Two top developers have spoken out against the pre-owned games market, criticising a system that they believe robs them of profits.
?Of course it isn?t fair that retailers are claiming all of the profits from the sale of second-hand titles, and it is bizarre that our industry tolerates it,? said the director of Free Radical Design - the developer behind Haze
and the Timesplitters
series, Steve Ellis.
?I can?t imagine going into PC World and buying a pre-owned copy of MS Office. It just wouldn?t happen. The logical conclusion of this ? the retailers? ultimate goal ? is that they only ever sell one original copy of any game and then they pass it around between everyone who wants to play it, keeping all of the profit for themselves except for that initial sale. How can that possibly be fair??
The founder of Frontier Developments and man behind the Elite
series, David Braben, shares the sentiment. ?Clearly from the developer and publisher point of view, the second-hand market is a real problem. The shops are essentially defrauding the rest of the industry by this practice, whether they intend it or not", he said.
?It also means that while newly released games do still sell well, it is only a matter of a month or so before pre-owned stock often saturates the channel ? with a single copy rumoured to go around the sale/return/sale loop ten or more times ? amounting effectively, to rental?, he added.
SPOnG spoke to a local retailer that trades in pre-owned games, who suggested that publishers ought to share any criticism that's due. "I think it's just giving customers a choice to buy games that they wouldn't be able to afford new. Maybe if they dropped their prices to start with, we wouldn't have a pre-owned market." While publishers would no doubt argue that they need to charge what they do to meet rising development costs, a lower price point could result in higher numbers of units sold.
It was also pointed out that some retailers depend on the pre-owned market. "That's our lifeblood", SPOnG was told. Said retailers might be selling games that publishers and developers don't see any profit from, but they can't sell any new games at all if they're not in business.
Are pre-owned games sucking much-deserved cash from publishers and developers, or are they necessary for punters who can't afford new games thanks to games over-pricing? Answers in the Forum, please.