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Generation Worst Part I: The War on Used Games

November 3, 2013 1 comment

This multi-part series will break down each of several factors that combined to make the seventh generation of video game consoles my least favorite, and why it chased me away from the next generation. This is my own perspective and opinion, and is not intended to sway others.

 

Throughout my years of buying video games with my own money, which started in 1991, I’ve always had a balance of buying new and used merchandise. I’ve also subsidized my spending with game and system trade-ins. Within the last 7 months alone, I’ve purchased the limited edition of Bioshock Infinite (and the limited edition strategy guide), NHL 14, Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix, Diablo III, a new Dual Shock 3 controller, and several funds cards for the Xbox LIVE Marketplace and the PlayStation Store, completely with trade-in credit. Before and even during my job at the bowling alley, money was not a plentiful resource… so I made tough decisions about what to part with in my game library in order to pare down or afford the price of new games that I wanted.

A funny thing has happened to the video games economy over the last 3+ years, starting with EA’s Online Pass program being introduced in 2010. In the War on Used Games, that was the shot heard ’round the gaming world. We had begun to transition from used games just being a part of how things were to used games being a menace to publishers and developers that needed to be dealt with. Used games were cited as eating into the bottom line for the industry, causing sales of new games to decline. The Online Pass program would finally add a cut for EA, compensating them somewhat for the resale of a used game and the resources required for online play for a person who didn’t contribute to EA’s revenue stream.

From then on, we have heard prominent industry players decrying the sale of used games. Some have even compared used game buyers to pirates, though the former is still legal (for now). We also hear the same cries of denouncement from within the gaming community:

  • “Games are expensive. People should know that going in.”
  • “If you can’t afford to buy new games, you’re not entitled to play these games on or shortly after launch.”
  • “Buying used games means you’re not a real gamer and that you’re too cheap to support your hobby.”
  • “When you buy used games, you contribute to the decline of the industry since publishers and developers don’t profit.”

Let’s hypothesize, for a moment, that used games had simply ceased to exist as of January 1st of this year. Games could only be purchased new and could not be resold or traded. That would have been about $400 less that I would have contributed to the new video game economy this year. $400 is insignificant to some, but if you multiply that by just 5,000 others? That’s $2 million less per year in new sales revenue for GameStop and other retailers that accept trade-ins and allow you to use trade-in credit for new items. When less is spent in stores, the affected stores buy less product from publishers, hardware companies, and accessory companies. Then the pain is felt by everyone.

Is that really what people want? Do they want consumers to spend less? Are they going by an assumption that consumers will buy everything new at the same clip they’ve been spending of late? Do they really want to test that theory?

The second-class treatment of buyers of preowned video games over the last three years is one of the major factors in my decision to not buy new video game consoles for this new console generation. For nearly 20 years prior to 2010, it never mattered if I bought used or new. I didn’t read insulting quotes from publisher execs and staff pertaining to used games. While buying used might have resulted in a worn disc, missing instructions, or a missing case, the game still worked exactly as it did had I bought it new– or even when I had bought it new before, and decided to trade it in towards another game. Telling friends and fellow members of the community that I bought a game used and saved a few bucks used to lead to conversations about what I thought of the game or asking how cheaply I got it instead of being chastised as used game buyers are now by some in the community.

My new PlayStation in 1995 was partially subsidized by trade-ins. My new Dreamcast in 1999 and a couple of new PlayStation 2 units that I’ve purchased were also partially subsidized by trade-ins. I became a Dead Space fan after buying the first game on the PlayStation 3 used in 2009, leading to new purchases of Dead Space 2 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as well as a digital version of the original for the 360. The same kind of thing happened after I bought F.E.A.R. used for the 360; I bought F.E.A.R. 2 new later on. The Yakuza series is another example as I bought the first game used for PS2 and bought the three PS3 games all brand new.

