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GameStop Selling Games Played By Employees As New

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the for-sufficiently-played-values-of-new dept.

Games 243

Kotaku reports on a practice by GameStop which allows employees to "check out" new copies of video games, play them, then return them to be sold as new. Quoting: "When a shipment of video games initially arrives at a store, managers are told to 'gut' several copies of the game, removing the disc or cartridge from the packaging so it can be displayed on the shelf without concern of theft, according to our sources. The games are then placed in protective sleeves or cases under the counter. If a customer asks why the game is not sealed they are typically told the the game is a display copy. The game is still sold as new. When check-out games are returned, we were told, they are placed with the gutted display copies. If a customer asks about these, they are typically told they are display copies, not that they have been played before. Since the copies are often placed with display copies, even managers and employees typically don't know which of these games have been played and which haven't."

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frosty piss?!?!? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27528683)

frosty piss?!?!?

omg lol

How about DRM? (5, Interesting)

mcvos (645701) | more than 5 years ago | (#27528707)

The site seems slasdotted, so I can't RTFA, but my first thought is: what about games with draconian DRM that allows you to install it only a limited number of times? Employees playing those games may destroy the usefulness of those games.

Re:How about DRM? (4, Insightful)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#27528721)

Gamestop has pretty much abandoned PC gaming in favor of console games. Going by the local ~50 odd gamestops I doubt most of their employees even understand what they're selling beyond "Yo I so own at halo brah".

Re:How about DRM? (0, Troll)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27528833)

You get what you pay for, what did you expect? Someone who can talk intelligible would be able to get a job that pays a dollar more. If he can write, two bucks more. If he can think past his next lunch, he's promoted to store manager.

Re:How about DRM? (5, Funny)

zakkie (170306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529021)

"Someone who can talk intelligible..." - and they say yanks don't get irony? ;)

Re:How about DRM? (1)

sshuber (1274006) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529311)

You get what you pay for, what did you expect? Someone who can talk intelligible would be able to get a job that pays a dollar more. If he can write, two bucks more. If he can think past his next lunch, he's promoted to store manager.

Interesting since everyone I worked with when I worked at a Gamestop was in college at some stage including myself. If you don't want to do much except talk about games and ring people up for a few hours a week, it's a fantastic job.

Re:How about DRM? (1, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529391)

Gamestop has pretty much abandoned PC gaming in favor of console games.

Even console games have install limits nowadays. One component of the Animal Crossing 3 bundle is a voucher for Wii Speak Channel that can be installed only on one Wii console.

Re:How about DRM? (1)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 5 years ago | (#27530035)

Seriously? Wow, that's something I'd never expect from Nintendo. Besides, if the Wii Speak Channel is what I think it is (from what the name suggests), I'm assuming it's a rather pointless channel if you don't have the hardware (Wii Speak) to use it. You may install the channel on 3 Wiis (if they allowed you to, that is), but you can still only use it on the one Wii that you have Wii Speak hooked up to. Seems kind of pointless to be requiring online authorization for software that essentially already has a dongle.

Re:How about DRM? (1)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27530193)

The idea is that it forces you to buy a new one. You can't buy a used one, because you won't have the coupon.

Re:How about DRM? (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 5 years ago | (#27528733)

I suspect this is more of an issue with console games, which are more of a "pop in and play" sort of affair. A lot of PC games have their disks or activation codes in sealed envelops, so it would be harder to get away with that.

Re:How about DRM? (3, Informative)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27528843)

That's new to me. Most PC games I bought so far have their activation code or license key on a sticker inside the DVD case, on the disc sleeve or on the manual.

Re:How about DRM? (5, Informative)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 5 years ago | (#27528735)

The only games they'd do this for are console games, which don't have DRM worries. PC games, AFAIK, are all sold sealed.

Re:How about DRM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27528803)

They lowered their financial concentration towards PC games because it was so damn easy to walk out of the store with 5 copies of COD4, UT3, FEAR (or whatever the choice was for that day) in your pocket. Ebay ftw

Re:How about DRM? (2, Insightful)

SCPRedMage (838040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529005)

Considering the cases/boxes for PC games tend to be much larger than than for console games, I call bullshit.

Besides, why would someone shoplift when the torrent went up days or weeks before it hit the shelves?

Re:How about DRM? (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529773)

You don't take the cases/boxes.

You take the CD, the sleeve of which that has the code number on it, or the little cardboard insert with the code on it, and leave an empty box on the shelf.

Re:How about DRM? (1)

socrplayr813 (1372733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27530003)

And how would that be different from walking out with a console CD/DVD?

