Video game publishers have started including downloadable content (DLC) activation codes in some new releases in an attempt to discourage the purchase of used games. When sold new, games like Mass Effect 2 came with a code that would allow you to access downloadable content for the game. If you bought the game used you can still access this content by paying $15.
Publishers like THQ, Electronic Arts and Microsoft have started using the DLC Activation codes in all their new games but has it affected the used game prices? Are gamers less likely to buy a used game when the new version includes extra content? If activation codes are having the publisher's desired effect, there should be less demand for the used games and they should decrease in price quicker than games without activation codes.
Price Comparison Between Games With and Without DLC Activation Codes
The data above shows the average game with a DLC activation code decreased in price $0.28 per day while similar games released without activation codes decreased $0.31 per day. This price difference is NOT statistically significant though.
DLC Activation Codes Don't Affect Used PricesThe data at this point shows that the DLC activation codes do not affect the prices of used games at all. The prices still decrease at the same pace and consumers are probably not discouraged from buying the used games.
Publishers might make more money on the deal though because they are able to sell downloadable content to some of the used game customers. If even one buyer of a used game purchases the DLC for $10, the publisher made more money on that sale than they would have for a regular used game and I bet a pretty good percentage of customers end up paying for the DLC.
MethodologyWe compared fourteen games released in 2010 with DLC activation codes to their previous games. For 2010 releases, we looked at the price change from the release date to September 23rd 2010 and divided the total change by the number of days the game was out.
For older baseline games we calculated the price change from the release date to a date the same number of days from release and calculated the price change per day.
For example: UFC Undisputed 2010 was released on May 25th, 2010 at $59.99. On September 23rd, 2010 the PS3 price was $24.75. The total price decrease was $35.24. Sept 23rd is 121 days after May 25th so the price decrease per day is $0.29.
UFC Undisputed 2009 was released on May 19th, 2009 for $59.99. 121 days from May 19th is September 17th. The price on September 17th 2009 was $38.47. The game decreased in price $21.52 over 121 days for a decrease of $0.18 per day.
We tested the difference between the two means using a t-test for differences of two means. The p-value was .535 and needed to be below 0.05 to be significant.