That’s the used game economy at work, in practice. Used games do lead to more money being spent on new items in many cases, even if it’s not that way 100% of the time. And yet… this is constantly ignored. History is ignored, and we choose to forget about how it had always been a level playing field before internet connectivity gave publishers new-found power to lock content behind a paywall unless you have a code… and unless you have a high-speed connection. Trade-ins and buying used were rarely stigmatized before this past console generation. Now it’s fairly commonplace.

It’s great that publishers are backtracking on the Online Pass model now, but the damage has been done for me. I don’t trust publishers any longer. What else might be in store for the second-class people who buy used games? I sure as hell am not spending half a grand to find out. Add in the rest of the complaints that I had about the previous console generation that, in my eyes, made it the worst one I’ve ever experienced… and that made the decision not to upgrade at all pretty easy.

What other complaints? That’s what the rest of the Generation Worst series will cover. Part two will come soon.

Shooting Straight: The FuncoLand Experience

FuncoLand

It’s hard to believe that 15 years have gone by since I began my first video game retail job, working for FuncoLand here in West Springfield, MA.

It was, for me, a bit of a dream come true. I knew video games upside down, inside out, backwards and forwards… but there really weren’t a lot of related job opportunities in this area. There were a couple of independent video game stores before FuncoLand arrived, but getting a job at one of those was next to impossible. There were stores like Electronics Boutique and Babbage’s, too, but I never really thought to try my luck there. FuncoLand was brand new to this area, hiring managers and assistant managers, and I knew that I had to try to get one of those spots.

It wasn’t a question of if, but rather a question of how and when.

I typed up a resume and brought it to a store that had already opened. I hung out there, talked to the district manager, played Hot Shots Golf with the staff, and basically sold myself. I was the right person for this job. I would point customers to game suggestions and engage them with appropriate knowledge while I visited. I mentioned on the application that I would work any and all hours needed. I admit that I sucked up to the DM a bit. I just knew that this was an excellent opportunity. I knew little about retail operations, but I knew a lot about the products being sold… and I knew that would be enough.

I was kept waiting for a couple of weeks. I didn’t have any retail experience, which hurt my appeal. I think I came across as being more desperate than eager, which probably wasn’t a good sign, either. I had to come up with references, and the DM had some trouble getting in touch with them. I was starting to doubt that things were going to happen until I did get the call and was hired as an assistant manager for the chain’s newest location.

FuncoLand was an awesome place, with good and fair policies and a decent gaming atmosphere. I loved having ten demo stations active, ranging from the NES to the PlayStation. I loved being able to let customers try games before they were bought. I loved being able to focus on customers, talking about games and helping them get what they were looking for. I loved that the chain carried so many different platforms, rather than just the newest ones out there. I loved my co-workers in West Springfield, who helped me grow as a manager and as a person. My tenure in that store remains one of my favorite jobs of all time.

That’s not to say that my time with FuncoLand was perfect. I wasn’t the best seller of cleaning kits and Game Informer magazines, and I did get talked to a lot about this deficiency. I accepted a promotion to manage a different location, but it was too soon and I wound up burning myself out before I could really succeed. The difference between being an hourly assistant manager and being a salaried manager was like night and day. There was a lot more responsibility, a ton more hours, and a lot more in the way of shenanigans. As a manager, my store was broken into at one point, I had to break up a fist fight over Pokemon cards, a customer pushed his way into the cashwrap and stole a Game Boy Color, and more. I just wasn’t ready for the responsibility increase, and that’s too bad.

Of course, FuncoLand would become GameStop before long, and the FuncoLand culture died after the transition. GameStop was more corporate and less customer-focused, with a decidedly weak gaming focus. The demo stations were all pulled, the ability to try games in-store was axed, and an eventual focus on metrics like pre-orders and used game sales over customer service soured the experience. It saddens me to go into what was my old store in West Springfield and see how far it’s fallen. I can’t imagine what it’d be like now if I’d remained with the company.