Re:How about DRM? (3, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27530209)

They only keep boxes for the console games on the floor and keep all actual copies of the game behind the counter.

Still, if it's as big of a problem as the OP suggests, then I think they'd simply do the same with the PC games too.

Re:How about DRM? (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529487)

I thought DRM was one of the major points of a console.

Re:How about DRM? (1)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529623)

No, perhaps you're thinking of the fact that normal rubes can't copy a Wii disc.

Re:How about DRM? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27528787)

The real problem is most console games these days are on optical media, and they get scratched and worn out by use. Not to mention, who wants a manual that's already been used? In practice it probably doesn't matter much, and as long as people keep buying them, it's not going to stop. Personally I never shop at Gamestop, and even smaller towns tend to have independent video game shops.

Re:How about DRM? (4, Interesting)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 5 years ago | (#27528841)

Optical media almost never gets scratched unless you're eight years old and still can't care for your toys. I lent my beloved copy of Parappa the Rapper to my 8 year old cousins and it came back unplayable, I'm still angry about that 8 years later. All of my optical media from high school is still in great shape, mostly sitting in old CD-R spindles (the best way to store media IMO)

Re:How about DRM? (1)

Mozk (844858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27528901)

I would be angry about that too. Here [thepiratebay.org] . That game was awesome, but so difficult.

Re:How about DRM? (1)

SCPRedMage (838040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529011)

PAL for the lose.

Err, not that I'D ever look at a torrent...

Re:How about DRM? (0)

Swizec (978239) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529383)

You should try if they're actually still playable. I wanted to play some Abe's Exoddus for nostalgia reason a few years back and the CD was completely unreadable. No scratching or anything, just your run of the mill dye fade.

Stamped CDs and DVDs have no dye to fade (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529423)

No scratching or anything, just your run of the mill dye fade.

Stamped CDs and DVDs have no "dye" to fade. Was the plastic still clear? (Use a bright light to see through the dark-purple PS1 disc plastic.) Did the laser in the console still read other discs? Was there rot or other damage close to around the edge?

Re:Stamped CDs and DVDs have no dye to fade (0)

Swizec (978239) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529467)

It's just that it may (or may not) have been a ripped and burned game. Those fade, much too soon.

But hey, TPB to the rescue and I could still play the game regardless of the state the disc was in.

Re:How about DRM? (3, Informative)

Scuff (59882) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529879)

You can get downloadable versions of Abe's Odyssey and Exodus from steam relatively cheaply. It's $15 for both right now, which isn't great, but a couple weeks ago they had the pack onsale for $2.50. Might be worth looking at next time Steam has a big sale, if you're in the nostalgia mood again.

Re:How about DRM? (1)

rekenner (849871) | more than 5 years ago | (#27528815)

The site is working fine for me, so, RTFA. They can't install games with DRM.

Re:How about DRM? (3, Insightful)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529111)

"Employees playing those games may destroy the usefulness of those games."

Most of the publishers already did that when they included DRM in the first place.

Re:How about DRM? (5, Informative)

sshuber (1274006) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529319)

I used to work at Gamestop and we could only check out console games for obvious reasons. Everything else is true though, except my manager pushed that we check out used games as much as possible and he inspected new games when we brought them back. If it was scratched at all, you got the pleasure of buying it. It was a pretty sweet perk to have though. Obviously Gamestop's thinking is that they want a staff who knows what they are selling.

Re:How about DRM? (3, Insightful)

Turken (139591) | more than 5 years ago | (#27530185)

Yep. Had an acquaintance that worked at a gamestop for awhile, and they had the same policy. Still, I never buy from GS in general because I just don't care for my game packages to be pre-opened, even if they are "new" prior to my purchase. I guess it comes down to an issue of trust. If you can't trust the store to give you straight information about games (without trying to upsell you unnecessary crap), how can you trust them to be telling the truth about the condition of that pre-gutted game?

Re:How about DRM? (1)

Kildjean (871084) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529755)

This is outrageous!!! The thought that the empire could do this... think of the consequences.... Seriously though, when I was manager in Crofton, Md, the rule imposed was that: New games couldnt be taken out for two weeks, only USED games were allowed to be taken out... I dont work there anymore and maybe the Emperor changed the rules, but that is how it was. The only games that were allowed to be taken home for "checking out" were the console games, because of obvious copyright implications PC Games were not allowed to be used as "checking out games".

Does it matter??? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27528711)

Why should I care if a game has been played before?

Re:Does it matter??? (3, Funny)

Askmum (1038780) | more than 5 years ago | (#27528719)

My thought exactly. Except in cases where there is some kind of mandatory registration with a key on the box, or the disc is limited to the number of times you can read it, what is the difference between a disc that has been read once before and a disc that has not?
Is this the "I need a virgin" phenomenon?

