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65. Re: Ars Technica - Buying used games Aug 28, 2010, 17:45 DG
 
Heh, arguing economics on the internet. Ask any two actual economists about anything and you get three contradicting answers.

Way I see it, it boils down to two questions:
1- are GameStop making supernormal (monopolistic) profits?
2- are customers mainly buying & selling used games in order to spend less total money (as opposed to spending the same but getting through more games)?

Only if the answer is yes to either the above are devs making less money than they would without used sales.

I doubt any of us can be bothered looking up actual facts (not me anyway, this is the internet after all) for the first point and we can only speculate about the second. Personally I'm inclined to assume most people spend more or less the same in total and just get through more games; some people spending less but offset by some people spending more because used is the only way they could afford/would be willing to spend on any gaming hobby.

Overall, just like used car sales the money from the second-hand buyers is funnelled up through the guys doing trade-ins and over to the devs that way. And yes, auto makers covet the used car market, and games depreciate fast. GameStop's cut is taking money out of the cycle, but that money is what is keeping GameStop in business and enabling them to sell the new games at low margins - it stays in the bigger cycle. Only if GameStop is making supernormal profits can it be said that they are taking too much out of the system, and if that were the case the question would be why isn't there decent competition pressurising those margins?

But this is actually not relevant. The fundamental point is that devs are absolutely NOT "losing out" nor being "cheated" by used sales. Used sales are bona fide. Even if you do subscribe to the suggestion that used games result in less money for devs, they are not losing out because they never had the right to that money. You cannot lose a right that you never had. None of their rights are being impinged in any way. Tycho very nearly nailed it by saying a used buy does not make you a customer of the dev. What he forgot was that you never were. Devs do not have any right over your money until you make a new purchase, up until that point you owe them nothing and nothing you can do can possibly cheat them from that money. I didn't buy a game this month because I paid my credit card. Do credit cards cheat devs? A lost sale is a lost sale, right?

If they want something different the impetus is on them to make it so. Natural business options might be to decrease prices in order to stall the used market, or switch emphasis to a service like Steam where the consumer is willing to swap their ability to sell used in favour of the service offered by Steam. If consumers do not want your offering, it is up to you to improve it until they do. Natural business options never, ever involve having a tantrum and bleating about how people are "cheating" you by deciding to take their custom elsewhere. That just shows you have absolutely no clue about business and the rationalisation displays an extraordinary sense of entitlement.

ps. for a little context I think I've bought one used game ever, though as a kid I'd sell on my old console + games to finance the new generation. No piracy.
 
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