Present day aside, I’m grateful for the opportunity I was given back in 1998. It was a great experience and a fantastic way to utilize my video game knowledge while helping people at the same time. Coincidentally, I also began dabbling in review-writing at that time… but that’s a story I’ll save for another time.

Retail Review Follow-up: GameStop (Riverdale Road, West Springfield, MA)

January 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Before I begin, I wanted to thank everyone for their support and candid feedback on my review and about the experience I had. I got some good information from you and was able to follow up the best way that I could after what happened. It’s unfortunate that such experiences happen in today’s brick & mortar retail environment. As someone who has worked on the other side of the counter, I simply cannot understand how an employee can be so distracted and disinterested in a sales transaction… but more on that shortly.

Today, I did two things:

  1. I completed the Tell GameStop survey and gave explicit details about my experience. I rated the experience a zero overall. I supplied my name and phone number so that management can follow up with me if they so choose– and I sincerely hope that someone does. 
  2. I called the GameStop corporate office. I was routed to GameStop customer service and wound up giving another account of the experience to the rep who handled my call. There was no display of empathy from the rep at all, which was surprising, but he did say that he’d be forwarding my comments to district management, who would then allegedly take them up with store staff. No promise of follow-up was made, so I’m assuming that this will probably be the last of things.

I am less upset and more disappointed by this experience. It should not be a matter of fact that, “Hey, bad experiences happen.” Yet that is exactly how this feels, based on how my follow-up has been handled and based on what some folks have told me as I decided to move forward. Perhaps GameStop doesn’t care at all, assuming that I’ll just forget about this and, when the urge finally overtakes me, just forget about it and give this store another chance. That’s not going to happen, despite the good inventory of used PS2 games and the close proximity to my home. This isn’t the first time that I’ve had a negative experience at this store, but after a couple of times with deteriorating results– and after a prior complaint about this store more than a year ago that went unanswered– I’m done with it.

What really gets me is that this experience could have been so much better if the employee had bothered to pay attention or made use of the other employee on duty. This isn’t peak retail season and there simply isn’t any excuse to be so scatterbrained when it comes to a customer who has just given you money. Before you complete a transaction, doesn’t it make sense to pull the games and make sure that they’re in stock and ready to go? If the phones are busy, doesn’t it make sense to pull the other employee off of store tasks and focus on customers to help you? These are basic things. Retail work is not that hard. It demands full attention, task management, and understanding priorities. The employees on this day understood none of these things, and it led to a truly awful experience that happened to a guy that coincidentally writes about gaming retail a little bit.

If anything comes from today’s follow-up, I’ll post an additional entry with all of the details.

Retail Review: GameStop (Riverdale Road, West Springfield, MA)

January 14, 2013 Leave a comment

When you visit a GameStop location, the results can sometimes vary wildly. Sometimes it’s a fantastic experience, other times it’s an average experience… and sometimes, like I saw with my visit to the location on Riverdale Road in West Springfield, MA, it can be downright awful.

Appearance:

This location looked pretty dingy. The open sign was never turned on, so I had no certain idea that the store was open until I tried the door. We’re now a bit removed from the end of the holiday season, but the inside was still dim and dirty, with below-average organization. Many games were out of alphabetical order or were spined/faced out incorrectly. The area behind the counter was messy and magnified the appearance of disorganization. All in all, this GameStop location is not at all inviting and is actually a pretty scary place.

Selection:

There was a decent supply of games, both current and for older platforms, like the PlayStation 2 and the PSP. I managed to find a few PS2 games that I was interested in, as well as games for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. This selection is the location’s best asset.

Service:

This is where the experience completely failed. My transaction was a trade-in transaction, along with a purchase of four used PS2 games (which were part of a Buy 2, Get 2 Free promotion), three used Xbox 360 games, and one used PlayStation 3 game.

