Although consumers love to have the option, used video game sales by retailers such as GameStop have long been a point of contention for publishers who feel that they are losing out on sales of new games.
Now, as reported by Victor Godinez of the Dallas Morning News, some publishers are taking steps to dissuade consumers from buying used games:
…each copy of Gears of War 2 will ship with a unique, one-time-use code for downloading extra multiplayer levels. Once the code has been used, subsequent owners of that copy of the game will be unable to download the levels.
And NBA Live 09 will include a similar free, one-time code for accessing daily roster and stat updates. If you buy a used copy of NBA Live 09 and the previous user has already redeemed the code, you’ll have to pay $20 to get the updates.
The question now is how gamers will respond… It’s also possible that used game buyers will stop buying used games in protest or buy the used game but do without the disabled features. All in all, I don’t think these efforts by game makers are going to garner much loyalty from gamers, but if they add to the bottom line, the game makers probably won’t care.
GP: As a game consumer, this issue is a sore point with me. First, you’ve got the fabulously profitable, "recession-proof" video game business, and they need to squeeze every last nickel out of their customers?
Moreover, if this is implemented widely, the publishers will put the screws to the business model of GameStop and other used game retailers. Note to publishers: those retailers also push one Hell of a lot of your new product, too.
Finally, the publishers are dreaming if they think that every used game buyer will purchase a new game instead. Cost-conscious gamers will risk buying a lower-priced used title because, frankly, a fair number of $60 games don’t offer good value. That’s polite-speak for "they suck." And, for those who do opt to take the $60 new game plunge, the notion of being able to trade it in later is a reassuring suck insurance policy.
UPDATE: Shacknews has a lot more on this issue, including info on Rock Band 2 content.