Game Retailers “Parasites & Thieves”


The CEO of a gaming company has courted controversy by calling retailers “parasites and thieves” and that publishers have more “right to survive” than retailers.

Louis Castle, the CEO of browser game company InstantAction, and also known as the co-founder of C&C creators Westwood Studios and former vice president of creative development at EA, was interviewed about his hatred of game retailers:

You accused Walmart and GameStop of thievery, do you stand by this statement?

They are, they’re thieves. They’re parasites and thieves. Because they don’t let the publisher participate in the used games business. They take all the money. They take a game from somebody for ten bucks and then turn around and sell it for $30, and they don’t give any of that $20 back to the original copyright holder.

Something would be OK, but zero is not OK.

What can publishers do about this?

There’s nothing they can do about it. Legally, the retailers are within their rights to do it. I’m not saying they’re doing anything illegal. But just because you can legally steal doesn’t mean it’s not stealing. Gambling is statistically theft – people know they’re going to be stolen from.

I was heckled by a guy who said he was from Gamestop who said, “You seem to hate retail.” He was trying to make the case that if lots of people get exposed to the game then it’s good for the publishers – I’m not sure I understand that.

If we make something like woollen blankets and we start eating the sheep, pretty soon, we have no more woollen blankets. It’s taking from the one thing that’s making you money. If we stop making games, they stop being able to sell them.

His point was that we had to do it because their margins were shrinking and they were going to go out of business. And I’m like, well, so now you’re shrinking the publishers’ margins so we’re all shrinking and are going to go out of business.

But, honestly, gamers can survive without retailers, but they can’t without people making games. I just don’t think the retailer has a higher order of right to survive than the people who make the content.

Maybe I’m wrong about that! I don’t worry about being provocative in my wording, because it’s what I think everyone in our industry feels, and no one will say it.

But traditional retailers don’t really know where their business will come from, with services like InstantAction coming along and bypassing them entirely.

It costs a lot of money to do what we do, and we can make a lot of money, but our margins are very thin. We’re not trying to replace the retailer – that’s not our goal.

The game business has not been disrupted by the internet tremendously because the process of buying the game is still about learning about it through reading about it somewhere, you go to someplace to buy it, and you get to play it afterwards.

That’s the exact opposite of what the media on the web is about. There it’s about finding media anywhere, I can sample it for free and if I like it, I pay for it.

That’s a different philosophy. You have to change your mindset. GameStop might say, “Well, where’s our place in that?” Well, you have to become a value-added retailer. It’s better to buy with a GameStop card because you get to go to that retailer and hear about the games. That’s one way.

There are lots of ways for them to survive other than taking the money out of the system that’s going to the publishers.

Publishers are the ones who are taking all the risk. They’re paying for development, pay for the marketing – the retailer has zero risk.

It’s all consignment anyway: if a product doesn’t sell, they box it up and send it back to the publisher. I’m sorry their margins are eroding, but that’s not the publishers problem. To use a loophole in the law to just gouge them is just unacceptable.

It is of course not surprising to hear a game publisher unhappy about the resale of games – the game industry has, with varying degrees of success, repeatedly sought to ban game resale and rental, with its latest efforts eschewing legal methods in favour of crippling second-hand copies by banning them from multiplayer or stripping them of DLC.

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    Comment by Anonymous
    01:43 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    If people are selling back games to gamestop you should probably have made it better. I keep all my games that I know I will want to replay again if people are selling it back that just means your game wasn't up to par with the rest.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:09 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    they already sold the game. The moment they sold the game they lose all rights to the game cause it goes to a different owner. The owner can do whatever they want with the damn game. Game companies should get that.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:40 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    > If we make something like woollen blankets and we
    > start eating the sheep, pretty soon, we have no
    > more woollen blankets.
    That is complete bullshit. More like the people who buy woolen blankets use them until they don't like them any more, then go to resell them to people who are glad to get to use them for less money. Then those people who resold the blankets possibly go and buy one of the latest new blankets because they still want/enjoy blankets. How would that that put blanket makers at a disadvantage? People have been reselling things centuries before video games were made. Let alone the "eating the sheep" argument. I don't even get that. Someone enlighten me, if you will.

