As many of you have probably experienced, gaming can be an expensive pastime/hobby/way of life, and if financially ravenous corporations like Activision and Nintendo have their way, prices are only going to rise. Already those ridiculous plastic instruments in your average Rock Band package will set you back around £100, and if you want to buy faux-wheels for Mario Kart Wii (which do NOTHING except make you look even more like an idiot) then you’re talking an additional £30 per wheel after purchasing the console, the game and the extra Wii-motes.
Of course, there are ways of making your evening’s entertainment less likely to suck your bank account dry. One method is simply to buy pre-owned games instead of shiny new ones. Alternatively, you can purchase a new game and, once you’ve completed it, sell it back to a retail store like Gamestation or CEX at a moderately reduced price. However, should you acquire your game from a digital distribution service like Steam or Direct2Drive, trading in your purchase is not an option. At least, not at present.
Step forward Green Man Gaming, the first digital distribution service to advocate digital trade-ins. The fact that nobody has considered this before might initially seem absurd, but there are very good reasons for why this has not been tried yet.
Game publishers are obviously not keen on outlets selling pre-owned games, as they don’t recieve any profits and consequently cannot afford the unicorn blood they need to survive. GMG have found a way around this, simply by giving the publishers a share of the profits of any game that is traded in and re-sold.
A more difficult issue facing GMG is that digital media does not decline in quality. Files can be corrupted and become worthless, but there is no box to scuff or manual to rest your coffee mug on, and so there is no relationship between the quality of the product and its price. Again, GMG claim to have a solution, in the form of a series of algorithms which determine the price of a pre-owned game.
GMG declined to comment on precisely how their pricing algorithms work (I suspect a roulette wheel or a dartboard is involved). Nevertheless, even if their pricing system is theoretically sound, it makes little sense to buy a new game when a pre-owned one is exactly the same in terms of quality and format. No purchases of new games means no trade-ins and resultantly no re-sales. Unless GMG can find a way to accept trade-ins not originally bought on their website, the lack of new game sales may well be where Green Man Gaming falls flat on its green face.