The trade-in was fine, though added steps put in place by local law enforcement (photocopy of picture ID) lengthened this part of the transaction. The manager on duty handled the transaction, and at least started out on the right foot by being personable and talkative to keep time moving while he performed the necessary tasks.

When it came to the sale, though, things went south. The employee scanned the games the I brought up. The loose PS2 games were fine. He scanned the PS3 and Xbox 360 cases and got his total, which I paid in cash after the store credit for the trade was used. He then gave me my receipt and ended the transaction.

Aside from the PS2 games, which were live products, I was given four empty cases with no games in them and a receipt. I had to remind the employee that I didn’t receive all of the merchandise that I paid for. Usually, I can understand if it’s busy that maybe a game gets forgotten… but all of them? Unacceptable.

And it got worse.

The employee half-heartedly and haphazardly looked for my games, leaving one on the back counter and two more on the front counter while he multitasked with a phone customer and gave out a live DLC code for Black Ops II, which distracted him and took a considerable amount of extra time.

The employee only found three of the four games that he’d scanned the cases for– and that I’d paid for already. This meant a return (which should have been a void since the game couldn’t be found), which took even more time.

Even after the return, the employee gave me the two games that were on the front counter. I had to ask for the one that he’d forgotten on the back counter. At that point, he finally offered a bag to put the games in.

Hopefully my case is an isolated one, but there’s no way that this level of “service” is acceptable for a retail store. It’s inexcusable when there are two employees on duty and one is doing tasks not related to customer service while the other fails to complete a transaction without distraction or accuracy.

Recommendation:

I cannot at all recommend this location, despite the decent inventory available. Poor appearance and poor service add up to a poor experience that GameStop’s corporate office should be ashamed of offering to any customer. Steer clear of this location; I recommend alternate locations, including sites in Westfield, MA and Chicopee, MA.

Consoleation Quickie: Worst of the Worst

November 26, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s been about two weeks since I’ve been back in Massachusetts, and thought it would do some good to get out and hit my local GameStop store. I know that many of you can’t stand the chain, for reasons that do– and don’t– make sense, but it was something to break up the monotony of being stuck here at home with nothing to do. I understood that this is a holiday weekend, and fully expected lines and a little bit of chaos. It makes sense; I’ve worked several tours of gaming retail duty during this time of year. I know how things work.

I could not have prepared myself for what I was going to see.

When I arrived, my eye first spotted the cracked glass on the bottom pane of the front door. It looked like someone had taken a bat to it. It looked like a crime scene, honestly. Despite the poor initial impression, I went inside. There were certainly plenty of people in the store, but the space wasn’t small. The greeter did his thing, acknowledging me and handing me a flyer. As I made my way further inside,  it looked like an F-5 tornado had ripped through the interior. There was stuff everywhere. Games strewn all over shelves. Product all over the floor behind the counter. Despite counting five employees (and only two registers), there wasn’t any kind of recovery effort going on. In fact, throughout my 35-minute visit, no recovery took place. (Recovery, for those not in retail, is cleaning and reorganization after busy periods.)

Again– I get that this is one of the busiest weekends of the entire year for GameStop. I went through it last year, plus did two seasons for FuncoLand in 1998 and 1999. I know that it’s crazy. I expect to see a bit of chaos. But what I saw went beyond chaos. It was a disaster with no clear leadership or acknowledgement. I had a difficult time understanding how conditions like this were allowed to occur– or continue. It was poor enough that I was compelled to complete the store survey and communicate how appalled I was. I’ve been to many GameStop and other gaming retail stores during the holidays over the years. I’ve worked in some and shopped at others. This store was the worst that I have ever seen, even during the busiest of holiday times. That’s not hyperbole. That’s a fact.

I suppose that I shouldn’t let this bother me, but it does. Maybe it’s my experience in retail that makes me care so much. Maybe it’s because, as a consumer, I was horrified by what I saw. It may not be fair for me to criticize a store during a big weekend like this, but this was the worst of the worst.