Re:Does it matter??? (4, Insightful)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 5 years ago | (#27528761)

Or, maybe it's "I'd rather not have had someone else's machine (or kid brother, or whatever) scratch up the disc I spent $60 + tax on." Beyond that, it's simply a matter of integrity. If someone else has played the game, it's not a virg... I mean, it's not new anymore.

Re:Does it matter??? (4, Insightful)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 5 years ago | (#27528865)

Hate to break it to you but...
wait, no, I'm ecstatic to break this to you:

Your new car has been driven by several other people. Someone else popped its cherry.

And that $35,000 new car you just bought (that isn't really new) is way more than the $35 disk you just bought. And when it comes down to it, you can usually tell if you didn't get all the bits you paid for on a CD, but it's more difficult to tell if your new car has been abused.

In some ways, it's probably better to be played. At least you know there are no immediate catastrophic errors on the disk.

Re:Does it matter??? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27528889)

In some ways, it's probably better to be played. At least you know there are no immediate catastrophic errors on the disk.

Unless that employee accidently damaged it while he was playing it, and put it back quietly to avoid having to pay for it out of his own paycheck. Just saying.

Besides which, I'd prefer it to remain sealed until I get it home to my own machine. If it fucks up when I play it, I can at least rule out the store as the source of the damage. When it's already unwrapped, I immediately assume all damage caused is by the store. (And end up getting venomously pissed at them and start taking my business elsewhere.)

Re:Does it matter??? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27528957)

In the case of scratches the store can easily send the disc back. No biggy.

This really is a non-issue. Hardly any "new" product you buy, is actually new and the usability, quality or the length of a CD's lifetime is not limited by using it, so having it "new" usually only stands for unscratched. Any disc can be scratched; even on virgin discs that are still sealed and came straight from the factory. People whining about this probably only want virgin girlfriends too.... and have no older brothers and sisters.

Re:Does it matter??? (1)

Walpurgiss (723989) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529889)

I've only had them push the gutted copies on me three times, and they've never refused to let me look at the disc first and then decide. It's still pretty bogus that they sell it as new, but you can always choose to wait for a wrapped copy if you don't like it.

All in all, like you said, it really isn't that big a deal as long as people are willing to ask to look at it first and refuse if necessary.

Re:Does it matter??? (1, Insightful)

PHPNerd (1039992) | more than 5 years ago | (#27530039)

And thus why you should never by a new car OR a new game. They aren't worth what they're sold for, and with cars you lose something ridiculous like 30% of its value in the first year. With games it's similar, you can buy a used game a year later for half the original new price, maybe even less.

Re:Does it matter??? (3, Interesting)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#27530231)

That has always bothered me. In fact, I was thinking about it on the way to work this morning. From my experience, I have about 100-150 thousand miles before I have to dump major money into a car for a major repair. I've done the following exercise several times: Take the total price of a car new and divide it by the expected remaining lifespan prior to major repairs, do the same with a late model used car doesn't matter if it is in the paper or sold by a dealership(although the price will be higher for a dealership). I've found in general a used car will already have used up a third to half of its lifespan before being sold as used, but the price will in no way be near 2/3 to a half of what the original price was even taking into account resale value when you get near the end of that lifespan. Maybe it works different for more pricey vehicles than I've ever been able to buy, but the whole drive it off the lot price drop only seems to matter if you rotate cars every few years.

Re:Does it matter??? (2, Interesting)

ndege (12658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27530045)

In some ways, it's probably better to be played.

When I buy a car, I don't get a code that could have already been activated/banned etc that completely renders the car disabled; even though, the car looks new without even a scratch. A car can be test driven, a car is repairable, and, the buyer is covered by lemon laws. Lemon laws for games anyone? ;)

Automobiles are automobiles and CDs are CDs.

Re:Does it matter??? (3, Informative)

TheGavster (774657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27530181)

For a little extra, GM will actually let you take personal delivery of a new Corvette at the factory, after personally supervising its construction: http://www.corvettemuseum.com/ncm_delivery/index.shtml [corvettemuseum.com]

Re:Does it matter??? (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 5 years ago | (#27530233)

Although there is much controversy on the topic, having your car thrashed in the wild for those first two or three digits on the odometer is likely to be doing the engine a good service. Matching up the piston ring to the cylinder wall is, by all accounts, best done with short and hard bursts of power and a few oil changes. (Here's the first website I dug up: http://www.mototuneusa.com/break_in_secrets.htm [mototuneusa.com] ) How does this even remotely relate to that brand new game? I'm not sure, but I'm positive someone, somewhere, has built a device or application to 'pre-condition' the bits somehow for better longevity, maybe it spins the CD at 24386RPM for the first 3 million rotations, who knows, either way, whatever it is will be filled with references to phase change and numerous buzzwords.

