The thieving family man and his needs

Great post over at Penny Arcade today about used games = stealing (via Tobold) that has really struck a cord with me. As readers here know, one of the things I hate most about this industry is that so many customers reward mediocrity (or worse), reward rehashing (or worse), and then turn right around and cry about sequels and everything being the same, or that so many games are released in poor shape. It’s not unique to the gaming genre, but it’s sickening how so many gaming ‘fans’ shit on their own lawn with some of their practices.

Point blank: if you enjoy a game, you should let the devs and the industry know, and the only way you do that is with money. If you don’t send money to the devs, REGARDLESS of the reason, your vote becomes a nay. If you pass on a game because it looks terrible, you vote nay. If you get a pirated copy, you vote nay. And yes, if you buy a used copy, you vote nay. And guess what? If you buy a terrible, awful game, no matter how much you hate it, you voted ‘yes’ for that game and let the company behind it know you’d like more. Good job, you not only double fucked yourself, you also took a shit on anyone who looks forward to better games made by quality developers. Thanks asshole.

On top of that, one of the absolute most ridiculous excuses you hear all the time is “money is tight, and I can’t afford to pay full price but still want to enjoy a game”. I’d love to be able to drive a Ferrari daily, and “money is tight” for 200k cars in the SynCaine household, time to go steal one I guess. If “money is tight”, rub two brain cells together and figure out a way to scavenge up that lofty sum of $60 if you want something. Can’t do it? Then you probably shouldn’t be playing games to begin with. Honestly though, we are not talking once a year/life purchases here, we are talking $5-$60 for a game. If you can afford a PC to run a game, or a console, I’m fairly sure you can save up for a game.

I mean look at this example:

Personally I would love to be able to support every developer who makes the games I enjoy. I understand that they are doing this for a living and I want to help them keep doing what they love…. BUT… As an adult with a family, my budget for buying games is limited. I have other responsibilities and they NEED to come first. If my only chance to enjoy a game is by buying it used… then that’s the way it HAS to be. I am however fully onboard with buying games via digital stores, so long as the price tag can fit my budget. It really comes down to being able to play the maximum amount of games on limited funds.

Are you kidding me? If you budget is limited, guess what? You limit what games you buy asshat. Fairly sure stealing a game is not how it HAS to be. That’s why people buy a Kia instead of a Lexus. Not because the Kia is the car they want, but because “on a tight budget” they can’t get the car they want. I think you and your family will be ok without yet another videogame. And if not, guess what? Get a second/third/tenth job to feed your NEED for a videogame. What kind of sick justification for stealing is this?

Limited budget? Guess what, now you have to make better choices in what you buy, and only buy the titles you MOST want, skipping those ‘quick grab’ purchases of shovelware or meh titles. Win/win buddy.

Sickening…

58 Responses to The thieving family man and his needs

  1. PeterD says:

    Umm, although I agree that buying new is the best thing to do (and my personal preference), the guy you quoted was talking about buying used. Not pirating. Used. To use your own example, he’s buying the used car rather than the new one because he can’t afford new. Not sure how you see that as stealing and “sickening”.

    • SynCaine says:

      Buying used games = stealing here. Like I said in the post, the point of buying a game is ‘voting’ and rewarding the efforts of the devs. Whether you don’t buy, steal, or buy used, the result is the same; no vote and no money to the devs.

      Comparing software that has unlimited use and does not age/wear down to a car is silly in that regard.

      • Maladorn says:

        If the used game consumer understands that they aren’t voting, then it really doesn’t matter. Those with a hard limit on their purchases (nothing over $20, waiting till 9 months after release, never buying anything from Blizzard ever again, etc…) weren’t going to be a customer anyway. At least if they buy second-hand and play it, there is a chance they’ll love it and make an exception for the sequel/next release from studio.

        How is the software/car comparison silly? Both are goods, purchasable by consumers, that provide a specific benefit. Both have to be priced with an eye to what the market will pay for the item. And just like BMWs are more expensive than Kias, people are generally willing to pay more for BioWare than PopCap. Everything is only worth what the consumer will pay for it. If I decide I don’t want to pay $30 for the privilege of telling the devs I like the game, that’s my choice. Software shouldn’t be some kind of magical creation that gets to ignore the laws of economics.

