Publishers Nudging Buyers Away from Used Games

October 15, 2008 -

Although consumers love to have the option, used video game sales by retailers such as GameStop have long been a point of contention for publishers who feel that they are losing out on sales of new games.

Now, as reported by Victor Godinez of the Dallas Morning News, some publishers are taking steps to dissuade consumers from buying used games:

...each copy of Gears of War 2 will ship with a unique, one-time-use code for downloading extra multiplayer levels. Once the code has been used, subsequent owners of that copy of the game will be unable to download the levels.


And NBA Live 09 will include a similar free, one-time code for accessing daily roster and stat updates. If you buy a used copy of NBA Live 09 and the previous user has already redeemed the code, you'll have to pay $20 to get the updates.


The question now is how gamers will respond... It's also possible that used game buyers will stop buying used games in protest or buy the used game but do without the disabled features. All in all, I don't think these efforts by game makers are going to garner much loyalty from gamers, but if they add to the bottom line, the game makers probably won't care.

GP: As a game consumer, this issue is a sore point with me. First, you've got the fabulously profitable, "recession-proof" video game business, and they need to squeeze every last nickel out of their customers?

Moreover, if this is implemented widely, the publishers will put the screws to the business model of GameStop and other used game retailers. Note to publishers: those retailers also push one Hell of a lot of your new product, too.

Finally, the publishers are dreaming if they think that every used game buyer will purchase a new game instead. Cost-conscious gamers will risk buying a lower-priced used title because, frankly, a fair number of $60 games don't offer good value. That's polite-speak for "they suck." And, for those who do opt to take the $60 new game plunge, the notion of being able to trade it in later is a reassuring suck insurance policy.

UPDATE: Shacknews has a lot more on this issue, including info on Rock Band 2 content.


Re: Publishers Nudging Buyers Away from Used Games

This would suck for the people who are used-game gamers or second hand gamers.


With the age of the internet I guess the Game Publishers will try to do anything to save a dollar.


I used to be a 2nd hand gamer in my younger life trying to find games for cheep.


But because of the CD's or DVD disks being scratched I just skipped on that and tried to get all my games new when they came out.


I had to save allot of money that way, but I was lucky.


I don't think any casual person would be able to be as forgiving as I was when it comes to 2nd hand games.


Even then, unless if the 2nd hand gamer really cared about acessing levels from online bonus content I guess the buying public may not know until a Wii Sports game has downloaded content and THEN they will start to realise that something is up.


Either way, I don't feel good about the download content being used once for a game,


What about when the console crashes and you need a new console?


Those are the things I would be more worried about when it comes to using online code once on a game.





Re: Publishers Nudging Buyers Away from Used Games

i don't think this sorta thing will work.

i've never seen a games "locked for pre-order users only" content NOT go free or pay to get by non-pre-order users after a time.

and in the rare instances it did last forever without a gripe, it didn't stay that way long with pirates cracking the codes to the number generators and putting the info up in a handy .exe that'll give ya your own code.


+ if they lock content like that from one set of users but its there for others, then those that have it probably won't use it cause they might have a buddy who doesn't have the active code or something.

this could kill sales of future games faster than it'll make more sales really, and begin to hurt retailers and publishers alike.


Re: Publishers Nudging Buyers Away from Used Games

This bothers me the most because I will purchase a game new if I feel it is worth it, but I also host LAN parties at my house so I own multiple (read USED) copies of some games like Gears and the Halo Series so multiple people can play together even if they don't have the game.  I can mostly afford to do this with some of the used costs when the games come down a bit, but I also depend on what content is free vs pay for them as well.  Halo 2 and 3 made most of their maps free after a set time and Gears had maps that were sponsered so they were free from the get go so I could afford to add that for everyone and make the games that much better.  But if I have to buy 12 copies of a game BRAND NEW just to add the content that they would have already been paid for by the other 12 original owners so that it will work, I'll just scrap the whole LAN party idea completely.  It's this kind of logic that makes me thing gaming is becoming the new music industry where they only watch for themselves and not for their customers, who are being turned into criminals for just playing the games. 

I took my kids to see a movie at the Dollar Theater the other night which the movie industry doesn't make anything off of (they just buy the old films fom the other theaters so those theaters make a bit back on the original purchase on top of other profits) so should I have the end of the movie cut because I didn't pay the higher price and enter a code at my seat?

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Re: Publishers Nudging Buyers Away from Used Games

So if you buy a game, don't activate anything that comes with it until you're sure it doesn't suck.

Re: Publishers Nudging Buyers Away from Used Games

Best option presented so far, but I could easily see them designing the additional content to be pivotal to enjoying the game (best weapons, puzzles, maps, etc.)

Re: Publishers Nudging Buyers Away from Used Games

See, when I get a multiplayer game, first thing I do is beat it on single player.  I learn the controls, learn the game, learn the map layout, etc.  If, by the time I've beaten single player, I'm not having fun, chances are I won't want to unlock those things for multiplayer play, where the most important things are the best weapons, maps, etc.

Of course, I own Battlefield Bad Company, but I manned up and bought the cheaper version for Xbox360 and unlocked everything myself, unlike some people I happen to know.

