Used Games: Stop Guilt-Tripping Us About Them
Years back, I was walking through the Greenwich Village with friends. We walked up to a bar and, upon learning there was a cover charge because of a band performance, turned to leave. The bouncer did not let us go quietly, though.
"Support live music!" he barked, as if to scold us for not paying to see a band we didn't want to see.
This new editorial by Bitmonster Games co-founder Lee Perry reminds me of that incident. In his piece, he states that it falls to consumers to support the gaming industry by purchasing new games.
"Here’s a pretty unavoidable truth for consumers: when someone buys a used game, that transaction does not support the artists, designers, programmers, musicians, or anyone who created that game. 100 per cent of the money paid for a used game goes to the people they just handed their money to."
He mentions elsewhere in the piece that we should be able to choose between used games and new games, but we should choose the latter. In spite of the fact that, as he acknowledges, "triple-A games are too expensive." In spite of the fact that he can "completely get why people want to buy a used copy of a game for a couple bucks cheaper." We should buy new games because it's the right thing to do.
In other words, gaming companies aren't a business. They're a cause, like live music. They're pals who really need your help. Sure, it costs more money to buy a game new but what's a few bucks among friends?
I find this argument curious, because gaming companies are always reminding us that they're businesses just trying to keep the lights on. "Hey, we don't want to raise the price to $60, but it's not cheap to make these games. We'd also love to keep the multiplayer servers running, but it's just too costly to keep them up. And sure, we would've loved to make another strategy game instead of a shooter but strategy games just don't sell anymore. It's just business, you know?"
But we've moved past cold economics. We're now pals. We'll help you by buying new games. And you'll promise to keep releasing patches for games that don't sell well. And you won't slice off parts of your game and sell them to us for an additional $15. And you won't withhold certain content if we don't pre-order. Right, guys? Guys? Where are you going?
The role of the consumer is to buy products that they want. If they can get it for cheaper, they have the right to do it. I realize used game sales are infuriating to the developers and publishers who don't get a dime from them, but let's be honest, fellas: if pre-owned sales ended overnight, you'd still pull the same shit you do now. You just wouldn't be able to use GameStop as an excuse. You'd still have plenty of boogeymen to pin the blame on: piracy, the rising costs of development, and so on. Even if you had enough money to keep the lights on, you'd want more money.
I don't blame you for wanting more. In the end, that's your job: make games, sell them, make money. Maybe we'll buy a new copy. Maybe you'll give us some DLC for free. No one owes anyone a damn thing, though. As you're all so fond us reminding us, this is just a business.
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