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Survey: What Makes Players Choose New Games Instead Of Used?
Survey: What Makes Players Choose New Games Instead Of Used?
November 23, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

November 23, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
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In recent months, used retail video game sales have been rising, at least from a profitability importance point of view for big firms like GameStop, even as new game sales decline.

Game publishers have watched this trend closely, hoping to learn what constitutes a value add for players to incentivize them to buy new. The answer might be surprise you, suggests a new analyst survey.

According to the research conducted by analyst group Cowen and Company, one of the most-selected answers was "I want a new copy." at 54 percent, as players wanted to avoid the potential of scratched disks, missing manuals or they simply prefer new possessions rather than second-hand.

Timeliness was important to 49 percent of players who saw getting a game on launch day as a motive to buy new.

Cowen analyst Doug Creutz says that desire for immediacy alongside the rising share for used games helps explain why the recent pattern for game sales has been a very high launch day spike followed by a swifter drop-off than past trends have shown.

It "speaks to the increasing degree to which new game sales, particularly for core gamer titles, have gotten frontloaded," he says.

Only 33 percent of the respondents said there was a small price difference between new and used games such that buying new was worthwhile. "When considering some of the tactics the publishers have used to try and steer gamers away from used game purchases, our respondents considered them of lower importance," Creutz notes.

"'I want access to bonus content' was selected by 26 percent, 'I plan on buying downloadable content' was selected by 21 percent, as was 'I want access to online play', and 'I want to get a collector’s edition of the game' was selected by 20 percent."

The least popular reason to buy new? "In what is sure to be disappointing news to game developers and those hoping for moral enlightenment, only 16 percent of our respondents answered affirmatively to "I want to support the economics of the game industry'."

However, 70 percent of gamers who responded to a survey by say they buy a game new "if they plan on playing it for a long time" -- a strange finding, notes Creutz, considering that whether or not a game is purchased new does not affect the amount of playtime it offers.

"We suspect there is a behavioral psychology factor at work, where gamers have an easier time justifying the higher price of a new game if they expect to get more use/value out of it, even though the utility of new vs. used on that basis isn't any different," says Creutz.

Cowen's survey was based on a population sample intended to represent the U.S video game marketplace: 1,300 individuals, 1,001 of which were video game players.


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Comments


Joe Woynillowicz
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I think another major reason for people buying used games over new is due to marketing in the storefronts. A few years back the EB stores here in Ontario used to have shelves full of new games and then a single shelf for used titles. Now it is almost impossible to even find the new titles as they get 25-30% of the store space while used takes up 70-75% ... I have friends that purchased used titles by accident in the past and thought they were new.



Not to mention all the used game deals and promotions that are put on pushing customers towards used instead of new, basically selling used as a much better deal and an almost "don't get suckered buying new" message.

Joseph Tramonte
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I always lean towards new I like games specifically good games I want the publishers to have the means to keep it up. I'm a JRPG player mostly Atlus, NIS, Access there not bathed in money and I want them to continue to make the games I love. Plus the GameStop discounts are normally 5 dollars. I guess I see if the used game market continues to grow the only IP's that will live will be the big ones. My fear? Call of Duty 376,983,094,286 here we come.

Fox English
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Hey they used a picture of Game Dude for the article, I was just there, buying 350 dollars worth of new JRPGs ;p



Count me in the 54% that simply want a new possession rather than second-hand, and not because I want to have a collectible game. I will only buy used games if there's absolutely no other recourse to obtain it.

Alex K
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Can someone explain to me why Gamestop allows their employees to borrow new games, and then after they are finished borrowing them, the same copy is sold as "new"?

Joseph Tramonte
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They do that?

Jakub Klitenik
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In the UK, GAME (Gamestop alternative) allow their staff to play the Pre-Owned games during that staff members lunch break.

It's makes sense as it means that the staff member should find it easier to sell that said game if they know what the content is like.

However letting them play new games would be a massive No-No. It wouldn't be a new game if it has been played and that would be mis-selling.

[User Banned]
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Ujn Hunter
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I always buy new unless I can't find a new copy (or it's years later and the new copy is 10x the price of a used copy!) but I'll still wait until most titles drop in price before buying new. Games that offer nice pre-order (Amazon, not Lamestop!) bonuses get money right away as opposed to later w/ price drops. I don't mean DLC codes either... DLC is not my cup of tea. I want all the features on my disc available to me without paying money for unlock keys thank you.



That also plays a big part in my buying games full price. Take Marvel vs. Capcom 3 which is going to feature a ridiculous amount of PAID unlock codes for things already on the disc... I would almost purposefully buy that cheap and used because of the crap tactics used to gain more money, those tactics backfire in my book. If all of that content was unlock-able by playing the game w/o paying more money for "keys" then I'd buy it brand new within the first week of release.

