GAME begins trial of pre-owned pre-orders

Dragon Age II, Homefront and Fight Night Champion among those offered for savings

Retailer GAME has begun offering pre-owned pre-orders on eight key releases in a new trial on its website.

The games are being offered from one week after their official release date, with savings for consumers of up to 21 under the recommended retail price. Five of the titles are from EA, two are from THQ and one is from SEGA.

The practice of selling traded-in games has contributed significantly to the finances of retailers in the past couple of years at a time when a difficult economy and the rise of digital distribution has caused some issues.

However, it is a practice that some sectors of the development and publishing communities are against, because subsequent resale revenue doesn't filter back to their businesses.

The general argument from retail is that there is a clear consumer demand, and that trade-ins promote the sales of new games - although offering pre-orders for pre-owned games before they're released seems counter to this.

The games involved are:

  • Dragon Age II
  • Homefront
  • Fight Night Champion
  • WWE All-Stars
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters
  • Shift II Unleashed
  • Virtua Tennis 4
  • Crysis 2 contacted GAME, but the retailer does not officially comment on trial services.

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Latest comments (23)

John Donnelly Quality Assurance 6 years ago
This could backfire if they get more demand for the pre-owned copies than they sell in the first place.
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Graham Simpson Tea boy, Collins Stewart6 years ago
John, that's exactly what they want. They make a much larger margin on second hand sales than new copies. Especially given the price/margin squeeze that you see before a game is launched as all retailers fight for the sale. People will just go on a waiting list and that's money in the bank.
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Wayne Gibson UK Marketing Manager for 6 years ago
When I saw this on their site a few days ago I thought it was an admin error. Looks like they are really pushing the boat out with the pre owned now.
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 6 years ago
Ironic really that 5 of those 8 games are from EA, meaning that'll likely require an Online Pass for some of the content or to play the games online, which will add 8 ish (?) on top for the consumer (except Crysis 2, which is not supporting Online Pass - understandably if Crytek are trying to build its presence as an online shooter; no point in excluding any consumers at this point). Also, games never sell for their RRP with any of the main retailers which means this scheme will only save shoppers around 6 on high-street prices. Further, those who shop online will find most of these games for around the 35 mark new with the likes of and I can see no good reason why anyone who shops online would go for a scheme like this.

Further, with GAME's constantly aggressive pushing of pre-owned software (i.e. already advertising 3DS trade-ins, the 14 day trade-in on Bulletstorm and Killzone 3 for 35), they're likely to make publishers and platform holders even more determined to render the high street retailers obsolete, and could really hurt the profits of companies like GAME and Gamestop if the two sides insist on fighting against one another like this. Frankly, I think they're helping to dig their own grave, and recently I've been thinking how schemes like Online Pass are not such a bad thing if the retailers are so determined to dupe developers out of so much potential profit.

EDIT - further, I've just been looking on (who are wholly owned by GAME), and most of those games are on their site for 35 new, with WWE being 30!

EDIT #2 - I've also been told by a friend who works for GAME (in their head office on the website) that consumers will not have to pay extra to take EA games online, but he won't comment further. Hmmm -- does the plot thicken?!

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Terence Gage on 4th March 2011 4:29pm

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Funny that this is the same people who were raising an unholy WAAAAAAH! about Steam-enabled games not very long ago, eh?
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John Donnelly Quality Assurance 6 years ago
I understand they they are doing this Graham but they are taking a huge risk of not only pissing off the publishers but also their own customers who expect the game 1 week after release only to be told that they dont have enough copies.

Its a bad move as its making them more like a user-game retailer than anything else.

The used market has its positives but its devalueing the new releases and pushing buyers to play the game in a weekend to keep their resell value high for them.

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Wayne Gibson UK Marketing Manager for 6 years ago
I've noticed GAME have dropped prices for several of its pre order titles. Crysis 2, Dragon Age 2 have dropped a few 's and so has Homefront. I believe there are a few more titles as well which have dropped . I wonder if this is their new online strategy to be more price competitive against other online retailers.
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Private Industry 6 years ago
Have seen that a few days ago when I was browsing the release lists. That`s just taking it too far to have pre orders for pre owned games. It`s like showing the middle finger to all the companies and they can`t guarantee that they will have x amount of units.
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Aleksi Ranta Category Management Project Manager 6 years ago
Ok, its late over here so call me silly BUT where do these pre-owned games come from if this takes off???

Lets assume a situation where demand for "preowned DAY1+7days" games increases to the point where there arent enough day1 sales + returns to feed that demand. for example 4 games sold on day 1 and 6 people waiting a week to buy the game, and out of those 4, not everyone hands in their game for trade-in.

How does this work?
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Stefan Pettersson Specialist Consultant, Fat Tuna6 years ago
This is definately what I'd like to call "digging your own grave". Publishers are rapidly losing interest in retail and actions like these will only speed things up.

Personally I think Crytek made a huge mistake by excluding onlinepass from Crysis 2. Retail won't thank them for that, they will capitalize on it. Pre-order on pre-owned... guess Crytek didn't see that one coming.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Stefan Pettersson on 5th March 2011 10:02am

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Sam Brown Programmer, Cool Games Ltd.6 years ago
This will end with publishers should only producing one copy of each game, and we'll have to pass it around.
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Wesley Williams Quality Assurance 6 years ago
This kind of stuff would drive me nuts if I were a game dev. The retailers are really starting to take the p*** now. This is going to drive more companies to doing the kind of stuff EA have done with their online pass and the only people who suffer are gamers.
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Graham Simpson Tea boy, Collins Stewart6 years ago
Publishers are not 'pissed' off with second hand sales par se. There is an acceptance that they are a necessary evil. Bobby Kotick even conceded that when he commented that second hand trades were acting as a currency to purchase new games. In the US the used game market is over $1bn and alot of that gets re-routed to new games sales. So that's an indirect benefit and all good for the publisher - they still get the new game sale on the top line. It's irrelevant if the consumer paid cash or with a gamestop token. Obviously it has rankled publishers (like EA) when they incur cost supporting online product hence the online pass.

