Bungie: Used Game Sales Hurt Halo

By Blake Ellison, Sep 26, 2008 11:27am PDT Bungie audio director Marty O'Donnell has served up three multi-million-selling games with the company, but that hasn't stopped him from noting the effects of used game sales on developers such as his studio.

"It's hard to gauge the effect of used game sales on Halo, but I'm sure it's big," O'Donnell told GamesIndustry. "Complaining about sales when you have a multi-million seller is somewhat difficult to justify, but it seems to me that the folks who create and publish a game shouldn't stop receiving income from further sales."

Gaming mega-retailer GameStop reported that a staggering 49 percent of its Q1 2008 profits came from used game sales. None of that profit is re-distributed to developers or publishers, who only receive royalties from first-time sales of games. Electronic Arts, the world's second-largest publisher, recently called the used game trade "a very critical situation."

"It will be harder for smaller titles to be successful in the future if they can't fully realise a return on investment," O'Donnell warned.

O'Donnell expressed his support for digital distribution, saying, "Hopefully developers, publishers, and retailers will figure out a system that is good and fair for both the consumer and the creators of that content."

"I don't worry that much about the middle man; he always makes out just fine," he concluded.

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40 Threads | 134 Comments
  • There is this little thing called the "FIRST SALE DOCTRINE", established by the Supreme Court
    in 1908.

    It says: Section 109(a) of the Copyright Act , The owner of a particular copy...lawfully made under this
    title, or any person authorized by such owner, is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to
    sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy. "

    Thus it is clear that no police authority or copyright owner can legally demand that a retailer or individuaL cease to rent or sell lawfully made copies or legal copies obtained by purchase, trade, gift or license.

    Blockbuster got stung by this earlier last year with their "Exclusive Rental" of Weinstein Movies, when they tried to stop independant movie stores from stocking and selling Weinstein movies purchased
    from other retail channels. They ended up in court and had to back down because of existing copyright law prevents them from making anyone else who rents that movie from an other source other than Blockbuster seem like they are breaking the law. Their exclusive rental is in marketing form only! It is really smoke and mirrors.

    This is a very good thing, because if this law did not exist, any company including a software
    company could come after you for selling any copyrighted material YOU owned even at a garage sale.

    It is good for everyone.

    Mark S

  • I think the games industry is sometimes too focused on squeezing out the most dollars of their existing customer base. The first priority for them should be to try to significantly increase the install base of consoles.

    I think used games help the cost of entry for new consumers. Retailers like Gamestop may overcharge, but I do think the very existence of retailers is very important from a marketing stand point. People get exposed to the games section in best buy and they sometimes see a Gamestop store, which I think is helpful to get games to new consumers.

    I don't like Gamestop, but I think it's important for the industry as a whole, and they need to be profitable as well.

  • I would buy more games but because of the $60 price point I'm limited to only buying a few that I know will last and then renting or buying used later down the line...with gamestop's policy of returning a used game within 7 days for a full refund it makes no sense to buy a game at full retail price if it only takes 10 hours to beat it...halo I bought because of the multiplayer...but I've saved so much money from not buying games like dmc4...heavenly sword...ratchet and clank...kameo...etc...

    quite simply if it wasn't for used games or rentals I would've never played those games to begin with

  • WHINE.

    In general, a used game is in no way inferior to a new one, so why the hell would I pay more for the new one if I have a choice? That's just stupid.

    If the industry ever does away with selling used games, new game sales will drop. A lot of people (myself included) take the sting out of $60 titles by trading in or selling games we've finished. If we can't do that, then we're not going to buy as many new games at full price. The only way they could avoid that would be to lower the standard retail price for new games, which you know is never going to happen.