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Op Ed

Ars Technica - Buying used games: Developers, publishers don't care about you. Thanks Mark.
That's a bold statement, as gamers hate to be called pirates—and they will pirate your game in retaliation for being called pirates—but in both cases, the people behind the game aren't making any money from the sale. If you take the game online you're using their time and money. So where's the argument that developers need to keep these people happy?

BitMob - More Pixar, Less Uwe: How Hollywood Can Make a "Good" Video Game Movie.
This formula is responsible for movies of varying degrees of commercial success, though from a critic's perspective, they’re typically considered awful-to-middling films. For every Resident Evil -- arguably the only video game movie that stands on its own without much need to know the subject material -- we get several Uwe Boll movies and countless other generally bad adaptations. Most video game movies either go for broke on the game’s subject matter (Mortal Kombat, Prince of Persia) or try to adapt that same subject matter into something more filmlike (Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, almost every Uwe Boll movie). But few of them are able to strike a balance that will resonate with fans and interest the general movie-going audience alike.

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81. Re: Ars Technica - Buying used games Sep 1, 2010, 09:15 Bhruic
 
The pirate buys a new copy of the game, copies it and distributes these copies. This is no different from buying a new game, selling it, having someone else buy it, sell, rinse and repeat

It's vastly different. With a game that is legally bought, sold, rebought, etc, there is only ever 1 copy of it in existence. If someone currently owns it, no one else can play that copy (barring friends coming over, etc). With piracy, once one copy is bought, there exists an infinite number of copies, meaning that everyone on the planet (potentially) can have and play the game simultaneously.

At the end of the day, yes, with used copies and piracy, the developer doesn't see any money directly, but the economy of scale of the difference between the two is so staggering that any direct comparison is utterly laughable.
 
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80. Re: Ars Technica - Buying used games Sep 1, 2010, 08:02 Kosumo
 
Man there is some funny thinking going on there Jerykk.

How is a legil copy of a game (1 of 1000) being resold diluting the supply and demand pool (total still 1000) as aposed to making more copies thought piracy (1866 copies in the world now, due to supply and demand, you may have just devalued the 1000 legit copies)?

How is that 'just like'?
 
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79. Re: Ars Technica - Buying used games Aug 29, 2010, 22:40 Jerykk
 
There is absolutely no issue with each player who plays the game needing to pay someone for that privelidge.

Why? If you are enjoying a game, shouldn't you reward those who made it, even if you aren't legally obligated to? When you buy a used copy, you aren't rewarding the people who made the game. You are rewarding the guy selling it to you. Such sales are not tracked by publishers and therefore do not contribute to their sales numbers, which in turn impacts future projects from the developer.

When you make a copy with piracy, you're creating a new copy that has no reward attached to it. There is no gray area here, you're creating a new copy and not rewarding anyone in the process.

As I mentioned earlier, pirated games usually originate from legitimate sales. The pirate buys a new copy of the game, copies it and distributes these copies. This is no different from buying a new game, selling it, having someone else buy it, sell, rinse and repeat. There was still only one new sale in either case, even though there were multiple transactions.

You create new copies and dilute the supply so that the game loses value more quickly than it would otherwise.

Used sales have the same effect. When used copies are available, the value of new copies is reduced. In most cases, a used copy offers the exact same experience as a new copy so why would customers buy new copies? Your own buying habits are proof of this. You often boast about how you buy games for less than $10. Hell, your signature promotes the trading of games for only $1. What incentive do you have to buy new games unless they match the prices of used games, which they never will? In addition, if a retailer can sell one copy of a game multiple times, they will order fewer new copies from the publisher. So yes, used sales do dilute the supply just like pirated copies do.
 
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78. Re: Ars Technica - Buying used games Aug 29, 2010, 19:23 Tumbler
 
The key point here is whether or not you have rewarded the pub/dev for the game you are playing.