Ron Alpert
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Game Dude is legendary. Deserving of a pilgrimage to North Hollywood by the serious classic gamer. Yes it is trashy, with it's decades-old sun-bleached pinups of Super Nintendo games. Where else in this COUNTRY can you still find a store which has hundreds of Atari 2600, ColecoVision, and even 3DO (console) titles under a glass display? Nowhere else, I say!

David Clair
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Used to order NES, and TG-16 games from Game Dude ALOT during the 90's... their catalog was gold back in the day... good times.



I think a major reason is that the game industry has expanded to the point where there are so many games being released its impossible for people to buy them all, so the ability to buy used or sell your games toward the purchase of new or used has been come a viable option.



There are plenty of games that i would love to buy new.. but due to the fact that I'm not swimming in the bucks.. means that i must pick a few "must have games" for purchase as new.. and then turn to the discounts afforded by used games to get some of the other titles i want..

Joshua Sterns
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That is Game Dude! Awesome! The staff stinks but the selection rocks.

Eric Kwan
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Often times, Gamestop will put a price sticker right onto the case of a used game a ruin it. They also sometimes miss inserts, like manuals and DLC vouchers.

Doug Poston
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One of the reasons I buy all of my new games online (normally from Amazon).

Eric Geer
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I know this one is obvious--but not really noted on the survey--Location and Convenience. Occasionally I'll buy a used game if I happen to land myself in a gamestop or any specialty game store--But most of the time I buy new because thats all that is near by and convenient. The closest gamestop is in a slimewhole part of town--and traffic sucks(I live in DC)--more often then not--I will preorder games with game bonuses(thanks amazon) or if I'm really itchin or am in a spur of the moment kind of feeling--ill walk up to the nearby best buy or target--not the greatest selections but they do generally have the more popular title--



Only time I'll ever really get a used game is if I am low on cash or its a deal I can't refuse--$15 or less. Otherwise I generally opt to support the Devs, avoid the rabid Gamestop employees(Wanna preorder?), and get myself a nice new copy of a game--with manual and no scratches or fingerprints in sight.

Todd Williams
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The ONLY time I buy game, used or new, is when I plan on playing it for a long time, otherwise I RENT (a large aspect of the industry that seems to have gone unnoticed in this survey).

Buck Hammerstein
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agreed Todd, i buy new but often buy used for older titles since they are so cheap after a month (or several months). the survey missed my big choice for each title i am interested: To Buy or To Rent.



i've rented games for a few weeks (Borderlands) and then gave it back which was much cheaper than buy new or used. if rentals weren't around i'd probably buy even more used games but this survey doesn't reveal that much that doesn't seem obvious.

Prash Nelson-Smythe
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I buy many games second hand because they are cheaper. If it is a DS game then I know the cartridge will work fine. I recently bought a second-hand cartridge without a box or manual on the cheap, because those things have zero value to me (for a sturdy cartridge). For discs I worry slightly about scratches and that can put me off buying second hand if I think I will be playing the game for a long time.



There are some games that people tend to buy and keep because they are good. For such games, it is hard to even find a used copy that is cheaper than new in the first six months of release so if you want to play them without waiting for quite a while, you have to buy them new.

Jeffrey Fleming
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"In what is sure to be disappointing news to game developers and those hoping for moral enlightenment, only 16 percent of our respondents answered affirmatively to "I want to support the economics of the game industry'."



Just a quick reminder: It is not immoral to buy or sell used video games. Nor are we under any obligation to “support the economics of the game industry.” A packaged game is a physical good that I can do whatever I want with. Once I’ve purchased it, I can play it, throw it around like a Frisbee, or sell to it someone else. Perhaps all three.

[User Banned]
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Eric Geer
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No not necessaryily...but if there is a game that you really enjoy and you would like to see a similar product in the future. It might be worthwhile to invest the extra $20 in a new copy vs a used copy. If I could send the money directly to a developer to get a game I would--but unfortunately--i think the publishers get more profit back than the developer. Its kind supporting anything that you believe in or care about---you aren't responsible..but potentially you could be partially responsible if your favorite dev shuts down because you as well as many others decided to buy used games opposed to new games.

Gaming Droid
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I always buy my games new. It's just a question of if the the price is right, but new is a requirement for me.



Partly to support the industry, but also because used games are gross.



With that said, there is nothing moral/ethical about it as Jeffrey Fleming mentioned. You can even give it away! If anything, denying part of your household to play a game to prevent used game sales how I considered the industry wronged the consumer i.e. including one-time use code for online play in new games.

