The biggest problem with downloadable games? Easy: they have no resale value. Whereas physical copies of a game can be traded in at a GameStop, or sold on Ebay, that copy of Half Life 2 you downloaded from Steam lost every cent of its value the second you downloaded it.
It’s a crappy situation, but one that’s now being addressed by a new digital distribution start-up, Green Man Gaming. For the first time ever, those who download games will be able to trade in previously purchased and downloaded games for credit. Yes, this idea completely rocks. And, if it works, it could pressure the likes of Steam, Xbox Live, and PlayStation Network into changing their policy on trading in.
It’s not just gamers who are winning: Green Man will also “pay significant royalties to the publisher each time the game is traded in perpetuity.” The service is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2010, and will start life with 400 available titles. They’re aiming to have more than 2,000 games on tap by the end of the year.
Truly, it’s a wonder this idea hasn’t emerged yet; if the major platform-holders are watching this project very closely, then I don’t blame them.