That is not a key point in any sense. When someone sits down to play a game there is no need to insure everyone rewarded the developer who will be playing. You can invite a friend over and he or she can play the game without issue. There is absolutely no issue with each player who plays the game needing to pay someone for that privelidge. Some of the owners of the copes insist on this, Stores, some do not, friends. Some offer to let you borrow it for a few days for a fee, rentals.

The key difference is the copy of the game, no matter where it came from, was paid for, the reward for that copy has been given. (when it's a legit copy, ie not pirated)

When you make a copy with piracy, you're creating a new copy that has no reward attached to it. There is no gray area here, you're creating a new copy and not rewarding anyone in the process.

The reward comes from aquiring a copy of the game. Not playing the game. MMO's and arcade games are games that are more or less reward required from every player every time (or time period) they will be playing the game.

It makes not difference if the first pirated copy of the game was legit, the copy you are using is not. You create new copies and dilute the supply so that the game loses value more quickly than it would otherwise.

This comment was edited on Aug 29, 2010, 19:35.
 
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77. Re: Ars Technica - Buying used games Aug 29, 2010, 18:38 Jerykk
 
With legit copies of the game, when you purchase that copy, you know for a fact that the copy was produced and sold by the publisher. There is no chance you're making your own copy that doesn't reward anyone.

When your copy was initially sold new, that transaction rewarded the publisher/developer. However, all the people who bought and sold the game used did not reward anyone but themselves.

With piracy, someone usually has to buy a new copy first. Then pirated copies are made from that copy. So if you're playing a pirated game, there's a good chance that someone bought the original copy new, just like with used games.

The key point here is whether or not you have rewarded the pub/dev for the game you are playing. It's convenient to say that someone else rewarded them at some point in time but that doesn't really mean much, since the same can often be said of pirated games.
 
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76. Re: Ars Technica - Buying used games Aug 29, 2010, 15:25 Tumbler
 
They are very clearly legal. What we're debating is whether or not piracy and used sales have the same end result for developers and publishers. The answer is yes, they do have the same end result. You play a game without rewarding those who made it.

They are not the same result. The copy you create when you pirate a game is absolutely not rewarding the developers, publishers, and I would assume in most cases, the original copy holder. (unless you're buying a boot leg copy, then at least you're paying the guy who's burning the game)

With legit copies of the game, when you purchase that copy, you know for a fact that the copy was produced and sold by the publisher. There is no chance you're making your own copy that doesn't reward anyone. You're only able to use a copy of said game if someone has purchased it and is reselling it. Otherwise you have no choice but to buy new or not play it.

With piracy you're making a new copy all for yourself and you know for a fact that you are not rewarding anyone.

When you buy a game in the store it's assumed that they are legit copies, used or new, no one is saying that throwing boot legged copies into the mix is happening. Each copy was made by the publisher and sold by the publisher. Unless publishers are getting robbed on an epidemic level and those copies are being sold use then every copy out there, used or new, rewards developers. EVERY ONE.
 
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75. Re: Ars Technica - Buying used games Aug 28, 2010, 21:58 Jerykk
 
A used <almost any product> can be sold and used to <do anything legal>, with the publisher/developer/author/whatever only making profit from the initial sale.

I think you're missing the point. No one is debating the legality of used sales. They are very clearly legal. What we're debating is whether or not piracy and used sales have the same end result for developers and publishers. The answer is yes, they do have the same end result. You play a game without rewarding those who made it.

...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. ...

Again, nobody is questioning legality. We're simply stating the fact that whether you buy a used game or pirate a game, you are playing the game without paying any money to those who made it. Just because you can legally buy and sell used games is completely irrelevant to that point.

If you are not, with the nearly infinite bucket of possibilities, why then pick piracy? Why pick something that is illegal to define the “other” activity? How about instead phrase it as “buying new” and “everything else under the sun that is legal” since it will yield the same result you describe (If you buy used the total sold doesn't receive a tick, etc.).