Hopefully steps can and will be taken to turn the store around, but as for me, I won’t be going back.

Categories: General Tags: ,

Consoleation Wrap-Up: Ledesma-gate Odds and Ends

August 26, 2010 1 comment

First off, a big thank you goes to the staff over at GameCritics for picking up my reaction piece on Ledesma-gate. I see that my viewpoint has incurred about equal amounts of commenters for and against my viewpoint, and I guess that batting .500 isn’t too shabby. I see that at least one commenter works in the industry, and naturally his comments were the most harsh. Being on the opposite side of where he stands, as I am a consumer of his goods, I guess that disagreement is natural. He wants to make money, and I want to be able to afford his goods. We’re both right, and we’re both wrong.

What’s unfortunate in all of this is that Ledesma’s comments have not only damaged relations between the industry and its consumers who read Ledesma’s views… but they’ve also succeeded in widening a rift between the haves and have-nots when it comes to this form of entertainment that we all enjoy. Charges of entitlement are flying back and forth and the argument that video games are a luxury– or even a service– makes what was once touted to be “fun for everyone” into a select group of individuals who are financially fortunate enough to take part.

It’s a disaster waiting to happen.

We all know what the easy solution is: Get members of prominent game publishers and prominent resale retailers together and hammer out some sort of financial agreement. That solution, however, isn’t going to happen as long as you or I are not in charge. Both sides have obligations to their respective investors. If resellers agree, their profits dwindle and shareholders will find another venture that may be more lucrative. As long as the agreement doesn’t occur, the industry will continue to wage this war on resale and there won’t be a winner when it’s all over. In fact, if the industry was actually successful in the removal of resold product and decided not to adjust their pricing scheme, it’s highly likely that the financial state of the console gaming industry would be far worse than it is now.

If recession-like economic conditions continue, which is likely for at least the next couple of years, eliminating cheaper alternatives than new $60 games will erode the consumer base. That’s not a prediction; it’s a fact. We’d be looking at a firm IF/THEN argument; IF you don’t have $60, THEN you won’t be buying these games. Sure, there may be sales now and again, but with several periods each year when there are more than a handful of new releases for each platform, many games are going to be ignored and left on store shelves. This will lead to retailers not being as bullish on console games as a viable revenue stream as the industry will have lost popularity and the depth of its consumer base. That leads to smaller amounts of retailer purchases of games from publishers, which then will lead to more closures and consolidations. Over a decade’s worth of growth will be lost in a short time, and other– cheaper– sources of entertainment will be sought.

Why are used games so bad? It’s not a black and white scenario. Many consumers sell or trade games to be able to afford new releases. I’ll admit that I’ve done it for years. In fact, I sold my entire NES collection and other games back in 1999 to FuncoLand and gained enough store credit to buy $700 worth of new Dreamcast hardware and games. Note the bolded word there: NEW. A fair amount of that $700 went right back to the industry, with FuncoLand receiving a small profit on the sale. They got their profit from me when I willingly traded in my games for less than they were worth. The industry won, the retailer won, and I won. I do the same now. It makes me a second-class citizen in the eyes of the Industry Defense Force, but everyone really does win. It’s the same scenario: I trade in games for less than I paid for them (reseller profit) to afford to buy new ones (publisher / developer profit) that I can enjoy (my own gain). Where’s the loser here? Is it because the publisher doesn’t make any more money from me or the resale retailer if the game finds a new owner? That’s a shame, but the industry is already making money from the reseller to begin with.

And this incessant ranting about GameStop killing the industry? No. GameStop’s #1 revenue driver is sales of new software.

Let me say it again, with emphasis: Gamestop’s #1 revenue driver is sales of new software.

NEW. SOFTWARE.

