Used games are a controversial topic in the game industry. Buying games used can save gamers some serious money up front, and when you've got a fall season as crowded as this one, that fact is certainly nothing to sneeze at. However, developers are increasingly trying to drive gamers away from used games. Why is this? Well, quite simply, buying used games puts money in the wrong pockets. But should you, the penniless gamer, really care? Actually, yes, and here are five reasons why.
Developers See None of Your Money
As a gamer, this is a bullet point that you're not likely to care about, and for good reason. You pay your money to play a game, and it really shouldn't matter to you whose pocket your purchase is lining. However, developers are taking notice and are altering their sales strategies as a result. In response to rising used game sales, developers are stripping basic features out of games, beefing up in-game ads, and placing a huge focus on early sales to drive sequel content. And this results in an overall negative for the gamer. Which leads me to my next point.
If You Want to Play Online, Get Ready to Pay for It
Five years ago, if I would have told you that online content would be a "premium" service that could be bundled with new games or bought separately, you would probably laugh at me. However, companies like EA and THQ have already implemented "separate admission" online passes to get more cash out of gamers who buy used, and I don't see this practice slowing down any time soon. Unfortunately, this practice often makes used games cost the same as new ones, as the five or ten dollar discount you receive from buying used is quickly eaten up by the cost of the "online pass" system.
You Have Other Options
Look, if you just need to play a certain game right now, chances are you'll run out and buy it as soon as possible. But if you are waiting to buy it at a good price used, you might also want to think about trying other options. And yes, I'm talking about renting. Sure, it's nice to see all the games we've conquered lined up on our shelf, but instead of adding another generically labeled used game box to your collection, consider renting your game first. Services like GameFly were made for this specific purpose, and if you need it now, physical rental services like Redbox and Blockbuster offer that immediate gratification we all crave. Although online play may be limited if you choose to rent, if you are looking to play a single-player game (or don't care about the online component) this is a great option.
Used Game Sales Take Advantage of You
When you buy a game new, a certain percentage goes to the game seller, some to the game's publisher, and the rest to the game's developer. However, when you buy a game used, 100% of your money goes to the store you bought the game from. They probably paid some poor gamer $10 and are now turning around that product, unaltered, for $30 or more. It's a system that takes advantage of gamers and should be avoided if at all possible.
Patience Pays Off
I know that it doesn't always feel great when you don't have the cash to pick up a game the moment it comes out. But instead of paying $5 less for a used version a week after the game comes out, try waiting a few months, and then purchasing the game new. Games that came out only a few months ago often sell new for half their original MSRP. Portal 2 is a great example of this. This game is still one of the highest rated games of the year, and can be purchased for between $25-$35 dollars (depending on store and platform). The savings are huge, and you're unlikely to find the game for much cheaper in a used game bin.
I sincerely doubt that the used game market will go away any time soon. However, being a smart consumer and avoiding buying used whenever possible will ensure that you get the content you are paying for, and that your money goes to the right people. I'm also guilty of buying the odd used game, and I don't think poorly of people who do buy the bulk of their games this way. However, there are better ways of saving money on video games, and these methods don't reward the unfortunate price-jacking that occurs in the used game market.
By Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Senior Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*