Piracy and used games are compared in this debate because they pertain to the same product and they have the same result for developers and publishers. It's a perfectly valid comparison. I'm sorry if you don't like the phrasing but arguing semantics isn't going to change the facts.

I guess it just boils down to ways of thinking. Many of you apparently equate legality with morality. I base my morality on the context and consequences of my actions. If the legality of used sales makes you feel morally superior to a pirate, that's fine. This isn't an argument over right and wrong. It's about establishing the fact that used sales and piracy have the same impact on publishers and developers.

This comment was edited on Aug 28, 2010, 22:13.
 
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74. Re: Op Ed Aug 28, 2010, 21:02 ASeven
 
The most astonishing thing on this thread is that there are actually people defending that the First Sale Doctrine is actually wrong.

Since when do you wish to have legal rights taken away from you and in consequence taken away from us all? Are people actually arguing that the consumer and the common citizen should have less rights?

Good grief. Sometimes I have to wonder if the old cliche that gamers are beneath dignity is true.
 
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73. Re: Ars Technica - Buying used games Aug 28, 2010, 20:33 JohnnyRotten
 
Sepharo wrote on Aug 28, 2010, 20:21:
What is this utter bullshit that used is like piracy. Piracy is not even in the same ballpark with buying new and used.

There is no difference seen to the developer between purchasing used and pirating.

While maybe grammatically awkward, I never said that those two are the same. If you buy used the total sold doesn't receive a tick, if you pirate the total sold doesn't receive a tick.


The current structure of the sentence isn't grammatically awkward, it appears to me to be intellectually dishonest phrasing along the lines of “when did you stop beating your wife”. I read this as you trying to build an implicit relationship between the used market (legal) and piracy (illegal) with the reader.

If you are not, with the nearly infinite bucket of possibilities, why then pick piracy? Why pick something that is illegal to define the “other” activity? How about instead phrase it as “buying new” and “everything else under the sun that is legal” since it will yield the same result you describe (If you buy used the total sold doesn't receive a tick, etc.).

 
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72. Re: Ars Technica - Buying used games Aug 28, 2010, 20:21 Sepharo
 
What is this utter bullshit that used is like piracy. Piracy is not even in the same ballpark with buying new and used.

There is no difference seen to the developer between purchasing used and pirating.

While maybe grammatically awkward, I never said that those two are the same. If you buy used the total sold doesn't receive a tick, if you pirate the total sold doesn't receive a tick.

 
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71. Re: Ars Technica - Buying used games Aug 28, 2010, 20:12 JohnnyRotten
 
Jerykk wrote on Aug 28, 2010, 19:52:
Your logic is flawed. A used game can be sold and purchased multiple times, with the publisher/developer only making profit from the initial sale.

Your logic is flawed. A used game can be sold and used to build a house out of the boxes the game was packaged in, and then the house sold, with the publisher/developer only making profit from the initial sale.

Your logic is flawed. A used game can be sold and used to give the game dvd's as a gift to your grandmother (drink coasters), with the publisher/developer only making profit from the initial sale.

Your logic is flawed. A used game can be sold and used to turn the game materials into art and donated to a museum as a tax write-off , with the publisher/developer only making profit from the initial sale.

Your logic is flawed. A used car can be sold and purchased multiple times, with the builder only making profit from the initial sale.

Your logic is flawed. A used house can be sold and purchased multiple times, with the builder only making profit from the initial sale.

Your logic is flawed. A used book can be sold and purchased multiple times, with the author only making profit from the initial sale.

Your logic is flawed. A used game can be sold and used to <anything legal>, with the publisher/developer only making profit from the initial sale.

Your logic is flawed. A used <almost any product> can be sold and used to <do anything legal>, with the publisher/developer/author/whatever only making profit from the initial sale.

DG hit on the head with this quote:

DG wrote on Aug 28, 2010, 17:45:
...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. ...

Your logic is flawed.
 