    I do buy games, DVDs, CDs and all that shit, even if I'm ridiculed on various boards for it. I like owning originals. But on some occasions I was forced to buy damaged goods because I was unable to find originals either online or in several retail stores. If you want to sell your fucking blankets, keep making them for fucking ever or leave resellers the fuck alone.

    Yes, I mad.

    Avatar of Chen-04
    Comment by Chen-04
    16:55 09/08/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Games ain't like blankets. Games are more like meals that are are still there after you've eaten them. With enough of those circulating, there will come a time were no one really cares for new ones, because they are satisfied by the existing ones.

    Avatar of DP
    Comment by DP
    19:22 18/08/2010 # ! Good (+0.4)

    They want to be paid for the same game twice? WTF

    Avatar of SpideyPHL
    Comment by SpideyPHL
    22:11 18/08/2010 # ! Good (+0.4)

    I'm so sick of these game companies trying to claim the right of ownership away from the people who bought the games. I bought the game, I have ownership of it, it's within my right to resell it. If Gamestop wants to make a business of buying my old games, that's fine. They may make a tidy profit, but some money for my old game is better than being stuck with it for a lot of people. I personally don't sell my own games, but I reserve the right to.

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:36 18/08/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    'Never pay more than $20 for a computer game.'
    --Guybrush Threepwood

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:27 18/08/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    I have to agree with him... Here in Mexico stores overprice games for over 100 DLLS when It was supposed to cost 50~60, popular games no matter how old they are they never get their price down because they are still popular like The Legend Of Zelda Twilight Princess cost over 100 DLLS still.

    That's why Steam FTW.

    Avatar of Fronzel
    Comment by Fronzel
    22:29 18/08/2010 # ! Good (+0.4)

    Fuck you, Louis. Publishers have a COPYright over their games, and nothing is being copied when anybody sells a game second-hand. They have no right to any of the money that changes hands like that.

    Bastards don't want to let people own games, only pay to be able to play them, hence DRM and DLC. Go to hell. Those discs with games on them belong to me and I'll do with them what I damn please.

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:34 18/08/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Ah, this guy is just bitchin' about nothing.
    The game retailers are a business too!
    They need money too.
    I like GameStop, they've got good pricess.

    Avatar of Azure Sky
    Comment by Azure Sky
    17:38 18/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Good prices, Shitty trade in values.

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:37 18/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I mean for used games.
    I like classic PS2 games.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:47 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Yes well, let's just say that nobody can ever buy anything used again... after all, used books stores are a blight upon society and those upstart families with their garage sales should be arrested!

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:27 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Simply no! The video game producers should NOT get any used games profit. Used video games are no different from other used products, like used clothes, used houses, used cars, used computers, used dvds, etc etc.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:40 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    What? It's a crime to resell games? That's what the CEO seems to think. And I think he is stupid... Who does he think he is? I's a free market, resell what you want. And if someone is a stupid to buy used games at GameStop this poor person is at it's own foult to buy this overpriced shit.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:28 07/04/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    he didnt say it was wrong to resell. he said its stealing cause the publisher gets no money out of reselling. so basically the only one who wins when a used game is sold is gamestop. especially if its a recently released used game.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:51 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    If i buy something - i own it.
    I don't rent it - i buy it.
    If i buy a car - i own it.
    If i buy a game on dvd - i own the dvd.
    If i sell it nobody should fucking care for how much and nobody should fucking call me a thief.
    Cause if he calls me a thief i'll never buy he's game anymore and he'll lose a shit more than by not getting profit from MY fucking game.
    If more ppl would do that it would teach them to watch their words.
    Theyre living from me and still calling me a thief.