      • free market rules says:

        Buying used games = stealing?

        Wow.

        Any other far-removed-from-reality stipulations on this blog that I should know about before I comment?

        I’m sorry, but that is one of the most amusing things I’ve heard in quite a long while. I guess buying used books, fishing boats, and furniture is stealing as well. Go ahead and lock me up for a couple of my bookcases and my bedroom suite. I didn’t track down the original manufacturer to make sure he got his entitlement cut.

        Are you serious?

        I get that everybody in the games business is an anti-free market liberal, but Jesus, this would be comical if it weren’t so wide-spread and indicative of how seriously uneducated a lot of people are.

        Devs, and now I guess the bloggers that suck up to them, are some of the whiniest bitches I have ever seen. Make a quality fucking product at the right price and people will buy it. You are not entitled to anything, ever, least of all continued royalties for work that you’ve been paid for already.

        Carry on man, I hope whatever planet you’re living on is good to you.

      • Mala says:

        Pure bullshit, I guess all those used book sales at the local church are just a bunch of people stealing books.

      • Sjonnar says:

        This is an incredibly stupid position. First, because a ‘yes’ vote for the used game has already been cast by the original purchaser, who obviously should have voted ‘no’, since he dislikes the game enough to sell it. If I then go buy that used game, I am registering the ‘no’ vote that should have been cast by the original purchaser whereas he has already cast my ‘yes’ vote by buying the game new. So that’s that out of the way.

        Second, only an imbecile would assume that software has an infinite lifespan unlike an automobile or a sofa. Software, particularly videogames, age very poorly. How many people do you know that still play Super Mario Bros. on a daily basis? Or Galaga? Both were the shit back in their day. People would play them for hours. Furthermore, old PC games often will not run at all on newer machines. My comp will not run Mechwarrior 2 at all, and will sometimes not play the sound in Starcraft.

        I’ve been following your blog for a bit now, and while I haven’t agreed with every statement you’ve ever made, I could at least follow the logic, however flawed I thought it was. This used games = theft comment is so amazingly moronic, I’m surprised it came from your brain and not your ass.

    • PeterD says:

      Couldn’t read the original article (stupid work filters).

      I disagree with the premise that used = stealing. If so, buying anything used is stealing, as the original manufacturer get’s nothing from subsequent sales. One of the cars in my household is used. ZOMG, I’m a car thief! Grand theft auto! I mean, really?

      Buying used IS a lost sale for the original manufacturer, but what, we should have no second hand market for any goods at all? If it’s stealing for video games it’s stealing for everything else.

      It’s important to realize that one copy of the game was purchased, and upon resale, only one copy of the game is still in circulation. The person who had the game no longer has it and now someone else has. That game was purchased from the developer. In piracy, hundreds or thousands of copies can be spawned from a single purchase (or outright theft). There is no “chain of custody” of a legally purchased product. That’s theft. Selling a used game? No. If we trade a pair of games is that theft? If I buy a game and give it to you, is that theft? You didn’t buy it, after all. Yet how is that different from a used sale, except that the person being given a gift doesn’t have to pay anything?

      Now, if you want to argue that used game prices at places like gamestop amount to robbery, no argument there. I buy new because used games save me practically nothing and only line the pocketbooks of gamestop execs. So you’ll buy my game for $7 and sell it for $50? Sounds great! :P

      • PeterD says:

        Software doesn’t age/wear down? Disks certainly do, you can wear out console games pretty easily. Install disks can get scratched, break and CD/DVD’s do, in fact, deteriorate over time regardless of use.

        Digitally distributed software won’t “wear out”, but I’m not aware of a used market for digitally distributed products.

        Even allowing for the idea that “software does not age/wear down”, it still loses it’s value/utility over time. Eventually it’s going to be worthless, regardless of how functional it might be. It’s still a product with a useful lifespan.

        The used car analogy is fine. By your reasoning, we should only buy new cars, because buying used denies a sale to the original manufacturing, and is therefore stealing.

    • Snafzg says:

      I find your car analogy kind of funny because the used car business is absolutely enormous. Possibly the biggest used market in the world.

      And yet there’s noone shouting “STOP, THIEF!” at someone who buys used cars.

