News Article

GameStop Exploring Possibility of Second-Hand Digital Sales

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

This could affect us, Nintendo fans!

As you can tell from our tagline, it's with a sense of genuine delight that we can bring you news about potential industry changes with retail download software, and actually have an interest in the outcome. After so long lagging behind Sony, Microsoft and PC platforms in terms of full retail downloads, Nintendo will soon be joining the party and playing a role in this part of the games business.

One thing that's currently restricted to boxed games is buying and selling second hand titles. The trade-in and second hand games market may not be universally popular, particularly with publishers, but it's a part of the retail landscape and allows gamers with less money to still enjoy their hobby. Naturally, if retailers had the opportunity to buy and sell downloaded game licenses second hand, that would mean that any game purchase could, potentially, have resale value for the gamer. This could become a reality in the future, based on what GameStop CEO Paul Raines has told GameSpot.

It’s very interesting. There are some technologies out there in Europe, and we’ve looked at a couple that are involved. We’re interested; it’s not a meaningful business yet. Right now we’re not seeing that as a huge market, but I think we’re on the leading edge. There are a few companies, a few startups, out there that we’ve talked to that are doing this.

It's only natural that publishers themselves won't be keen, but it's interesting to note that a recent EU ruling stated that users shouldn't be prevented from re-selling their download licences for games. The reality of trading-in or selling a download title may not be right around the corner, but it could become a reality in the future.


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User Comments (55)



Drawdler said:

It's not too surprising- they're the only ones reselling Skylanders, after all. I don't buy games pre-owned unless they're old anyway, but I'm curious to see what they'll do...



BenAV said:

Not sure exactly that's going to work, but I don't sell my games anyway so whatever.



Squashie said:

I am a little puzzled of how this will work and how it will be of a benefit to anybody?



Chris720 said:

How will selling digital copies second-hand work exactly? Everyone will get the game but at a cheaper price because of second-hand trading in...



ThomasBW84 said:

@Pengaweeno GameStop are only online in the UK I believe. It's safe to say, though, that other retailers would also get in on the act.



47drift said:

No, get out of here GameStop, go destroy the industry with your secondhand sales somewhere else.



MAB said:

Wouldn't it be like buying a Wii/3DS points card, using the points then taking the card back and asking for a refund? I thought all the praise for digital downloads from developers came from the fact that you cannot resell or buy within a secondhand market. Now someone is trying to work their way around to kickoff a digital sechand market? the vicious circle continues to form within another avenue... It didn't take long



Drewroxsox said:

I still think you will get your usual $9 back. Gamestop is a company that has to make money some how, so you would never get back $20 for a game that you paid $40 for.



ivanmata said:

I would not get any unless there is a substantial decrease in price, knowing gamestop, the difference in price with respect to a "new digital" download will only be a couple of dollars.



SkywardLink98 said:

But if it's digital you can't run out of copies, right? And if you can't run out of copies what's the point of having a trade-in program?



Bankai said:

Oh good. Let's have the retailers ruin the ability for game makers to finally earn a fair commission for their work.

I would rather GameStopmgo bankrupt than Nintendo or Square Enix.



hover3d said:

they could just give you money then they use software transfer to put it on a 3ds then when someone wants to buy a second hand download they do the reverse



ThomasBW84 said:

@SkywardLink98 Digital purchases, typically, are locked by a licence and DRM (digital rights management), otherwise everyone would distribute copies of games with impunity (sharing sites hack code and do this, but that's illegal). The EU judgement basically said, I believe, that these digital licences belong to the customer in the same way as a physical object, so should therefore be eligible to be sold/traded etc in the same way.

As for the second-hand industry in general, publishers lose out on direct money, yes, but that applies with second-hand anything, not just games. It's invaluable for poorer gamers.



CommanderAudio said:

Gamestop thrive on the second-hand industry. That's the only reason they still have their heads above water. Obviously it has its cons, but it's good for the jobs industry, which is quite important in a recession



hYdeks said:

about time someone starting thinking of this, I hope they do have a service digital games, cause so far buying digital isn't really appealing if your a person who plays a game and than re-sales it so they can get money back and buy other games. Good for gamestop/ebgames!! (For once...)



iphys said:

Well, if they did this, I don't know what the motivation would be to buy a new digital copy over a used one, because if it's digital it's not like you're worried about the card being banged up or someone else having thumbed through your manual.



Squiggle55 said:

This almost makes sense...
If we eventually transition to an entirely digital industry and the technology exists that can extract a specific game from your console, and then it has a one-time use code attached to it for someone else to use when they buy it used. Of course everyone would buy their codes used while inventory was available... but I guess publishers could keep leaving out mulitplayer for used copies or whatever. And this also would require Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft to get on board adding whatever technology this is to their infrastructure — so if they really want to keep a good retail relationship I guess it could work. It definitely would solve the biggest problem with the digital format, which is not actually owning the game you buy because you aren't allowed to sell it.