Re:Does it matter??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27529591)

I mean, it's not new anymore.

It's bits. If you actually care whether this particular copy has been copied onto yet another computer you really need to get out more.

Re:Does it matter??? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27528753)

It is because it is a used (pre-played) copy being sold as new.

New price > used price

In the case of a used copy, I want to look at it to make sure it seems like the disc is in a playable condition before I buy it. (Scratch? I've gotten used discs that looked fine, but didn't quite play (Playstation one era))

If it is new, I expect it to be a new, unplayed copy, that will work in my system without problems.

Re:Does it matter??? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27528981)

Maybe if i rub my genitals on your CD and sell you as new you think better?

Re:Does it matter??? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27530131)

do you shave your beaver?

Re:Does it matter??? (0, Redundant)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529145)

I was wondering the same. There are actually only two reason why I would care:

First, activation / registration codes being used. I wouldn't like it one bit if a game like Spore told me I'm a petty thief (or worse) because it should be running on a completely different machine.

Second, wear, tear and damage. Some consoles are not really careful when reading their media, scratching them. Some people ain't too careful either.

Aside of that, play my game if you want to 'til I buy it. I certainly don't care.

Re:Does it matter??? (2, Insightful)

elcorvax (1395311) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529199)

In fact I don't care if the game has been played before IF they tell me that. Otherwise if they say that the game is brand new, then it should be Brand New !

Re:Does it matter??? (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529397)

Yes, basically. If a game is sold as new, then it should be new (as in, unplayed). I remember once on a business trip to the US, picking up a "new" copy of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories from a Gamestop, which had a saved-game with 20 or so hours of play on the cartridge's save slots. Wasn't happy about that at all, even though it didn't actually detract from my own play experience. It just made me feel like I'd been taken for a ride.

I found out too late to do anything about it (in the departure lounge at Miami International), so had to console myself with the thought that some Gamestop employee was probably kicking himself for giving away the cartridge with his save-game on it and having to start the game afresh (yeah, I know, he might just have gotten bored of it, but I can dream).

Re:Does it matter??? (2, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27530303)

Absolutely true. Particularly when you go to the store and see a game on the shelves as both - sometimes the difference in price between the new and used versions are $15 (sometimes only $5). For something that I just see on the shelf that interests me, I'll often pickup the used version. For something that I think I'll like more and play longer (or most certainly if I'm buying the game as a gift for someone else), I'll splurge for the new.

When I pay that extra money specifically for a new copy, leaving used ones back on the shelf, I damn well better get a new and SEALED copy of the game.

That said, knowing these policies, on the 1 or 2 cases where I tried to buy a new game from Gamestop and they proceeded to pull it from a storage envelope, I immediately stopped the process, got my money back (explaining why), and headed next door to Wal-mart to buy the game.

Car analogy time! (0, Redundant)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529669)

Customer: This car isn't new!
Salesturd: Sure it is!
Customer: It has 10,000 miles on it!
Salesturd: It's a display model. Don't worry about it. Same as new!

Fact: The "demonstrator" cars you buy are actually used, and usually have a lot more mileage than they indicate - it's easier for the dealer to roll back the odometer on new cars than it was a couple of decades ago. $150 if you know the right person.

How else do you think that long-term leased car that you brought back with 50,000 miles passes through Adesa a week later with "only" 28,000 miles on the clock? And did you think you sere getting a "special deal" when the dealer said he'd ignore the over-mileage charges if you leased another car?

never again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27528727)

gamestop is a horrible, horrible store

This is just now news? (5, Interesting)

the_nightwulf (1003306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27528749)

I cannot believe this is just now becoming a "scandal."

I was a Gamestop assistant store manager in the early 2000's. This was policy way back then, and we abused the shit out of it. Yes, policy said you could only check out one thing at a time for a certain period of time (I remember it being six days, maybe things have changed ...) and you could only check out any given product once, and no products like OSes or consoles. In practice, we took whatever we wanted whenever we wanted for however long we wanted. All the managers covered for each other and the other employees when the district bigwigs came by. On inventory days everyone brought in a list of things to add to inventory. This was SOP for all the stores in my district, and pretty much every store nationwide if you believe the chit chat at the annual store manager meetings.

