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GameOn - Skyrim PC Episode #88

Monday, April 9, 2012


Blocking Used Game Sales Will kill Your Local Retailer!


Your local games boutique May Be Already Out Of Business!?

It'll take a while to play out, but it's happening. It's just a matter of time before sad-faced staff members are given their slips, shelving is auctioned off, windows are whitewashed. Eventually, your beloved emporium of fun will be turned into a place to buy gruesomely-packaged cleaning products.

Whether you visit a cozy hobby store or a chain-outlet that's dedicated to gaming or some monolithic electronics warehouse, it makes no difference. All are headed for oblivion.

Even last week, Best Buy closed a bunch of stores and booted a gaggle of luckless staff out of its smoothly sliding electronic doors.

Sooner or later you and everyone else you know will cease to buy games in boxes, and will consume them, entirely, via downloads. Probably you have already begun to buy games as purely digital entities.
When retailers finally disappear, it will come at a price.
These games are elegantly and silently shipped to you down wires. They are delivered through blinking devices while you seek a slightly more comfortable position on your couch. There is no call for rumbling trucks, stacked pallets, shopping malls. You don't have to worry about parking or reserving a copy or dealing with that infinitely bored young woman as she offers up the unconvincing benefits of a rewards card.

But despite their many short-comings, retailers serve an essential role for we gamers and for the wider games industry. When they finally go, it will come at a price for everyone.

What's most disconcerting is that the games retail outlets aren't just going to be victims of history, not merely the collateral damage of progress. They are to be systematically wiped out by their closest friends and their most bitter rivals, the games publishers.

Entirely plausible rumors are circulating that both Microsoft and Sony will release next-gen consoles that tie the user to the new games they buy. This will, effectively, drastically reduce the value of used games. Leaving aside the moral issues of such a move (I have previously described the elimination of used games as a crime against consumers), such a change badly damages retailers who make a significant proportion of their income trading in second-hand games.

Some are suggesting that this is a stitch-up; that Sony and Microsoft have cooked up this dirty scheme. Such talk is nonsense. They don't need to do anything nefarious. Their busy little friends in publishing have been urging just such a move for years. Because there is nothing the games publishers loathe so completely as the used games business.

Look at it from the publishers' point of view. Three years development. Hundreds of people. Millions of dollars investment. Blood, sweat, tears and all the incredible stress of creative innovation. And the major beneficiary of all this is the guy who rents a few square feet in your local mall and hustles gamers. Fact: GameStop makes more money than Electronic Arts.