Peter Young
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I agree with you, but I think you are missing the big picture. The point isn't that consumers have a moral obligation, or even that developers EXPECT consumers to fulfill a moral obligation (no professional should ever expect that). The problem is when used-game consumers complain about developers/publishers being too risk-averse, while not contributing at all to our bottom line.



When someone buys a game used, it ZEROS OUT OUR MARGINS. Which is fine, it's business, we have to adjust, yada yada yada. But we can't make money just magically appear. If we make less money, you will eventually get less product to match.



In other words, when you* buy used, you really aren't saving any money at all because you just end up paying down the line through some other (and usually even less popular) means. Fortunately for Gamestop, the average consumer doesn't think this far ahead, which is why the used game business is so successful.



*I'm using "you" proverbially here, I'm not directing it towards you personally.

Alan Rimkeit
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Personally I try to buy new but I wait till the games are moved down to the Greatest Hits list or their price is lowered. I used to pay full price for new games with out reservation, but for the last few years the cash flow is just not what it used to be.



Otherwise I buy, and sell my used games on EBay. For me that is only place to do business for used video games. I have NEVER had a negative experience with used games on EBay. People have always done me right and I have always done good on other people when selling to them.

Jakub Klitenik
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One thing that is missed out is why the person bought a video game.

If it's a gift then the likely hood of it being pre-owned is unlikely.

Not many people want to come across as a cheapskate when buying gifts.

While sometimes pre-owed will look the same as brand new, it's missing the cellophane and also that new video game smell. You all know what I'm mean that smell you get from the disk and manual that you only seem to get when you break the seal of the box.

august clark
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Personally? Most retailers that stock used games only give a minimal discount on the used games versus a new game. That combined with the knowledge of how little they actually pay for the used stock ignites in me a burning desire to not give them the extra profit, especially since the original developer sees none of it.



Buying from places like eBay or individual sellers on Amazon or Craig's list is a different story. For rare or hard to find items these are typically the only options and in those cases I make an exception.

Alan Rimkeit
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"For rare or hard to find items these are typically the only options and in those cases I make an exception."



Tell me about it. EBay was the ONLY way I got Star Wars Force Unleashed Sith Edition for the PS3.

Joseph Tramonte
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Gamestop turns a huge profilt while developers left and right go belly up...

Mathieu MarquisBolduc
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I usually buy new because over here, the used version is usually not even 5$ below the new version. Seriously whats up with that? On at least 3 occasion the used version of a game I wanted was priced HIGHER than the new version.



I haven't bought a boxed game in some time though, I tend to rent or borrow it now. They are more expensive here than in the US (despite the almost identical exchange rate), and you can't trust reviewers anymore.



I did buy a few steam/downloadable, tho.

james sadler
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One of the biggest issues for me buying used is that generally when I buy them from a store like Gamestop there is not really any incentive to buy a used game vs. a new one. Often times the price difference is somewhere around 5-10 bucks. It just kills me knowing how much they pay for used games too. If I am looking online for a used game I tend to be really cautious because I have been burned by getting bad disks in the past.



One of my friends introduced me to Goozex.com awhile ago and I tend to use that service more than anything. I like the cross trading ability along with having a quality standard behind the trades.

Eric Cartman
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I want to buy new, more than anything because I want to support the game industry.



But I have so little money and so many games I want to play that it's simply not an option for me.

Cody Scott
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I normally buy new because i respect most developers/publishers and i like manuals.... Im not liking the trend of small or no manuals being in new games and that might force me into buying used games since the price for games are going up and I feel like im getting less since games seem to be getting easier.

Rey Samonte
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Whoah! Game Dude?! I haven't seen that store front for a long time now since I was a teen!

Joshua Sterns
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Gamefly all the way!



I play games to have fun. I don't need my digital fun soaking up all my disposable income. So I get games for as cheap as possible.



I also could care less about "supporting" a developer. If they aren't turning a profit, then they need to reanalyze their business model. Blaming used games or piracy is foolish. These things are apart of the industry. Deal with it.



I've always wondered why studios haven't explored alternative sources of income. Product placement and advertising has huge potential in video games.

Jed Hubic
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It's sounds like a developers real complaint with not making money should be with Gamefly.

Joseph Tramonte
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Gamefly for me just helps me validate 60 bucks. If I gamefly it and like it I buy it new...

John Gordon
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If it's a game that people play for a long time, then it doesn't really lose it's value. A game that is $60 new and $30 used is going to sell a lot used more copies than a game that is $60 new and $55 used. Action games that people only play for 10-15 hours are going to cost less used than a game with great multiplayer or lots of replay value.

