back to article Video games go off quicker than tomatoes

We are grateful to Which? for working out that video games lose value faster than cars. The organisation bought a copy of COD: Black Ops from a retail outlet for £44.99 - and then tried to sell it three days after its release to seven high street retailers. The buyback offers ranged from £16.70 to £33, with the worst …


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  1. davefb

    not the best magazine to choose

    but how much do second hand copies of Which go for?

    I suppose a better 'example' would be 'yesturdays copy of the daily mail'..

    Seems a wierd thing to talk about?

    1. Mike Richards

      Good point

      The comparison completely ignores the fact that video games are also 'fashionable' - there's a huge demand to have the game on day 1 and its appeal drops off fairly quickly afterwards. A couple of months later there is essentially no demand for the game whereas a car will remain desirable for longer (unless its a Toyota in which case it never was)

  2. Lionel Baden

    not long ???

    Steam anybody

    Great platform, but wish i could gift my old games to my kids :/

    1. Peter Kay

      Depends if you use Steam properly

      By 'properly' I mean only when prices are low.

      I've got several games off Steam, but I'm not going to buy anything at remotely approaching full price. It may work now, but it's dangerous to assume it will still do so in twenty years - I still (occasionally) play games from that era or earlier.

      I did pay for the Orange Box, purely on the basis that it's always required Steam and buying the physical media gathered no advantage. I've kept to the rule of buying physical media for anything over a few quid though.

      Can't say I'm surprised with Which's survey. £33 quid actualy sounds quite good to me - the shop has to make a profit and if the game is priced too close to the original item, who's going to bother buying it?

      1. Lionel Baden

        I go nuts in the sales as well :D

        but in 33 years i would be suprised if it was an issue to play any of the games that we now have.

        i doubt i will be playing on bfbcs as there will be plenty of other games keeping me busy.

        But if steam went tits up next year. Thats a whole other matter i would say laws would require them to release the games to the customers.

        Well anyway heres hoping

        1. CD001


          IIRC Valve have promised to release the Steam lock-in on purchased games if they ever go titsup. Wouldn't necessarily help for things like TF2 where you can only play online and you'd lose any achievements I guess... and, of course, promising is only words - if they went into administration they'd probably not have much say in the matter.

          Still - you can get stuff easily and cheaply from Steam when they've got one of their bonkers sales on. In some cases you can pick up games that you'd be hard pressed to find elsewhere, like the XCOM collection for instance.

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  4. Anonymous Coward

    Don't buy used games

    You can't half tell how profitable 'pre-owned' games are to retailers. Step into GAME and it's like you've stepped into a second hand shop, it's actually more difficult to find the NEW games among the multitude of shelves housing 'pre-owned' games. Plus I actually think GAME deliberately price their new games at the RRP or above in order to drive 'Pre-owned' sales as the average shopper will see £45.99 for CoD:Black Ops and opt for the much more affordable used price.

    Also, the number of retailers starting to buy/sell used games just shows how profitable they are : HMV, ASDA, Argos etc.

    Buying used = no money to publisher = no money to developer = pure profit for retailer.

    Don't come crying when there aren't any interesting games in the future due to publishers playing it safe with endless franchise titles which they know will sell well on release.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      maybe if prices...

      for certain titles were more realistic, than the preowned market wouldn't exist.

      take CoDBLOPS for example.

      i haven't paid more than £28 for a brand new retail release EVER on the PC. the cheapest i can find it for PC is £35 (retail) and its now about 2 months since it came out.

      i'm sorry, but inflating prices for mediocre games off the back of hype is only damaging to the people who worked on it and deserve dosh.

      put the price up too much, and less people buy it. not that CoDBLOPS was never going to make a ton of cash.

    2. Mayhem

      economics 101?

      Yes of course, its exactly the same way that second hand book shops destroyed the new fiction market by cannibalising all the sales. And the same with car yards. And CD stores.

      er wait what?


      The second-hand market for boxed products is perfectly valid, and well established as a complementary industry. The second-hand product for digital products is rather less so due to copyright infringement.

  5. deshepherd

    not just second hand games

    Prices for new games (apart from a few top titles) also drop fast .... my son want Fallout NewVegas on PC for Christmas so I ordered it for what seemed like a reasonable price of £25 in november ... by mid december I could have got it for £15 and its just £13 now.