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70. Re: Ars Technica - Buying used games Aug 28, 2010, 19:52 Jerykk
 
It makes no difference if you buy your copy of the game from target or phil down the street. They're both legal copies of the game created by the publisher.

Your logic is flawed. A used game can be sold and purchased multiple times, with the publisher/developer only making profit from the initial sale. This has the same result as piracy. Somebody buys a new copy of game, then copies it and distributes it on the web or sells copies for $1 in third-world countries. In both cases, one new copy was sold, but more than one person played the game.

Just ask yourself two questions:

1) Are you playing a copy of a game?
2) Did the publisher and/or developer see any money from you?

Those playing pirated or used games have the same answers to both questions.

You can argue that your money goes to retailers and not publishers and/or devs but that's missing the point. Retailers order copies of games based on demand. If customers buy lots of new copies, retailers have to order more. Publishers track these orders and know exactly how much a game is selling, which in turn determines the fate of future projects. If a game sells 1 million new copies, the publisher will likely sign another project with the developer. If a game sells 1 million used copies, the publisher won't know because they don't track used sales. 500,000 new sales can easily become 1 million used sales if each used copy is sold twice. However, publishers will only track 500,000 sales regardless of how many times the used copies are sold. It's not about developers getting royalties, it's about signing future projects based on tracked sales of your previous games.

This comment was edited on Aug 28, 2010, 20:00.
 
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69. Re: Ars Technica - Buying used games Aug 28, 2010, 18:13 JohnnyRotten
 
Tumbler wrote on Aug 28, 2010, 18:07:
and each copy you buy was paid for...cept that little difference...that people playing used copies of the game are playing copies that were legally produced and the publishers got paid for EVERY ONE of those copies...

Excellent point - someone buying a used physical copy of a game is almost certainly purchasing a (previously owned, previously purchased) legitimate version of the original. This couldn't be much further from piracy.

I'm sure there are a few exceptions (game paid for via cc fraud, etc), but I would guess that those are very rare.

 
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68. Re: Ars Technica - Buying used games Aug 28, 2010, 18:07 Tumbler
 
There is no difference seen to the developer between purchasing used and pirating. The only difference to the user is that they aren't breaking the law and they're out $40 instead of $50. So once again we come down to morality is subjective, I'd rather pirate and then purchase new than buy used for $1 simply to not break the law.

...uh expect the people creating the used games are the publishers...and each copy you buy was paid for...cept that little difference...that people playing used copies of the game are playing copies that were legally produced and the publishers got paid for EVERY ONE of those copies...

What is this utter bullshit that used is like piracy. No one is stealing or bootlegging games and pawning them off as used. Piracy is not even in the same ballpark with buying new and used. It makes no difference if you buy your copy of the game from target or phil down the street. They're both legal copies of the game created by the publisher. It doesn't even matter if you pay for those copies, the fact that you're playing a copy produced by the publisher is the important part. Reviewers don't often pay for their games, publishers just ship them, free of charge. (In exchange for reviews of course) But they might as well be pirates too by your logic, you didn't pay for the game so you're a scumbag.

No one needs to pay for anything to play this content. But you should go find a copy of the game sold by the publisher. If that means playing on your friends starcraft 2 acccount, or borrowing the game from a friend who has a copy then so be it. This would be like comcast trying to force subscribers to only watch content that they directly pay for. If your friends come over to watch a pay per view even then you're all stealing. Fuck off.
 
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67. Re: Ars Technica - Buying used games Aug 28, 2010, 17:56 ASeven
 
DG wrote on Aug 28, 2010, 17:45:
Heh, arguing economics on the internet. Ask any two actual economists about anything and you get three contradicting answers.

OT: Long running economist joke.

