Hey guys, sorry for being missing in action for a bit. Anyway, the next generation of gaming is here (...at least, it is here in the United States). The Sony Playstation 4 has launched for North America as of last Friday, and the Microsoft XBOX One console has launched as of today for us. As far as the subject at hand, it is going to be about used games. Used games used to be a decent part of my video gaming past. I was unwilling to buy some games right out the door on day one, so that usually meant waiting for my local GameStop store to start selling them used. On one hand, buying games used meant that I, a consumer, could save a bit of cash on the side. On the other hand, the games industry would be hurt, although not by a large amount. What I want to explore here are the benefits of buying games used, and whether they are necessarily needed nowadays, with gaming taking to the cloud. Used game sales are both nice and at the same time bad to have. We can see developers sometimes not wanting to develop games because they could end up sold in the used game stores. They do also end up vocally complaining about used games. As I mentioned a little earlier, it can also be nice for people to buy games at a slightly lower price. According to an article on Cinema Blend, a study was conducted in 2012 by the NPD Group and the results found that used game sales are on the decline, while microtransactions and downloadable content (DLC) were on the rise. Key figures include digital download games going up by 33%, with four key markets netting in ten billion dollars alone. This study also noted that retail sales are on the decline, again indicating that the cloud gaming is the new future. Another point of interest is in mobile gaming, which can appear to be a powerhouse on first glance, but it turns out only 27% of Americans are interested in dishing out cash for their phone adventures. In Europe, this number is about 40%. What happens though if games are bought in bulk as new, but advertised as used? In some cases, used games can be very difficult to find. As a result of some games being rare to find, prices for them start to rise. A great example of this is the popular Nintendo Wii title Xenoblade Chronicles, a popular role-playing game in Japan. The release in North America was rather small and contained, as the only way to pick up the game was online or in-store at GameStop. Copies went quickly, and after a few months, it was rumored that GameStop had ordered several thousand copies without shrink wrap, and began selling them as used. Unfortunately, customers found that the game was basically brand new, and had unused Club Nintendo codes. These games sold for as much as $90. There was a minor uproar about the situation as consumers accused GameStop of selling the game in an attempt to increase the marginal sales of the title. More detail could be found here, courtesy of the website The PA Report. I find it interesting that new titles somehow end up either "Used" or "Preowned" two weeks after release (this happened when I ran to pick up the XBOX 360 title Dead or Alive 5), at a slight discount. The game felt perfectly new to me, the instruction manual felt unopened. Is it practical to sell games that basically feel brand new, as used? The PA Report article mentioned price agreements, and marking the game used would cause prices to increase as a way to skirt the language of the price agreement, but is this technically considered unethical? And, with the release of the XBOX One and Playstation 4, which marks a migration towards gaming in the cloud, are used game sales still needed? What may happen to used game sellers like GameStop as a result of this switching of gears? Gaming is starting to move towards the cloud. We see this in a lot of gaming mediums nowadays, with examples including Steam or the Nintendo eShop. With these eShop titles sometimes ending up cheaper than their retail counterparts, what purposes do retail and use game stores serve nowadays? Is cloud gaming that much better than physical hardware? We can easily say cloud gaming is detrimental as it would require a lot of online updating to make the game as best as it can be, which can be problematic for those with slower internet access, not to mention storage limitations. An instance of digital games going on the cheap happening was with Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies for the Nintendo 3DS, which was an eShop downloadable title that failed to appear in retail due to declining sales for the franchise, a poor mistake, in my opinion, despite the price discount. I feel that in this case, restricting the game to a specific medium only ended up hurting sales. As gaming moves more towards the cloud, is price gouging on used titles still needed? Used game sales are obviously going to be hurt, which was analyzed by an article posted on Gamasutra. A lot more of the number crunching details are given in the article. Gamasutra has argued that with this drop in sales, the position of GameStop's usefulness are going to be gravely diminished, and I cannot disagree here as more and more systems move towards the cloud. It becomes a lot easier in a lot of ways: the lack of having to carry physical media around, having to pay less money for the same content, and being able to do so from the comfort of the home are just minor benefits here. There are plenty more. As far as this table is concerned, the New Hardware and Software part are pretty self-explanatory, but the Used Product and Other might need a bit more explanation. Used Product, according to the Gamasutra data, consists of the catch-all for the products that GameStop resells, including software, hardware, and accessories. The Other category indicates PC software, digital content, cards for online services, new and refurbished devices, and subscriptions for the GameStop related magazine. Based on the trends illustrated above, we can notice that used software is on a slight decline, with more interest in the Other category. I am awfully verbose tonight. I am going to close out this article by asking the broad question about whether we as gamers still need used game sales, and whether or not it is safe to completely migrate over to cloud gaming. What do you find are the benefits and disadvantages of used games? Do you find instances in which you wish used games have hurt your overall experience? Feel free to discuss below. Also, if you have any ideas as to what you want me to write about, feel free to PM me with your idea(s). I will run it by and be happy to give you feedback as to whether or not I would like to pursue an article about said idea(s).