Now. I like books of all sorts, ranging from academic titles to speculative fiction to graphics novels. In the course of owning significant amounts of books, I occasionally lend books to friends or colleagues (THQ would be horrified at that concept I’m sure! Stealing possible sales from book publishers!). For example today I lent two marketing books to a colleague; I’m also borrowing a number of graphic novels from a friend who’s gone over to Boston for a year. While I like buying new, occasionally I like to wander around used bookshops (there’s a great one in Alnwick) and peruse. Used books aren’t a great thing in my life (I don’t actively hunt through charity shops or anything) but when I come across a good used bookshop, or I got to an outdoor market (or the Sunday market at Tynemouth Metro station) you can generally find me perusing the book section.
I’ve also bought used Nintendo DS games. Why not, they are basically cartridges (they remind me of 1980’s Atari games in fact) which are very hard to accidentally damage, and they have absolutely no gameplay difference. The difference between a new copy of Brain Training for DS and a used copy is literally nothing. The game is literally the same, the experience will be literally the same. My friends normally joke at my love of the luxury at times, but even I’ll draw the line when there is literally no difference between the product. Indeed, my local town of Newcastle has seen the phenomenal growth of used console games retailers. Grainger Games when I came to Newcastle in 1999 was a small one man band in the Grainger Market. It quickly grew to open extra stores in the (now demolished) Greenmarket next door, and quickly opened stores across multiple locations in the north east. It’s a north east retailing success story, but a success story built mainly on a business model of re-selling used games. Used games are something which in the last 12 years I’ve just seen as the norm in console gaming. In PC gaming I’d never buy a used game, but in console gaming - of course!
The main thrust of this post is my complete inability to understand THQ’s recent announcement which is effectively introducing anti-reseller technology into the console market. This despite there being a very strong case to say that the ability to re-sell your console games on to buy new games actually helps the new games market. No, not just speculative blog posts, or just plain common sense depicted by Penny Arcade, actual empirical research. Work-in-Progess research by a PhD candidate I should add (because I'm pedantic like that) but Masakazu Ishihara's examination of the Japanese Video Market (which is VERY highly economics based I should add) gives us at least some evidence. To skip to the important bit:
The result shows that on average, the elimination of the used video game market
reduces the total revenue for new games by 5% if video game publishers do not
adjust their pricing strategy.
And thats 5% in Japan where they have a love of the new. In countries like the UK which has a huge second hand market, where indeed most high street stores like HMV have a large used section of games I can only imagine that percentage would be much larger.
I’ve got to ask if THQ’s marketing team has taken leave of their marketing senses. When this gets around, and it will get around very quickly in this wonderful internet age we live in, people are going to be very aware that THQ products have a very low resale value. The possible result? People who would normally buy a THQ game to play for a few months and re-sell on may now avoid that game with the THQ symbol on it now and instead buy something else.
I literally cannot understand their marketing approach; I suspect that some kind of doomed management group-think is behind this rather than smart business sense.