you i bought GoW1+2 New :)

I don't like buying used games, not because its hurts the industry, but i just like having stuff new.

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing...

I entirely agree with jaffe and the industry on the used games topic.

because anywhere else, ie Used cars, or whatever, selling your used car doesn't destroy potential sales of that make and model brand new.

This is where used games severely hurts the developer. After one week, sales can almost entirely stop because people will buy the used games instead of new. In turn it can be the difference of a game selling 200,000 or 3 million. and THAT'S the problem.

I'm all for the consumer being able to do what he/she will with his/her copy, be it sell it, burn it, or keep it forever, BUT its the gamestops and the bestbuy's that sell used games to the mass market swindling sales all across the board.

All in all for someone who wants to trade in their games after a few weeks, there is blockbuster. We could do without the used games sales at gamestop and others.

Also on the flip side, say the developer gets royalties on a game like GT or Halo, that's not fair either because they're making money 4 5 or 6 times over on the same disc. There needs to be a solution to adhere to both sides, but i totally understand cutting gamestop and bestbuy out of the mix.

Anonymous said...

@Rangoth: It's not a load of crap, it's just logic. Nobody is selling second-hand Levi jeans on the next rail along to new ones, for a few dollars less, in a chain of hundreds of prominent retail outlets. There's a difference between objecting to something in principle and objecting to the scale and approach in which it's being exploited.

A lot of analogies are being thrown around, but the one that fits the situation best in my mind is "overfishing".

I agree that adding incentives to buying new and lowering prices could help. I worry that this will lead to more situations where most of the content is annexed into (paid) DLC, though.

Newsgroup 247 Blog said...

Returning to the original issues of reselling used games I do sympathise with the core concept. You buy a game than trade it in for $X and this X goes against Y and hey presto you get a new game for less than retail price. For the consumer it's a great model to follow. It provides big ROI for gamers on a budget. THIS CAN NOT BE DENIED.

HOWEVER, for sure if a dev invests heavily in staff, infrastructure, TIME and so on and the game racks up 25% or more of sales in a trade-in environment effectively cutting out the developer then this IS a problem. A lot of people do not appreciate or understand the business side of things in this respect.

At the same time, Digital Distribution is an answer but certainly not THE answer. Right now on all platforms there are grossly inconsistent pricing strategies. For example the new PSP GO will hit the shelves at US$249 but in EU will be 249Euros. On a currency conversion it should be 175Euros. Hell even 200 would be acceptable. This happens in game pricing too. Example US PSN Store has Ratchet & Clank PSP/PS3 for US$15 whilst the UK store has this priced at GBP15. This is inexcusable.

This is a MAJOR reason and shows that whilst digital distribution is ready the people who run these schemes are not. Now I know the Digital Distribution looks like a solution to all these problems but it is NOT. Certainly not right now.

The mechanism itself is a PERFECT solution but with prices running rampant and get mispriced across the globe (Australians get screwed royally every time by everyone), there is a need for this mechanism to be used in a far more astute way that offers an inviting environment to developers AND consumers.

Now I am sure that there are a lot of regional managers everywhere who have boiler plate responses to the issue of the prices citing such things as: Currency fluctuation, labour costs, tax blah blah blah. But this is all BS of the highest order. All hardware is typically manufactured in low costs environments (China, Philippines etc). Effectively this means all hardware starts off with a uniform cost per unit. So it baffles me how as this hardware becomes sold around the world that various mark ups come into play.

Now hardware is not a game devs issue when it comes to pricing and certainly not something they can influence all that much. But with digital games being so grossly mispriced (even less of an excuse to do that) how can this be a solution when the same problems occur. Even when games are not mispriced you have examples when Monster Hunter Freedom Unite 2 on PSP is exactly the same price online as it is on disk. WTF?!?

Ok so I've complained and raised issues but have not presented a solution. Here is the solution people. Once I buy a game online say a full price game like God Of War 3 (I know it is unlikely to be online purchase but lets use it as an example) is retails at US$45 online and US$60 offline. I buy it, I play it and I complete it inside out and get 100% on trophies etc etc. I can then let the PSN store know I wish to sell it as a preowned game after which another user can buy this off me at a lower rate say US$30. This transaction is logged and the funds are split between Sony, Dev and seller. Solution solved. If developers would not want to consider a solution along these lines (it does not have to be exact) then really they are just being greedy or short sighted.

Julio said...

yo jaffe...MTV RAPS

Anonymous said...

Jaffe is way off on this topic.

If I buy a used car then hopefully I will get a car that can drive and basically get the basic function of a car done.

If I get a used book, as long as I can read it and absorb the same knowledge that is seen in a new book then it doesnt matter that maybe a couple pages are folded.

What you are arguing Jaffe is physical apperances on these things, and then when you talked about used games you talked about the basic function of the game.

A car is supposed to be something you drive.
A book is something you read
A game is something you play

Used cars may be dinged up
Used books may have folded pages
Used games may have no manual, scratches on the disc, and stickers on the box

You get what you pay for. If I go to a used Mercedes lot and ask for a used car then I bet I can find a killer car used.

If I go to a crappy lot then I'm sure I can find a piece of shit Honda Civic from 93.

What you dont understand is this. There is no other industry in the world where a "used market" is used where the developer or contractor of said product gets a cut. It just doesnt happen.

As long as you can read a book, watch a movie, drive a car, listen to a CD, etc there will be a used market for those products becuase you can still get the basic function out of the product.

