Opinion: Why a Ban On Pre-Owned Games Isn’t Such A Great Idea

This post as only my opinion on a quite likely rumour. None of this information has been confirmed by Microsoft or Sony.

With the announcement of the future consoles coming from Sony and Microsoft only around the corner, the rumour mill has been churning out buckets full of unverified goodness. One of the most striking rumours, however, was the addition of measures to prevent the use of pre-owned games.

For those not informed yet, the rumour suggests that all new games are associated with the online account of the person who first plays the game. If you try to play the game on a different console, you’ll most likely just be greeted with a pleasant error code. What does this mean? Basically, the end of the pre-owned video games market and possibly the end of the road for brick-and-mortar gaming stores around the world.

There are many reasons why the companies are adding these extra measures. Whenever you buy a pre-owned game, none of the money used to buy the game goes to Microsoft/Sony or the game developers. All of the money goes directly to the retailer (GameStop, GAME, etc.). If Sony or Microsoft could prevent pre-owned games, they would receive a lot more money, and the developers would also receive money, which turns out to be necessary to make games.

I think it’s great that the developers of a game are now guaranteed money for each game sold, but it does come with some consequences.

Think about the retailer. Less and less people rely on shops such as GameStop to buy the latest games these days. It is much cheaper to buy off of Amazon or another website, and you also have a chance of receiving the games early. The only reason I would go into GameStop would be to look through the pre-owned games to see if I can find any games I missed out on for a good price. The majority of people in the store are buying pre-owned content, and is quite likely the largest source of income for the company.

What happens if you take the vital source of income off of a company? Millions of potential income is prevented by the console makers, with pre-owned content only available for the Wii U, 3DS, PS Vita, etc. When a company isn’t making as much money, it has to close down stores. GameStop has stores all over America and Europe, and store closures would cause thousands to lose jobs. All of this could have been prevented (or at least delayed, as after GAME and HMV went into administration, the end of GameStop is inevitable) with less strict rules on pre-owned games.

Let’s look past the retail problem. There are also many practical problems. You’re going to your friend’s house and want him to have a go at the latest Call of Duty game that you have. That’s no longer possible, as the game is locked to your own account. What about if you have a roommate who wants to play one of your games on his/her PlayStation? Impossible. What if you want your friend to try out Borderlands 2 to get him interested in the series, and you decide to let him borrow your game? Nope, that’s not allowed. As you can see, it makes a lot of common practices today quite awkward or even impossible.

For one of the worst consequences, we have to look to the future. It’s the year 2030, and you’re dying to play the classic game Battleduty: Modern Field Ops from the year 2014 on your now ancient Xbox 720. How difficult will it be to get a sixteen year old game that has never been used? It’s hard to find a three year old game that is new. And how expensive would such a game be? Game collecting would be brought to a new level, as when you finally find the game you were looking for, it has been already registered.

As you might be able to tell, I don’t agree with the proposed ban. They could lessen the burn by having the pre-owned ban being set for a few years after the game is released, but I don’t know how likely it is for Microsoft and Sony to announce these adjustments. I think we just have to wait and see what these companies have up their sleeves.


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