The future of used gaming looks bleak

I love the smell of a freshly opened game, the cellophane doing everything in its power to deprive you of gaming bliss.  This fact can be said for millions of gamers worldwide.  On a global scale, the gaming industry pulled in revenue of $62.7 billion, according to a June 2011 report by Reuters.  With another year almost in the statistical books, forecasts only see more revenue for the mammoth industry.

However, I also love trading in old and used games to my local GameStop so that I may preorder unreleased blockbusters that will no doubt consume my life for a period of no less than three months.  I know, sad right?  I cannot help it if I’d rather trade in a game and get some of my $60 back rather than have my cabinet filled with games I’ll never play again.  Sure, I am sentimental about some of the first games I played such as those from back in the late ‘90s when the PlayStation and gaming in a three-dimensional virtual space were all the rage.

Recent reports have given me pause about the future of console gaming, however.  With only a couple of months before the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), rumors have been swirling about next generation consoles and what will be “next generation” about them.  Aside from the obligatory graphical upgrade and insistence of more motion controls, it has also been suggested that the next generation Xbox will not allow the use of used or borrowed games.  This is only a rumor and, as an avid gamer, I hope it remains that way.

Sales numbers for used games, digital downloads, games for smartphones and games played over social networks totaled around $15.5 billion.  It is difficult to understand how many used games accounted for this total, but it must be enough for publishers, such as EA, Ubisoft and Activision, to want a piece of the pie.  The publishers of the gaming industry receive no money from used game sales.  Some believe that retail outlets should not be allowed to take used games, give credit for said used games and then turn around and sell those used games for profit.  Reasonably so, publishers should get some money when their product is sold, but should they completely shut down the use of used games altogether through the console?

If this idea comes to fruition, publishers will alienate a large portion of their market.  I have many games that I stop playing after a certain amount of time.  I feel that my $60 is a serious amount of money for what amounts to be a plastic disc.  I have a few games that I feel will not get ample play after I buy a new game.  Instead of letting them collect dust, why not trade them in for credit to go toward the purchase of the new game? No, it never seems like I have enough used games to fully cover the $60 charge, but when I do pick up the game, $30 seems to put my wallet a little more at ease.

This is not the only way people from the ages 18-26 affect the gaming industry.  If nothing else, we are the most vocal.  Visit any website that reviews games and you will find message boards and hundreds of pages voicing their concerns or praises of a game.  In a recent online poll by IGN about what readers thought were the most important features of a next generation console, 32 percent of respondents viewed playable used games as the most important.  With only a month of coverage, it has become a large issue that will not go away until a definitive answer is given.

Until that answer, the only way that you can let the industry know your opinion is to voice it.  Call, email or visit their websites to tell them what you think of used games and how important they are to you, the gamer.