Microsoft, Please Don't Mess With Pre-owned
Videogames: the only industry in which buying a second-hand product from a legitimate retailer is frowned upon. Here’s why it should be left alone…
Pre-owned gamers, eh? Vagabonds the lot of ‘em, barely a step up from disc copying, free speech legislation exploiting pirates. They’d have your house away if you left your back turned for more that about ten seconds.
No, of course they wouldn’t. They’re simply videogame fans, caught as we all are in a time of economic uncertainty, attempting to follow a hobby that bizarrely releases all of its most prized assets within the space of about six weeks, in the run-up to Christmas. Because, you know, we’ve all got £240 stuffed in a back pocket in case of gaming emergency.
The rumours currently circulating about Microsoft’s upcoming next-generation console then, suggesting games might carry some sort of code recognition system that might cut out pre-owned titles completely, has us worried. We’re all for the industry attempting to claw as much revenue in as it can, but such a course of action seems to welcome economic disaster with open arms.
Firstly, won’t someone please think of the children? If regular adult consumers, buoyed by reasonable amounts of disposable income, balk at the prospect of shelling out £40-50 for each triple-A release, what place for the Kung Fu Pandas of this world? How might this hobby of ours usher in dedicated new fans, with such a huge barrier to entry?
Secondly, the point is seldom made that the record-breaking first-week revenue of, well, almost every videogame is propped up heavily by customers exchanging last week’s blockbusters, that are now worth about ten quid. Without this cache of value still provided by the ability to trade in for consumers to rely upon, might we see sales take a tumble as fewer find themselves able to make the financial stretch?
Thirdly, the labyrinthine array of DLC episodes, map packs and online passes introduced this generation to combat pre-owned purchases represents another significant stream of income publishers lose if there aren’t millions of their game discs ‘out there’, second-hand or not. If sales fall as a result of only new copies of a game being available, the potential for this follow-on business also drops. And, of course, one single second-hand copy of a game could in theory account for multiple DLC and online pass purchases, as it is handed from player to player.
Finally, if second-hand retail dies it’s likely specialist videogame retail will perish alongside it, killing off memories of filthy carpets and weapons grade BO forever? All joking aside, do we really wish to be pushed into the hands of ditsy supermarket attendants, who think Fracture’s a brand of skin cream? The only consolation this would offer is the chance to leave the store plied with alcohol, ready to weep in the dark, in the foetal postion, at how glorious things formerly were. We’re not saying that would be Microsoft’s direct fault if they chose to implement such a policy – that’s more for you to decide.