Bentley's second Law of Economics: The only thing more dangerous than an economist is an amateur economist

Berta's Fundamental Law of Economic Rents: The only thing more dangerous than an amateur economist is a professional economist
 
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66. Re: Ars Technica - Buying used games Aug 28, 2010, 17:51 ASeven
 
JohnnyRotten wrote on Aug 28, 2010, 16:12:
Sepharo wrote on Aug 28, 2010, 15:46:
...So once again we come down to morality is subjective...

Exactly - for one person buying used in this market is bad, but not these others. It's a personal decision to be altruistic here, but selfish there. We're on the same page here.

And that's the thing. I've always defended that buying used or new is neither wrong nor right, neither of those purchase options is more wrong or more right than the other, it's simply two different purchase options without any moral value attached in economic definition for the consumer, without any illegality in the eyes of the law and without any moral attachment in my personal views.

The argument of wanting to support the developer is also a risky argument since most of that money never arrives at the dev's hands. The middleman which are the publishers and all the running costs ensure most of the money is already accounted for, the developer often receives a fixed salary and often without royalties but with the occasional bonus. When I buy a mainstream game I don't buy it with the illusion I'm supporting a developer but rather I know I'm supporting the publisher first and foremost since that's where most of the money goes to. If you are willing to support a developer go support an indie developer then because most if not all of the money goes to their pockets. At least when I purchase indie games I really know there's no middlemen (I often purchase the games directly from their sites, I'm fully aware an online distributor is a middlemen).

It always aggravates me when people attach a moral value in purchasing new vs purchasing used. There's no difference in the end for consumers other than a relative moral value that is inherently subjective and since it is protected by law and since buying used is often a statement from the market on how much a good or intangible asset is worth I say keep on the used market, if anything it will help deflate the value of crap games along with good games. In the end people will buy new games anyway if they're good, or hyped to kingdom's come.

To use a tired, old cliche that's becoming a bit truer each passing month in this industry, maybe developers should spend more time coding great games and less time whining and bitching about the consumers that actually buy games and end up paying their salaries ultimately because one day it will bite them back in the fucking ass and they'll have nobody to blame but themselves when that happens.

Bottomline: Like buying new? Fine. Like buying used? Fine too. Just do go throw bullshit rhetoric that one is more right or wrong than the other because it fucking isn't.
 
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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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64. Re: Ars Technica - Buying used games Aug 28, 2010, 17:16 Verno
 
nin wrote on Aug 28, 2010, 15:05:
It's obvious I'm wasting my time


Yes heaven forbid you have to defend your dumb opinion after sharing it with everyone.
 
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63. Re: Ars Technica - Buying used games Aug 28, 2010, 16:20 JohnnyRotten
 
Sepharo wrote on Aug 28, 2010, 15:46:
There is no difference seen to the developer between purchasing used and pirating

This is a false dichotomy. It also doesn't matter to the developer if you decide to build a house out of the boxes the game was packaged in, give the game dvd's as a gift to your grandmother (drink coasters), or turn the game materials into art and donate them to a museum.

Here is a better statement:

The is no difference seen to the developer in how their product is resold, donated, gifted, or otherwise legally used after their product is sold, just like everyone almost else who manufacturers a product for sale.

No special privileges are implied in this version, nor are word games played implicitly linking used purchasers with pirates.
 
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62. Re: Ars Technica - Buying used games Aug 28, 2010, 16:12 JohnnyRotten
 
Sepharo wrote on Aug 28, 2010, 15:46:
... but just know that when they buy used they're supporting GameStop (or the seller) not the developer who actually made the game....

I don't think anyone is unaware of that - again, it works the same throughout our system for nearly every used purchase. When you buy something used, only the seller of that used good (cd, book, dvd, car, house, etc) is receiving your money. I would think this would be "how the world works 101" for everyone above the age of 10. Anyone unaware of this for games is also unaware of this for everything else used.

Sepharo wrote on Aug 28, 2010, 15:46:
...So once again we come down to morality is subjective...

Exactly - for one person buying used in this market is bad, but not these others. It's a personal decision to be altruistic here, but selfish there. We're on the same page here.
 
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