Selling of Used Games a 'Critical Situation,' Claims EA
GameStop and company absolutely love it when you buy and sell used games. They hand you $20 for a game you just paid $60 for, then turn around and sell it for $55 which — for the price-conscientious consumer — makes much more fiscal sense than paying a few dollars more for a new copy. That money adds up, so who can blame them? It’s a win-win situation as far as retailers and consumers go, but the sales of used games are of no benefit to the developers and publishers who see nothing come their way each time a used game is sold. But just how much of a detriment are these second-hand sales to game companies?
If we’re to believe Electronic Arts senior VP and general manager for European publishing Jens Uwe Intat, it’s a “critical situation.” Speaking with GamesIndustry.biz on the matter, Intat claimed that comparisons to other second-hand sales in other industries (such as cars and books) aren’t valid, and that EA is trying to counteract used game sales by giving gamers a reason to hang onto their games for months after release.
“What we’re trying to do is build business models that are more and more online-supported with additional services and additional content that you get online. So people will see the value in not just getting that physical disc to play at home alone, but actually playing those games online and paying for them.” …
“In our understanding of the business model we are actually giving away the rights to play, and if you just pass it on, pass it on, pass it on, that is not comparable to second-hand sales in the normal physical goods area where you have physical wear-out – second-hand cars, second-hand clothes, second-hand books… they’re all physically wearing out, so you have an inferior quality product.” …
“But digital goods is not actually becoming inferior in quality, so people passing that on is actually very challenging for us.”
With that in mind, suddenly the tremendous amount of support for Burnout: Paradise makes sense. All of the game’s downloadable content is being handed out for free — certainly that’s not the sort of thing you’d expect from an EA-published game. Perhaps EA has been backing the decision to release it all for free as a method of convincing gamers to not sell their copies of Paradise. And don’t forget the recent announcement that the game would be sold on the PlayStation Store, which would completely remove the option of selling the game.
Outside of MMOs and subscription-based games, the Paradise model definitely seems like the most effective method for ensuring games aren’t sold more than once. One has to wonder, though, if the return they’re seeing really justifies whatever resources they’re pouring into post-release content. Hopefully it does, as any owner of Paradise will tell you that it’s been phenomenal to get so much bang for your buck.