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Opinion: Is pre-owned really good for the industry?

When Ian Shepherd, CEO of the UK’s biggest retailer GAME, comes out and says that pre-owned is good for the industry and attitudes are changing you can’t help think that there is a bit of a hidden agenda behind his comments.

Speaking recently in an interview with MCV, Shepard says that “through conversations with developers and platform owners, that there is a growing realisation that a healthy pre-owned marketplace is good for the whole industry.” I have to say that I totally disagree with this marketing spiel from a man who has no doubt, only his shareholders in mind when counting up the cash gained in this way, at the end of each financial year.

What good does it do the games industry when people are shunning new releases in order to buy the game pre-owned for cheaper a few weeks down the line? Let’s face it, by people becoming wise to the fact that pre-owned games can be picked up cheaper close to release, this practice is hurting the games industry, not helping it. Do publishers get a penny from GAME for the sale of pre-owned games? No. Are publishers losing money by people waiting to buy a game pre-owned? Yes. Sounds like a lose-lose situation to me.

Unfortunately we are already starting to see the effects pre-owned is having on games. EA now includes a digital pass with all of its games as an incentive to buy new. Codemasters is already preparing four new pieces of DLC for DiRT 3, no doubt as a way of making up for some of the extra cash it will lose due to companies such as GAME selling the title for £5. There are many other examples too, such as MX vs ATV which was actually sold with less content so that the publisher could make up for this with DLC, again no doubt due to a forecast loss of revenue from pre-0wned game sales.

Furthermore, we are also seeing less and less brand new IP’s, which is due to the fact that publishers are not making as much money from their games, and are therefore more reliant on big name brands such as Call of Duty which they know will keep retail value and are less likely to be traded in quickly.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand GAME are a business, however given that it’s one of the biggest retailers in this industry surely it should be a little more understanding when it comes to the publishers plight, otherwise gaming will change forever and it’s the consumers who will suffer as a result of publishers moving to a strategy which will involve half a game being released and the rest arriving via DLC.

Only a business man would say pre-owned has “made the mint marketplace more affordable and has kept people in that marketplace.”  The fact is, pre-owned in its current state is not good for the industry, it’s hindering publishers and stopping them from receiving the money needed to reinvest and make gaming better for all of us.

This article is purely the opinion of Joe Anderson, Editor and is not influenced by anything other than the article read on MCV today.

Edited On 23 May, 2011

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