As with any business, there are certainly some GameStop business policies that can be debated. Gutting of new games. Questionable trade-in values. Occasionally over-emphatic employees begging for subscriptions and preorders. GameStop isn’t anywhere near perfect, but they’re also doing business well enough that they’re still here and making money in a time period that’s seen Game Crazy go by the boards and Blockbuster’s Game Rush experiment fail. There are lots of myths out there about how GameStop does business, and a lot of online embellishments of in-store experiences that become gross generalizations. Despite what you may or may not agree with about GameStop’s policies, the company isn’t worse for the industry’s financial well-being than GameFly, Goozex, yard sales, or Goodwill.

How about those who buy used games? People have been doing it for years without having to be harangued or made to feel like a second-class citizen or criminal. It used to be called “getting a good deal”. Now it’s some sort of moral dilemma. Again, there’s no black and white here; if you buy used, you’re a (legal) pirate. It doesn’t matter if you’ve bought once or plenty of times. Think of the developers… think of the publishers. If you want better games, buy the “right way”. You know, outside of this bubble called the internet, consumers honestly don’t care about the developer, the publisher, or even what some no-name blogger has to say. He or she has a budget and sticks by it. If he or she wants a game, that person is oftentimes going to buy cheaper if possible. Impulse shopping has been a revenue driver for video games for a long time; if a game is cheap enough, some people will drop the money on it. It’s not about putting money away each week like Wal-Mart layaway and rejoicing when you finally have been able to stash enough away that you can afford this luxury. Maybe for the hardcore gamer, budgeting and savings are a way of life… but for everyone else, it’s a snap decision: Buy now as cheaply as possible, or table it and see if money becomes available in the future. I see this ALL THE TIME. Sometimes they come back, sometimes they’ll buy it used, and I’ve even seen cases where the consumer has flatly said that games are too expensive and that he’s going to “sell the damned thing.”

I would think that, rather than locking features, cutting content for future DLC, and basically trying to nickel and dime what’s left of its consumer base, the console gaming industry would instead think about how to not get back to gaining more consumers… but also try to use incentives instead of what’s viewed as punitive actions to maintain the consumers that it’s been trying to build for years.

We’ve all said things this week that probably should have been held in check. What we need to do now is find real solutions and enact them before it’s too late.

Consoleation Reaction: Five Comments, Five Reactions

August 24, 2010 3 comments

I’ve been reading some comments to some articles relating to Cory Ledesma‘s verbal slap at used game buyers and about Sony’s decision to at least consider using some sort of Online Pass system for their games, and I’m disappointed in what I’ve seen. It’s one thing for industry workers to be so defensive or to say some pretty dumb things, as they believe that used games affect their bottom lines. It’s another for gamers to point fingers at others and basically tell them that they don’t belong to the Gamers’ Club.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

1. “If you can’t afford a $60 game, you shouldn’t be playing video games.”

I love this argument, which generally comes from a group of commenters that I like to call the Industry Defense Force. It’s similar to the “You’re not a real gamer if…” argument in that there are apparently rules to becoming a video game consumer which aren’t clearly stated when you buy a game. It’s bunk, of course. The console gaming industry went through its strongest period of growth by expanding its potential user base. During the previous two console generations (PS2/Xbox/GC and PSX/N64/DC), console hardware and software prices were generally under control and it was all about selling the best value. Yes, the Nintendo 64 did have higher software prices for a time, thanks to Hiroshi Yamauchi’s decision to stick with cartridge-based media, but these prices eventually fell into line with its competition. Now, publishers have happily tacked on a $10 “HD tax” to games for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, citing higher development costs… and, unsurprisingly, software sales have trended down thanks to a recessed economy and games that feel incomplete or rushed.