      As for degrading, trust me — games degrade. A game may technically run as good on day 1000 as it did on day one, but the pace at which technology and gamers’ tastes change over the years still ages them to a fair degree.

      And can you imagine if there wasn’t a used market for almost everything you can put a pricetag on? We’d be swimming in more shit, albeit new shit, than our little planet could manage.

      • Snafzg says:

        To add to this, the most important thing to car manufacturers is market saturation. Look at Toyota’s new marketing campaign proudly touting all their customers whose 10-20 year old Toyota is still on the road.

        More Toyotas on the road, new or used, is great marketing for Toyota plain and simple.

        • SynCaine says:

          That’s why the used car market is vastly different from games; part of the buy-in price of a car is future resale value. Toyota DOES make money off their cars holding value in the resale market indirectly, which is why they promote it.

          Short of making games degrade over time (which is the direction things are going in with DLC and such), the two are not comparable.

        • PeterD says:

          Toyota makes money indirectly by the high resale value promoting FUTURE new purchases. As evidenced by posters below, buying used games promoted FUTURE purchases of new software from the same company. Same basic idea.

          The only way they’d be incomparable is if a purchaser of used software will NEVER turn around and buy new software from the same company, and aside from the idea being ridiculous across the entire population, you couldn’t prove it since it revolves around future behaviors..

        • SynCaine says:

          You’re mixing two different things here.

          The price of a NEW Toyota includes the fact that when you resell it, it will be worth more than a similar Ford or GM car. That has NOTHING to do with customer satisfaction over the car itself and whether they become a repeat buyer.

          The price of a new game does NOT factor in how much the game is going to be worth when you resell it, mainly because a used game functions 99% like a new game (with perhaps a manual, box, or something trivial like that being ‘worn’).

        • PeterD says:

          Syncaine, so Toyotas just “magically” have a higher resale value then?

          It has EVERYTHING to do with customer satisfaction with the vehicle and whether they become a repeat buyer. That’s why the resale value is higher.

          Otherwise, manufacturers could just jack up their prices to increase resale value, and that would somehow be a good thing?

        • SynCaine says:

          Dude, no.

          Resale value is not based on customer satisfaction, it’s based on vehicle durability and sustained demand, which is why the F150 has high resale compared to a 7 series. The 7 series is still a ‘better’ car, but a combination of durability and demand mean it’s resale value is tiny.

        • Snafzg says:

          Actually, car companies make most their money indirectly through vehicle addons (accessories, tinting, rust-proofing, etc.), parts manufacturers, repairs, and extended warranties.

          There’s a huge “indirect” industry related to the auto industry, which is why Obama bailed it out. The reaches of bankrupsy would have been far reaching and devastating.

          (Don’t want to get into an argument over whether he should have let it fail or not… leave that to the political blogs).

          I bring this up because there is also an indirect market for video games, for example DLC, expansions, and any other items they can brand (t-shirts, lunch boxes, cartoons, etc.),

          Does the gaming industry want to become like the record industry and go the way of the dinosaur? Time to start thinking outside the box and adapting.

      • sid67 says:

        @Snafgz/PeterD:

        Recall that what you are BUYING is not the software program but a LICENSE TO USE the software.

        To use the Car analogy, it’s as-if you purchased a lifetime lease on the Car and now you are trying to sell that lifetime lease to another person.

        The legality of such a trade and the merchantability of being allowed to do it is entirely subject to the terms of your original lifetime lease.

        In other words, if the licensing terms don’t provide you the right to resell your use license to a third party, then you don’t have the right to sell it at all.

        And if that’s the case, the person buying the “used” copy doesn’t have a right to use the product (and doing so is, in truth, stealing).

        • Snafzg says:

          While some software may be licensed, I think EA or THQ would have a hard time trying to pass of new shrinkwrapped boxed copies of video games bought at Walmart as “licenses.”

          http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2008/05/court-smacks-autodesk-affirms-right-to-sell-used-software.ars

          I think the most obvious acknowledgment that selling used games is not illegal is that huge companies like Best Buy, EB/GameStop and yes, now even Walmart sell used games.

          If the gaming industry had any leg to stand on don’t you think these companies would be sued into the ground? Read the above article. There’s court precedent against it citing the first-sale doctrine.

