With Sony and Microsoft’s next generation video game consoles set for release this holiday season, a number of East Valley businesses were preparing for an expected drop in business tied to Microsoft’s initial plans to all but eliminate the resale video game market.
- Related: Check out EVT's 'Nerdvana' blog, post: "Checking out the Art of Video Games"
- Related: From EVT's 'GetOut': Smithsonian exhibit hits Valley, showcases history of video games
But that’s no longer the case, with resellers like like Joann Mazak, owner of Gilbert’s GameZone, 745 N. Gilbert Road, happy that Microsoft listened to consumers who want to have the option to buy a pre-owned copy of a game, rather than shell out for a new one.
“It’s going to hurt all these businesses that have used-games,” Mazak said, before Microsoft changed its mind June 19 about restricting pre-owned games.
Now, Mazak says she likes Microsoft’s decision because it creates more options for her customers.
“Used stuff is what is selling,” she said.
Mazak’s pre-owned video game store has been in business since 1996. GameZone has been a family-owned operation since Mazak and her husband invested in the store for their son 17 years ago; after he had worked with another video game business.
Microsoft’s Xbox One, scheduled for release this year almost eight years after its Xbox 360 predecessor, planned to have games available via traditional physical hard disc and digital copies that would be downloaded.
But there’s an issue for businesses like Mazak’s: once a game was to be downloaded from a hard disc, the disc will no longer be used to play the game — all data with the game would have been stored on the Xbox One.
Because of this, retailers like Mazak were concerned about losing out on selling pre-owned games.
With its Playstation 4 model hitting the market seven years after its Playstation 3 predecessor, Sony is considered Microsoft’s main competitor in video game market. Sony has said all along it would support pre-owned games without restrictions.
Microsoft insisted it was the right direction to take despite backlash from gamers after revealing more about the new console during the 19th Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, which was held June 11-13 in Los Angeles.
But plans changed as Don Mattrick, president of Interactive Entertainment Business, posted on Microsoft’s news blog for the Xbox One, Xbox Wire, that the company heard feedback from customers and decided it wouldn’t restrict sales on pre-owned games.
“Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today — There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360,” he said as reported on Xbox Wire.
Microsoft’s Xbox 360 has been the top selling console over Sony’s Playstation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii U consistently during the past 29 months according to CNET.com. But Mazak believes they’ve finally woken up about what gamers want.
“It’s better if they come in and buy a game that’s on a disc and take it home and play it and if they don’t like it, they can bring it back and sell it back to us or whatever they have to do.”
Mazak’s business deals a lot in selling older gaming consoles and entrusts people like Josh Trimmer to be “one of the kids that come and help me”.
Trimmer said he has always been interested in gaming, having studied Graphic Design at the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, and Microsoft risked losing loyal customers.
“Right now, everyone is jumping ship. I’ve heard stories of people trading in their 360 collections to prepare for the new PS4 or something. They’re just giving up on Microsoft altogether, not just the Xbox One,” he said prior to Microsoft’s decision.
Trimmer said now that Microsoft won’t limit sales of pre-owned games, he isn’t sure what the future will hold because of consumer trust in Microsoft.
Mazak and Game Zone will always provide what its customers want, regardless if it’s 20 Xbox One’s and 20 PS4’s or none at all, Trimmer said.
Alejandro Ramirez, co-owner of Tempe’s The Gaming Zone, 930 W. Broadway Road, Suite 15, said he was excited watching E3 and hearing about the next-generation consoles.
“As a gamer, I think it is amazing. I’m a Nintendo guy so I’m rooting more for the Wii U.”
Ramirez began his 8 month old business with his brother, Jorge, after they decided to follow their passion for gaming.
The Gaming Zone hosts tournaments on new and old consoles to reward skilled players and Ramirez said his business works to bring back a feeling of nostalgia for his customers.
He thought that the restrictions on games for Xbox One would have hurt his business, but he was convinced that gamers were not ready to take that big of a step.
“Say you go to GameStop and you buy — this happened to a friend — you wanted to buy the new Animal Crossing for $40 and they’re out and they can only sell you the digital copy for the same price. I would never do that cause I love stuff sitting on my shelf. I love to go into a store and walk with the stuff already in my hand, looking at the manual, looking at the box.
“I’m pretty sure it’s going to take awhile because not everyone is doing that.”
Microsoft still has time to win back the hearts of gamers from the PS4, which will be $100 less than the Xbox One, before its release of the Xbox One in November.
It still faces hurdles because it’s more expensive and it had other controversies like requiring gamers to have an internet connection available every 24 hours per day to play games, a decision that Microsoft also reversed.
Not without its share of scrutiny, PS4 reporterdly froze more than Sony would have liked during game play footage, but Sony still doesn’t seem to have pushed consumer’s buttons like Microsoft has.
“It’s a console war,” Ramirez said.
The next battle appears set to begin this holiday season.
Aaron, a senior studying journalism at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications, is an intern for the East Valley Tribune. Contact him at (480) 898-6514 or email@example.com.