Video games depreciate at an alarming rate.
If you’re willing to wait just a few months for pre-owned copies, you can pick them up for a fraction of their initial £40 or £50 price tag.
But downloadable versions of games and their downloadable content don’t seem to depreciate at nearly the same rate, meaning that getting the extra content can often mean spending much more than you paid for the main game.
I’ve had a look at how the pre-owned prices compare to the digital ones, as well as how they compare with the DLC.
- I’ve limited this to the best-selling Xbox 360 games, taken from this table.
- I’ve not used the following in my analysis, because they are not available on the Xbox Marketplace: Dance Central, Kung Fu Panda, Mass Effect 2, Battlefield 3, Guitar Hero 3, Forza 2 and 3, Madden NFL 10 and 11, FIFA 10, 11 and 12.
- I’ve also used standard versions of the games rather than Game Of The Year versions, which often come with DLC included.
- I’ve taken the pre-owned prices from CeX, which deals in used games. I’m aware that it’s often cheaper to use eBay or other sites (I tend to do this), but I wanted a consistent source for the prices, and CeX is accessible for most people in the UK.
Pre-owned vs Games On Demand
This table compares the cost of the game at CeX with the cost of the Games On Demand version on the Xbox Marketplace.
|Game||Year Published||CeX Cost||Games On Demand Cost||% Difference|
|Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3||2011||£5.00||£49.99||899.80%|
|Gears of War 2||2008||£1.50||£14.99||899.33%|
|Gears of War||2006||£1.50||£11.99||699.33%|
|Battlefield: Bad Company 2||2010||£2.00||£14.99||649.50%|
|Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2||2009||£5.00||£29.99||499.80%|
|Halo 3: ODST||2009||£2.00||£11.99||499.50%|
|Call of Duty: Black Ops||2010||£8.00||£44.99||462.38%|
|Sega Superstars Tennis||2008||£4.00||£19.99||399.75%|
|Saints Row 2||2008||£4.00||£14.99||274.75%|
|Resident Evil 5||2009||£4.00||£14.99||274.75%|
|Call of Duty 3||2006||£4.50||£14.99||233.11%|
|Gears of War 3||2011||£5.00||£14.99||199.80%|
|Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare||2007||£7.00||£19.99||185.57%|
|Call of Duty: World at War||2008||£8.00||£19.99||149.88%|
|Red Dead Redemption||2010||£8.00||£19.99||149.88%|
|Batman: Arkham Asylum||2009||£6.00||£14.99||149.83%|
|The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion||2006||£5.00||£11.99||139.80%|
|Fallout: New Vegas||2010||£5.00||£11.99||139.80%|
|Grand Theft Auto IV||2008||£8.00||£17.99||124.88%|
|Assassin’s Creed II||2009||£4.00||£8.99||124.75%|
|Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood||2010||£4.00||£8.99||124.75%|
|The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim||2011||£12.00||£24.99||108.25%|
|Grand Theft Auto V||2013||£25.00||£49.99||99.96%|
|LEGO Indiana Jones: Original Adventures||2008||£10.00||£19.99||99.90%|
|Left 4 Dead||2008||£8.00||£14.99||87.38%|
|Batman: Arkham City||2011||£8.00||£14.99||87.38%|
|Assassin’s Creed: Revelations||2011||£5.00||£8.99||79.80%|
|Left 4 Dead 2||2009||£10.00||£14.99||49.90%|
|LEGO Batman: The Videogame||2008||£12.00||£14.99||24.92%|
- Just look at Kinect Adventures! This is a game which came bundled with every Kinect, and there will be more than 20 million copies floating around. You can pick it up for 50p at CeX, but Microsoft want £14.99 to download it.
- And what about Modern Warfare 3? It’s two and a half years old now, but still brandishing its full price tag on the Marketplace.
- Across all of these games, the median difference in price is 199.8%. This means latecomers to these games should expect to pay three times as much if they choose to download the game rather than pick up a used copy.
I understand that you pay for the convenience of getting the game there and then, and that you don’t have to worry about losing it, but are these things worth such an inflated cost?
Pre-owned vs DLC
This table shows how much the downloadable content costs in comparison to the entire pre-owned game, and notes what you’re getting for that price.