Jed Hubic
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For the $5 difference between new and used, I'll take new.



...but for only the price of a cup of coffee a day I could feed and school a child in another country...



...man I'm a dick.

Jason Chen
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I for one support the developers, so I would prefer to buy new, but if I see a game I want which already has a used copy and the condition of the disc is good. I probably would buy used. Then again, if online feature is what I want, I definitely will take new copy for sure. There are just too many reason too many purpose for getting either a new copy or an old copy.

Joe Wagner
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Why are discs still so popular for retail distribution of games relative to downloads? When I see the streaming business of Netflix taking off at the expense of DVDs, I wonder why the same is not happening more quickly with games. Once this does happen, doesn't the entire notion of used games disappear? After all, you can legally resell a disc but you typically can't resell a downloaded copy.

Rey Samonte
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One reason I would think is you can stream a movie a chunk of a time whereas with games, you need the data readily available. That data might not always be organized in neat little chunks like a movie would be. To get that kind of functionality you want in games, you'd have to rely on services like OnLive and in most cases, the gaming experience isn't consistent for all due to internet connection. It's much more forgiving for the picture quality of a movie to be of lesser quality due to compression and it doesn't take away from the movie's story, but for games, it affects the overall experience of the game.

John Paul Zahary
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I began the habit of purchasing new when I started to have problems with my NES - renting normally meant dirty cartridges that seemed to consistently ruin my machine.



As for today, I still prefer the prospect of new as there is not much price difference and for $5-$10 more I would like a game without scratches. At least I know I was trying to take care of my machine.



However, I agree with the poster who stated that there are so many games today that buying used could look more inviting - especially since GameStop has the "return any used game within 7 days for your money back" incentive.



However, I am happy that demos are being released for more titles, so I can try out a game and then choose to buy a new game I will enjoy.

Gideon Gyabaah
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It is funny how most people miss the point of a "USED GAME". We are talking about used games as if they are manufactured. The industry is mostly forgetting the fact that used games is the result of gamers returning a "NEW GAME" either because they didn't like the game, they got bored of the game or simply because they want to sell it so they can have enough money to buy another game. A very popular game that has a very long hour of play (example: RPG's or FPS with a strong online presence) will have less used games for sale with-in its peek sale period (this is usually from the point the game is release to anywhere from a couple of days or weeks or months or to when a new version or competition is released).

The point is; used games is not the fault of these brick and mortar outlets, they don't going around forcing consumers to return their games (especially if the consumer is still playing and joying it), it’s the consumers that returns THEIR games by THEIR own will.

We as game developers are preaching this holy message about supporting the game industry and forgetting that until online distribution becomes the norm, brick and mortar outlets are part, and a very vital part of the gaming industry eco system and they also need a way to maximize their profits and cut their lose. Imagine Ford going after every dealership (especially those not affiliated with ford) for selling second hand Fords, every consumer will cry foul. Or funnier/worse , Ford deciding to tap into the second hand car sale by deciding to sell cars without a pedal and/or tires and/or windshields, and the only way to get these parts is to by a new Ford with an unregistered VIN????.

So please for the sake of the industry as a whole, the Publishers/Developers should focus on making quality games with enough contents to keep the gamer wanting to keep their copy of their game for the longest amount of time, instead of give us half baked goods for $60 and expecting the consumer to pay extra dollars for contents that should have being in the game in the first place!!!

Andrew Swain
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Or making half a game and nickel- diming for the rest of it,

Jason Lee
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I think in terms of used games coming from GameStop, I believe Mr. Forest Gump said it best:



"Life is like a box o' chocolate, you nevuh know wut yer gonna git!"



Sure GameStop has a decent return policy, but who wants to take a risk on half-price stock that may or may not work, when you can always get a 100% guarantee by buying a new OEM factory sealed copy? Oh yeah, wait a sec... GameStop would never open and then reseal originally sealed boxed content now would they? :/



Reminds me of the days I worked in retail at Egghead Software and CompUSA years ago. Note, there's a reason they went out of business mind you.

Omar Gonzalez
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"In what is sure to be disappointing news to game developers and those hoping for moral enlightenment, only 16 percent of our respondents answered affirmatively to "I want to support the economics of the game industry'."



... omg irresponsible gamers! where we going!?



seriusly speaking.. I think that survey should include 90% of those gamers are actually more worried about their mortgage or paying the next month rent



Economy sucks attm in most of the world, people will always prefer new but it´s a matter of income, all my costumers want the special edition of any given game and they want it new yet saddly most of them can´t afford it.


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