No one owns pre-owned

And if the industry is going to start crying foul over Tesco or Asda trying their hand at trade-ins, then the industry must also collectively address the wider issues around pre-owned.

Currently, developers and publishers hate used game sales, by all accounts. And they are doing everything they can to lock out pre-owned or find a way to monetise it with DLC deals and exclusive content.

But comments over the last year from GAME, activity by HMV and now the latest experiments by Tesco and Asda – plus, allegedly, Argos – would suggest it’s an almost futile battle.

Second-hand is a growth category, unsurprisingly. At the start of this generation, the industry went on and on about market expansion – and now that wider base of customers wants to retain the investment they put into their games collections in the first place.

This ladies and gentlemen, is one of those ‘cake and eat it’ scenarios.

No one owns the pre-owned sector completely – and they never will. (Arguably, it’s just one massive virtual economy, given that it doesn’t completely exist and is one fraught with inconsistency – but that’s another debate altogether.)

So if every publisher wants to limit its power, every retailer has the right to try and carve a niche in it. After all, we’ve spent so long telling consumers the have every right to trade in and sell on their games however they see fit.

For Asda specifically, a renewed attention towards pre-owned isn’t a huge sign that it wants to storm the used game sector.

Instead, take it as further proof that the chain has been so successful and beefed up its games offer so well after the potentially damaging demise of its supplier EUK over a year ago.

When the distributor went kaput in late 2008, barely two weeks went by until Asda was dealing direct with publishers.

In under a year, its internal games team has grown significantly – and, MCV is told by people in the know, its market share has grown similarly.

So when a retailer like this turns to one of games’ most controversial areas, we should take heed of its overall activity, not the specifics of its experiments.

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