IMHO: Solving the Used Games “Problem”
In the current atmosphere of gaming, one store is in an absolutely dominating stance, almost entirely controlling the used games market. For the sake of being coltish, let’s call it Uncle Rick’s Shack o’ Games, or URSOG. But we all know what I’m talking about. Right?
URSOG has this wild theory. Clearly aided by NASA scientists, they have discovered that people enjoy saving money. Additionally, through years of torturous, laborious research, URSOG has concluded that gamers enjoy sharing our hobby with others. From loaning your best friend your copy of Starfox 64, to “borrowing” your little brother’s Playstation 3 as you trek off to an out-of-state college, we gamers can likely all agree to the sentiment that sharing our affections is part of the culture.
Quite ostentatiously, after verifying these findings, Uncle Rick has a breakthrough. “Say…” pondered Uncle Rick, whose thoughts are illegibly, yet hilariously, narrated by Lavell Crawford. “It would seem wise to combine both the thrill of saving money on gaming purchases, and providing a medium by which game connoisseurs may trade, buy and sell with one another. I believe I shall provide a venue for these transactions, and reap profit. THUNDERCATS, HOOOOOOOOO!”
So Uncle Rick crafts his Shack o’ Games, with a simple, yet effective business model: buy old, used games at a price that is fair to the consumer, yet allows for profitable resale. To further clarify, I mocked up this scenario using my high-end graphic design skills:
Now, regardless of whether or not the consumer buyback price is actually fair, we have determined that the model itself is effective. URSOG has blown its competition out of the water; mom-and-pop stores are hanging on for dear life as their customers are exposed to the mainstream advertising that only Uncle Rick seems to be able to afford. While perhaps vicious, this is the beauty that a free market creates. URSOG’s success was dependent upon its ability to identify and fill a specific consumer need.
What’s the problem, then?
Uncle Rick’s problem, then, isn’t their supposed monopoly over the used games market, or their Walmart-esque dominance of a once niche market.The problem with URSOG is that they are selling what they don’t truly own.While the above is debatable, let’s operate under the assumption that it is true. Developers create games, and sell those games to the consumer through URSOG, who pocket a small fraction of the selling price. Much like the way a movie theater shoots up concession prices to balance out the low income from ticket sales, URSOG has complimented new game sales with their used games model. Developers don’t like this, as essentially URSOG is reselling their product and pocketing 100% of the income, doing nothing outside of housing the used goods in a retail space. Clearly, this is a problem. It’s a perfectly valid argument,and it makes eBay and Amazon guilty of the same crime.
To combat this, developers and publishers introduced various mechanisms to dissuade the consumer from purchasing a product used. Among the most notable of these is the Online Pass, which has withheld portions of content from the game until a player entered a redeemable code on their console to download the content. We’ve had various discussions on the topic here at GameTaffy, and debating both sides typically ends up in the presumption that Online Passes still suck eggs.
I’ve got an idea, though, of how to make it work. It’s pretty simple. Nothing groundbreaking. But it will work.
…and I’ll tell you what it is.
Shameless. Utterly shameless. But seriously, that’ll be our discussion on tomorrow’s show. Good times to be had!