This article is solely the opinion of the author, and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of TheSixthAxis, its staff or owners.
Hello dear reader, my name is Josh and I write news and the occasional feature here at TSA. Apologies for the interruption to your regular schedule, but I wanted to briefly talk about something that grates with me as a regular reader of posts, comments, and forums around the web. I’ve seen many people (not just here) beating down the “pirates that ruin the game industry” and yet being very positive about pre-owned games.
So here’s what I have to say: buying pre-owned games is just the same as piracy. Here’s why:
First and foremost, I’m not saying that everyone who has ever bought a pre-owned game is a pirate and should be immediately locked up, and I’m also aware that a lot of people, myself included from time to time, buy pre-owned games. But I want to say before I start that just because we do it, doesn’t mean it’s okay, and I think it’s best in the topic of argument to take a step back and think on a less personal level.
Obviously, second-hand sales of DVDs, games and whatever else have been around for many many years, I’m clearly not going to deny that, but precedent doesn’t make it right. Let’s look at it this way: if you buy a game, new, at retail or online, the retailer, developer and publisher all take a cut of what you pay. That seems fair, right? If you download a game from a torrent site, none of those three take anything, which I think we can agree is unfair.
Okay, so lets say I download the game, as a torrent, but from a paid members-only site, that’s still piracy and that’s still wrong – even though I strictly-speaking paid for the file, the makers got nothing. “But the retailers have to pay for stocking and transportation of the aforementioned pre-owned games,” I hear you cry. Sure, I can go with that, but when I torrent the file there are no stocking or transport costs, so I shouldn’t actually have to pay anything.
Then you have the two main supposed positives of pre-owned sales for the makers of the product: promotion and retailer partnerships. Some claim pre-owned is acceptable because it gets the name of the product out there for someone to then buy maybe a sequel or other game by the companies behind it – yet surely that’s just as true for those that pirate the game? The only real benefit for pre-owned for a developer/publisher is that by not kicking up a fuss about it, they keep their games in stock at retailers and therefore get them sold out to customers.
Basically, game-makers are blackmailed into staying passive with regard to pre-owned because otherwise they’ll get screwed over by retailers.
Once again, I’m not claiming everyone is an evil person, I’m just saying that piracy and pre-owned are really very similar from the point of view of a game-maker. Therefore I see no reason why online passes or anything equivalent should be a problem for anyone who appreciates the games they buy, because at least the developers and publishers at least get some financial support to actually continue doing what they do. That is all.
Feel free to discuss/argue with me here, or you can also find me on Twitter at @joshlhood or even e-mail me at josh [at] thesixthaxis [dot] com if you wish to have a more private conversation on this topic. Thanks.