Why I Don't Buy Pre-Owned Games

Over the past few days, debate has been rife in the Allure Media office about the pros and cons of buying pre-owned video games. The argument against this practice is that it robs developers of cash, with 100 per cent of the profits going to whichever retail outlet you happened to buy the game from.

Personally, I feel customers should be free to onsell a product they've legitimately purchased in any way they see fit. Removing the pre-owned games market from existence would severely limit consumers' ability to sell their second-hand games – you'd basically be left with eBay and garage sales.

It could also be argued that the pre-owned/trade-in model allows gamers from lower socio-economic groups to play and enjoy the latest titles (at up to $120 a pop, console games are simply too expensive for many people to buy outright).

When looked at in this way, the second-hand games market could almost be compared to a thrift store where items are traded among the needy. You don't see clothes manufacturers complaining that they didn't get a cut from Saint Vinnies — why should the games industry be any different?

Now, you'd think from this opening salvo that I have both feet firmly planted in the "viva pre-owned!" camp. In reality, I have never purchased a pre-owned game. The reason for this is that they're just not sexy enough. Bear with me.

Walk into a random EB Games store and one of the first things you'll see is a pre-owned games banner. They are invariably black on yellow and an insufferable eye-sore to anyone with an iota of taste. The games, meanwhile, are usually heaped on a table in tottering stacks or jammed inside a bargain bin with zero love or finesse. Hell, even the 'pre-owned' stickers are small, yellow and ugly.

When it comes to attracting consumers, perception is everything. If EB Games doesn't care about its pre-owned wares, why should I? Just because it's somebody's unwanted junk doesn't mean you have to market it that way.

Supermarket Coles has obviously learned this lesson with its various house brand products — often, the packaging looks superior to non-store-branded goods.

My advice to EB Games is to really push its pre-owned brand: invest in cooler displays, ensure packaging is grime-free and get rid of that god-awful yellow motif. I want to see explosion-shaped stickers, sleek mirrored tables with games in neat rows and maybe the odd bikini model dispensing second-hand love to cash-strapped gamers. (Sex sells, right?)

Until then, I'll stick to full-price land, which is lovingly populated with cardboard cut-outs of game characters.


    I'm interested in the legality, since my understanding is that most software is actually purchase of a license, which isn't something you can easily onsell. However that aside I hate the idea that anyone would tell me after I buy something, which I then consider I "own", that I can't do whatever I like with it, including sell it to someone else. Imagine if car manufacturers said "you're not allowed to sell this car to anyone else, because it cuts our income". Nobody would accept that.

      But with consoles, (unless you've chipped it), the licence travels with the disc.
      One advantage to this rumoured model is that arguably you own the licence whether you own the disc or not, therefore if the disc becomes scratched, broken or just lost, you ought to be able to still play the game from, say, a backup disc or from a download.

      At the moment, you're sold a "licence" that is a physical entity (ie the disc) and if you scratch, break or lose the licence, it's suddenly null and void. Doesn't sound much like a licence to me!

    What an utterly ridiculous article! He doesn't buy pre owned games because the retailer doesn't make the sale area or paraphernalia look sexy enough? They're second hand games mate! Buy them, don't buy them, but don't whine about the way they're marketed to you!

    I don't buy pre-owned games because it's usually cheaper to buy new copies from online stores.

    I don't buy used games because they don't contribute to the developers bottom line for developing the product, only to the retail chain's bottom line.

    I have no problem with a casual used games market - prices tend to be much less than buying the game new and there's a fair chance that the money saved and money earned go towards other game purchases - but when used games are corporatised and sold in the same store as the new games for a mere $5 - $10 discount, it sucks money out of the new games market.

      You're falling for publisher hype which is not strictly related to the way the developer is paid...

      But regardless, having an ability to trade in games the same place you can buy new games can stimulate new game purchases. The reality is a lot of consumers only have a limited budget for games each year. If they can't easily trade in old purchases, new purchases are less frequent.

      And a healthy used game market is good for consumers because it drives prices down overall.

      But ultimately, the entire games industry is being altered by iTunes where you can get games for $2-$3 that previously you would have had to fork out $30+

      Games stores (like music stores, DVD stores and soon book stores) will cease to exist. Digital distribution will kill them.

      And once that happens the entire resale market will be gone as well...