          Trust me, if Ford or GM could perma-lease their vehicles instead of selling them outright, they would! Luckily for consumers, they can’t.

  2. sid67 says:

    Pirating sucks, but I tend to view the people who Pirate games as non-consumers. Meaning, they wouldn’t buy the game anyways.

    The flaw is in thinking that if 100,000 people pirate a game that the developer lost out on revenues for 100,000 people. When in truth, perhaps 95% of those pirates would NEVER have purchased the game. So the lost revenue from pirating is closer to 5,000 seats than the 100,000.

    So the real question is, what % of the pirates WOULD have bought the game under other circumstances? My feeling is that it’s not many.

    What tends to get my goat a bit more is the people who encourage the development of crappy games by spending $5-$20 on worthless junk. Not just Facebook games but lousy games on Steam and so forth that didn’t take much development and so offer a better return on the investment.

  3. Maladorn says:

    Umm… Are you saying that buying from the used bin or garage sale is the equivalent of sticking a new game in your bag and leaving the store without paying for it? If so, that’s quite the logical leap, and I don’t think you really connected the idea well in your writing.

    Growing up, I spent a lot of time digging through bargain bins and the pre-owned shelves for games. Yeah, I was always at least 6-months behind the curve, but I got more games that way and avoided a few duds. Case in point, I bought my first copy of Civilization off the pre-owned rack. I had a great time with it, so when I saw Colonization in the bargain bin, I jumped at the opportunity. Fast-forward 10 years, and I’ve purchased every Civ release in some form or other. I think Sid’s okay with me buying the first one used.

    Your analogy doesn’t make sense in another other comparable medium. Buying used books isn’t stealing from the author, and buying used cars isn’t stealing from the manufacturer. Games are entertainment. If I finish a new one and got my $40-50 worth out of it, that’s all the game dev really needs to care about. They aren’t trying to reach the folks who only want to spend $15-20 anyway. If one of those consumers buys the game used and likes it, then the devs are more likely to get that consumer the next time around. As long as the used game buyer understands that they are forfeiting the ability to withhold their money to demand good games, I don’t see what the problem is.

  4. Sean Boocock says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly insofar as piracy is concerned.

    I also agree that there are clear reasons why buying games new is the best way to support the developers of said games.

    However, your contention is that buying a game used is an assholish (read: evil) act. I don’t think that conclusion is as obvious or justified as you purport it to be.

    Let’s look at the situation of buying a used game from the standpoint of the purchaser’s immediate intent. Is his intent to deprive the developer/publisher of revenue or to purchase a hopefully entertaining, albeit used, game? In almost all cases it is the latter and that act, purchasing the used game, is it itself morally neutral (as opposed to stealing said game for instance). That the developer/publisher are deprived of revenue from that sale is a foreseeable but unintended consequence of the act. This is a relevant distinction – intended versus unintended but foreseeable consequences – and one that often comes up in bioethics.

    But maybe you don’t care about intentions and only consequences. Perhaps, the only relevant consideration to moral questions is whether the net effect of the act in question is positive (usually by a measure like happiness) or is allowed by a rule that on balance leads to greater (happiness,etc). So buying used games hurts developers/publishers who otherwise can’t sustain their businesses due to depressed sales in exchange for the entertainment of an expanded player base that wouldn’t otherwise purchase those games at their initial retail price. Weighing which of these is larger, and whether things like the lower pricepoint of used games being a way to draw in more consumers being a positive for the industry, is tricky. To me it’s not immediately clear.

    As much as I want to say that one SHOULD buy only new games, I don’t think that there is a strong or obvious case to justify that. As a matter of personal action, I have almost always, with I believe one exception, bought games new and will continue to do so.

    • SynCaine says:

      “Let’s look at the situation of buying a used game from the standpoint of the purchaser’s immediate intent. Is his intent to deprive the developer/publisher of revenue or to purchase a hopefully entertaining, albeit used, game?”

      But how is that example any different if I replace used game with stolen game? I’m sure the thief is not looking to rob the devs of money, but wants to play a game at a price (free) that he is comfortable with because he is “on a tight budget”. I don’t see the difference.

      • Sean Boocock says:

        Because stealing the game from the store is not a morally permissible act.

