Saturday, February 04, 2006

Game Publishers Finally Feeling the Hurt of Used Games?

If you’ve been following the video game market lately, then you may have heard about how game sales for the fall haven’t been as strong as they were in previous years. Three of the largest game publishers in the United States – THQ, Activision, and the infamous Electronic Arts – have reported disappointing game sales for the recent holiday quarter.

Meanwhile, Gamestop, one of the most popular game store-chains in North America, has announced that used products have made up nearly 32 percent of their total sales for last year, and the NY Times predicts that Gamestop is on track to generate $3 billion in sales this year with about $500 million - $1 billion of those sales from used products.

I think that it’s obvious what is happening here. Gamestop’s method of pushing used products is finally hurting game publishers and the game industry as a whole. Any time I go to Gamestop (or EBGames for that matter), an employee is trying to push a second hand, used copy of a game before a new one. From what I’ve seen, Gamestop even tries to pressure younger customers into buying a used game over a new one. A few weeks ago I saw a young kid about eights years old go into the store to buy a copy of Dragonball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi. Even though the kid clearly asked for a new copy, the employee kept telling him how great it was to save five dollars by buying a used one, and every time the kid said he didn’t want a used one, the employee double-talked and basically pressured the kid. Eventually the kid just gave in and bought the used copy.

I personally like the used game market to a certain extent. . Where else are you going to find a copy of a game that was out of print for several years? Certainly not at a major retail chain that only sells new games (such as Best Buy or Circuit City). However, I am not too fond of some of Gamestop’s and EBGame’s practices, such when the stores try to pressure certain customers into buying used copies of games. To me that’s a bit shady.


At 7:08 PM, Blogger Ender said...

Personally, I've never experienced any pressure to buy a used game over a new one. The most I have seen is a friendly employee letting me know that they have a used copy of the game I am buying new, in an effort to save me a few bucks. Or, if they have some sort of Buy 2, Get 1 free deal, they will push that. To be expected...

I am not at all surprised that the used market is overtaking the new market. I do prefer a sealed copy of a game to a used one, but when I have options like CAG15 + Edge card + SAVER for on used games, there is almost no chance I will pay the new price if the used price is available. So, while I see your point, I think I am guilty of encouraging the afore-mentioned slump in new games sales.

Anyway, in my area, I am known in most of the ebgames stores, even friends with some of the guys. They've never tried to push anything on to me, even prior to them coming to know me. I wonder if they have separate sales goals for used and new games? And if so, is the used game goal more than the new game? I would imagine so, since it seems that they have more used games than new ones in most stores I visit.....if that is the case, then can we blame the low-level employees of pushing used games, if they are being instructed to by the home office?

At 10:18 PM, Blogger Ross said...

I knew someone that worked at Gamestop about a year ago. He said that they are required to sell a certain number of used games and Game Informer subscriptions (along with their used game discount card) every week.

As for CAG15 + Edge Card + Saver... Its awesome! But I've seen employees push used games on kids/people in the stores tons of times. I do not think that is right, but I do like the used game market to a certain extent.

At 9:21 AM, Blogger Z. said...

I agree that the used game market is a double-edged sword. It provides a valuable service to the gaming community by providing access to out-of-print titles and modern classics you may have missed, as well as giving a keen incentive to those among us who might want to save a couple of bucks on a recent release via trade-in credit. Unfortunately there is also ample potential for abuse. While I’ve never been personally pressured by EB/Gamestop employees toward used merchandise, probably owing to the fact that I am an adult who is reasonably aware of the current gaming climate, I can see how the chains’ management would prefer to sell used stock due to the inflated profit margin.

I’m really torn on the whole used game issue. I like it because it saves me money and gives me a broader selection of stock titles at my local stores, but at the same time it (allegedly) hurts the market. If this is true, as the indicators seem to point, then is it ultimately good for gamers? By damaging publisher revenues is the used market speeding along another eminent industry crash?

Oh, and on a totally unrelated subject, thanks for visiting Hipster, Please!

At 4:49 PM, Blogger Tomleecee said...

As the UK games market is minute compared to the US one (for obvious reasons), I dont think the publishers have much reason to fear the used market here. However, one chain that is probably similar to Gamestop (called Gamestation) is very good for used games. I regularly see used Xbox games on sale for £2.99 - thats ridiculous! They also have this great deal on used Dreamcast games - 2 games for £5! Even consoles are cheap, the was Gamecube is on sale in my local store for £24.99 with a game! We've never had it so good.


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