    Piece was a bit "fluffy", but does raise an interesting point.
    EB games etc are probably missing out on fairly solid branding opportunity.

    That said though, I still consider the main reason not to by pre-owned games to be the fact that the original dev's/publishers not getting a cut.
    The more sales they get, the more likely they are going to continue a series of games.

    It would be sad if an awesome series died because it didn't quite make sales targets due to pre-owned games.

    That said, the point will likely be moot soon, considering the next gaming generation's push towards "no resale of games", and PC's current push towards services like steam.

    Any current gen consoles, I tend to buy new. Each to their own in that case, but games for old consoles, what choice does one have than to buy second hand. I don't see any NES/SNES games being sold new in stores. I'll be interested to see if Sony and/or Microsoft lock down games on their new consoles to stop second hand trade in's, how this will affect collectors in 20yrs time.

    I don't buy pre-owned games because they are icky and covered in germs from the past owner!

    I actually either buy games brand new right when they come out, or online on steam or something when they're on sale.

    I pay full price for a game if I want it when it comes out. It's only a handful of games a year. On steam sales, I tend to pick up a bunch of games I missed or would never buy for anything much and usually get them really cheaply. Or even get games that are a bit old I want to play. I've also gotten some great deals on Origin.

    There have been times i've bought pre-owned games, or even games that have been out a while in EB games. However I usually have then accidentally seen them on sale on steam for cheaper.

    On the condition of pre-owned games. It is true that they often are filthy. In my cupboard filled with old games, if they are still in a cardboard box, they are generally in way better conditions. My plastic cases also don't have that layer of grime that every used game seems to have.

    I always buy new if given the option, I work in the industry and we need all the help we can get.
    I'd never try to stop someone selling things second hand though, I definitely feel we should be able to buy our games and sell them as we wish.
    I tend to think the 'problem' of the used game market would be better solved by having games drop in price more over time. The people who can't afford to pay full price for a game are never going to pay full price for it. Only way to turn them into a customer is to have the price fall into their range.

    If a used game is 30 dollars cheaper of course many people are going to go for it, if the difference is more like 5 dollars most people would opt for the new copy.

    interesting concept, i'd support it, but only if the price of games we're dramatically reduced. Exp, in australia where there is an artifically high mark up (even as a FT worker i find it hard to justify spending close to $100 for a single game when it can be purchased used @ a substantial discount (which would be a realistic price for a new game).

    I don't see much difference between buying a pre-owned DVD or vinyl and buying a pre-owned video-game...

    It's like buying a second hand car, it's not as shiny as it was when it was new, but for price you're not gonna complain...

    If the pay-the-creator-again philosophy applied to books and music, there'd be no second hand stores. What about used cars and furniture? Should it apply to them as well?

    If you feel strongly about this, don't buy second hand, but don't enforce your opinions on everyone else.

    Have you tried reading this:

    I can't get on any moral high ground with this one.. I simply buy new games because I am too lazy to go to actual shops and buy them..

    That's got to be the most ridiculous reason for not buying pre-owned games I've ever seen. You don't buy them because they're not displayed nicely?? Really?? When you take it home and take the 'pre-owned' sticker off, is it going to look or perform any differently to a brand new copy? You'd rather pay nearly twice as much for the same product just because it's happens to be put on a shelf rather than piled on a table, which won't make a difference the second you walk out of the store. EB must love people like you, as the saying goes, "a fool and their money are easily parted".

    Are you serious?

    I don't buy my fruit and veg from the supermarket because it's not as fresh as the green grocer. Woopty doo!! This is a crazy excuse for an article. And yet you've roped me in to commenting, so well done for that.

    They're clearly using the same marketing book that JB Hifi uses. Make it LOOK cheap and people will think it's a bargain.

    My first thought, as Dman noted, is it's SOFTWARE. Unless the disc is scratched, it'll perform IDENTICALLY to the same game in the fresh crispy new box that has that oh-so-yummy new plastic smell. If you're happy to pay twice as much for an identical item then you're a marketer's dream.

    I look forward to the article about never using cash because it's been through lord knows how many hands and is not nearly as "sexy" as that flashy new credit card, never mind the interest rate.

    This guy is retarded and has probably never ran out of money

    Hi bought the full set of wow for my son second hand the code has been used can you still play the game or get a new code someone please help.

    If I can borrow a book from a library for free then I have no issues buying a second hand game.

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