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December 13, 2009

New or Used?

This is a question for both books and video games, though I'm going to mainly talk about video games in this post.  Do you prefer to buy your books/games new or used?  Of course, the obvious answer is "used, because they're cheaper."

But is that the best answer?  Sometimes, but not always.

Obviously, I understand that when money's tight, used is always the best option if it's available, as they are cheaper.  This is even more true for books than it is for video games, as you can go to the Salvation Army thrift stores and buy a paperback (normally $7.99 US) for a dollar or maybe $1.50.  Hardcovers are even a better bargain!  Though you suffer at the whims of whoever wants to donate that store's stock (or sell it back, if it's a used book store).

But in the grand scheme of things, cost is not necessarily the only consideration.
The thing about buying used is that none of the money goes to the original author or game company.  They don't count for a sale on the royalty sheet.  For books, this is money out of the author's pocket.  For a game?  It might be even more important.

Have you ever played a game that you really loved, and hoped that there would be a sequel?  And then you read something on a video game site that said that sales were too low for that game to warrant a sequel?  It doesn't matter how many people are playing a game if only a certain percentage of those people are actually buying it.  Time and time again I've heard the lament that so-and-so game was so great but that there's not going to be a sequel.  Of course, these decisions aren't going to come down to one person buying a used game versus a new game, but it does come down to that if a large number of people are making that same decision.

So it sounds like I'm running down those of you who buy used games, doesn't it?  That couldn't be further from the truth.  I actually buy a lot of used games myself.  But I do think it's important to keep these things in mind when you do buy a used game.  I consider a couple of factors when I'm buying a game.

1) Is it a new IP (that's "intellectual property," basically a game that's not a sequel and is not based on something else)?  That can make a huge difference in whether I'm buying it used or new.  If it's a new game that has had great reviews and that I think I will greatly enjoy, then I will buy it new.  Every sale counts!  If it's part of a huge franchise (like Madden)?  Then definitely used.

I do make an exception to that rule, though.  If it's a game I must have as soon as possible (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, or NCAA Football, then I will buy it opening day and get it new.

2) Is the gameplay, based on either reviews or the demo, worth the high cost?  This was my decision with the last CSI game, based on the TV show.  I had heard horrid reviews of the game, and there was no way I was going to pay $60 for it.  I finally bought the game used for $15, and felt that it was worth every penny.  It was fun being a part of the CSI universe, but the game was objectively bad enough that any more than that and it would have been a waste of money.  There's a new CSI game out now, and I'm going to do the same thing.  It will take a year or two, but I will eventually play it.

But, you might say, doesn't that mean that the franchise might die?  If so, it's not a huge loss.  But I do have to think about that when I make this decision.

Again, if you don't have a lot of money, then used is definitely the way to go, no matter what.  But if you can afford it, and if you like a franchise and want to see it succeed, then buy new.  Give them a sale on their ledger.  Enough people like you and you just might get that sequel.


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