        This often comes up in a textbook example of the principle of double effect in discussions of bioethics. Say a pregnant woman has cancer of the uterus. Is operating on the woman to remove her uterus morally permissible even if doing so will lead to the death of the fetus? Most Christian ethicists think so. Why? Because the immediate action, operating on the women, is morally permissible, while the forseeable but unintended consequence can not be avoided to achieve the desired, good end.

        My point in bringing up intent is that it is often discussed with regards to moral questions and I don’t think your cynical characterization of buying used games captures what the buyers of used games actually intend in their actions.

        • SynCaine says:

          Only because current society tells you its wrong to steal from a store (and rob the store owner of his income), but turns a blind eye to robing a dev from the income of a new game sale when you opt to buy used.

          That the consumer is not aware they are robing the dev is as sad (and worthless) an excuse as telling a police officer you were not aware of the speed limit.

        • PeterD says:

          You’re using an argument that can apply to almost any purchased good. If buying a used game is stealing because it deprives the developer a sale, then so is buying a used board game, a used car, a used couch, a used anything. They all deny the original manufacturer a sale.

          You can’t make an exception solely for software and maintain the moral high ground. If you’re serious in your view, then you need to call any purchase of a used good stealing.

        • Sean Boocock says:

          “current society” is not necessarily the arbiter of ethical classifications (most ethical systems are attempts to not descend to some sort of naive relativism and instead root ethics in god/rationality/immediate intuition/etc).

          Putting that aside, describing the action of buying a used game from Gamestop does not contain within it “robbing a dev” under any description. The purchaser is exchanging money for a product that the seller is legally entitled to resell. I’ve never heard an argument that someone is morally obligated to be a consumer, so in no sense is someone buying a used game from Gamestop also in that same act stealing from the developer. They are under no obligation, legal or otherwise.

        • PeterD says:

          Buying a used game is perfectly legal. Breaking the speed limit is not. You’re arguing that buying a used game is immoral, but I doubt you feel speeding is immoral. So now you’re comparing a legal, immoral (in your view) act, to an illegal but not immoral act? That’s your worst argument yet.

        • SynCaine says:

          Part of this is because the videogame industry, as opposed to say, the NFL, is a ‘weak’ entity still in its infancy. The NFL has the power to make re-selling it’s product highly illegal, and it works. In time, the videogame industry will catch up (or as we are seeing, go digital and cut the troublesome middle man out completely), and so too will the resale of the product be illegal.

        • Snafzg says:

          “In time, the videogame industry will catch up (or as we are seeing, go digital and cut the troublesome middle man out completely), and so too will the resale of the product be illegal.”

          Good for them. Really. If you want to control the medium then the medium needs to change and digital is a perfect medium they can control.

          Technically, the consumer should see a price reduction once there’s no middle-man and physical production costs associated with “hard”copies. :)

          Pass on the savings, right?

  5. Zensun says:

    Here’s what I sent Tycho before Gabe put up his post asking for comments:

    While I totally agree with you on your feelings about what makes one a ‘customer’ of THQ, I strongly disagree with your stance that buying used games is in any way wrong, let alone piracy (assuming the game is passed in its entirety and the seller doesn’t keep a copy, of course).

    In the same way that a good book can be sold/passed along and the enjoyment continued indefinitely, so should games. Authors are just as in need of income as game developers and surely you don’t propose that people should burn their books once they’re finished with them? Why should we do the virtual equivelant with games by binning them when we’re no longer going to play?

  6. Dickie says:

    Frankly, the argument is pointless. Put this discussion to the courts and they will side with the consumer resale market, at least when it comes to the physical disc of console games.

    You can argue whether or not it is morally correct, if you chose, but hyperbole (i.e. used=piracy/thefy) doesn’t move your point any further.

    I do agree with the direction the industry is going in though to combat used sales, namely via DLC. Would I like to see games be cheaper. Yes, yes I would. That is also why I almost always wait until a game is $30 or less to buy it (unless I HAVE to have to, like I will with Civ 5). But I think it is incredibly smart to sell DLC on top of the box cost to not only generate more income per item sold, but to generate income from used sales.

