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8th July 2021

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Braben calls for action against pre-owned sales

"This is essentially rental, and it's not tolerated by other industries," says Frontier boss

David Braben, founder of Frontier Developments, has spoken out against retailers' pre-owned sales practices, during his talk at the Develop conference in Brighton.

Speaking at the event about the generally positive view of the games industry and its future, Braben showed a picture of a GameStation window completely occupied by pre-owned titles, which he said was an issue the industry had to face.

"More than half their floor area is dedicated to pre-owned and that is something as an industry we don't see... those same retailers are only carrying new copies of games from the past few months – if it's a game that's been out for two months and you want to buy one from a shop not Amazon and you don't want pre-owned, it's very hard," he explained.

"This is essentially rental, and it's not tolerated by other industries... Why can we not introduce special 'for rental' copies?"

Braben went on to say that developers and publishers could do more from their end to limit and control the trade of pre-owned games.

"We can make pre-owned detectable, we can put a code on the disc or the packaging... We should be doing something and it should result, in the longer term, in cheaper retail prices, which helps us all."

Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry

8th July 2021

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Latest comments (5)

Joonas Laakso Production Lead, Next Games12 years ago
I agree, in the sense that something has to be done about the retail prices. As an enthusiast who goes through a game per week, I can't afford to buy anything but discounted or used copies, some rare exceptions notwithstanding (I paid an arm and leg for Rock Band).

I don't think that punishing or somehow limiting the use of preowned copies is the way to go, though. Keeping people playing the same old copy does help. More carrot, less stick.
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David Chang EVP, Marketing and Business Development, OnNet USA12 years ago
"This is essentially rental, and it's not tolerated by other industries... "

Ever heard of movies before?
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Mat Bettinson Business Development Manager, Tantalus Media12 years ago
Mr Braben's point about movies, I think, is that there's a specific licence regarding resale. There's a difference channel with higher pricing for the movie rental market.

The flaw with wanting to introduce this system is that that with movies, rental came along before sale. The resale idea is firmly ingrained in the expectations of consumers. Who is going to be first move to tell games retailers they can't resell their games? That'd be a brave publisher.

Then there's enforcement. Sure there's mechanisms for doing it as Mr Braben points out but I wonder if he's seen what kind of response various DRM mechanisms have been met with by consumers so far? It's not been great.

You can see why retailers do it. If they don't do it, all the trade will be on ebay instead. Here's an area they can compete in when cut-priced online retailers eroded their traditional business model.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.12 years ago
I believe pre-owned sales are banned in Japan. Perhaps there is a model available there that can be implemented in the US and Europe.

I noticed on GameStops' most recent fiscal year report that used games sales made up over 50% of their revenue and net profit. They charge $50.00 for a used game when it's $60.00 brand new and as noted in the article titles released just a few short months ago may only be found in the used game section because they intentionally allocate so little shelf space to new games.

In fact, their entire store layout is designed to be as small as possible such that it forces them to clear out new titles (which give them a smaller profit margin) as quickly as possible forcing consumers to purchase their heavily marked up pre-owned titles.
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Matt Bishop , Team 1712 years ago
Sony, Ninty and MS know this.. The result of which is a rather heavily invested effort into non physical media. By the time we get to the PS4s of the world, most of the money made for pubs will be via digital distribution, supplimental content add ons and perscription fees.. The likes of Gamestops/Gamestations who rely to a certain extent on the hardcode gamer will most likely find making as much profit rather hard to come by.. Although i imagine if there were any brains at Gamestop they would already be looking into their own digital distribution system..
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