Here's why I only buy used games
Used games are being highlighted constantly because of the Xbox One’s unknown DRM situation, and (more recently) a report that indicates Sony and Microsoft might be getting some kind of cut from used game sales. People on both sides of the debate shout at each other until they are blue in the face, but I simply don’t have the luxury to buy new games anymore. It's partly the developers and publishers' faults, but partly my own. Let me explain:
For the past four years, I have been using my education degree to see the world, which includes teaching in South Korea and now Japan. To be a gamer in a foreign country is hard enough due to language issues, but a lot of people don’t know that PSN codes don’t cross regions. If people DO know, then it has escaped them in this boisterous debate, as it is a real issue plaguing international gamers.
I’m from Canada and my PSN is Canadian/North American. When I first started gaming in South Korea and learned that a lot of games were in English, I eagerly bought up both new and used games because sometimes you take what you can get in a country with no market for them. Early on, though, when I picked up FIFA 12 brand-new, I learned of online passes and how, because I don’t have a Korean account, I can’t play FIFA 12 online, thus locking out portions of the game. I bought it new. I did nothing wrong, but I was still penalized.
Some people might say, “Why didn’t you make a Korean account?” The simple answer is that all national accounts are different. While we can easily make an American, British, and Japanese account, Korean accounts require a Korean national ID. Foreign IDs do not work, so making an account is impossible. So where does that leave me? Should I buy a game new and do the right thing as the anti-used game crowd demands, and thereby throwing my money away for features I can't use, or should I buy used and save money on games with unusable online passes? My article's title has the answer.
But lemons are still around waiting to be bought because of these PSN regional restrictions. Having found out that the Korean version of Armored Core V plays in English, I eagerly bought it used for $20. I was thankful beyond belief for buying it used because its online modes don't work due to technical problems that require a simple download from the PlayStation Store. That simple download, however, is again region-specific, but this time to the disc. Even though I can get the free download off the North American or Japanese PS Stores, my disc is Korean and is incompatible. Even a company like Naughty Dog has this same problem with Uncharted 3, which requires an online pass and a disc to be from the same region of origin. My friend paid the price when he got the game in Korea and spent extra money for an online pass that never worked.
There is more to the used game debate than consumers saving money and developers and publishers wanting their fair share of big, bad GameStop's sales. As an international gamer, there is no incentive for me to buy new. EA might be planning to discontinue and fix their online pass system, but that does not mean everyone will follow suit, and DLC incompatibility persists. Until companies find a way to make their online codes region free, just like the games and systems themselves, I'll pass on new games and continue waiting a year or two to find them in the bargain bin or in the used game section.