    I rarely buy used. On occasion, if there is some ridiculous sale or a game that slipped my mind for some reason is on the shelf for $5, sure I might get a copy, but being that I more and more a PC gamer these days, that is happening less and less. But arguing against the used market is going to go nowhere unless the industry finds a way to back peddle on their long standing support of institutions like Gamestop.

  7. Machination says:

    To be honest, I don’t think the point of buying a game new is to reward the developers and to fund their future efforts.

    I think the point of buying a game is because I want to play it.

    The question is whether buying used = stealing. Let’s have another example:

    Buy used vs. Illegally download.

    Each used copy was once legally purchased. They still make money off of that at a 1:1 ratio. But each pirated copy, is just a copy. Thousands of illegal copies of just one box purchase. Which makes it a 1:1000+ ratio. IMHO the company loses so much more off of stealing.

    Thus,

    Buying used < Stealing. (from the company's perspective)

  8. Udo says:

    What an intriguing mixture of spite and arrogance this post is, one might imagine there is a template for this sort of thing somewhere on the RIAA website because somewhere we have heard it all before. Basically the argument is that the customer doesn’t own shit, he just pays for the privilege of using your enlightened products as long as you see fit.

    The car analogy has been used on this before, and I believe it fits. Yeah, I kinda vote against the new model when I buy a used one, and the reasons for my doing so are none of your damn business. I can totally live with that nay vote.

    At some point, somebody already gave the manufacturer the appropriate amount of money, they should NOT feel entitled to collect the sum all over again whenever the car changes owners. And in a way, I’m still voting for the car, because my friends see me driving around in it and I can show off that it’s still a very decent vehicle after all these years. Besides, if it’s a positive experience, I’m more likely to buy a new one from the same manufacturer.

    Now, I do own a new car, I do buy new games and software in general, I do vote. But here’s the thing, “buddy”, as soon as you want to take my freedom of ownership away, I’m not buying your stuff anymore. Contrary to industry belief, you can advocate your products simply by making awesome stuff and people will notice, you don’t have to actually force them (or in your case: berate them) to do it. Threatening and yelling at your fans is going to be your downfall in the long run.

    People love Starcraft 2, but they hate the DRM. They love their iPad, but they are starting to loathe the limitations placed on it by Apple’s draconian code signing practices. Some day soon, people en masse will figure out they don’t really own any of the stuff they “bought” and this will catch up with you guys.

    And it’s spelled “Ferrari”.

  9. [...] because it wasn’t directly benefiting the company that made it.   But hey, I guess my mom was just a thief for buying us toys at garage sales because we couldn’t afford to get them off the shelves. [...]

  10. Bede says:

    “I don’t think we really care whether used game buyers are upset because new game buyers get everything. So if used game buyers are upset they don’t get the online feature set I don’t really have much sympathy for them.”

    “That’s a little blunt but we hope it doesn’t disappoint people. We hope people understand that when the game’s bought used we get cheated.”, said Cory Ledesma of THQ.

    (http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=261330)

    And from this one simple and straightforward statement the next thing we see are KIA’s and Ferraris and Fords hurtling about our heads like some child’s mobile gone awry.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some disappointed gamer quoted The Declaration of Independence and Déclaration des droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen in support of an argument in favor of providing all content and all services forever to whomever happens to hold the media containing a game – no matter how acquired.

    That said, equating the purchase of a used game with theft is a bit of a stretch. Buying a used game does deprive a developer and publisher of a sale, however. And with that in mind it makes perfect sense to me that a publisher/developer would have no interest at all in providing services or content to the purchaser of a used game.

  11. Bhagpuss says:

    Forget about cars. Better comparisons would be books, DVDs, CDs and any other form of entertainment.

    The used market for all of those is not only legitimate but essential. Publishers don’t keep books, movies, albums available forever. If you want to read or watch or listen to most of all the fiction, cinema or music that’s ever been printed or recorded, it’s “used” or go without.

    What makes games so special that they should be exempt? Why should their developers get a better deal than every other creative artist in history?

    I think the whole argument is entirely specious. Computer software is not some ultra-significant entity that requires special handling. It’s just product. You buy it, you own it, like all product. If you want to resell it, there is no moral issue involved, and in most jurisdictions no legal issue either.