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:26 18/08/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Yeah, Game Stop trade-ins are complete robbery. But the game companies REALLy aren't much better...

    anyway, i'm not paying $60 for a single game ever. I wait till that shit's $20 in the clearance bin. Amen to Game stop for that, at least.

    Avatar of Y10NRDY
    Comment by Y10NRDY
    14:34 20/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Typical money-grubbing suit. tl;dr on the second half of his whining. He's got one thing right, though. Gamestop sucks. In every way. If they went away two things would happen.

    1. The box stores would continue to carry them and the prices would at least plateau if not drop.

    2. The way would be paved for small business to get into the act, which could potentially bring retailers who actually know something about the product into play.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:35 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Next weeks headline: Animators "Parasites & Thieves"

    Avatar of Wallace Hunter
    Comment by Wallace Hunter
    11:16 20/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Right of first sale, bitches. Fuck you.

    Avatar of Shirakawa
    Comment by Shirakawa
    03:51 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Economics and evolution hard at work. More game publishers, more games, audience demand spreads thin over time, game sales go down, games sit on shelves at retailers (more so now with downloadable purchases online), amount of return on invested time+money+energy into making games diminishes. Walk into a bookstore and you'll find it's more like a library now. All media sales have been experiencing this and it will only get worse. Who the hell watches the national evening news anymore? It used to be a family event which was spawned by the evening news on the radio. Same with newspaper publishers, losing money because people like me don't find a use for them since I can catch the headlines on the internet.

    Avatar of Njrg
    Comment by Njrg
    06:13 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Video Game makers are too greedy.

    To want extra money through the resale of a used product is EXTREMELY selfishness and in poor taste.

    Used video games are no different than used CD's, DVD's, cars, appliances, ect...

    Now I agree that Gamestop is a thief on the account that you will pay $50 for a game, they'll give you $2-$4 for it, and then sell it for $3 less than the game retails. Before they changed their policy that all games would be bought for atleast $1, the used to offer you 25 or 50 cents for some games. Without realizing it later, I saw on a reciept that Gamestop only gave me $0.25 for Gran Turismo 3, $0.50 for Klonoa 2, and $0.80 for Amplitude.

    But even if Gamestop rapes you, I'm on their side in this matter that game publishers should such up about copyrights and money. Its the same to them thats for everyone else and they're not bitching. Before Gamestop this was going on for years in pawn shops. Does anyone remember pawn shops with stacks and heaps of NES carts? I do. Publishers are only bitching because used games are a billion dollar business, and is already more popular than music and near or more popular as movies.

    Avatar of Fapping Time
    Comment by Fapping Time
    06:31 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    seems you can't make anybody fucking happy these days, huh?

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:40 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Okay! Game Stop sucks! to expensiv
    GameStop 50€
    Media Mark 40€

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:43 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I can feel sympathy for the guys who work on these games. They do take all the risks and places like Gamestop don't take any risk at all. Maybe if they would just give them something for used games they game industry would be better financed to make better games faster. Plus, I think it is also fair for them to ask for more money, because if you see the living standards they have, they aren't making a lot of money off of these games that make million and billions of dollars.

    Give credit where credit is due, and if you mean money by credit, give em' money.

    Avatar of Quack!
    Comment by Quack!
    05:46 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    And I agree; however, the developers would get pretty much nothing from this deal, all the money going to the publishers. If developers got paid for this, I'd be perfectly happy to support it, but they don't.

    Avatar of Travosaga
    Comment by Travosaga
    04:50 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I actually agree with this. You truly are foolish if you are selling your games back to gamestop or any of the other thieving retailers. You are better off selling it on ebay or amazon. I can also understand why publishers are upset by this. I imagine the used game market probably makes up 30-40% of game sales a year and that is a ton of profit lost.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:53 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    they should make more games as epic as SC2 then they can sell more without resale

    Avatar of Otohane
    Comment by Otohane
    00:56 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Not a surprise about the greed. He worked for EA at one point.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:15 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    There's a (relatively) clear set of rules about this that has existed for years called FIRST SALE DOCTRINE. What they mean is that once the producer of content SELLS it to you, they lose the right to dictate how you use it and whether you can resell it. Although several software publishers have tried to have these thrown out IIRC Autodesk and Adobe were chief on this list..