"Gutting" has been policy for at least that long too. Per policy, you'd "gut" one copy of a game and when it came time to sell, you'd repackage and re-shrink wrap it. We were supposed to shrink wrap the shit out of everything (Dreamcast software for example: pull the entire CD tray out of the jewel case, shrink the case and put it on the sales floor, shrink the CD tray and secure it behind the counter), but in practice that was too much work once there were 500+ PSX titles, 200+ DC titles, etc. I made sure there wasn't anything obvious left over (stickers with SKU numbers on CDs, for example), but many people didn't. We were also instructed when selling the gutted copy to just walk it to the back and shrink wrap it without offering any explanation. The old pre-EB POS system (which was written in QuickBASIC Professional, and I swear I am not making that up) used to say "Gut checks save lives!" as a part of the screen saver.

This is been going on for well over 10 years. CD-based software borrowed out and scratched. Cartridge-based software borrowed and sold as "new" with saved data on it. Ask any Gamestop employee if they pay for magazines or tax software. Ever wonder why every Gamestop has a shrink wrapper in back? Do you not know how to tell the difference between factory shrink wrap and re-wrap? Factory wrap is "crinklier" ... and there's always a seam somewhere where a small machine with a glorified hair dryer can't produce one (usually down the middle of the back of the package).

Oh, and my apologies to whoever ended up buying that one copy of XP Home we had. I didn't realize at the time that the product key couldn't be reused.

Re:This is just now news? (1)

Gothic_Walrus (692125) | more than 5 years ago | (#27528809)

I cannot believe this is just now becoming a "scandal."

It's popped up on the internet a few times before [digg.com] , and I know I've seen discussions about this on sites like CheapAssGamer before that Digg article was posted.

Unfortunately, though, nothing's been done about it (at least that I know of). Until the policy is changed or, better yet, eliminated entirely, this is going to keep popping up as "news."

Re:This is just now news? (5, Informative)

fahrvergnugen (228539) | more than 5 years ago | (#27528911)

This policy has been around longer than that. I was an employee exercising the checkout policy back in the floppy / cartridge days, at several of the stores which would eventualy merge to become Gamestop (c. 1993-1997) This is old news, the lawsuits about it have come and gone. The policy has been disbanded, then re-instated several times. There's no use getting your panties twisted about it now.

Look: If you're reading this article, it's safe to assume you've been in a Gamestop (or EB, or Babbage's, or Software Etc., or Funcoland, or whatever your local store was before being devoured by ConGlomCo). So it is because of your undoubted nightmare customer experience in such places that when I tell you the following, you will know that it is true: working there was a fucking horrorshow. The hours were terrible, the customers obnoxious, the colleagues irritating, the stink from the shrinkwrap machine quite literally poisonous, and management incompetent, malicious, or both. Mind you, I'm talking about how bad it was 15 years ago when the stores were competing with each other. I can only imagine that it's gotten worse for employees since the industry consolidated completely, and you can no longer just walk up to the other side of the mall and get a job with the competition.

These stores pay minimum wage, offer employees almost no discount on the products they sell (and indeed often restrict employees' access to hot items like new-release consoles), and employees are forbidden to hang out mucking about with the in-store demo kiosks during downtime or off-duty hours. Yet at the same time, the customers and management demand that the employees somehow be knowledgable about all the product in the store. These products have consistently sold for $50 - $80 apiece for years. As an employee, you're supposed to have played everything, yet as an employee, you're subject to the same "you broke the shrink, you own it" return policy on $140 a week for the average part-timer. It's an impossible situation for a 19-year-old trying to make rent, groceries, and tuition, much less a sad-sack 30-something manager with kids, pulling in $25k a year on a 70-hour work week if they're lucky.

Gamestop didn't post record profits by paying their line employees well. Everyone's a disposable cog, and they'd just as soon fire you as look at you. Don't think as an employee you aren't constantly reminded by management about the eager stream of salivating 16-year-olds who think working in a game store would be SO COOL, dreaming of replacing you.

Given all this, do you think anyone in their right mind would work at that store if they didn't offer employees what amounts to a free lending library of the newest titles? What other incentive could there possibly be to irritate people with membership clubs, pushy pre-orders and used game pitches, and the soul-crushing pain of listening to the loop of that piped in tv network all day?

If it really bothers you, shop elsewhere. I certainly do, those fucking vultures won't ever get my money again. If you do decide to shop there, use some common sense and check your disks for scratches before you leave the store. It's not that hard.

But seriously, quit the whining about the "used sold as new" crap. The checkout policy is the price you pay for having specialty knowledge behind the register at minimum wage prices.

Re:This is just now news? (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529809)

But seriously, quit the whining about the "fraud" crap. The checkout policy is the price you pay for having pre-order-pushing wankers behind the register at minimum wage prices.

FTFY.