    • Chris says:

      “What makes games so special that they should be exempt? Why should their developers get a better deal than every other creative artist in history?”

      This is a great point and it pretty much takes the wind out of the whole argument. The only reason its different is because people make a hobby out of playing games. It’s special to us, so the soapboxes come out — my own included.

    • Buhallin says:

      You think that if most producers of books, DVDs, CDs, and other forms of entertainment could control resale, they wouldn’t do it?

      There’s nothing special about software or games in this, and suggesting there somehow is doesn’t win you the argument, it just makes you ignorant. Have you not been paying attention to the massive push for DRM in music? Did you never hear about the degrading DVDs that would be unwatchable four days after they were opened? Have you EVER been able to give someone your ticket from a movie theater so they could see the same thing once you were done with it?

      Technology is making things possible that weren’t before. That brings questions with it of what someone deserves for their work. People, even those slimy good-for-nothing game developers, tend to value their work highly.

      Who knew they weren’t in it just to see you take their stuff, play it, and spend hours online ranting about how horrible it is, all without giving them a penny for it?

  12. Azure says:

    Allow me to offer further examples of the injustice of ‘used’ gaming being perpetrated against video game developers. Go to Google and search for “library video game collections”. Here you have unholy libraries spreading video games to the unworthy masses.

    • Chris says:

      Libraries are the new black market, IMO. Organized crime, government sponsored. Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the children?

      Oh, right. Gamestop did.

  13. Jesse says:

    Not to mention the indie games out there that cost significantly less than other new games, but can provide a similar or better experience.

  14. Adam says:

    Lol… nice troll.

    The point of buying a game is not to reward the developer or to vote.

    It’s to be able to play the game…

  15. Anne says:

    need an extra chuck!

  16. [...] got started at Penny Arcade and has ballooned out into the various blogs I’ve read, with Syncaine and Syp both taking a stance on either side of the [...]

  17. [...] Buy Used? Just Pirate… By Chris on August 26th, 2010 After all, the two are the exact same thing, right? I mean, where were YOU when the rest of us were delivering our support right to the [...]

  18. Chris says:

    I’d just like to point out that used game buyers ABSOLUTELY have their votes count. How stupid would a publisher have to be to not factor in their entire playerbase in terms of reception. Used players may not matter as much as new, but anyone who says that they’re not contributing to the success of a good game is stupid. Market penetration, word of mouth, public perception, and future sales are ALL influenced by the used game market.

    Anyone who goes to Gamestop often also knows a bit about their pricing. If a game is a hit, it’ll be priced $5 under the new copy for months. If people are still choosing to buy used, the company didn’t do a good enough job marketing the product in the first place.

    • Chris says:

      Meant to add…

      Down the line, used game sales may surge when Gamestop cuts prices. Shouldn’t that send a message to the games industry? $60 price points aren’t sustainable. The problem is no one wants to back off from the “potential profits” keeping that original price tag might bring.

      It sounds to me like big gaming just isn’t listening to customer feedback. If that’s the case, they deserve to fail — it’s the only way they’ll be forced to adapt to today’s market.

      You know what I really don’t get, though? What is everybody hoping for? Gamestop to go out of business? Sorry, but I don’t want to see the tens of thousands of employees losing their jobs because Bobby Kotick wants some extra padding on his quarterly bonus.

      Make no mistake, if the corporate hand-holders of big gaming actually stepped back from their over-inflated salaries (like most other industries) and multi-million dollar bonuses, this wouldn’t even be an issue. How many game studios could be saved if all the big-wigs simply declined their bonuses?

      But, I guess that’s too much to ask. It’s almost as unrealistic as asking players to believe the lion’s share of their money is *actually* going to the developers.

  19. Buhallin says:

    “Buy used vs. Illegally download.

    Each used copy was once legally purchased. They still make money off of that at a 1:1 ratio. But each pirated copy, is just a copy. Thousands of illegal copies of just one box purchase. Which makes it a 1:1000+ ratio. IMHO the company loses so much more off of stealing.”

    So piracy is only wrong because of the scale?

    Let’s say a Chinese pirate sells 1000 illegal copies of a game. Let’s assume equally that GameStop cycles 1000 copies through used sales.

