Does the Rapid Release of Games Affect Used Game Sales?

Used Games

My thoughts on the rapid release of video games affecting gamers’ stacks of shame led me to another thought: how much does this affect used game sales and by proxy, the developers’ and publishers’ battle with used game outlets?

Game devs and pubs have always snarled at the concept of consumers buying used games, but 2010 has been really, really heated over this debate. Devs complain that buying and selling used games takes money out of their pockets, and so some have tried to circumvent losses by instituting online pass fees. *cough*EA*cough* (My favorite argument against the devs’ whining has been from my colleague, Brad Hilderbrand, who asked why developers think their product is more righteous than a car or a toaster, which are often resold in garage sales and used car lots, at no profit to the original manufacturer.) While the developers can whine and point fingers at used game outlets and consumers who dare to look for bargains, I’m beginning to believe that the developers and publishers are the ones shooting themselves in the foot by releasing games so quickly.

I mentioned in my other article that in the last five to seven years, hot, sought-after games have began to release at a rate of at least one a month (sometimes once a week), which distracts many gamers from finishing their existing games. We no longer have six months in between popular releases to devote to hundreds of hours of gameplay. On top of that, not many people are able to purchase every brand-spanking new game because it is expensive to spend $60 on a game every other week or every month. Ten years ago, we thought $50 was outrageous for games, but at least good stuff didn’t come out often enough to make us feel like we were always shelling out $50. In the past couple of months, highly anticipated games were released practically every week.

Since many people can’t justify spending that much money every other week, they wait a couple of weeks for the hardcore gamers to finish the game and trade it in so that they can pick up these games for more budget-friendly prices. It makes perfect sense to me. (If I wasn’t so anal about wanting everything new, I can guarantee I’d do the same.)

Used Video Games

Now, yes, I get the fact that games cost more to produce than they have in the past and we should all support this industry by buying games new. However, devs, aren’t you causing this problem just a little bit by releasing so many games so quickly? By making more games, you spend more money and therefore need good sales, but by releasing so many, you flood the market and prevent average consumers from being fiscally able to buy your products. With the current gaming flood, it almost seems as if developers and publishers are forcing gaming to be a rich person’s hobby. I’m in a double-income household, and I can barely justify keeping up with all these new games. I’m dreading first quarter 2011 like you wouldn’t believe.

While as a gamer I love the fact that so many great games keep coming out, I also can’t help but think that such a rapid release schedule will  damage the gaming industry in the long run. People just can’t keep up with this rate, and it isn’t entirely fair to expect them to.

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