Re:This is just now news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27530099)

I lot of places sell opened software so that their employees can become knowledgeable about the software.

They just don't sell it as new.

Re:This is just now news? (1)

Niet3sche (534663) | more than 5 years ago | (#27530171)

I used to happily pay the extra $5-$10 premium that Gamestop charges on their games for one and only one reason: Their no-questions-asked return policy. If I was unsure (for instance, multiplayer options) and the store employee didn't know, I *used* to have the peace of mind knowing that I could pick up the software, check out the item in question, and then return it and let the employee know what had happened. I did this twice, and Gamestop made an extra $hundreds off of me during this period. Then a few years back I noticed a new return policy - "you bought it, you bought it" was the gist. I have not shopped there since.

Re:This is just now news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27529041)

I know from personal experience that this was happening at Babbage's as far back as at least 1988.

Nothing new (1)

jsimon12 (207119) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529059)

I worked as an Assistant Manager for Software ETC back in the early 1990's and "Employee Checkout" was policy back then. The article just reads like some disgruntled employee trying to create scandal.

Re:This is just now news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27529153)

Well, FUCK YOU! I'll start pirating

yawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27528769)

Who cares? I mean, so what?

Not a "new" problem.. (4, Informative)

_hAZE_ (20054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27528797)

I'm quite surprised that the rest of the world is just now being made aware of this practice. I worked for two competing shopping-mall chain video game stores in the mid-to-late 90's, and both of them had policies almost identical to this. The shrink-wrap machine in the back room made the fact that an item was "checked out" very simple to conceal from the customers.

To be completely honest, I really don't care, as long as:

- The materials are sold to me in a "new" condition
- If it requires any sort of registration key, I better not ever find out it's already been registered

Without this policy in place, I'm fairly certain a lot of video game stores would simply stop having employees; it's one of the best perks of working at one. Discounts are nice, but playing for free? That's even better.

Re:Not a "new" problem.. (1)

cjfs (1253208) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529007)

To be completely honest, I really don't care, as long as: - The materials are sold to me in a "new" condition - If it requires any sort of registration key, I better not ever find out it's already been registered

And that's what it comes down to. Since these are console games the registration key shouldn't apply. If someone is that concerned about the condition, just take a look at the disc before buying. It's really a non-issue.

Re:Not a "new" problem.. (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529103)

It's really a non-issue.

...until they start pulling shit like this [shacknews.com] .

the game (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27528817)

Battletoads. Do they have it?

Re:the game (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529459)

Is this Battletoads [encycloped...matica.com] ? Not likely. The game was developed for a Nintendo console by a company that's now part of Microsoft, and by now, Nintendo and Microsoft are enemies in set-top consoles. (On the other hand, Microsoft still publishes on DS.)

Wow (1)

Jimboscott (845567) | more than 5 years ago | (#27528935)

Now, I understand why my original copy of World Of Warcraft doesn't work !

Re:Wow (1)

kasmq1 (1275330) | more than 5 years ago | (#27528961)

Game rape ? Second hand games? Impossibility to replay the game ? What is the point? If the game don't work you can replace it... so no harm no foul.

Re:Wow (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529089)

Except wasted time talking to either Blizzard's customer service or the store's or both. You lose time and they lose a customer (well, hopefully).

That said, I reckon Blizzard would be far more helpful than any Gamestop employee.

Better customer service if you've played (1)

Wulfstan (180404) | more than 5 years ago | (#27528947)

Many years ago I worked at the Harvey Norman computer chain in Australia and the games guys often took games home at the weekend to check out. The reasoning was simple - if you've played a game and a customer wants advice on which game to buy you're in a position where you actually know what you're talking about rather than just staring at them blankly.

This was before the days of the internet being widely available, but I think the policy still holds true. If you're buying a game at a marked up price from your local software mart then the staff there better know what they're selling - otherwise how can you justify the retail space and the markup?

So far from being a scandal, I call this sensible business practice.

Re:Better customer service if you've played (3, Funny)

williamhb (758070) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529243)

Many years ago I worked at the Harvey Norman computer chain in Australia and the games guys often took games home at the weekend to check out. The reasoning was simple - if you've played a game and a customer wants advice on which game to buy you're in a position where you actually know what you're talking about rather than just staring at them blankly. This was before the days of the internet being widely available, but I think the policy still holds true. If you're buying a game at a marked up price from your local software mart then the staff there better know what they're selling - otherwise how can you justify the retail space and the markup? So far from being a scandal, I call this sensible business practice.

