I know, the discussion on buying used games is an old and exhausted one.
It would seem that every games blogger worth their weight in gold coins has covered it, so why should I even bother? Perhaps it’s an odd “badge of honor” type deal, or simply something I just haven’t written about personally, but I think it has more to do with the place I’ve found myself in during the last few years.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always bought my video games used.
Sure, I make exceptions (i.e. anything released by Naughty Dog), but I wholeheartedly admit that I’m a cheap ass gamer. Why spend my hard earned cash on a new game when I could save a couple bucks and buy a pre-owned copy a day or two later? It makes sense from a consumer standpoint, but as an enthusiast of the gaming industry, I would be lying if I said I don’t feel guilty about it.
First and foremost, I’m not condemning anyone who buys their games used.
Your money is yours to spend however you see fit. I’m also not going to write anything silly and claim that buying used is illegal. It’s not, and you have every right as a consumer to spend your money on a used product. However, as someone who loves games, game developers, and the industry as a whole, there’s a part of me that feels bad that my money hasn’t gone towards supporting it.
I don’t talk about it often, but I always try to email the developers of a game I liked after finishing it. It’s just a small way for me to thank them for giving me an experience that brought me joy. The only problem with this approach is that there’s a small part of me that feels a little embarrassed by it. It’s kind of weird to thank somebody for creating something you enjoyed when you know they didn’t see a penny from the sale.
There’s no denying that it’s a great feeling to walk into a GameStop, or any other used game store, and pick up a bunch of used games for less than the price of one, but lately I’m finding myself wrestling with these purchases. I know what I’m doing is completely legal, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’m committing a robbery. These developers spent thousands of hours creating these experiences, but I’m not awarding them with the payment they deserve.
While I would wager that the vast majority of you already know this, game developers don’t make a single cent off the sale of a used game. 100% of the profit goes directly to the used game store. I know, I know, nobody cares about the sales of used books, movies, or virtually anything else (thus the immense popularity of eBay and garage sales), so why should I care about the used sales of video games?
When it comes down to it, video games are the form of entertainment I care about the most. The stories I’ve experienced, the places I’ve gone, and the wonderful characters I’ve met have all impacted me more than any novel, film, or television show has. I’m closer to video games than any other form of entertainment, and I want to award the people who make the experiences that matter to me the most.
This is why I’ve come up with a new gameplan.
I’m going to stop buying used. I’m not the type of player who feels like I have to stay up to date on every release, so I’m okay with buying fewer games and waiting a little bit for the prices to drop. Not to mention digital sales, which make places like GameStop pointless for some people. With frequent sales on the digital storefront making games ridiculously cheap (but still awarding the developers!), I can still play what I want, not break the bank, and not feel bad while doing it.
I’m not going to tell you to to stop buying used games, but I know this is the decision I need to make for myself based on how I feel. However, I do want to know what your thoughts are on the subjects of buying used games and supporting developers. I’m not angry at anybody who buys used, nor do I think everyone should be forced to buy new. I just want to start a discussion with you and see where we go from there.
– Zack Burrows