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Why do People Buy New Games (rather than rent or buy used)?

As a consumer deciding what to buy, It’s your job to get the most value while spending the least amount of money. You are not the president, you are not chairman of the federal reserve, so no one cares about your big picture economic philosophy, you just need to decide what to buy.

That’s why I rent most games that I play. I get to enjoy everything, even though the developer who put in the hard work to create the game doesn’t see a single dime.

There are a few good reasons to actually buy a game new:

  • New Releases: You like getting games close to release. If a new game costs $60, and a used game costs $55, there’s not much point to buying used unless you have trade-in credit.
  • Longevity: You plan to play the game for a long time and don’t want to rent.
  • Guilt: You are a nice guy or a fan and want to support your favorite developers or simply feel guilty about enjoying a great game without letting the developer earn a single dime: I fall into this category a lot. I bought Uncharted after people on this site guilted me into it. Great game, but I could have gotten the same enjoyment by renting and saved myself $60.
  • Gifts:Buying someone used goods as a gift is generally considered very cheap, so people would rather buy new.

Beyond that, I can’t understand why people buy so many new games.

To me, the issue is simple. The used/rental markets have a perfectly legal way to provide reduced cost access to copyrighted IP. Used/rental markets are basically a legal and controlled whitehat form of piracy. This is great for consumers in the short term but it siphons off a lot of money from publishers and developers. As a result, I would expect that publishers strongly push towards network distribution with stronger DRM so that they can keep a larger share of consumer revenue.

What absolutely baffles me is how many people really think that used/rental game markets benefit the developers. Sure, I can see how some of the money consumers get from used games can be used to buy new games, but overall, it’s obvious that the publishers would pull in far more money from new sales if they didn’t have to compete with used and rentals.

To pick one post on the subject:

Here’s a grown-up approach: focus on adjusting the benefits of the relationship between the parties. Grow the relationship with Blockbuster and Gamestop and everyone else

The developers or publishers who legally own the IP, currently have no leverage or bargaining power whatsoever in the used and rental markets, so naturally, they get nothing. The used and rental market providers have full control over their own revenue streams and have no motivation to forfeit any of that. What kind of healthy positive relationship is there to grow between the two? That sounds like a bunch superficial business-speak blather around nothing.