We do the same thing with Chup-A-Chup lollies. Give each flavour a bit of a lick, so the shop assistant can give knowledgeable advice about them, then wrap the lollies back up and sell them as new. After all, it'd be a waste of cash to actually set aside ones for the employees and not sell them. That'd just not be sensible business practice.

Well they always did say... (1)

cjfs (1253208) | more than 5 years ago | (#27528991)

... that pre-played was the way to go. Now there's no difference at all!

Next Job (0, Redundant)

dracocat (554744) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529085)

Makes me want to work there part time, not get all upset about it.

I believe the correct terminology is... (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529087)

"Like New" when something has been used like that. Am I correct?

Re:I believe the correct terminology is... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529175)

"Like"? Why, are some bits on the CD a wee bit worn out or what? Are some of the heros you could play a bit worn out and tired?

Digital media are either good or bad. There is no wear and tear to the data itself. Either it works or it does not.

I can see wear and tear at the medium level, where discs can get scratched, but the data itself is still in the same condition it was when the store person took it from the shelf and played it before you got it.

Re:I believe the correct terminology is... (1)

N1AK (864906) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529255)

Digital media are either good or bad.

And something is either new or it isn't. Selling used goods as new regardless of condition is dishonest. There is absolutely no difference between them doing this, and them buying games back from customers and re-selling them as new (both have been used after all).

What are you seriously suggesting, that Gamestop stop branding games as new or used, and instead analyse all disks for damage and all cases for wear and instead split there shop into "faultless" and "faulty"?

Expected lifetime of media (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529473)

Digital media are either good or bad. There is no wear and tear to the data itself. Either it works or it does not.

Watch your tense: works != will work. Imagine this situation: Disc A has no wear. Disc B has some wear, but not enough to affect readability after error correction. Disc B will probably become unreadable first.

Scratch cards and proper shrinkwrap (4, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529151)

Not saying I necessarily agree with the following suggestions but they seem like fairly clear ways for the games industry to fight back against Gamestop.
  • Shrinkwrap games and slap a holgraphic sticker on the wrap or on the case that must be broken. It would stop Gamestop or anybody else palming off a used game as new. Lots of games already have a holo sticker on the insert, so why not one on the whole box. Also insert a page in the manual telling owners to report stores if the seal was broken.
  • Send each store plenty of dummy case inserts for display to relieve stores of the bullshit excuse that the game was the "display model".
  • Use scratch cards. They work once and it's obvious if someone has already scratched the code off.
  • Use scratch cards even on multiplayer console games. The user can use it to unlock the base map pack or on first play. Employees can't borrow any game without using the code. Additionally Gamestop is screwed because second hand users don't get their map pack essentially crippling the game. GS would be forced to buy refresh codes, or the user would have to buy the pack online. Either way, the game company gets money from a second hand sale they wouldn't have otherwise.

Re:Scratch cards and proper shrinkwrap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27529941)

So you're an advocate of game owners being unable to ever sell the game they purchased. Splendid.

Re:Scratch cards and proper shrinkwrap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27530125)

Great ideas... Unless there is anybody else you forgot to piss off?

Why buy anything from Gamestop? (1)

sethmeisterg (603174) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529187)

They have a horrible return policy, combined with this, why would anyone buy stuff there (seriously)? Just get yourself an Amazon Prime membership and order stuff from Amazon!

Re:Why buy anything from Gamestop? (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529857)

Normally my approach, but sometimes you just can't wait for shipping. Last weekend, I found myself unexpectedly having a free sunday afternoon. Since one day isn't enough to even get through the tutorial/opening cutscenes of RPGs these days, I went looking for a nice brainless game to play (I found it too) for a few hours.

All the small game shops around here have gone out of business, so I ended up paying new price for an opened copy (sounds familiar...) of Onechanbara[0]. Bastards.

[0] Mock all you like. Bikini Girl + Swords + killing 600-1200 zombies per level + caffeine = Win

In the UK... (4, Informative)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529201)

In game they dont have any kind of check out procedure which I ever had the power to use - sometimes we got promo copies of games which would be handed out as prizes to staff and then the staff would share them, but they were mostly shit games and no one gave a crap (I got sega superstars tennis hahaha).

From my friends, gamestation (which game now owns) DOES allow employees to check out disks, paying for them if they break it etc. But now all GAME and gamestation stores have a disk cleaning machine which will remove like 75% of scratches leaving the disk looking "as new".

Both stores "gut" games and put real boxes onto the shop floor, along with inserts sent from H/O. Some inserts are crap/unreadable/wrong and so you sometimes need the real box for the customer to be able to see what they are really buying.

