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October 11, 2012 • Editorials, Gaming

The Demise of the Once-Great Goozex Game Trading Site

No, they’re not dead … yet.

I have written many, many, many times about the game trading site Goozex for one reason – it was a great idea put forth by some great guys for the benefit of gamers. Largely gamer-driven, the site used a combination of ‘tokens’ and ‘points’ for trades. To ‘buy’, you would use a token and a number of points related to the current value of a game – for example, a new game like Borderlands 2 would be ~1200 points (the maximum), whereas something like 2009’s Drakensang: The Dark Eye would be 100 points.

And better still, the Goozex guarantee ensured that if you spent points or sent a game you wouldn’t be cheated. It was fair and worked out well almost all of the time.

But if you take a look at the site traffic data over the last year for Goozex, you see a more than 80% drop-off:

If you check the site you will see the ‘Number of Trades Going on Right Now’ … is ~900. If you check out this thread from early 2010 you will see the number at nearly 6500!

So … what happened?

Basically the world has changed and destroyed the premise that made Goozex so successful. How? Three main ways:

  • Game companies declared ‘used games the enemy’ – suddenly we had EA with ‘Project $10’ requiring used game buyers to pay $10 for online access, Sony selling $15 online passes, and so on. Your used game was instantly worth less than before.
  • PC gaming has shifted to digital – and digital authentication. – Even if you buy a disc copy, chances are you will activate through Steam or Origin in order to play. These services make re-download easy, but also making trading the game impossible. For all practical purposes, PC game trading is completely dead.
  • Non-transferrable DLC reduces value of used games – when you buy a new high-profile game such as Borderlands 2, you get a bunch of content in the box that would otherwise cost extra money, and over time you might have the option to buy more. With a used game you get nothing – and buying the stuff that was included with the new release is generally not cost effective.

And yes, these things have happened in the last couple of year and are largely responsible for killing the trading volume of a site like Goozex (or GameTZ for that matter). I am sure that folks at EA and Ubisoft applaud this shift – and might believe that every trade took away a sale. But for many folks, the ability to cheaply and legally sample from a franchise at a low cost eventually turned into full-priced sales that would never have happened without the 100 point trade on Goozex.

So it is very much a shame … but it seems that the big game companies will get what they wanted – I just doubt it will have the results they planned.

2 Responses to " The Demise of the Once-Great Goozex Game Trading Site "

  1. concerned goozer says:

    Hi,

    I’ve been a member on Goozex for a number of years. You make a couple of good points, but I think Goozex’s decline was caused by a perfect storm of things just going from bad to worse. The decline in used games’ value definitely played a part, I agree with you, but the following also hurt the community:

    -Goozex’s growth was quick, but artificial; there were constant new features and point sales that stimulated trading constantly. The 6500 ongoing trades you quote in your article was, unfortunately, an unsustainable situation. Therefore, in late 2010, Goozex decided to take a number of unpopular steps, including doubling token prices, stopping half-off point sales, and no longer giving points when a game was shipped (instead, you had to wait until the other party got the game and made sure it worked, which could take weeks). The steps were all justified by other considerations (i.e. scammers), but the community was less than pleased. All of a sudden, Goozex became slower, less convenient, and less fun. Trading started to drop.

    -In 2011, Goozex, trying to improve trading, implemented some new features, two of which were most notorious. Problem: both rubbed at least some users the wrong way: one, Early Access, basically meant you could jump in front of the line of an unreleased game if you traded a new game; this made some users who usually traded older games feel like second-class customers. The other change, the return of points upon confirmed shipment, was limited to US traders and required purchasing a shipping label directly from Goozex, for a premium. Some Canadian users felt left out, and the deal-hunting Goozex community frowned at the idea of paying a premium for shipping. Neither of these helped Goozex significantly; some actually think Early Access is the reason for the site’s demise (I disagree, but it’s just to show how viscerally some hate it).

    -More importantly, around a year ago, we’ve seen the arrival of doom and gloom threads. Discontent members of the community started voicing their concerns on the Goozex forums openly and repeatedly. We’ve seen giant threads about this being locked, and for a time, it was always the same users bringing up the same arguments or suggestions. Of course, this was a nuisance to Goozex’s public image and likely discouraged a number of potential new users. Prior to this, trading had started to show signs of stabilizing, but it started to plummet again after these threads popped up. And they continued to appear for the past year (though no longer started by the same users); even today, if you visit the forums, you see a lot of threads about how Goozex is on its deathbed.

    -At that point, people expected the Goozex admins, formerly close to the community and ready to share lots of good news with users, to step in and fix things, or at least communicate regularly with the community. However, while they’ve apparently been working on selling Goozex to a public company, they’ve stopped giving regular updates to the community, because of a Non-Disclosure Agreement regarding the sale. The community became restless; updates requested for years have still not been implemented to this day, even though they were, at some point, being worked on (whereas other features, which were not requested at all, were taken care of ahead, which puzzled many). There have also been a number of database mistakes that have gone unfixed (the regular edition of Borderlands 2 is still not listed on Goozex). For many, the site seems abandoned, which hurts confidence and trading.

    With all these factors taken into account, is it any wonder we’re down to less than 1000 trades? External factors such as DLC definitely played a role, but it’s hardly the sole reason for what we’re seeing.

    P.S: I’m sorry for the wall of text. There is just a lot more to the site’s impending demise than meets the eye.

    • Thanks for the awesome comment. I joined when the site had just started, even before they traded PC or handheld games and you printed the mailer to send things disc-only as the norm!
      Certainly having the decline we have seen comes from many factors – the growth of ‘convenience’ trade-in competition from Amazon, Best Buy and Target has been big, and GameStop has upped their own game in that regard.
      Also, I agree that some of the changes made angered folks and really turned away loyal high-trading members … and the declining involvement of the founders allowed many of these bitter discussions to fester.
      A couple of years ago I would have dismissed the impact of the forums, but the reality is that in a cost-conscious focused site – as convenience-seekers were stripped away due to ease of trade-ins elsewhere and new trade rules at Goozex – the forums and community end up playing a large role. So the appearance of slowness, lack of involvement from ‘the management’ and declining involvement of moderators/super-users, and a terrible morale from all of the negativity and backlash and doom and gloom … it all adds up, as you say.
      Definitely think ‘perfect storm’ sums it up very well.

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