Keen to find out more about Green Man Gaming, we tracked down COO Gian Luzio. Mr Luzio thought that the best way of explaining the concept would be to try to sell us his secondhand Modern Warfare 2 code. “Just one previous owner, little old lady, lovely old gal. Look at that, less than two levels of prestige on the clock. Tell you what, I’ll throw in the Stimulus Package she left in the glove compartment…”
CG: Give us the pitch: What’s unique about Green Man Gaming, and how and why do you think it will work?
Gian: Green Man Gaming is a digital PC games retailer. We sell the same games that are available through other retailers and will make sure our pricing for games is always competitive for the consumer. We try to make the the whole process of buying a game as easy as possible. In addition we allow customers to trade back games they no longer play – for credits on their account. We hope this will make buying new games more affordable and encourage people to play more games.
CG: How is reselling a digital game possible? How does it work?
Gian: The game is downloaded and you activate the game online. When you trade-in the game is de-activated and the credit applied to your account.
CG: Do you expect others to follow your lead?
Gian: We have already agreed a number of partnerships with retailers globally that will use our trade-in system and the partner will be able to set their own pricing variables.
CG: How do you balance having no competition in the secondhand digital market – and having no previous successes or mistakes in such a venture to learn from?
Gian: Digital downloads are evolving and I am hopeful that by monetizing digital products people won’t think that buying a digital game is just throwing money down the drain. Their game is still worth something. We have based the trade-in offering on the physical trade-in solution which is used widely by customers in retail stores.
CG: It’s early days for Green Man Gaming – quite literally – but what sort of response have you seen from consumers?
Gian: It has gone surprisingly well. We have a lot of improvements to make and will be releasing a new version of ‘Capsule’, our client application with more community features and functionality. We are also overhauling our website to accept many more payment methods including Paypal, Google Checkout and Mobile phone payment solutions. We are aware that we need to make things better – and our technical team are working round the clock to make the improvements. I would like to thank our customers for being so supportive since our launch.
CG: Enthusiasm for digital distribution has been gathering momentum amongst publishers rapidly of late. Do you think this level of enthusiasm is justified?
Gian: Absolutely! Personally, I started buying and downloading games in 2009 on my Xbox and PS3. Then bought and downloaded Bioshock 2 earlier this year for my PC. I’m lucky enough to have a very fast broadband connection and find the experience is much better than going to a shop. I completed Bioshock 2. It’d be nice to trade it in now to buy another game!! The faster the internet becomes the more people will want their entertainment instantly. Games and Films have taken some time to catch up with music downloads but that is changing as internet speeds and broadband penetration increases.
CG: Would you say that a successful secondhand market in the digital arena is essential to its projected growth?
Gian: It is not essential for our growth. The success of Green Man Gaming will be having great offers on new games.
CG: Green Man Gaming only accepts games purchased from their site for trade – in. Would it be technically possible to accept games bought elsewhere? What are the reasons for not doing so?
Gian: Woah! Let’s walk before we run!
CG: Including titles such as World of Goo and Darwinia in your ’1 penny wonders’ promotion is a smart move. What are you doing to ensure that customers who buy one or both don’t then turn their backs on GMG?
Gian: We will be launching our “Buy Back Bonanza” shortly to encourage those customers to trade-in at a much higher trade-in value. Also – we aren’t here for one week! We have a promotion calendar for the year which includes weekend sales, ‘Mega’ Mondays and all sorts of promotions.
CG: Do you have any plans to implement a similar service for consoles; XBLA, PSN, WiiWare, DsiWare?
Gian: Shhh! We have plans but we want our PC service to be great before we start looking elsewhere and that will keep us busy for a couple of years.