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Defeating Used Games: Why Incentives to Discourage Pre-Owned Gaming Are Awful

Do you buy your games second-hand? Then you are a complete cheapskate and the scum of the gaming industry. You’re worse than any pirate sailing the high seas of warez. Or at least, that’s what publishers want us to think. Whether you have the right to sell the products you have purchased is irrelevant: the sale of used games is damaging the games industry.

When a new game is traded in or sold to a game store, that money is then kept by the retailer rather than reaching the hands of the hardworking developer who spent blood, sweat and tears on creating their pride and joy. The same game could be bought and sold numerous times and it can be argued that those purchases are a potential sale which has been stolen from the game companies themselves. It is true that you don’t hear the music or film industry complaining about their second-hand losses, but does creating an album or a movie compare to the amount of money and effort spent on developing a Triple-A game title? As always, it is the consumer that decides whether a game is worth its $50 price tag, and often they decide to go with a pre-owned price instead.

Rubbish Incentives for New Purchases

Game companies already utilize a number of methods to gain extra cash after the release of their games in the form of downloadable content (DLC) and there are now incentives to buying new. Pre-order bonuses seem to be popular right now with many games including codes for additional DLC or specific in-game bonuses.

We’ll be taking a look at some of the rubbish incentives offered by publishers to encourage new purchases and what alternatives would be more welcome.

Exclusive DLC & Pre-Order Bonuses: Gamers aren’t new to the idea of receiving bonuses within LEGO Light Kit collectors editions and the like, but more recently we’ve been seeing a lot of extra freebies within new games or as part of pre-ordering a title. Most of this is in-game DLC, such as new weapons and armor, new maps or various other cosmetic additions which don’t actually add that much to the game. In fact, most of this stuff you could probably live without. I don’t really need the Blood Dragon Armor in Dragon Age Origins and I can live without a tattoo set in Fable 3, thank you very much. I would go as far to say that DLC armor is one of the most pointless examples of a DLC incentive, ever. Although perhaps not as pointless as the Horse Armor from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

In some cases, the DLC offered is a little more substantial. Some games offer quests or missions, and this feels like more of a ‘thank you’ bonus. Bioware have taken this one step further by offering a DLC delivery service in Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age 2. This service allows players to download a series of free items, as well as access paid DLC. In Mass Effect 2, this included a few extra side-quests and exclusive armor/weapons (Groan). Player’s could also add a new character to their game squad, Zaeed, and he came with his own loyalty mission as well as a few small areas to explore plus a new weapon. Whilst this is a better incentive and adds more to the game, if you didn’t purchase Mass Effect 2 new, then getting a hold of Zaeed would cost you 1200 Microsoft Points ($15). Yikes.

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