    I wonder if Which? compared 2nd hand price versus the "current" new price rather than initial RRP.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      They didn't have to.

      They only waited three days from street date to attempt to resell their games. That usually doesn't allow enough time for new releases to start seeing price cuts.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Price drop

    Not necessarily true if you're talking Nintendo games - Mario Kart Wii is still almost £30 christ-knows how long after it was released...

    1. James Hughes 1

      I agree

      Wii games (the good ones - Mario Kart, Galaxy 1&2, Mario Bros etc) really hold their price well.

      In the end I just bought new from Amazon as second hand prices were only a few quid less, even on Ebay.

      BTW, Donkey Kong Country Returns deserves the 95% it scored when reviewed here - what a great platformer. Just thought I would mention it!

  7. The Indomitable Gall

    What I want to know....

    What I want to know is how the buy-back price compares to the wholesale price -- that's the real value indicator.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Amazon / EBay for used games

    Anytime the retailers get involved with used games I don't want to mess with it... they will buy back a game as cheap as possible and sell it back as close to retail as possible - of course to maximize their profit. But this isn't a good deal for the punter at all. As long as the game is reasonably well cared for (disk kept in box, box carefully shelved and included documentation (if any?!) carefully folded) it should lose next to no value over the space of a week, and there should be a reasonably consistent base value for what a used game is worth; largely based on how many used/new copies there are and the price of the new game at that moment -- this will naturally fall over time.

    Amazon is my first place to check for what I shoudl expect to pay for a used title - just have to factor in the slightly inflated shipping cost but it is generally cheaper by far than going to a retail outlet. As an example I live in the US, so GameStop is the national chain. I was raised in England and it is for all intents and purposes the same as Game/EB (which i think merged a few years ago)... Lego Batman, used, without the cover was marked at $17.99, which can be bought new a few shelves over at $19.99. A quick look at amazon shows I can get it used for $5.82 with free shipping if its part of an order over $25 with amazon... or $5.49 with $4.00 shipping - still a huge saving.

    Summary: Retailers have an exuberant cash in on the used game market for very little value-add... And in the context of the article I don't think they represent the best value for your money for a trade in at all- amazon marketplace and ebay for a little extra work would offer a far better deal.

    1. Martin 19

      I found the value

      "amazon marketplace and ebay for a little extra work would offer a far better deal"

      The "little extra work" is the value the retailers add, along with being a 'known' place to go and some peace of mind in getting cash there-and-then, as opposed to a hopeful payment from some bloke elsewhere.

  9. Jimlad

    Dodgy calculation

    What a daft comparison: price including retailer markup versus buyback price. All this represents is what a poor position consumers are in trying to sell to retailers.

    The "depreciation" would be captured either by wholesale price versus buyback, or new price versus second hand (on the shelf) price.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Dafter still...

      ...if you are bringing a game back within 3 days you might as well pretend it was a duplicate present (or some such nonsense) and ask for credit/exchange/moneyback (but don't go refunding if it'll mean using your own credit card).

      Anywho, talking about depreciation and gaming retailers (and with games front-and-center with everything else on the upper floors HMV is all about the 'G'):


    2. Ammaross Danan

      Dodgy comparison to cars

      Sure, there's "off-the-lot" depreciation on everything. However, I could try reselling a nice '66 Camero in "like new" condition with 50km on the odometer ("played only once") for far more than the original price...

      On another note: cars are multi-purpose (utility, recreation, etc) whereas games are simply recreation. Just as one wouldn't stay on vacation for several years, we're talking about different timeframes with cars and games. Games are popular (and playable) for a few months, perhaps a year. Vehicles are ment to be used for many, many years. Might as well consider them vs cellphone turnarounds. Try selling your "feature phone" from 3 years ago now and see how much you get. Anyone able to get anywhere near retail price for the original iPhone?

  10. andybird123

    have they not heard of ebay?

    I bought a copy of black ops as my wife had decided to buy an xbox with kinect and my friends were all playing it... bought it with a £20 off voucher for £25... decided I didn't like it and sold it a week later on ebay for £31.99

  11. LinkOfHyrule



    If they had tried this same experiment with any Wii or DS game with the word "Mario" in its title and flogged it on ebay they would of probably found the results surprisingly different as it's bloody almost impossible to buy any Mario game cheap from there - heck I've even seen them go for more money than you can buy them for brand new!

