The business of pre-owned games is getting bigger and bigger which may have some games companies a little too concerned.
Sony have recently registered a patent on technology that will stop players from using software that has been previously used by someone else.
It is rumoured that it could be on the next Playstation console and will ‘tag’ original players of the game blocking it from being used on other systems but does that protect the industry or just harm the consumer?
One business that thrives off the trading and selling of previously owned goods is Liverpool based retro video game and comic book shop Level UP, owned by Lucy Myatt.
The 24 year-old businesswoman founded her store in 2010, first selling items from her own collection before expanding into trading with customers in store and selling them on.
She is a passionate gamer herself stating that either Alex the Kidd on Sega Master System or Aladdin on Mega drive are her favourite retro games and she has managed to successfully turn her interest into a career.
Lucy’s business specialises in retro video games and consoles of previous generations which relies on pre-owned products exchanging hands.
While Sony’s patent does not confirm anything yet it does suggest a possible reaction from companies if they feel that they believe their profits suffer from the pre-owned market.
“The whole pre-owned business is a little scary for us. I’ve always been a strong believer in what you own is your property and I don’t see IKEA banning you from selling your unwanted furniture online.” Lucy said.
“However you can’t deny that pre-owned does put a dent in the industry and I would hate it to push companies to make fewer games.”
A lot of older games are re-released though HD remakes on the latest consoles and downloadable versions through Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network or Nintendo e-shop but it seems consumers still prefer to buy the original product second hand.
Lucy explains that it the past experience of playing the title that brings customers back to buy it in its original form.
“Collectors and most die-hard gamers will always want the original, it’s what they played on as a kid and for them (and me) nothing else will ever bring that nostalgic feeling back if you are not holding that controller from your childhood.”
Level UP’s business has gained so much popularity that it is seeking online investment in order to expand into a bigger home on the high street and turn itself into an Arcade Café.
A page has been set up on indiegogo to seek financial backing for the project with Kick Ass writer Mark Millar expressing his support via twitter and promising to do an in store signing if it succeeds.
People can donate through the web page and receive perks depending on how much they invest; like their name on the wall of fame for just £1 sponsorship as well as gift cards, a free meal and an annual pass to events for larger donations.
The store has a very precious product that is a talking point amongst all who visit the store of a factory sealed copy of Goldeneye 007 for Nintendo 64 and the prized possession is finally going to be raffled away to bring in more funds for the development.
If the pledge succeeds Lucy hopes to give the city of Liverpool a true social hub of retro gaming and comic books where people can share their passions.
With pre-owned business contributing to the preservation of retro gaming and the love of playing original titles maybe companies shouldn’t be so trigger happy with preventing second hand software?
Other mainstream games retailers have struggled over the past year with GAME in the UK having to go into administration before being taken over by new investors.
The trading of pre-owned games is a major way for companies to make an extra profit, with Gamestop in the US reporting that pre-owned accounted for nearly half its profit in 2010 and pre-owned sales increased in 2011 with the company pledging to focus more efforts on the market within the next year. How devastating could it be if the games giants act to wipe out the market?
Sony and its competitors could seriously harm the very people who sell their products and be adding insult to those who buy them, who are already loyal enough to seek out older products at retro stores.
While these actions are arguably to stop the more recent releases being sold on, how are they going to become the next generation of retro gaming in the future if their fate is already decided upon as playable only once?
Independent businesses like Level UP are about more than making money, they are providing a social interaction amongst consumers for products and a medium that is loved and that’s what needs to be protected.
You can find out more about Lucy’s shop Level UP and the operation arcade café project and how to donate by visiting; http://www.indiegogo.com/levelup