February 21st, 2006

February is Girl Scout Video Game Legislation Month

Cookies, anyone?

The Frederick News-Post reports that Girl Scouts from around Maryland gathered at the state capitol last week to sit in on legislative sessions, meet delegates, and participate in a mock legislative debate.

And perhaps sell a few boxes of Thin Mints along the way?

As part of a program sponsored by the Maryland Girl Scout Legislative Coalition, two hundred scouts took to the House floor to get a first hand taste of the political process. The topic of the Girl Scouts' mock debate, fining adults who buy mature-rated games for their children, was peripherally related to Maryland's proposed video game legislation.

Scout Alexandra Asuncion of Frederick played the role of House Speaker, directing the debate.

"It was really fun," she said. "I liked it because you could see what it would be like to be the speaker."

Other girls scouts, acting as delegates, made some telling points from the House floor.

"What's the point of an adult getting a fine for buying it for their children when it was their choice?" argued seventh-grader Kendall Bille.
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Retailers, Publishers at Odds Over Used Game Sales

For video game retailers, selling used games is a highly profitable enterprise. And video game publishers don't like it.

Today's GameDaily Biz reprints an excellent piece by Paul Hyman of the Hollywood Reporter which outlines the divergent interests of game publishers and used-game retailers such as GameStop.

Hyman notes that Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game Of The Movie retails for $49.99 new, but can be picked up for just $27.99 used. Same game, perhaps minus the manual or original box, but guaranteed to work.

"GameStop and Electronics Boutique [which merged with GameStop last April] essentially own about 80% of the second-hand game market," analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush-Morgan told Hyman. Publishers are worried that consumers will turn to used games, thereby cutting into revenue streams.

"I think publishers are making noise because they'd like to get a piece of that almost $1-billion that GameStop is making," Pachter added. "Or they'd like to somehow regulate the price of used games... but I don't think that's going to happen."

Hal Halpin, president of the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA), a trade group representing 75% of video game retailers, believes the secondary market may actually be beneficial to the publishers.

"I appreciate their perspective," said Halpin, "but have a hard time seeing the sales erosion that the publishers' claim. I've had these kinds of discussions before with publishers and I suggested to them they should look at rental and used as avenues to expand their potential base. Imagine if rental had never come along; it would have been phenomenally detrimental to the growth of the business. Any publisher today will tell you that Blockbuster and Movie Gallery are both Top 10 customers for them. We work in a hits-driven business and games that don't sell well in the first 60 days have a financial impact on the entire sector. The used and rental markets expand that window and permit secondary opportunities."
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