Ready at Dawn co-founder Ru Weerasuriya expressed discontent over the GameStop business model in a recent interview with GamesIndustry International. In the interview, he took a firmly anti-GameStop stance, at least as long as their used-game business practices remain the same: "You can't make a living at the expense of everybody else."
Weerasuriya’s irritation over the GameStop model overwhelmed his composure during one of his visits to the retail chain. An employee at the GameStop attempted to switch out Weerasuriya’s new game with a used copy without informing him. “I flipped out in front of the guy,” Weerasuriya recalled in the interview, “I was like, ‘Dude, wrong guy… You’re doing this to the wrong guy.’” If Weerasuriya feels strongly enough about GameStop’s business model to confront an employee over a common tactic the company uses to sale used games, then he must have strong reasons. Strong reasons are usually worth listening to.
His reasons for not liking the approach GameStop takes to used games are simple: It harms developers, and it harms consumers. Weerasuriya argues that “consumers will see less and less games come out” if developers don’t make enough money to “keep going as a business.” Weerasuriya knows that there are developers who will “go down purely because the revenue stream is basically flawed,” a revenue stream that creates “this place where developers don’t even see a little part of it.” Developers don’t see a dime of this revenue because GameStop and other peddlers of used games keep all of the profits off of the sales of used merchandise.
GameStop thrives on the used-games business. For every used sale GameStop makes, the company keeps about half the profit (after subtracting the cost of GameStop’s purchase of the item). This figure takes on a towering stature when compared to the small margin of profit (about 10%) that the company makes on new-software sales.
Despite these figures, Weerasuriya does not feel “that we should stop used games.” What he wants is a system where developers “get something back from GameStop and places like that.” Weerasuriya’s feelings about the matter seem to hinge around the simple concept that if developers make money off of their games, they then have the agency to keep making more games.