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Second hand sales are not killing anything

Second hand sales are not killing anything

Once again the topic of Project $10 comes up, and once again someone – a gamer, from the public, like you – makes a comment that “second hand is killing the games industry”.

Bollocks. Grade A, gigantic, sweaty bollocks. From hell. Of doom. BOLLOCKS.

I swear if I hear that demi-argument uttered by someone from the consumer side of things one more time my brain will simply up and leave this body, before floating off into the ether. It’s not true, for one, and for two it makes absolutely no sense for someone who isn’t involved in the money and business side of things to spout that which they’ve been trained to say by those who have money as a vested interest.

If pre-owned sales killed the games industry it would have died 20 years ago. It’s a logical fallacy that won’t go away, supported as it is by self-serving notions of penny-pinching industry moneymen. Just as with politics (very recent politics, for those paying attention to the news), it’s the greed and wants of the few controlling the beliefs of the many. If you repeat something enough times people will start to believe it.

If I told you the games industry was worth $25.4 billion in 2004, $29 billion in 2005, $31.6 billion in 2006, $41.7 billion in 2007, $54 billion in 2008, $60.4 billion in 2009, $62.7 billion in 2010, $65 billion in 2011 and is forecast to grow even more for 2012 and beyond.* If I told you that, would you believe the industry is being ‘killed’ by people like you, who buy games? No, you wouldn’t. And I’m on your side.

So why do you believe the people who don’t throw these figures at you, but just tell you you’re a criminal for wanting to save some money? They’re not saying you’re a thief, but they are calling you murderers – killing the industry, as they say. It’s bollocks.

I understand the arguments against second hand – it takes money from the developers and 100 per cent of it goes to the shop in question. I’m not arguing that this is a system that could see some change to help out developers in future. But at the same time, isn’t it just the price these companies pay for operating in a free, capitalist market? It isn’t my job to make sure every company gets all the money they want from me – it’s the job of outlets that sell to me to make me want to buy from them. And I tend to pay the lowest prices I can, as I am constantly broke.

Of course I want developers to survive and thrive. But I also want entertainment in my life, as it is deeply boring to be Ian Dransfield. I also want to be able to afford the entertainment to make my existence less of a bore, and with full-price titles costing the not-inconsiderable £40+ on release (or £57.99 if you’re Red Faction: Armageddon via PSN), why would I not look for cheaper options?

Arguments stand for, against, up, down, through and over second hand. I know where I stand, I know where a lot of others stand. I’m not here to debate everything, I just want to put out there what I feel, and what I see as supported by good old-fashioned facts and figures: second hand sales have not, do not and will not kill the games industry. Ever. And that’s even before DLC and other scalping techniques existed to squeeze more money out of the innocent consumer.

I’m sure another day I’ll throw another logic-bomb on the fire of piracy, too. Because that’s another thing that’s blown all out of proportion and sees your consumer rights eroded as a result, while some of you all sit there lapping it up and toeing the company line.

*There’s every chance some of these figures are inaccurate, or point at the wrong area of games industry ‘value’. My apologies for that. Just a cursory search will reveal figures that vary by a few billion, purely because it’s hard to measure every element of the industry. The point stands though – the numbers go up every year.




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  • Buying second hand games is a fantastic way to save money. As said above it is certainly not killing the industry, it is helping it survive. Not everyone can afford the retail prices of the new titles. Buying second hand games helps cut down on piracy!

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  • jason

    is it worth buying ps3 second hand games for online games. i know you don’t need serial numbers to just get started on most games. is there a list anywhere. cheers me hearties.

  • Ian Dransfield

    You can buy any game second-hand, but a lot of them since about 2010 need an online pass to be playable online. So you’d either have to luck out and get a second-hand game where the code hasn’t been used, or you’d have to buy the code – about £5-10 each. It’s definitely for your own good and not because publishers are horrible scalping bastards out to squeeze every penny out of you they can.