  12. Dazed and Confused

    buy back offer differences

    The range of prices they were offered matches my experience of helping the kids sell games they were bored with. It is well worth touting them around. The kids more than doubled the price they got by trying a few places, and that was without going back to haggle.

    I'm not at all surprised by the depreciation, but you can limit the damage by do a little leg work.

  13. JasonW

    Which? Stating the obvious (and charging you for it) since 1883

    Maybe not 1883, but they do have a habit of doing it and recommending some bizarre things as "best buy" (make sure you've been to the toilet before reading their broadband package reviews)

  14. JustSomeGuyIknow

    Publishers are already fighting back

    It also overlooks the fact that some games/publishers are attempting to devalue the price their games get second hand (and for rental). Take the console version of Battlefield:Bad Company 2 where the online experience is only possible with a voucher code (VIP) that comes with the retail game. If someone wants to purchase the game second hand and play multiplayer they need to factor in the cost of buying the DLC to give them back the MP option.

  15. Ravenger
    Thumb Down

    PC games have no resale value...

    because of DRM, so that's a 100% depreciation rate.

    I believe that's partly why you don't see many PC games in high street retailers - they can't sell them second hand over and over again making a huge profit each time, which makes them less profitable than tradeable console games.

    As much as I like to see the retailers prevented from making a quick buck at the expense of developers, the DRM situation with PC games stamps on PC gamer's consumer rights and I wouldn't want to see it repeated for console owners.

    Try getting a refund for an opened PC game and see where it gets you, even for something as buggy and broken as the latest COD game was at launch.

  16. ttuk

    is required

    I remember in my mid - late teens ( mid - late 90s) churning through tens of games at my local (independent) game store..

    Typically you could buy a relatively new ps1 release second hand for 30 quid, then sell it back to them a few weeks later for 25.. in the end a not exorbitant markup and meant that as a spotty teen with no real income I could still play all the new playstation games I wanted by paying a fiver now and then, provided some person sufficiently desperate to play it had bought it on release and then sold it on once they got bored..

    I gather markups in the stores have increased a fair bit since then, although as andybird mentions use of ebay means you could probably still do a a similar thing.

  17. brumeye

    Black Ops: £28 new on release day

    Thanks to the usual supermarket price war on new games, I bought Black Ops from Sainsburys for £28. The only surprising thing here is that they actually found somewhere that would pay more for a second hand copy than a new one cost!

    Well done Which, quality investigation...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Live in the past...

    I only ever buy 2 or more year old games, new.

    Saved a bundle.

    Who needs bleeding edge anyway?

  19. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    Buy Back?

    Buy back is not the same as selling the game on. So the car analogue really doesn't hold. A shop buying a used game has to make a profit when they sell it on, not only that but they will have to charge VAT when they sell the used game. As you stated this is a low value item so profits are small. I doubt most shops make much, if anything, on these deals. It's just a way of getting punters in the shop.

    How about comparing it with something like a CD? Will a music shop buy used CDs? Most won't.

  20. Citizen Kaned


    you can often buy the game cheaper as a dvd/cd than off steam.

    thing is companies like EA are not happy about the 2nd hand market at all. hence games like fifa11 need to be registered using a serial number so that if you sell it on the next person has to stump up £10 to play it.

    to me this shouldnt be allowed. if you buy a game you own it. fair enough if they reduce the price by £10 but they will not. i should be allowed to sell it on.

    imagine ford trying to stop people buying 2nd hand cars!?

    i think most companies will also not allow 2nd sales of pc games.

    to me the EU need to look at this ripoff

    @"I only ever buy 2 or more year old games, new.

    Saved a bundle.

    Who needs bleeding edge anyway?"

    erm - to play online games you cant wait that long. if people are still playing they will be vastly superior after 2 years of knowing maps and ranking up (talking fps here not geek-fest WOW etc)

  21. Andy Hards
    Thumb Down

    There are very few things

    infact almost nothing that will give you a reasonable buy back rate after a day let alone 3 unless you are taking it back to be refunded for whatever reason. As someone else said, go to a newsagent and try to seel them your copy of Which? in 3 days and see how much you get!

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