A DRM Solution: “Recycle” Charge

DRM was a failure but what could we do instead?

DRM was a failure but what could we do instead?

DRM was a bad idea

No debating this. Forcing gamers to buy games and not being able to share is ludicrous. I think we can all agree with the reason this idea came about. Companies saw the massive sales GameStop makes on the used game market and they want a piece of that action.

Microsoft’s response was “If we can’t make money on used games…no one can,” and cut the horse off at the head (that’s a saying right?)

Is Microsoft just being greedy? Are Used Game sales really hurting them so much they had to resort to DRM?

GameStop’s Price Gouging

We all agree they went about it wrong, but they do have a point. GameStop buys used games at absurdly low prices and then resells them for enormous profit. If I tried to sell Bully: Scholarship Edition on the 360 to GameStop they’d give me 5 US Dollars. They currently sell the game for $35. $32 with their rewards card. The point is the developers never see any of that profit. This gets really bad if the game is new and people can (and do) pay $55  for a used game, over $60 brand new.

So honestly, I see their beef. I don’t agree with it but I understand why they’re mad. If I bought a game from you for 60 bucks, played it, sold it for $35 to GameStop, and they re-sell it for $55 and then that person re-sells the same game again, GameStop has made more than the original sale (while also making an initial profit off the first sale). Regardless, Microsoft; once you sell the consumer something you CAN NOT tell us how to use it. If you sell me a game for 60 bucks then I break it into tiny pieces and eat it, that’s my right. 

Obviously, this system bothered Microsoft so much they decided to create DRM, which helps no one. Developers earn their 60 bucks, then that’s it. GameStop effectively goes out of business and consumers can’t purchase as many games because they have no trade in credit.


Instead of restricting game usage and forcing every person to buy a copy of a game, why not just force stores to pay a resale tax on games. Call it something like a recycling charge and you’re all set.

For example, let’s say I’m selling Bully. If I decide to get 5 dollars on the game and put it towards a pre-order or something that’s fine. Just have GameStop (or Best Buy or whomever is buying the game from you) deduct a percentage or flat fee off the top as the recycle charge. It doesn’t have to be much. Say 10% if you’re getting less than 20 back. Or a flat fee of 2 bucks over $20.

This is win-win-win. The developers are able to see some of the resale money coming back at them. Retailers still make high profit margins and the consumer is getting money back on a game they don’t want anymore. I’d be more than willing to give an extra 2 dollars to a game developer if it allowed them to create more (and presumably better) games in the future. Plus, that’s 2 less cheeseburgers for me to eat. So my idea also makes the public healthier.

I understand developers want more profits than “measly” percentages from sales but at least this is better than the “YOU HAVE TO BUY A COPY OF EVERY GAME FOR YOURSELF… NO SHARESIES.” Microsoft spewed at us initially. Then had to retract when they couldn’t sell enough systems. Even if they took this intermediate step before suggesting DRM a few years down the road maybe we would’ve looked at the whole idea differently.

I mean probably not but it’s worth thinking about.

Do you think my idea is sound? Would you give back and extra 2 bucks back to a developer to prevent DRM? What’s another way around DRM? Let me know down below and I’ll be your best friend.

About the author

Steve Lawton

My name is Steve. I consider myself a casual gamer but lover of nerd culture. Things interest me I don't even understand half the time.