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Hayes: Second-hand games are a market reality

Sega Europe boss keeps a watching brief on the retailer activity - but he doesn't like it

Second hand game sales, from which retailers make significant profits but developers and publishers see nothing, are a market reality, and any attempt to stop it would cause damage to consumer relationships.

That's according to Sega Europe president and COO Mike Hayes, who told that he neither liked nor supported it, but while his company was keeping an eye on things, "right now it's probably not on our top ten list of things that we need to take action and be concerned about."

"The whole second-hand games market is one of those very, very sensitive areas that I've got to say Sega keeps a pretty low profile on - and I'll tell you why," he said. "I know that there are publishers that are vehemently, aggressively against it.

"My reluctant view is that while I can understand that, if publishers were to try and enforce a non-second-hand market to the consumer, I think there would be relationship damage with the consumer. Of course, commercially, do I support it? Of course not, and I have to think here of the 650 people we employ at Sega Europe.

"However, do we have a successful business working with the retailers that offer that service? Yes, we do. So would I ever join a campaign to get it stopped? The answer is no. Do I like it? The answer is no. I may be sitting on the fence here, but there needs to be a bit of reality on the market."

And on the subject of game rentals, an area which GAME announced recently it would move into, he was also circumspect.

"We've always embraced it, notably via Blockbuster, but the debate's been raging since even back when I was at Nintendo," he said. "It's something we keep an eye on - particularly now our business is so mature, and we're in so many markets, I think ownership of hard copy is still something that the consumer wants.

But he didn't think that the industry would move towards providing specific rental-only copies of games, one idea put forward by Frontier Developments chairman David Braben.

"It's been suggested, but I think that's harder to do. With DVD companies they will go and sell the software at highly-inflated prices under rental agreements. The industry's not doing that.

"If more retailers want to come into that, then an initiative might be looked at. At the moment I think rental is a relatively small part, unlike DVD. We'll keep a watching brief on it and see if it takes off, and what others like HMV do.

"But right now it's probably not on our top ten list of things that we need to take action and be concerned about," he added.

The second part of the interview with Mike Hayes is available now.

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