Welcome to UsedVsNew.net

This site exists to provide the video gaming community with a comprehensive, authoritative record of all console games that make use of an “online pass” or other single use codes to unlock game content.

Our main attraction is The List, a continually updated catalog of every game known to use an online pass or similar code to penalize players who choose to buy used games. If The List is missing a game, please let us know.

For more info about this site and about online passes, hit our About page.

Kuchera: Xbox One Killing Used Games is a Good Thing

Over at the Penny Arcade Report, Ben Kuchera argues that the death of the used games market at the hands of the Xbox One will be a good thing:

This means that the market for console games is about to change, and the economics are going to get very interesting, very quickly. Removing the concept of buying a used game will lead to more sales for publishers, more control for Microsoft, but it could also lead to changes in how retail sells games, where the margins can be found in this business, and lower prices across the board. There is a whole lot of “ifs” in this scenario though, and it’s possible GameStop could leverage its clout to stop some or part of this, but I’d love to see how all this shakes out.

Many gamers will not tolerate having their resale rights completely stripped away, at least as long as new games continue to cost $60. If Ben is right and the death of used games results in “lower prices across the board,” gamers might get behind it (as they have with Steam), but if pricing stays the same this hardware-maker/publisher power grab seems likely to result in fewer sales.

Read the whole article and weigh in over at PAR: The Xbox One will kill used games and control second-hand sales, and that’s great news (Really!)

Online Pass + Lousy Customer Service = Fail

From Kotaku:

Reader Doug A. bought a copy of Medal of Honor: Warfighter in New York this week and discovered that while his game had the card, the card didn’t have a code.

Now, what happens next is just silly. Doug went to EA support, as he should, to inform a chat representative and ask for a code. He was given one—for Medal of Honor’s 2010 release. When he went back to EA support, “this time they refused to help me, saying that they had already given me a code,” Doug says. Trying to explain didn’t get him anywhere; evidently the rep didn’t understand the difference between the two products.

Wow. As if jumping through online pass code entry hoops isn’t bad enough, EA just had to put icing on that cake. Classy.

Hypocrisy: Used Games are Bad, Sales Tax Evasion is Good

Quoting from Volition, Inc. (a THQ subsidiary) developer Jameson Durall, writing in a post titled I Feel Used:

Most Game Developers will agree that the Used Games market is significantly impacting the revenue we receive. I think what most consumers don’t realize is that every time they buy a used game, there is ZERO money making it back to the Game Developers.

One of the newer ideas cropping up is including a unique code in the box that gives you access to certain parts of the game…like Co-op or multi-player. Buyers who do not purchase new, will have the opportunity to pay around $10 to get access to that part of the game just like everyone else. Some consumers complain about this method because the precedent has always been that it’s included in the price and should come with it. It did for the person who actually bought it first…so was saving that $5 at Gamestop worth it for you?

There’s another big rumor about the next Xbox console that could really start to shake things up…it won’t play used games at all! Personally I think this would be a fantastic change for our business and even though the consumers would be up in arms about it at first…they will grow to understand why and that it won’t kill them.

Big surprise! A developer is a fan of online passes and completely eliminating the ability to sell a game when you’re done playing it. Wait, that’s not surprising at all.

But that’s not the main reason I’m posting Mr. Durall’s argument here. This is the bit that really caught my attention:

People often don’t understand the cost that goes into creating these huge experiences that we put on the shelves for only $60. They also don’t seem to realize how much they are hurting us when they buy a used game and how pirating a copy is just plain stealing.

Every game I buy is NEW from Amazon.com and it arrives at my door on or close to release day, shipped free with no tax.

Wait, wait, wait.

Volition, Inc. is based in Champaign, Illinois, which is presumably where Mr. Durall lives. According to the City of Champaign, there is a total sales tax rate of 8.75% in the city. So by purchasing on Amazon and paying no tax, Mr. Durall is saving $5.25 on his video game purchases, but sending ZERO money back to the people who provide him with police, roads, schools, and other valuable public services.

I guess he just doesn’t understand the cost that goes into creating these huge public services that his local government employees provide every day.

Or maybe it’s only okay for consumers to save money and “significantly impact the revenue” of certain industries, but not others. Hmm…

Wired: New Video Games “Are Too Expensive”

All righty, now that I’ve gotten a decent start on The List of games using online passes, I’d like to kick things off here with what in my opinion is the best-written argument on the subject, from Wired’s Chris Kohler: GameStop the ScapeGoat: Why Used Games Debate Isn’t So Simple

Finally, we come to the stickiest, most convoluted part of the equation. The relationship between used and new games is likely a deep and intricate one.

Among GameStop’s detractors, there seems to be an unstated belief that, roughly speaking, every used game purchased equates to exactly one new game not purchased. I sincerely doubt it.

For the last 15 years or so I’ve bought a mix of new and used games, using a pretty complex decision matrix. Do I want the game immediately, or can I wait? How much is it? How much are used copies? Are they in good condition? Are they covered in GameStop’s horrific yellow diarrhea of stickers? A lot of things can affect that decision, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I saw research that showed that the average used games buyer also buys a sizable amount of new games.

More than that, as Bill Harris pointed out earlier this week, the used games market fuels new game sales, too.

…Harris’ point is that the relationship between used and new games isn’t parasitic, it’s symbiotic, and to go tinkering with that symbiosis without fully understanding all of the ways in which the businesses are intertwined is to court disaster, taking the chance that you’ll leave things far worse than you found them

Actually, I should probably dedicate a whole post to Bill Harris’ essay, as he also does a great job tackling the subject.

Nintendo saw this problem coming long ago in Japan and took action. First, it aggressively moved towards producing software with smaller development budgets that it could sell at lower price points — price points that it could maintain throughout the lifetime of the software without having to slash the price later. It attempted to develop games that would be sticky over long periods of time, so that users wouldn’t want to sell them. And most notably it established Club Nintendo, a loyalty program that rewards purchases of new games with cool prizes.

Lower prices, better games, free stuff. Contrast this with everybody else’s plan: higher prices, chopped-up games, less stuff than you used to get.

It’s nice for gamers that Nintendo hasn’t jumped on this bandwagon… yet. Of course, with Nintendo losing money in the 2011-2012 fiscal year for the first time in basically forever it seems possible that they may try some type of online pass scheme with their upcoming Wii U.

Or, the tides could turn the other way if enough gamers get upset and stop buying games that use online passes, and the whole online pass experiment could be deemed a failure. I guess we’ll see!