At a recent Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference GameStop CFO Robin Lloyd said that 60 percent of gamers would not buy a console that blocked access to used games. When reports surfaced that the next Xbox will not allow access to used games the reactions from gamers ranged from mild indifference to vehement anger. That would certainly lend support to Mr. Lloyd's claim that an overwhelming majority of gamers are against consoles that blocked used games.
Mr. Lloyd also revealed at the conference that only about 4% of the used games sold are less than sixty days old. He further stated that Sony has publicly stepped back from rumors that it would be seeking to limit used games on its upcoming console but that Microsoft has been suspiciously silent on the issue.
Of course, it doesn't need to be said that GameStop has a vested interest in seeing the used game market prevail. Used games are the primary profit drivers for the premier games retailer and it doesn't want to see its market power diminished. Indeed, when news of the next Xbox not being able to play used games came out GameStop's stock plummeted.
Simply because GameStop has a profit motive here does not mean that its overall point, gamers love used games, is not without merit. What is inherent in Mr. Lloyd's revelation that only 4% of used games sold are less than 60 days old is that gamers are primarily buying old games that have been out of circulation for longer than the 60 day window. The reason this is may be many: Gamers can't afford the initial $60 for a new game, they can't see themselves justifying $60 for a game but might look at buying it used or a game has been popularized by word of mouth and it is only available used.
Whatever the reason that gamers buy used games the fact of the matter is that the used game market has played a big role in helping shape the video game industry. It is certainly understandable that used games may cut into the profit margins of game publishers and developers; blocking used games from being accessible on the future consoles does not appear to be an answer. Perhaps GameStop can work with developers to find a way that the portion of the profit on a used game can be sent back to the developer. After all, when GameStop gives $5 store credit on a used copy of "Gears of War" then sells it for $20 it's hard to have sympathy for an entity that has just made a 300% profit on the transaction and this is coming from a die-hard capitalist.
That doesn't mean that GameStop is wrong on the merits. Microsoft might just want to consider that before they officially pull back the curtain on Xbox 720.