BulbasaurusRex said:

Wouldn't GameStop have to work with the hardware makers (Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft) to come up with some kind of system for this to even be possible?



Radixxs said:

Why anyone would want a company that provides thousands of jobs to go bankrupt is beyond me... I don't see anyone complaining about used CDs or records or anything else that is sold as used. And that includes everything ever made. Most people who buy used probably wouldn't buy at all if it wasn't an option.



TheRegginator said:

Lol. There is no way this is going to work. GameStop is just being greedy and talking out its butt. The hardware manufacturers and software publishers could easily put restrictions on such things.



Nintenbro said:

Digital resale would only be beneficial to retailers and the consumer, but not for Nintendo or other publishers. Nintendo has already been posting losses lately, why would they authorize something like this?



RR529 said:

@Strongo9, while the gaming companies technically could restrict it, the point is that courts (so far in Europe) are saying they aren't allowed to.

The courts are saying that people have the right to resell their digital games' license.



Bankai said:

@Radixxs the game developers and publishers employ more than the retailers. Given its turning into an 'us or them' situation, I would rather see the game producers remain healthy than the people that do nothing more than push boxes at consumers.



RR529 said:

I don't get how used games hurt developers. From my experience, it helps them in the long run.

Buy one game in a series used, get interested in said series, buy future games in said series new. That used purchase that didn't help the dev, just turned into 2 or more purchases that do help the dev.

Used games = good for industry.



StarDust4Ever said:

But there's no physical object to trade. Besides, Gamestop doesn't sell retro titles more than one generation back. Real retro stores deal exclusively in used goods, and they get lots of my business. I buy current generation titles new to support the publishers.



theblackdragon said:

that's interesting about the recent EU ruling — i'll be curious to know how exactly they plan to allow people to transfer their titles from one person to another.



TimboBaggins said:

I won't buy a used game just to save $5, I'd rather the money go to the publisher. However, if it is a poorly reviewed title that is drastically reduced in price, I might be willing to pay the $10-15 to try it out versus having to pay $50 for a new game.



Miroku said:

Ha, GameStop can go for all I care.
Me: Can I return this game? I didn't like it much.
Employee: No, you can't return it since it's open. However we can take it for $5 and sell it for $55, though.



Slapshot said:

@ThomasBW84 GameStop is primarily in the US.

I was at a Gamestop speaking with a friend (employee) about the EU ruling and another worker in there all but got into a knockdown drag out with me over the supposed fact that "GameStop would never sell used media." Of course, he had no idea about the EU ruling, and when I tried to explain it to him, all I got was a massive defense that boiled down to: "Well, that's the UK, not the US. That'll never happen here."

The UK ruling was massive forward movement for the coming digital age. The will bring massive changes to the way digital media is being sold. It is possible to sell/resell media. Yes, there are hurdles to overcome, but so did motion control and you see where they got the Wii!



arrmixer said:

I definitely see it happening here in the us especially after what happen with the music industry..

though two different situations... I remember Record companies trying to stop digital downloads but had no choice but to surrender... thank you mp3 and Ipod

If the gaming consumers in the US fall in love with digital downloads then I definitely see second hand digital sales happening in the US...



Miroku said:

Really, what is the point of second hand digital sales? Digital games are unlimited...



grenworthshero said:

I'm confused how this works...that means one person could buy one license and Gamestop just keeps reselling to new people at the same price, as there is no incentive to buy "new" digital copies anymore. How do the developers make ANYTHING?



Starwolf_UK said:

Not quite. Person A buys license but revokes it, selling it back to Gamestop (you can't revoke it on DD platforms can with software such as the one the EU court case was about). Gamestop now have 1 license they can sell. So same as physical...

As for making money developers will have to adapt and offer things that are more than the software or work on commission for publishers. Or relying on day 1 sales...or paradoxically, their game being unpopular (less sold copies exist mean less can be traded).



Henmii said:

I also have no idea how it will work! Besides, I guess it will only work if you buy your digital game via a retail-shop. And let's face it: Isn't that a bit daft? I mean, who goes to a normal shop to buy a download-code or a card with a download-code on it? I guess most people will just buy a e-shop card or pay by using a creditcard!

I myself always use e-shop cards!



Edlicious said:

I love gamestop to be honest, sure the trade in prices arn't that good but when they have deals and special trade in offers it helps out a bunch, and also the used game sales help out alot too? I dont think im a bad person for wanting to buy a used game that sometimes costs half the price of a new game. I'm not getting a different experience from buying new to used. So I personally don't see the issue furthermore if the game is old I dont think buying Mario Sunshine used is going to destroy Nintendo.



MegaAdam said:

Platform owners will veto this. Ever read a license agreement when you download something on the eShop, PSN, or XBL? It talks about an exclusive, non transferable license to play the game. You don't own the software, legally.

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