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Digital Downloads is Key to Ending Used Game Sales

Can we all be honest with ourselves for a moment? Can we collectively agree that each and every one of us has purchased a used game at some point in time? Arguably, one of the biggest headaches facing video game developers is the loss of revenue do to used game sales. These developers toil tirelessly for weeks, months, and in many cases years, in order to produce a spectacular product. Sometimes these products provide only a few hours of entertainment; while others provide hundreds of hours of play time. But what happens when we as consumers get tired of playing these games? We want to make our money last as long as possible. We ‘stretch our money’ as they say; and we get suckered in by trade-in offers.
Trade In Offers

How many times have we decimated our collections in order to take part in one of these “great deals” at GameStop? And the worst part of it all is that when a game is traded in and resold for five dollars less than a new copy, the developers do not see one red cent of that sale. One hundred percent of that profit goes into GameStop’s pocket.

Sounds like a personal problem though right? Consider the story of Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning. This brand new IP, which released with little to no marketing, sold 1.22 million copies in its first 90 days of hitting shelves. This exceeded their publisher’s expectations. However, Lincoln Chafee, governor of Rhode Island (the state that provided the loan 38 Studios was founded upon) was informed by “experts” that the game had to sell almost 3 million copies in order to break even. Which by the way, if you would follow me off the rails here for a second, is an asinine expectation of any brand new IP and Governor Lincoln Chafee is a buffoon for causing the closure of such an amazing studio. We almost had a sequel. Perhaps even an MMO!

My point is, if there was a better alternative to buying used games, 38 Studios along with many others may have never closed its doors. And keep in mind that I am by no means saying that we as consumers do not have to right to spend our money the way we want to. What most people do not realize, is that there is an alternative to buying used games, and from what I’ve seen, only one company is doing right.
Sony’s Playstation Plus program is a step in the right direction. If you have no idea what that is, please allow me to provide some insight. You see, the PS3’s online multiplayer is completely free (mostly because it sucks hose water) but there is a paid subscription program known as Playstation Plus. It can run you either $49.99 for a year’s subscription or $17.99 for three months of service. But if the multiplayer is free, what are we paying for?

Playstation Plus Free games

Playstation Plus members get a plethora of free games to choose from. The list of games available is updated often, sometimes as often as weekly. You also get exclusive beta access, timed full game trials, cloud storage for your save files. It even makes your PS3 auto-update to any time you set it to. You even get major discounts off an even bigger list of games. Most of the time, you can even get a better deal than if you bought a used copy from Gamestop.

This past year, I picked up a Playstation Vita bundle from Gamestop. It included a one year subscription to Playstation Plus, and it has been the best investment I think I’ve ever come across. My Vita was the last thing I’ve ever bought from Gamestop because every time I think about buying a used game, an amazing game pops up on the Playstation Store, and it’s usually free for Playstation Plus members.

I mean, I currently own six games for my Vita and only one of them is a physical game. Everything else was downloaded from the Playstation store. As we progress further along the digital age, the more we start turning our physical collections in digital ones.

Quick! Show of hands: who still has a DVD collection? How about CDs? What about Vinyl? How many of you don’t even know what Vinyl is? All I’m saying is that everything is going from a physical medium to a digital one, and once we get rid of the physical copies of video games we will also get rid of used game sales. But the only way we can make this happen is by getting people interested in digital copies of games; and how do we accomplish that? I say follow Sony’s lead.