    But this whole argument is specious bullshit. Software is not different from any other PRODUCT, artistic or not- where would we be if Picasso's estate or family got a million dollars every time someone resold one of his paintings? What if you had to pay Ford $5000 to buy a used pickup truck? What if you had to pay every time you watched a DVD.. oh, wait they tried that it was called 'Divx'..

    They don't ADD any value to the product after they've sold it the first time, so why should they get anything more?

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:03 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Except in the terms on licensed software, were you do not own it, it's licensed to you for a period of time determined by the license agreement. This pertains to PC and downloaded software. If they don't like what your doing with it and it's listed as a violation of the license, you lose your ability to use that software. It's also the underlining force of why the industry is trying to trick everyone into going all digital.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:07 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    It's called "copyright" for a reason: the holder has a right to profit from every new COPY of the work made. In the case of a second-hand sale of an EXISTING copy, there's no such right.

    This jackass wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to sell his product but still control it. Mind you, software copyright already gives him some measure of control (one of the reason why many have argued the unfairness of software copyrights), but he's not satisfied and wants TOTAL control.

    Even copyright itself is a right that is artificial, not natural, in origin. It's a right created by the state to benefit artists. At present it tends to benefit not artists, though, but executives and investors. At any rate, it's improper to equate even copyright violation with theft, since the latter violates the natural right of property ownership. To call the retailers "thieves" for doing something that doesn't even violate the artificial copyright is tantamount to slander.

    While I agree that the substantial markup involved in ridiculous, it's the sellers who are cheated by this. If you can get $30 for a used game, it's unfair to refuse to buy it for more than $10 - it doesn't cost you anything CLOSE to $20 to make it presentable for sale again (given the wages paid to employees, the cost can't be more than a couple of bucks). So he's right that the likes of Gamestop and WalMart are parasites (though it's the general public that are the host, not the publishers), but it's rather a matter of the pot calling the kettle black.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:10 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    So wait, we're just supposed to what, get our games from... where exactly? If we can't do it at retailers, then I guess you just don't want to sell your games, huh? Looks like the only option left is to download it... I mean, if they get their way, it's not like I'd be able to BUY it. >_>

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:07 22/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    The Rich gets richer
    the poor gets poorer
    that is the fact.
    I dont give a cow shit about "buying new" or "buying second"
    Screw that!
    using the "theres no car that can run 10 years without proper maintenance" analogy...I BUY PIRATED!
    the games cost around $5-$10 depending on whether its a "good" game or "mehh" game.
    after a while, you WILL GET BORED playing certain games. Gears of War, COD, HALO, whatever. go online or LAN line. Whatever. you just dont play the game after a certain time, right?!
    you BUY a game if its got "LIMITED EDITION" or ..signed by the creator..
    other than that, buy pirated.
    oh, btw, call me jackass, retard, dumbF, whatever
    I buy pirated. NOT ALL things, SOME. if i think its not worth buying, then i go for the pirated version.
    i hope there'd be more "pirate bays" on the net.
    support your local hackers

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:17 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I just got this "new" game at EBgames.

    I thought it was new until I saw the receipt saying it's pre-played...

    The new and used games were the same price and there was no sticker or marking for used games. (=.=)"

    Avatar of nazel212
    Comment by nazel212
    01:35 21/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Bück dich!!
    "das Gesicht interessiert mich nicht"

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:03 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    there is a lot of fun and free games both western and doujin so i dont need that crap
    also the web is full of free quality games
    urban terror
    and just search doujins or free games in the web
    they allready have the full price of the game
    so this is just bullsh1t

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:38 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Maybe if they lowered prices people wouldn't be so eager to rent and buy used.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:19 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Techically in some manuals it says its not for resale and such if you play of that then your golden but of course their is all that legal crap of its my copy i wanna do what i want with it and blah blah blah whatever.

