You can buy food and water with money. Food and water are good things because they keep you alive. Or, you can buy video games. Video games are a good thing, too, in our opinion.
Although, when you’ve popped that disc in, it’s close to heartbreak and hand wringing when you find your $60 have been wasted on unbearable gameplay, horrendous graphics and a wet-paper-thin storyline. It has become common practice to take the game back to GameStop (or now Best Buy) to get your money back. What’s even more aggravating, however, is the knowledge that you’re only getting a fraction of what you paid, yet they’re going to turn around and sell it at near-new prices.
Gamestaq feels your pain. Instead of sticking it to you, they only charge a $1-2 stipend, letting you pocket the money made on the sale (a good thing, we’ve established). All is well until you dig a little deeper to find that there is a perpetual dark cloud hovering over this re-sale oasis.
Debonair middle man Gamestaq operates on the peer to peer model (P2P), a crazy model that asserts gamers who wish to sell their perfectly good condition games, could do so directly to other gamers. They let you sell at the current market price for the used game, and you get to keep the money, minus a $1-2 service fee. Not so much of a crazy notion when you think about it, but, it’s radical compared to the nutty “buy low, sell high” mantra followed by GameStop, or Wall Street — a more common place mantra focused on making a profit.
Gamestaq is able to survive as a company by doing a few things with their P2P model:
- They guarantee a game, box, cover and manual all in good condition
- They hold both buyers and sellers accountable
- They make prices more attractive for both parties, basing them on the greater Internet marketplace (i.e. Amazon, et al.)
When all is said and done, you get a place to buy games directly from the owner that is safer than Craigslist; you get a place to sell back games for more money than GameStop; and you don’t have to leave the comfort of your home (more time to play video games).
What of that dark cloud mentioned in the beginning of this article? It’s a dark cloud that’s almost a year old, and goes by the name of Vernor v. Autodesk, Inc. The gist of the case goes like this: Timothy Vernor purchased Autodesk software. He then sold the software on eBay which sparked legal controversy, including the intervention of the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals. The appellate court ruled that Vernor violated the law.
What does this have to do with games and Gamestaq? Well, the case revolved around something called an End User License Agreement (EULA). Vernor violated the EULA, that stated that he only had permission to use the software he bought, not sell it. Once he was finished, he only had the freedom to either let it sit there gathering dust, or destroy it. Here’s the kicker, EA games have similar EULA’s. While this may seem like madness, remember the “buy low, sell high” mantra.
Almost a year has passed since the gavel has been dropped on Vernor and no one has made a peep about GameStop or Gamestaq and the violation of video game EULA’s. That doesn’t mean they’re not being watched closely, especially since GameStop alone made just over $3B in 2010, according to their latest income statement. That’s a hefty amount considering the industry as a whole generated $9.7B in the U.S., arguably the largest video game market in the world.
For now, gamers can buy and sell to their hearts content using Gamestaq’s platform knowing that they’re going to get a good deal either way. Just keep it at the back of your mind that this is a good thing, and the world seems bent on obliterating good things and replacing them with madness.