games industry

An easy “solution” to the pre-owned games problem that’s destroying #gamedev

In case you weren’t aware, in a nutshell:

  • Dev writes game, gets share of profits when sold
  • Publisher manufactures game ($10 loss)
  • Publisher sells game to retailer at $30 ($20 profit)
  • Retailer sells game to public at $60 ($30 profit)

…then some of the retailers spotted a flaw in the system, and started doing this:

  • All the above, BUT:
  • Retailer buys game back from Consumer at $10 ($10 loss)
  • Retailer sells game to new Consumer at $55 ($45 profit)
  • Instead of “selling” 100,000 copies of the game (giving money to gamedev), retailer “sells” 1,000 copies of the game, and then buys/resells it 99,000 times
  • NET RESULT: Publishers add crap that consumers hate – e.g. pay-for DLC – and more developers go out of business than before

A simple solution…

Serious question: why aren’t publishers offering to buy-back used games for $x%, giving both cash and (say) free DLC for other games?

Having thought about this, it seems the reason game-retailers et al are causing problems is because they have zero competition in the re-purchasing market; this allows them to re-purchase at prices lower than they pay for the original copy.

Take that away from them, and … problem solved.


2 replies on “An easy “solution” to the pre-owned games problem that’s destroying #gamedev”

I wonder if it’s not a matter of the required infrastructure.

A retailer with a used game section can offer that without doing much of anything different. And there are probably a lot of retailers like that where the used games are repurchased and resold from the same location–it goes back onto the same shelf it was on originally.

Imagine trying to do that by mail. You’ve got the cost and delays in postage (the cost of a bubble wrap envelope, standard flat rate postage, etc), the loss margins (was the disk damaged by the customer, or during shipping?), and so on.

Suppose someone started a business to do that, call it Game Heaven, motto “Don’t let that game gather dust, send your games to Game Heaven, and play something new” or something like that. What’s Game Heaven’s margin going to be compared to the GameStop getting the $45 profit each time it resells a used game?

Sure; but publishers could handle this easily enough. Some of them even are/used to own their own retail chains…

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