    Avatar of UncleMegamanX
    Comment by Vampire Lord
    07:13 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Another game company to my blacklist to get along with Capcom, Ubisoft, Activision, and EA, keep them coming...

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:49 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Louis Castle is a MORON.
    When I buy it - ITS MINE.
    When I finish with it - I'll sell it if its worth a flip - With InstantAction games it wasn't wasn't worth a flip the first time. Some Poor fool like me kight buy - But mostly its TRASH.

    If it wasn't for a retailer with an employee who could demo the game - It probably would not even get sold - EVER.

    Did you ever try to get someone at WALLMART to Demo a game for you ? Now that's a laugh. Their company policy is to close any lane with less than 5 people in it.
    ... And to hire no one under 72 for electronics.

    Louis Castle is a MORON. When libraries pay the author for each check-out, let me know. When GoodWill pays GE for selling a mixer, let me know.

    Oh by the way... Louis Castle is a MORON.

    Avatar of Belthasar
    Comment by Belthasar
    14:44 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I don't see any problem with selling used games. They only sell so many new games, so sometimes you don't have a choice but to get a used copy.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:43 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    The goddamn publishers in this case are the thieves not the retailers. What is the point of receiving money twice for a game? First time is for when a brand-new game is sold from the shops. Second time is for when the game is sold second-hand. What if there is a third time, the publishers get money for the third time?

    Avatar of Ukonkivi
    Comment by Ukonkivi
    13:04 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    The ironic thing about that "oh so awful piracy", is that is doesn't support the game makers any less than going and buying a used game on Ebay or from a store.

    When I am actually buying a game, which I do to pretty much all of the new games I play(piracy is what I do for old games that can be easily emulated, for the most part), I greatly prefer to buy it new. The only exception I will make, and buy something used, is when I simply can't emulate it.

    Avatar of PrinceHeir
    Comment by PrinceHeir
    13:12 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    oh well im not surprise since the gaming industry have been in a major shift in this past years. though the rise of digital marketing has been good. there's also royalty fees from both sony and ms(don't know about nintendo though) sooo it's really risk at the same time people have the right in what they bought for. once a product has been bought it's yours to keep forever and you can do the hell you want on it. in conclusion? just try to satisfy the customer as much as you can by not paying already content on disc, some extra's and cool features. so that it will actually drive the consumer to buy more of your products.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:39 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Or society could just get its head out of its ass, stop gaming and making games, and try to solve some REAL problems. Such as the many wars across many nations, and the atrocities (sex trade, starvation, etc etc.) being committed DAILY!

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:30 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Anonymous, most of those problems could be solved by gaming, by loosening our sexual non-morality that we are forced to adhere to today, etc.

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:19 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    GTFO this site.

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:54 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    well despite some things, for the consumer who shops at walmart, at least when you return something there you recieve all of your money back... since they started offering a 1 year warranty (not that many people get it) you have plenty of time to test the game out, with gamestop or the like, your lucky to get even a quarter of what you spent back (saving the computer titles witch cannot be returned) now i understand... sorta why they dont give you the full price for the used title, but then it goes right back up to current retail pricing for the current sell plan. this is why i hate buying games from there because there are so many games out today that suck... sure you can read up on sites like ign or gameinformer but one can never say that they wont like a specific title just because the mass majority dislikes it or has never played it ( im looking at you monster hunter... people need to play it so they will bring frontier over here, its a really great game!) what im saying is although walmart is as corrupted as the next mega business, at least in terms of games (despite their low selection) lets you get back the full amount, then again im speaking from the consumers perspective :P

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:19 19/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)


    I swear, things like this make me want to drop a NUCLEAR BOMB on the nearest game publisher, to wake the fuckers up!

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