Facebook Files: Buying Habits: New vs. Used

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This week, we’re discussing the subject of buying new vs. used games. The complete discussion thread for this week’s topic was considerably longer and debate-heavy, in case you’re interested in checking it out.


Anton wrote:

Over the past couple of years I have been hearing a lot of debate over the purchasing and selling of used games by major retailers. While the sale of used games doesn’t benefit the developers at all, it’s a huge profit to game retailers and can be very economical for consumers. With major retailers taking games in for low credit and selling back for merely $5 below new SRPs, there is no wonder in my mind that it is cause for concern.


However, for some consumers $5 can be a big deal. In addition, most major retailers have some form of store membership or discount card. For a game that sells new at $59.99, it may sell for $54.99 used. With a membership discount card, the price could be as low as $49.50 which, in my opinion, is a pretty good deal. But, of that $49.50 the developers don’t get a cent. It’s pure profit for the retailer. While buying a used game for a lower price is a benefit to the consumer and retailer, it hurts the developers, which in the long run, may come back to bite the consumer and retailer.


I look at it like this: if a developer is losing 1 new sale for ever 1 used sale of a title, it could result in spending cutbacks during development which can result in games of poor quality. Consumers buy these poor quality games from retailers, become dissatisfied playing it, and trade it back to the same retailer.


These days I would like to say that I purchase mostly new games, but the fact is that most of my buying is of used titles. This is only because I buy a lot of older games for collector’s purposes. However, I will always buy new games that interest me from Atlus and NIS America.


Andre wrote:

I see no problem buying a used game when it is a game a year or two old. It is normally at the right price due to loss in value due to age and the introduction of stronger production values in newer games. Last year I shopped around in Gamestop and was happy to be able to get my hands on two Xbox classic gems; Panzer Dragoon Orta and Jade Empire. I think its fine to have a market for used games because many, many, many new games come into the market every year and no one except maybe the upper class could have the money to pay for every game they want to own.


Antonio, you mentioned that used games can sell just a tad less than the new version and I think this is absurd. A used game should be like buying a used car, by the time you open it up and use, its value has decreased. Nothing stays close to the value it had when it was purchased new.


What usually is a deciding factor in buying new games IMO, is that I know it is in good condition and now a days, some companies are putting in incentives such as free DLC to buy a game new.


Samwise wrote:

I know it’s a really selfish way to think of it, but I can sum it up easily: If I can get what I want, I’ll do it at whatever price I’m alright with. I’m never thinking “Oh the publisher/developer deserves my money” if it’s something I don’t care about.


That’s the gist of it, and all that really needs to be said.


What are your outlook and buying habits when it comes to new vs. used games? Are there any particular publishers you try to support by buying new, or are you more the type to hunt down the best deals you can find?

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Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.