Please note the term recessed economy. The Federal Government may claim that the Great Recession is over, but look around you and you’ll see a different story. Foreclosures are still happening. Layoffs are still occurring and new job creation is occurring at the speed of molasses. Unemployment has gotten so bad that the rate is inaccurate because some people have been out of work for so long that their benefits have ended. Credit is tighter. Taxes are going up to try and help states that are on the verge of going into receivership. Despite all of these things, the console gaming industry and the Industry Defense Force both insist that $60 is not that much money. The Industry Defense Force will cite pointless inflation comparisons and mention that we’ve been “due” for a price hike. Really? Now? Despite economic reality? The same economic reality that’s sent the industry into its first bonafide downturn in over a decade?

2. “It’s only a $5 difference. Don’t be cheap.”

No… not really. Depending on the retailer, that difference can be $10 or more if certain conditions are fulfilled. That’s enough for a quick lunch, a bit of gas for your vehicle, or extra cash in your pocket that can be spent elsewhere. In tough economic times, it’s not the amount of the savings that is important– it’s the fact that you’re saving any money at all that’s the key. Sometimes you have to wonder how many of these commenters have actual bills or financial obligations, because the value of money seems to escape them. Try this math: Even if you do only save $5 for each game and buy one per month for a full year, you save enough to buy an extra game each year… or two if you partake in discount programs from GameStop or Play ‘n Trade. It adds up, and the bottom line is what matters the most to consumers in times like these. Consumers will continue to be cheap, and they frankly don’t care if the Industry Defense Force calls them out for being that way.

3. “Better for the developers to get money when you buy new than for GameStop to get all of your money.”

Ah, the new version of The Crusades. Let’s forget the fact that the developers got their money for games sold already. Let’s also forget that GameStop isn’t the only source for used games around. Do developers get any money when you trade used games on Goozex? Nope. How about eBay? Nope. What if you see a game at a yard sale or flea market? Negative. Developers and publishers stopped getting their money’s worth of a rented title after a few rentals at GameFly or Blockbuster. Besides, why should gaming consumers care about the industry and how much money it makes when the industry has made it abundantly clear that it doesn’t care about consumers? As for the GameStop stigma, it’s downright laughable how commenters hang onto silly memes and attack a retail chain based on hearsay and the “cool to hate” factor. GameStop, like any other retail chain, has its share of problems and business policies that make consumers cringe… but it’s still a video game store, and there just aren’t very many of them left. The used games problem seems to have GameStop at its core, but there are many other retailers who deal with pre-owned games, both in online and brick-and-mortar spaces.

4. “Servers cost money to maintain. They aren’t free, you know.”

Oh, I know they’re not free. The problem is that the same number of people who own the game have the ability to play it online. In order for a game to be pre-owned, somebody had to buy it first before selling it or trading it in. The seller no longer plays the game online; the new owner does. There’s no additional stress on the server. With the Online Pass program, the $10 is basically free money for the publisher, and it’s not at all guaranteed to go towards server maintenance or upgrades. It’s like a gas tax in some states; ideally, this money should be going to road repair, but it usually goes into a different government fund. This is a shallow and impossible-to-defend argument.

5. “People who buy used games deserve to get a lesser experience.”

Since when? Consumers have been buying pre-owned games for decades, but only now do we vilify them? I don’t think so. Contrary to prior belief or notion, buying used games isn’t a crime, it isn’t a new fad, and it should not be a punitive situation. I’ll agree that, if you buy used, you should expect certain possibilities… like missing instruction manuals, cracked or missing cases, and possible physical damage to the media… but the games are still expected to work like they should. This business of locking content away as a deterrent from buying used in order to generate “a lesser experience” is a cash grab from publishers who decided that used games are the reason for the current business downturn.

Having said all of this, I’m going to step away from the matter once again as I’m trying not get back to writing basics rather than continuing to harp on the same topics. I will say that this issue isn’t going away and is going to likely worsen in the coming months. What will be interesting to see if how consumers respond and whether there will be any pushback– or if  they’re just resigned to their fate of having to pay more to play what they want. In the meantime, I’ll be back to writing impressions and reviews soon.

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