Are pre-owned game sales only good for retailers?
Both Asda and Tesco are moving into the lucrative pre-owned video games market, letting us exchange our second-hand games to go toward the cost of new ones. It looks like good news for us, but for how long?
Have you ever traded in a second-hand DVD or CD in a high street store? No? How about a video game? I’m sure there are quite a few nods coming back. Pre-owned game sales are a million pound business and many of us rely on them to get a decent deal.
Sure, when it comes to online sites like eBay, sales of second-hand DVDs and the like are a thriving business, but it’s not something that’s been copied by the high street. That’s unless you pop into a charity shop for a second-hand book.
Supermarkets want a piece of the pie
But video games are different. Perhaps because of their high retail price, or maybe because we get bored of them easily. Whatever the case, it’s an attractive business since all used game profits go to the stores that sell them. Almost a quarter of retailer Game’s revenue is from pre-owned game sales and it’s apparently going from strength-to-strength.
And now two of the biggest supermarkets are entering the fray. Asda has announced that it’ll begin selling pre-owned games in 235 of its 377 stores this week. Its new service (Buy, Play, Trade) will let consumers trade unwanted games to either help fund new ones, or get money off other products in store. Tesco’s also lining up to trade used games in 60 of its stores.
This will certainly give us a greater choice over what we do with the games we don’t want to play any more. But what about the developers that make them? At the moment they don’t get any money from pre-owned game sales and it looks like this may be impacting the industry itself. Many game studios have folded under their failure to sell in large enough volumes.
The games industry is fighting back
Game publishers are fighting back by introducing initiatives that are meant to stop us from buying used games. Electronic Arts has added an ‘online pass’ to games like Tiger Woods and Fifa – these require a code to access their online features. A free code comes with the game, but once it’s used, it’s gone for good. Buying a used copy means buying a new code.
Whether this extra money actually gets to the developers, or simply lines the pockets of the publisher, is unknown. But what we do know is that, according to Game, these initiatives have yet to impact second-hand sales. Whatever the case, don’t you think the people who make the games should also get something in return? Otherwise the industry might collapse under the pressure of pre-owned sales.
Being able to trade our games in supermarkets is certainly an interesting development. I’m all for it, but it’s not clear that we’ll actually get a good deal for what we trade in, or whether we’ll get a good price for the used games we buy.
Something tells me that the supermarkets will try their hardest to maximise profits and you’ll be better off looking online.
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