Game Designer Makes Case For Used Game Sale

For the last couple of months, it seems that the most gifted minds in the gaming industry have been devoted to a single task: stopping or attacking secondhand games sales as a menace to the whole industry.

As far as we can tell, Soren Johnson, Civilization 4 lead designer, is the industry professional to defend the gamers' right of first sale.

"Every couple months, an industry veteran comes forward and decries used games sales as a huge issue that is ruining the industry. I certainly agree with many of the arguments - the less money developers get from sales of their games, the harder it is for them to take risks further down the road, let alone stay in business," he wrote on his personal blog. "Nonetheless, a few words should be said in defense of used games."

Soren then explained that secondhand games sales is the gaming industry's main method for "market segmentation", the marketing practice of selling the same good in different versions for different prices. "For quite a few gamers, especially younger ones, used games are their only option for buying games instead of renting them. Keeping these price-sensitive consumers - who will often be tomorrow's full-price customers - in the retail system and away from piracy is a good thing all around."

Soren's then argued that "by opening up retail sales to a larger segment of the market, used game sales mean that more people are playing our games than would be in a world without them. Beyond the obvious advantages of bigger community sizes and word-of-mouth sales, a larger player base can benefit game developers who are ready to earn secondary income from their games. In-game ads are one source of this additional revenue, but the best scenario is downloadable content. A used copy of Rock Band may go through several owners, but each one of them may give Harmonix money for their own personal rights to "Baba O'Riley" or "I Fought the Law"."

Interestingly, secondhand games sales also help buoy new games prices. "Many factors come into play when a consumer decides if a specific game purchase is worth the money, and one of those factors is the perceived value from selling it back as a used game. In other words, people will pay more for a new game because they know they can get some of that money back when they trade it in at the local Gamestop. Importantly"

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