'Significant barriers' stand between GameStop and reselling digital games

Despite the difficulties involved in reselling ones and zeroes, GameStop pledges to be the first to do it.


More news pertaining to GameStop finances and future plans continues to trickle out of the company's Investor Day event. Earlier, we learned COO Tony Bartel believes new hardware from Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft "seems imminent." Bartel also touched on GameStop's plans to buy and resell digital games.

In short: GameStop has no plans because as of right now, recycling digital games doesn't seem possible.

"We've had discussions with the platform-holders and publishers," Bartel said (via GameSpot). "It is much more difficult than on the physical side of the business. There are some significant barriers to that happening that would have to be removed. We don't see it on a lot of roadmaps in terms of development right now."

Bartel went into detail on some of the issues that makes reselling games vastly more complex than slapping stickers on cartridges and discs. For one, digital games for consoles include licenses that graft themselves onto a user's console profile. Once the license and profile tie the knot, they're wed for life. That's not the case on Steam, as we've seen Valve implement a refunding program for users dissatisfied or experiencing technical issues with a game. Bartel said GameStop is looking into ways to lift the license restriction.

Significant barriers won't keep the company from giving the problem the old college try, though. Bartel said that GameStop executives stay in close touch with platform holders, and that "If it does ever happen, we'll be the first to be in it."

Microsoft may be the first platform holder to help GameStop succeed in its mission. In September 2013, two months before the launch of Xbox One, senior Xbox director Albert Penello said (via GameSpot) that buying, loaning, and reselling digital games "has to be part of the experience."

Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at davidlcraddock.com and @davidlcraddock.

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