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Cheap Redemption

As a reformed cheapskate, I have but one shot at redemption. I must find a way to add value into game design so that players want to buy our games new off the shelves and shun used games. I need your help, your ideas.

I can be a cheap as the next guy.  I admit that.  Yesterday, I was debating with a friend about buying Red Dead Redemption.  It was available for only five dollars off of full price at GameStop, but the local Pre-Played had it priced at $40.00. 

They didn't have any copies currently, but Half.com did, for the same price.  Of course, I'd have to wait for it and it would cost me $3.50 more in shipping.  My friend cut through the confusion with one very concise sentence: "Depends on whether you want to give Rockstar your money or not."  Gah!  I hate you! 

This particular friend has a way of always being right and he sure was in this case.  I wasn't thinking of it that way.  I find that players have few compelling reasons to think of things that way, either.  That's no longer true for me.  This is my industry.  I have friends in this industry.  I want to see them get paid.  Even more than that, I want them to get the recognition they deserve.  Sales numbers are more than dollar amounts.  They are statistics, metrics.  The more a game sells, the more players are affirming that they like it and want to see more like this. 

I started asking around about this.  "What makes you pay full price for a game?"  For the most part, the answers were the same: re-playability and the inability to wait for a game to become available pre-played. If it was a franchise game, the love of the franchise often seems to drive players to buy it as soon as it arrives. 

I thought about my own buying habits.  I will certainly pay more for a game that comes with a great toy.  If there are physical tie-ins to a game I'm hyped on already, my money hits the table pretty fast.  In-game content and downloads, even online play, are all pretty meaningless to me as bonus items. I want an action figure to put on the bookshelf.  I want Pandora's Box and posters and maps; concrete symbols of my geek status to add to my decor.  I also buy games that I don't want to live without, can't wait to play, and know I'll play repeatedly. 

Players, for the most part, don't see the industry.  They see their wallets, and their lives.  How do we fix that?  Some developers have started to put exclusive content in their games; content that can only be accessed by the original registered owner or by paying a premium to get to it, if you've bought the game used. 

An employee of GameStop stated that, in the case of Madden, this is working.  Players would rather be able to play online right away than pay the premium.  If I was just a player, though, it wouldn't work for me.  Other than toys, I don't know what would?  I'm interested in the thoughts of others, though. 

For now, I hang my head in shame.  I've let my peers down.  My one shot at redemption is finding an answer to that question....how do we get them to buy our games new?

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