How many of you reading this article can remember the time of physical media…you know, game cartridges, VHS tapes, DVDs and vinyl records? Visiting the video club Friday to pick which characters would be joining you over the weekend in your living room for adventures and wonder. Maybe you recall biking across town to check on new arrivals at the record store or game shop with the hopes of meeting another fellow fan or discovering the next gem that would capture your imagination and measly savings?
When I was a kid there were more game shops, hobby shops and book stores and what I loved was strolling between the towering shelves of bookends and that smell was amazing. These stores were always places I enjoyed visiting even if I was just browsing it was an escape of sorts where a kid could witness something truly cool. Not for Resale is a documentary that dives in the issue of resale, more specifically the second hand market for used games. With the introduction of online game stores such as Xbox Live and Sony’s PSN players 15 years later have become accustomed to one click installs. Despite patches and some of the hiccups along the way the majority of gamers still prefer to buy digital even when there is not much of a price difference. This documentary will walk you through the stories of different shop owners and their shared journey through out the eras of gaming and what is business like today.
These stores were never ultra profitable establishments and most of the time were run by gamers and nerds who wished to share their past time. There always were big retailers but with the new added convenience publishers and big corporations have found new ways to short you as the player. When I was a kid Playstation games came with a manual including maps, backstory and all you need to get into the game. Today you can buy a hard copy of a triple A titled and only have a lousy flyer and if you are lucky a quick reference which is stark in comparison to what was on shelves even in the 90’s.
Remembering how me and my buddies from school would come over with copies of our games and copying save files so that we would not loose loot or progression. The documentary would walk you through the changes and strides in technology and are balanced in their narrative for the pros and cons. What did strike me was how this industry is shrinking that collecting could have already peaked. This documentary would highlight how that current and future generations will not be familiar with the concept of a video game store and Amazon only makes it a certainty and with less games being released as hard copies there is less to collect. Big games like Rocket League would not ship hard copies until they broke one million players which speaks volumes that you no longer need tangible product to succeed in the market.
Some would like to site shareware as a root cause of the eventual drop in sales that started in the 90’s or are quick to blame piracy which is wholly disengenuine as most consoles from the 5th generation required you to flash your machine in order to play which rendered your console useless for online play. I am not going to lie and pretend that piracy did not hit the industry hard but good games still sold and customers got more savvy with how they spend their money. The documentary does not go into piracy or directly compares and divulges sales figures but they do well in covering the fall out of recent trends. Now hard copies have become more expensive and are considered to be products for the collectors which is true but still stings because it looks like the days of physical games are gone.
Not for Re Sale will give you nostalgia by the ton but it still will leave you sad at the end for what is inevitably coming down the line. A solid 8 out 10 documentary that will remind you of better days and better games.