Are Used Game Sales Killing the Video Game Industry?

Microsoft caused a big stir when it announced it would place heavy restrictions on used game sales for the Xbox One. The company’s plan was to have gamers pay a fee to play a game that had already been attached to another Xbox Live account.

This policy effectively threatened the entire used video game market — that is, until Sony announced it would not place any restrictions on used game sales with its PlayStation 4.

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The overwhelmingly positive reaction to Sony’s announcement forced Microsoft to re-think its strategy. Last week the firm said it was back-tracking on its used game policy, and had decided to treat Xbox One used games in the usual way.

That left most budget-minded gamers sighing with relief. But not everyone’s impressed with Microsoft’s policy reversal. In fact, an Xbox engineer and Microsoft employee recently took to PasteBin to complain about the move.

The engineer, who remains anonymous (and could obviously be a fraud) had this to say:

“The used gaming industry is slowly killing and every attempt to slow down the bleeding was met with much resistance from the gaming community.”

Moving forward, the Xbox employee says something has to give.

“It is impossible to continue to deliver movie like experiences at the current costs without giving up something in return … How can developers continue to create these experiences if consumers refuse to support them?”

Both Microsoft and Sony have announced the average price of next-gen games will remain $60 USD, meaning publishers and developers won’t find help there.

Although gamers must be pleased that Sony and Microsoft have committed themselves to treating used games as they’ve always been treated, we’re left with big questions about the economic viability of the current system.

Can video game companies — particularly those that don’t have the resources of big-name publishers like Electronic Arts — survive another generation where they fail to profit from used game sales?

If the small firms fail and we’re left with heavy hitters like EA, what kind of impact will that have on games and gamers?

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2 Responses to Are Used Game Sales Killing the Video Game Industry?

  1. Exactly! This is just like how software piracy has completely killed the market for PC games and programs. Notice how no one writes or sells computer games anymore? Notice how Microsoft’s software division is out of business? If people keep buying and selling used console games, that market will end up just as dead as movies, music, and PC software.

  2. Michael Brewster says:

    This sounds a lot like the controversy some years back about selling used CDs. Some artists wanted to protect their retail marketplace by banning the sale of the used CDs, but people countered by saying that if the material was a good value to begin with, people wouldn’t be wanting to sell them.