Re: Publishers Nudging Buyers Away from Used Games

When was the last time the Movie and music industries complained about used sales of their products? What about the auto indutry? Computer industry? Any industry that has nothing to do with games?

The video game industry just needs to deal with it. It is a part of consumer life. They will buy new when the price of the new product meets or excedes the perceived value of the product in the consumer's eyes.

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Re: Publishers Nudging Buyers Away from Used Games

To be fair, cars are a bit different.  Resale value is a consideration when you buy one. 

DVDs are a good comparison though.  Why don't DVD stores put such emphasis on second hand discs as game stores do?  There's surely a market.

As far as I can see, the differences are a higher proportinal retail markup for DVDs and a large number of extremely cheap older movies.  My suspicion is that the real money is in selling the cheap stuff quickly rather than the high ticket prices. The sapce given over to special offers supports this.  There are no cheap older games.  Even very old budget games are rarely less than £9.99 (over in England.  I imagine similar in the US).  I can often find decent enough movies for £5.  Sometimes as low as £3.  Makes an impulse purchase much more likely. I bet there are a lot of impulse buys. 

The game retailers need to find the cheap easy to shift items.  That would be the used games. If older, unused games were sellling close to the used price for games the developers would be getting a chunk of the profit themselves.  People prefer buying new. 

Re: Publishers Nudging Buyers Away from Used Games

"DVDs are a good comparison though.  Why don't DVD stores put such emphasis on second hand discs as game stores do?  There's surely a market."

Well, Gamestop has this covered already.  They created a similar store for movies, called Moviestop.

Re: Publishers Nudging Buyers Away from Used Games

Hadn't heard about Moviestop, I usually check my local Gamestops (3 within reasonable drive) to see if they have a used copy of a movie I want.

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Re: Publishers Nudging Buyers Away from Used Games

I don't know what it's like in the US, but in the UK there isn't a second-hand music/movie market of any significance- what there is is not on a massive scale in HMV, Zavvi or any other big-name, high street entertainment retailer, but in the backstreet indie stores, charity shops and eBay- not by any stretch of the imagination the replacement for new stock that seems to be making up the majority of product available in the larger game retailers.

As a result, those industries are shifting more new units and are able to sell their wares at a lower price. However, every second-hand game sold means that they're selling fewer new titles- be it the same game, or a different one there was no shelf space for- which means the cost of development needs to be spread across fewer copies, which means higher prices. They sell more, prices go down- this is the first thing they teach you in high school Business Studies.

Consumers need to deal with it. It is a part of consumer life. Companies will lower prices when they know they can do it and still pay their costs.

Are there better ways of doing it? Probably. Are they feasable given the current, second-hand focused, state of games retail? Not really. This is a back-and-to thing, and the issue isn't going to go away on the actions of one side alone- and if you're not going to play the game, you can't coplain about the rules.


Re: Publishers Nudging Buyers Away from Used Games

EA makes $4 billion a year and only has 8,000 employees.  I think they make enough money to take care of their cost.

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Re: Publishers Nudging Buyers Away from Used Games

Yeah, they want to piss off their own consumer...  It sounds about time for me to start making PC and console games instead of just Flash games...  This is what happens when you have greedy A-holes running companies instead of people who have passion for the industry... 


"It's also possible that used game buyers will stop buying used games in protest"

What type of logic is this?  I am not going to buy the USED game in protest that publishers wont make the game correctly?  Yes, lets punish the second hand stores who give the publisher no cut instead of punishing the publishers...  I support piracy at this point...  Publishers are just getting out of hand, and this is becoming complete BS...  I thought EA's DRM was an issue, but they are spreading it to console games...  So when and where is the protest at?  I will pay for 5 people's plane tickets if we get 10,000 people there.  I am sure we can get other people to pony up the same idea, like GameStop, haha. (Even if I do hate GameStop since their buy price is too low and used sell price is higher than what I care for... [Ebay is better with that gap])

I can not rationalize why they would be doing this when piracy is not really that common until they do shit like this.  We seriously need to figure something out, because this is beyond out of hand.  ECA with the consumers needs to act, and they need to act now before it is too late.

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Re: Publishers Nudging Buyers Away from Used Games

Since they are trying to kill the used game industry does that mean when their product fails to run on my pc or fails to deliver on what it promised that I am allowed to take it back and get a refund? 

I also always wondered if someone can't claim false advertisement when a game doesnt run on their pc but they meet the requriments listed on the box, or if the game doesn't deliver on the experience it is suppose to have.

Re: Publishers Nudging Buyers Away from Used Games

You always have the out that you do not agree with their EULA. At least where I am I can buy a game, disagree with the EULA and be issued a full refund on return of the game. After all it is an agreement, not just the software company dictating terms.

Re: Publishers Nudging Buyers Away from Used Games

i think its rather possible actually as Ubi faced numerous BBB charges that were upheld by the BBB and forced Ubi to release a fixed patch for R6V awhile back when it wasn't working correctly on a large number of systems that it should've worked easily on.

Ubi wasn't going to make the patch, and it shows since said patch was over a year late, but people got responses back from the BBB looking into the matter rather quickly.  far to late to save the PC version of the game, but it did show the system works.

i dunno bout flatout lawsuit, but they do have to provide full support for their product if it isn't working right.

at least to operate in the states they do that is.

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