For this, I’ve only used what I’ll term ‘substantial’ DLC. This covers things like extra missions and multiplayer maps, but does not include small purchases like avatar items or in-game weapons.
|Game||Year Published||CeX Cost||Total DLC cost||% Difference||DLC Notes|
|Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3||2011||£5.00||£39.96||699.20%||6 multiplayer content packs|
|Battlefield: Bad Company 2||2010||£2.00||£13.38||569.00%||2 multiplayer content packs|
|Halo 3||2007||£2.00||£11.43||471.50%||5 multiplayer content packs|
|Borderlands||2009||£5.00||£27.00||440.00%||4 campaign extensions|
|Fallout: New Vegas||2010||£5.00||£27.00||440.00%||4 campaign extensions|
|Call of Duty: Black Ops||2010||£8.00||£39.96||399.50%||4 multiplayer content packs|
|Halo: Reach||2010||£5.00||£23.49||369.80%||3 multiplayer content packs|
|Gears of War 2||2008||£1.50||£6.75||350.00%||4 multiplayer content packs|
|Gears of War 3||2011||£5.00||£19.99||299.80%||4 multiplayer content packs, 1 campaign extension|
|Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2||2009||£5.00||£19.98||299.60%||2 multiplayer content packs|
|Fable II||2008||£3.50||£12.73||263.71%||3 campaign extensions|
|Fallout 3||2008||£5.00||£16.95||239.00%||5 campaign extensions|
|Batman: Arkham City||2011||£8.00||£24.87||210.88%||3 challenge content packs, 2 campaign extensions|
|Saints Row 2||2008||£4.00||£11.44||186.00%||2 campaign extensions|
|Assassin’s Creed: Revelations||2011||£5.00||£13.50||170.00%||1 multiplayer content pack, 1 campaign extension|
|Resident Evil 5||2009||£4.00||£10.17||154.25%||1 multiplayer content pack, 2 campaign extensions|
|The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim||2011||£12.00||£30.37||153.08%||3 campaign extensions|
|Grand Theft Auto IV||2008||£8.00||£20.24||153.00%||2 campaign extensions|
|Assassin’s Creed II||2009||£4.00||£10.07||151.75%||3 campaign extensions|
|The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion||2006||£5.00||£12.27||145.40%||3 campaign extensions|
|Call of Duty: World at War||2008||£8.00||£16.99||112.38%||4 multiplayer content packs|
|Fable III||2010||£5.00||£9.67||93.40%||3 campaign extensions|
|Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood||2010||£4.00||£6.75||68.75%||2 multiplayer content packs, 1 campaign extension|
|Red Dead Redemption||2010||£8.00||£13.49||68.63%||4 multiplayer content packs, 1 campaign extension|
|Call of Duty 3||2006||£4.50||£6.78||50.67%||3 multiplayer content packs|
|Left 4 Dead 2||2009||£10.00||£14.07||40.70%||3 campaign extensions|
|Left 4 Dead||2008||£8.00||£9.38||17.25%||3 campaign extensions|
|Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare||2007||£7.00||£6.75||-3.57%||1 multiplayer content pack|
|Mass Effect||2007||£4.50||£4.04||-10.22%||2 campaign extensions|
|Batman: Arkham Asylum||2009||£6.00||£3.98||-33.67%||4 challenge content packs|
|Kinect Sports||2010||£5.00||£2.69||-46.20%||2 challenge packs|
|Gears of War||2006||£1.50||£0.00||-100.00%||2 multiplayer content packs|
|Assassin’s Creed||2007||£4.00||£0.00||-100.00%||No DLC|
|LEGO Indiana Jones: Original Adventures||2008||£10.00||£0.00||-100.00%||No DLC|
|Sega Superstars Tennis||2008||£4.00||£0.00||-100.00%||No DLC|
|LEGO Batman: The Videogame||2008||£12.00||£0.00||-100.00%||No DLC|
|Halo 3: ODST||2009||£2.00||£0.00||-100.00%||No DLC, both Cex and GoD versions are campaign only|
|Kinect Adventures!||2010||£0.50||£0.00||-100.00%||No DLC|
|Grand Theft Auto V||2013||£25.00||£0.00||-100.00%||No DLC|
- Modern Warfare 3 continues to be expensive digitally, forcing newcomers to hand over nearly eight times as much as they pay for the game if they want to enjoy all of the multiplayer content.
- The median difference here is 145.4%, meaning the DLC costs around 2.5 times as much as the game.
I personally struggle to convince myself that buying DLC is justified when I spent much less on the full game.
Bonus: DLC vs Games On Demand
There are actually 11 games where the DLC even costs more than the game does on the marketplace.
|Game||Year Published||Games On Demand Cost||Total DLC cost||% Change|
|Fallout: New Vegas||2010||£11.99||£27.00||125.19%|
|Batman: Arkham City||2011||£14.99||£24.87||65.91%|
|Assassin’s Creed: Revelations||2011||£8.99||£13.50||50.17%|
|Gears of War 3||2011||£14.99||£19.99||33.36%|
|The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim||2011||£24.99||£30.37||21.53%|
|Grand Theft Auto IV||2008||£17.99||£20.24||12.51%|
|Assassin’s Creed II||2009||£8.99||£10.07||12.01%|
|The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion||2006||£11.99||£12.27||2.34%|
While buying pre-owned doesn’t do publishers any favours, if the prices are so different then a good deal is likely to trump a moral one.
Surely a few permanent price drops for digital content would make sense, if only to bring everything more in line?