    Why is the pirate worse? The impact is absolutely identical – 1000 people who have the game without a penny going to the developer. The only difference in the whole thing is the method of reproduction, and that we’ve decided as a society that one is legal and one is not.

    I think the “used purchase = theft” is uncomfortable for a lot of people – myself included. Once we get past the classic calm, reasoned, well-analyzed response the gaming community is known for there are serious questions about the place and role of emerging technology in society.

    • Chris says:

      Right, it’s definitely uncomfortable given that we’ve legally*purchased* the product we’re taking home. Whom are we stealing from, exactly? Right, no one. Stealing implies that someone took something without properly paying for it. No one is stealing from anybody by going to a used game store. The fact that they exist and are a more viable option than new-product retail outlets only points towards marketing and pricing problems on the part of the publisher. This is the kind of thing it will take for game companies to adapt. We are not wrong for utilizing the most economically appropriate option. That’s how capitalism works. If publishers suck at that, that’s their problem. Games don’t get special treatment just because people make a hobby out of them.

      Sorry Buhallin, this post isn’t directly targeted at you. It was just a launch point :-)

      • Buhallin says:

        No problem.

        But here’s the thing. You call one stealing and the other not. But the end result IS EXACTLY THE SAME. It’s nothing but a terminology difference – we’ve decided that piracy is stealing, so it’s bad. But we thing resale is fine, so it’s not stealing, so it’s not bad.

        But where is the difference, especially from the developer’s point of view? Yes, they got the money for the original sale, but that makes it a difference of scale, nothing more.

        So what defines stealing where entertainment is concerned? It’s a much more complex question than you want to admit. Game developers aren’t selling little plastic bits – they’re selling entertainment. It’s not an utterly unreasonable argument that if you enjoy the fruits of their work – the entertainment – without them receiving anything for that, then it is stealing.

        This is an emergent idea, and it’s a very uncomfortable one for a lot of people. But it does go well beyond games.

        • coppertopper says:

          Because in one case you pay for something and in the other no one gets paid for the same product.

          If you want to blame the consumer for the author not benefitting from used products then your just going to create animosity (fitting for syncaine). Go after those that are reselling the stuff. We all know 1/2 priced books and Gamestop have too good of a thing going.

  20. Kyff says:

    I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t know the legal situation in the US. For the sake of argument let’s just presume it is comparable in all countries of the industrialized world.

    The used car analogy is not quite fitting because a used car is collateral whereas the software is basically a license. However a license being basically a right to use something intangible can be sold and transferred as easily as a car. This is a completely legal operation. If a licensor doesn’t want his intellectual property to be traded he is free to issue only non-transferable licenses. That’s what MMO companies do. It is usually forbidden to transfer an account.

    So only if you say that transferring MMO accounts equals stealing, you might have a point. Otherwise it’s up to the developers to protect themselves.

  21. Derrick says:

    Used = theft? Bullshit. It certainly doesn’t help the developers at all, but from a moral standpoint it’s clear as day.

    You are purchasing a physical product from someone else, who owns it legitimately. Whether the developers/publishers like that or not is irrelevant. Whether it’s “good” for the game industry itself is irrelevant. It’s a really, really simply moral question with a very easy answer.

    If they (the developers/publishers) wish to prevent resale of their software, and instead purely sell licenses to use their product, this is within their power – Steam makes it simple, as just one of the options. Whether they should or should not, do this is another question entirely. Should they choose to sell their software as a physical product and not purely a license then that is their choice, with the consequences that goes with that.

  22. bonedead says:

    Everyone wants to be a victim nowadays. From the guy suing NCSoft for their game being too addicting to the guys who are just so unlucky due to the poor wittle ecomony. Do what you can and make do with what you’ve got. You have to adapt to your surroundings because they will not adapt to you.

  23. Brian says:

    I don’t see how buying used is stealing. The developers already got the money from the original purchaser. The original purchaser has the right to resell that game or trade it in. Think about it its the original purchaser that is suffering the loss. They have to compete with Gamestop, EBGames, Ebay, Amazon, etc. A game they paid $60 for may only be selling for $20 by the time they finish or tire of the game.

  24. [...] even taken it a step further and have begun to compare buying used software to outright piracy (See Syncane).  Although there are extremists who believe it’s piracy in the fullest extent, there are still [...]

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