The growing trade in pre-owned games is the driving force behind the High Street's struggle to combat year-on-year declines in video games sales, according to a report by analyst group Cowen and Company.
The study compares the current hardware userbase of the PS3 and Xbox 360, which it claims at this moment in time is comparable to how PS2 and Xbox stood in 2003. However, current software sales for the two next-gen machines are around 20 per cent down on what they were for PS2 and Xbox, standing at 106m and 85.5m respectively.
The report adds that sales of games in their second month of availability are also down. Since 2001 they have on average fallen by 62 per cent. Examples cited include Square Enix's Final Fantasy XIII, which saw sales drop 93 per cent in its second month compared to the first.
The second hand games market is more fearsome now than it ever has been. A decade ago the only outlets for second hand games was High Street specialists and the then burgeoning number of UK indies.
Now, all manner of retailers are getting in on the act including HMV, Tesco, Asda and Best Buy, as well as US chains Toys R Us, Amazon, Wal-Mart and 7-Eleven.