To Stop GameStop

StopGameStopThe Internet exploded last week (in the gaming sphere at least) beginning with an article and a comic.  It was followed by tons of articles…

So, lets talk…  First, the guy from THQ isn’t wrong.  Anytime you buy anything second hand, the original creators see nothing of that sale.  This is true of video games just as it is true of books and DVDs.  I’ve got one friend who is all up in arms about this, that we need to stop second hand video game sales, to help protect the industry, but he’s also a comic book collector.  So I asked, “When you sell a comic, do you sent the author and artist their cut?”  He doesn’t.  I asked him if this needed to change, he didn’t think so.  He couldn’t explain how the two were different.

And of course, no one really bats an eye at second hand DVD sales.  But then, a DVD retails for under $20 in most cases.  Buying it for $10 might be saving you 50% but it’s only saving you $10.  A video game, however, might be $60 new, and $30 used.  Still 50% but now it’s $30 of savings.  Really though, the guys in the industry aren’t upset at the $30 sale of a year old game.  Their ire, which they don’t specifically state, is leveled at games less than a month old that places like GameStop are selling for $55.  In this case, someone bought it for $60, then sold it to GameStop for $20 (might be more, might be less – it varies), and GameStop turns around and sells it for $55.  People are saving $5 here and bilking the game company out of any cut at all.

If THQ really wanted to stop GameStop, you know what they’d do?  Drop their price to $55.  They’d garner a few new customers, the ones willing to pay $55 but not $60.  GameStop would probably drop to $50, and THQ could decide if going to $50 is worth it.  Games that come out for consoles currently tend to retail at $60.  If the same game is available on PC, they tend to retail at $50 or even $40, so clearly there is room to move the price around, especially since the console version often has less packaging than the PC version (who knows… perhaps producing a cardboard box and a jewel case is less expensive than the DVD case console versions get).

Or, they can do what they are planning to do, which is to put a one-time code in the game that unlocks some content (levels, online play, etc).  Their solution is fine, in my opinion, so long as they never hamstring the game so that it is unplayable.  I have no problem with them putting a code on online play since often online play means that they run servers, and they can always sell online play as DLC through the systems their games appear on, so that a player who buys used will still have to pay a small fee if they want online play.

Personally, I’d love to see prices drop.  I know I’d buy more games sooner if I could afford them, but as it is I wait usually six months or more so that I can pick them up for $40 or less (often a year or more later when I can get the Platinum Hits edition for $20).  That is less likely to happen than the one-time code hostage situation that is developing.  Oh well… I’ll just have more time for watching TV and reading books.


  1. The only problem is that PC games are now moving up in price to be even with Console games. Modern Warfare 2 is a prime example. The pc and console versions are 60.00. Blizzard recently released Starcraft 2 as a 60.00 product.

    I do tend to agree that the overall cost of video games needs to come down. $60.00 for a game is pricey especially if you figure in replay ability and total amount of time required to finish the game. Some games don’t even offer online content nor are they longer than 15 hours, which for the 60.00 price tag they should take much longer to finish.

    If there wasn’t a demand for lower pricing then Gamestop wouldn’t be selling used games for 5.00 less than new ones. Game companies need to think more about their customer and less about filling their already fat bellies.

    1. The real irony is that every college kid taking an economy class will spend at least one day on the concept that you can actually increase profits by reducing price if the increase in sales overall out paces the decrease of profits on a single unit. Somehow, from college to actually running a business, almost everyone forgets that and keeps trying to maximize unit profit.

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