Is GTA V the answer to the pre-owned problem?

Opinion: Whispers point to digital-only GTA V release - and John Dean likes what he's hearing...

Whether or not you like it, pre-owned games are a problem. We know you love them, and we understand why - but none of that makes the issue any better.

Click over to the GTA 5 trailer for the first details.

Getting a cheap deal on the latest game might be perfect for consumers in the short term, but the long-term effects for actual game developers can be potentially disastrous.


Retailers don't have to give a cut of the profits to anyone when they sell a second hand game - meaning the people that actually made the product don't get a penny the second time their game gets sold, the third time the game gets sold, or even the fourth time the game gets sold.

From the perspective of developers, the effects of pre-owned gaming can be identical to the effects of piracy.

It's all very well to moan that full-price games are too expensive, but if you're hoping to see a sequel to your favourite game then don't come crying to us when there isn't going to be one.

Whilst we're on the topic of moaning - think carefully about who you decide to aim your venom at: With retailers often knocking less than a fiver off the price of second-hand games, is there really any excuse for their insistence on squeezing your wallet quite so hard?

Sure - brand new games are usually way too expensive in brick and mortar shops, but why do you suppose that might be the case? On that note - have you noticed how difficult it is to actually buy new games these days? Pop into your local shop and check how much of the stock isn't pre-owned - I guarantee you'll be surprised.

Regardless of how you feel as a consumer, tough times all around mean that games publishers can't afford to simply sit back and take it whilst retail run off with all of the money. It's certainly not our problem yet - but left untapped for long enough and the damage will start hitting closer to home.

Call of Duty's Elite service marks Activision's clever step towards a subscription model that could easily shove shops out of the equation within two years, but we're currently more interested in rumours that GTA V won't be sold on a disc.

From a logistical point of view - it makes perfect sense. No discs mean less cost, and could even go as far as entirely side-stepping platform-specific packaging. It's unlikely we'd see Rockstar go as far as giving you a code that would unlock the game on all the platforms you'd own, but again - even that seems like a vague possibility.

The difference in approach on show here is genuinely monumental: Selling DLC codes for a full game in a box would entirely destroy the pre-owned market without cutting retailers out of the equation. For a populist game like GTA, retail isn't a force you can simply ignore - but at least this way, the beast can be kept on some kind leash.

The relationship between retailer and publishers has gradually soured, with consumers usually suffering in the wake of their feuds: Online passes and new-only DLC codes are the current bugbears we've grown to hate.

We'd like to think there's room for negotiation on both sides of the fence, but it seems like retail aren't too interested in playing fair.

The GTA V download-code rumour might not currently be much more than that, but the mere suggestion seems worth a closer look. If there's a way we can see publishers getting the money they deserve without having to neuter retail entirely - we'd happily settle for this code-in-a-box ceasefire.