But all in all the reality is used game sales are keeping the industry alive as the proceeds more often than not go towards a new game.
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 6 years ago
For a second i thought that this article is about people selling their pre-orders, not about pre-ordering used games ;)
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Denis Dyack President, Silicon Knights6 years ago
Who would have guessed that the biggest pirates in the games industry would be the retailers.
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Private Industry 6 years ago
*raises hand* I knew that since I bought MoH for 40 euro and the guy at the till wanted to convince me to buy it pre owned because it would be 4 euro cheaper. Sad thing is probably your average Joe goes for the tiny bit cheaper one because he might not know about the online pass and probably wouldn`t care that much about who get`s the money at the end as long as he is paying less.

Not completely against second hand, because sometimes that`s the only way to get older games, some people don`t have that much money they can spend on games or they just dont have any intentions on keeping the game once they are done with it to play it again later. But the way Game is going isn`t the best one by offering pre owned before the release. With a colorful language that Mr. Jaffe would use usually that`s like saying f**k you to the companies by telling the people to wait with buying a new version to get cheaper pre owned one just 7 days later. Besides of trying to get people pissed who did the games in the list they are also going to potentially piss off the customers if they are not going to have enough pre owned copies.
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Adem Demirdag Online Gaming Editor 6 years ago
They should have a limit on pre-orders right ? What if only 5 guys returned the game after owning it ? How could they assess the number of available units after a week that the game is being released, owned by someone else and returned to them ? I think it`s a step too far and it`ll fail. You can`t plan ahead where you can not see the end of the tunnel.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 6 years ago
Pre-order pre-owned games? WTF? Seems like retailers want to put the game developers and publishers out of business. Sometimes I think this is worse then piracy. Retailors are finding ways to juice the game industry out of every penny before they go down under. And by the looks of it, they are getting more creative at it.

But quite frankly as a game developer id look for ways to fight this. They seem to focused on piracy right now and while it should not be ignored I think retailers pose a significant threat.
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Peter Law Freelance Game Designer and Unity Developer, Enigma 236 years ago
GAME don't need to worry about how many copies of a game will get traded in, they've been doing trade-ins for years and will have data which gives them enough information to know they will get xx amount of copies traded in.

They do pre-orders for new titles, which on the odd occasion, they cannot fulfil every single order on day 1 .. because it's so popular, how is this any different? - The answer? It isn't. Non-savvy customers are going to lose out, and I can see this being successful for GAME.

I hope now publishers will become a bit more aggressive and price digital copies competitively, if not lower than retail, AT LEAST the same price.

Black Ops on Steam: 40
Blacks Ops at GAME: 35 (34 download!)
CoD:MW2 on Steam: 40 !! - well over a year after release, and with a sequel out..
CoD:MW2 at GAME: 22 (35 download!)

Mass Effect 2 on the PS Store: 48
Mass Effect 2 at GAME: 40

I haven't bought a boxed PC game in a very long time (cept Cataclysm because I got it 20 cheaper than Blizzard wanted to charge me for it digitally..). And I would buy all my console games digitally if it was: A) Priced reasonably and B) As easy as Steam/ Apple App store to use.
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 6 years ago
I totally agree Peter, particularly in the instance of Mass Effect 2 PS3 - if publishers and the 'Big Three' want to shift more onus to downloading games instead of buying physical copies, then they all really need to have a long hard think about pricing structures and give the consumers value for money, otherwise for the majority there's just not much incentive. Mass Effect 2's price on PSN was a joke; I would be interested to know how many copies they sold online.

I would gladly buy new releases directly from PSN if they were to launch with, say, a 20% discount from the high street price. I mean, the publisher may not see significantly more profit in this instance (let's say 32 to buy LA Noire from PSN, which after the 30%-ish cut I assume goes to Sony leaves 22.40 for Rockstar), but they would save a little money in producing fewer physical products and they have the assurance that the game is not sell-able which eliminates the pre-owned issue.
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Barrie Tingle Live Producer, Maxis6 years ago
The price difference between Pre-Owned after a week and a New Copy are likely to be so insignificant that if they don't have enough Pre-Owned copies they'll sub it with a new copy instead. However, GAME tend to do good deals on bringing your game back after a week making it hard for the average consumer to resist.

The whole idea is genius from GAME's pov but a nightmare for Publishers.
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Stephen Woollard Online Infrastructure Specialist, Electronic Arts6 years ago
I vote we get everyone we know to swamp them with pre-owned pre-orders and watch the whole thing collapse :-)
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game6 years ago
I'm surprised no publishers are signing deals with the few stores not offering trade ins (just Sainsbury's?) offering a 5 per copy reduction in supply price not to offer trade ins. Even offer it to companies that do sell second hand, so that if they take the reduction, they are legally contractually bound not to sell that title second hand for 18 months. Then when Fifa is sold 5 cheaper by Sainsbury's than Tescos without even needing to be a loss leader, maybe more stores will sign up. See how game fare when they are paying more for new copies of games at distribution than all major competitors.
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