Most PC gamers have a collection of games that they never get around to playing. This growing library of untouched titles can create a burden and even a sense of guilt when considering purchasing new games. At present, PC gamers who buy digitally have no way to recoup any money from games they've never played. This lack of ownership in the digital space can exclude a large portion of the consumer base that cannot afford to buy full-priced games repeatedly.
In contrast, physical boxed games allow consumers to truly own the copy and have the option to sell it on the pre-owned market. This not only frees up funds for new purchases but also creates a secondary market that benefits both buyers and sellers. However, the same cannot be said for digital games. Transactions in the digital space are essentially an indefinite loan, with the seller retaining all the rights.
Digital marketplaces for non-gaming purchases like TV, film, and music also suffer from this lack of ownership. Consumers have little to no control or ownership over their digital purchases, resulting in a one-sided deal between big corporations and consumers. It's time for this issue to be addressed and for digital marketplaces to offer a pre-owned games market.
By establishing a digital pre-owned games market, players would finally have ownership of their purchases, and it would provide an opportunity for both customers and developers to make money from repeat sales. Developers could set the terms for the pre-owned market, limiting cannibalization of full-priced sales and attracting players who can't afford premium purchases. Developers would also receive a portion of the repeat sale, while players could use the money to purchase new games and reduce their backlog.
The current consumer-unfriendly terms of digital ownership need to be reevaluated. With discussions surrounding other outdated business models favoring platform holders, the ownership and rights consumers have over their digital purchases should also be considered. A digital pre-owned games market would create a healthier market for players, putting them back in control of their purchases and benefiting developers as well. While the “pile of shame” will always exist to some extent, a pre-owned digital marketplace can offer a solution that benefits everyone involved.