So yesterday saw a huge row over the issue of used game sales, specifically one writer's now-disowned call for them to be regulated heavily in favor of the publishers. Victor Godinez of the Dallas Morning News wrote to me to share some details of an interview he had Thursday with Dan DeMatteo, the chief executive officer of GameStop, in hopes they can better inform this discussion. Some of what DeMatteo said has been out there already. But his on-the-record position, shared by Godinez, is that the damage done by used-game sales is more perceived than real, and it sounds like after the holidays DeMatteo will be going to game makers to make the case that resales are a good thing for them.Industry complaint #1: People can buy flipped copies of a AAA-title on or close to the day of release, depriving a publisher of its rightfully earned dollars. Writes Godinez (quoting GameStop figures): "Just 3 percent to 4 percent of used games purchased are games that have been released in the last 90 days. So while Epic and other publishers fume about gamers buying used copies of GoW2 on the day of release, that’s not what’s happening, by and large. The used games that are being sold are largely the older titles that have already gone through 98 percent of their lifetime sales." Industry complaint #2: Resales represent a second market inaccessible to publishers/developers, siphoning business away from the retail market in which they can operate. Writes Godinez: "80 percent of people who trade in a game turn around and use that money/credit to buy a new game. So the used game market is directly fueling the new game market." Industry complaint #3: Game resales deliver no benefit to the primary market, they only take from it. Writes Godinez: "When gamers buy a new game, they, on average, expect their game to retain about $20 in trade-in value when they get tired of it and decide to sell it. So they’re willing to put up with the $60 price because they know that they’ll recoup about one-third of that cost when they sell it in a few months." "DeMatteo seemed pretty frustrated about the growing rumblings from developers about used games," Godinez said. "And it sounds like GameStop is going to embark on an effort after the holidays to explain to game makers why the used market is good for them, including getting an outside research firm to vet these numbers." Sounds like a plan. I'm all for anything that puts more light than heat into this debate, and a bona fide industry player like GameStop won't be taken lightly.
I know nobody is going to read this so far back, but seriously the only difference between piracy and reselling games (in terms of an effect on the industry) is that with reselling there's a demonstrated intent to purchase. That's directly taking money from the publishers in order to boost the bottom line. Pretty much biting the hand that feeds you and in the long run that just means that they'll find another way to get their product out there.