If I went on Amazon right now and wanted to buy a used DVD, I know there is a difference in prices on the same DVD. The reason is that I get what I pay for. If I want a DVD in it's case with a cover then I'll pay more than a basic disc. The thing is that no matter what I will get a DVD that plays so I can see the movie. I don't see Paramount, Warner Bros, or even Indy studios bitching about this.

I've been to events like E3 and stuff, and this is one of the reasons I'm getting tired of it. The industry is basically nerds with power. A bunch of guys make a "game" and think they are entitled.

Give me a break

Anonymous said...

This guy has some interesting things th say.... especially about you david........ go to Playstationblog.net its the top story

Portugal Friend said...

Please don't get bothered by some guy(s) on the internet.

Although you might not be correct every time I pretty much agree with you almost every time and it's no exception the matter regarding this issue.

I'll go even further in saying that you answered quite nicely to him and that he's 'changing' the conversation in his manner (that's kind of natural I guess! We always see things just as that: A WE see them).

If the rumour that you'll stop talking on the net for 6 months I must say that 'they' are winning this time... Please don't do so and don't forget many people (me included) that like to hear what you got to say on stuff (and not always big things but the most common and earthly things) and that it's bad if you keep your toughts from us because of such a stupid thing!

Please reconsider and hope to hear from you sooner than half an year...

bowlbyspeaks said...

I don't have a problem with digital distribution in theory, but, as a consumer, I get quite worried when the only distributers on consoles are either Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. Simply put, I don't trust them and just know that without competition they can price at pretty much whatever the market can bear. Without the competition, there's the possiblity for price gouging, and when you see how uncompetitive the prices are for downloadable games, it only reaffirms my worries.

On the PC it's a whole different issue, with Steam, Impulse, DirectDownload, GoG, among others, all competing with eachother, offering different distribution platforms. That seems, to me, to be much more reassuring as companies will naturally keep eachother in check. The platform holders, on the other hand, have a complete digital monopoly on their respective platforms.

Carl Jennings said...

Totally agree with you David, that publishers and developers should get sme form of cut from used game sales, even if it is only a small one. Hey, a small cut is better than no cut at all, right? I never resell games for this reason, and also never buy preowned games for that reason. I'd be more inclined to if developers and publishers got some of the money. i can imagine how pissed off i would be if i was in the industry and the effect these sales would have on my paycheque and my company, but also on the indstry as a whole

Anonymous said...

This is based on one thing - G R E E D

Not consumer interest
Not being fair...
Not anything but greed.

You may make good games but the arguments "Waaaa...I want MORE MONEY...WHhaaaa" simply don't hold up.

When was the last time you sold ANYTHING you own and even considered giving more money back to the manufacturer from that sale?

Used Car...TV...Table...DVD's...Lemonade?
(You owe Koolaid & the Dixie Crystal Sugar people...PAY UP!)

Developers already have the profit off sale of the item, new...now they want MORE from it because you own it...you sold it...someone else bought it?

NOTHING...absolutely NOTHING works that way because consumers have the right to sell their possessions.

What you & others like you are insisting on is a complete change in the inherent value of consumer purchases & property.

Essentially LICENSING physical items to us...amounting to nothing more than a rental...NOT ownership, and making sure YOU get a cut...then another cut...and if it's sold again...Yet another cut!

POINT : Grand Theft Auto IV
I found the game more Grand Theft Boring than anything else.
It was NOT an open world sandbox game at all...but a VERY linear storyline with a playground attached.
It had far, far, far less character interactivity than an older game, Oblivion, where you could talk to ANYONE, listen in on conversations, actually watch people go about their lives through Morning Noon & Night...Go inside ANY building & perception of you, good-or-bad changed based on your actions.
The people on the streets weren't just non-interactive background window dressing but part of quests, side-quests, fun, rumors, unexpected personalities & just plain immersive adventure.

I GAVE GTA-IV away to a friend -- Do I owe Rockstar extra money for that...because their game was a step backwards...wasn't really a sandbox game at all & I didn't care enough to keep it?

By YOUR model, Jaffe I do...

You should be embarrassed by your clearly outspoken greed.

Thanks for the great games, but in this case your absolutely right -- You Need To Shut The -F- Up!
.
.
Zeevious

Darren said...

While I understand someone seeing a potential profit center being denied to them, there is a big flaw in the concept of getting a cut of the action.

Since the beginning of formal society as we know it, there has been a barter system, this later progressed and exists parallel to the currency exchange system. But, no matter the system, it is always an exchange of something for something else. Once that exchange has been completed, the parties involved become the owners of said property.

This applies to all forms of property. If one party has something and is willing to give up ownership (physical or otherwise) to it, for much less or much more than it's worth, they can. If someone wanted to sell a house for 10 dollars, they could. If someone buys a car and 1 month later wants to sell it (as long as they own it free or can pay off the a loan if they have one) they can. If someone buys a book retail and then after reading it wants to sell it or lend it out, they can. It's called ownership.

People don't want to own a license to use a product for a set limit of times or whatever. The only people that would want that, would be a business, because they can save costs.

People want to own what they buy, not just own the right to use it.

Ownership = Power

That's why in the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, it's the right to property and not the pursuit of happiness. They later changed it before the ratified it at Franklin's urging.

It's really quite simple. I own something, I give it to someone else for something of value I judge worthy and that person gets what I owned up to that point. They can then do what they want with it, because as the owner of said property, they have the power over its fate. Unless we agreed at time of sale that I get a percentage of their profit (if they made any, or just on any amount that they do get), I don't see dime one.

That's how things work on every street corner on the globe, since time immemorial.

If you want to try and change people's minds on property ownership and the rules of exchange, than go right ahead and try, but it's not going to be an easy thing to change 1000's of years worth of doing something.