However, even if we didn't gut games, i'd still say that about 5% are scratched IN the box, due to them falling loose during shipping etc. Luckly we can just disk clean them for free in that case and the customer is happy 99% of the time. If they kick off we might swap the disk for them for a brand new copy, but note it and if they return that too then we will refuse to return it again generally - all this is at managers disgression.

I no longer work for game, but this is how it was up until about 2 months ago.

Happens all the time (5, Interesting)

UnrefinedLayman (185512) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529219)

The same thing happened to me when Assassin's Creed was released for 360. On release day I did not pre-order and called ahead to make sure they had copies in the store. They assured me they did.

When I got there and asked for it they said they didn't have it. I said I had just called and been told there were copies. The guy behind the counter turned to the guy next to him and said "Hey [co-worker], were you, uhhh..." and trailed off. He replied Lumberg-style with a "Yeeeahhhh, I was going to take it home... Naw, that's ok, sell it."

I was all like what the fuck man, and asked them if it was an open box copy that had been taken home by employees and played. He said yeah. I asked if I would be charged full price. The guy said of course and looked at me like he was the confused one. The three other employees nearby were similarly non-plussed. "If there's anything wrong with it you can return it." ...just like I can with a new copy?

I took the cash in my hand and put it away, said no thanks. There was another Gamestop on the way home that had it, nevermind the two Best Buys with obscene pallets of copies.

It was a braindead move on the employees' parts and I'd hate to think the manager would approve of that going down in front of a customer. But that's what happens when you have a bunch of kids running the front of house, unsupervised and with a shrink wrapper, and it's no surprise it's happening everywhere.

I treat the Gamestop sales counter like a casino chip-exchange. I watch every hand at every time, especially when they ask a co-worker to pull out a game. The kids back there do stupid, careless shit with your credit card/license/games/money, and they spend most of their free time dreaming up scams to get more money and more games. That's the business!

No offense to any upstanding Slashdotters working at Gamestop. I'm clearly talking about your slovenly coworkers.

Seal that breaks ... (3, Interesting)

gullevek (174152) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529239)

Every xbox 360 game I bought has a special sticker on top that is broken once it is opened. I doubt you could easily replace that. I have seen this on US versions, Asian (HK) Versions and Japanese Versions.

So how can you fake that?

Re:Seal that breaks ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27529783)

They dont fake it. They have gutted copies on the shelf, and say its security and they have no choice. However in the back or under the counter they have sealed copies.

Some people dont realize they get display copies, but they use them all near the front counter. These display copies never have backs, which is generally what the customer wants to see when they are browsing.

I have gotten screwed by this before, never buy the last copy of a game(well, unsealed really), because if the store does keep track of the fact that x game is rented out, it is always the last copy they keep on hand. shelling out 36$ for a "new" DS game to come home and find out it has someone's completed save file on it, is more then aggravating.

Never buy the game if its not sealed, I dont believe gamestops reseal games anymore.

Re:Seal that breaks ... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529861)

They don't even try. They just say "It's the display copy."

It's true, I've had personal experience with this (1)

RoCKeTKaT (1456287) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529335)

They lied to me and said it was new. Too bad they failed to remove a rather large piece of cheese from the disk. Yes, you heard right, cheese. There was cheese on the disk and they told me it was new ! I naturally replied "Fuck you !" and left, never to return.

It's ok, I did it myself (0)

qaguy08 (1526055) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529367)

Yeah this is way old news. Sometimes you could spot a bad re-shrink wrap job where the seem split apart. Also where I worked back then also had its own shrink wrap machine, and I would get games, install or copy the cd, then return the game for a refund or swap for another. I was like hey its unopened gimme a break. As long as the game worked, or a key was unused, etc, i didnt see a problem.

Fraud! (1, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529501)

I think any game store who pulls this crap is committing FRAUD.

For starters they are LYING.

Anyone who knowingly sells a game that has been played is complicit and should be jailed.

Sounds extreme? It is, and it should be. Trust is not something that should be taken lightly. It's a much smaller scale version of Enron. Dishonesty is so rampant everywhere, and when it rises to fraud, it must be punished.

Oh, that's right. What about OEM limited warranty on quality? By selling it new, aren't you holding the vendor accountable for damage that might have been done by a store employee? I'm sure everyone's noticed in the back about Limited Warranty. Who honors that? The vendor, not the store. If employees damage goods that are later sold as new, and returned as defective, and then returned to the vendor for a wholesale refund, then the store is defrauding the vendor by sticking it with a fraudulent return, fraudulent because the defect was caused by the store.

Also, there's another reason.

If employees are allowed to front-run like this, they are also not held accountable to the same standards that regular customers are. If an employee checks out a game, damages it, and returns it to the shrinkwrap machine, then the unlucky customer that gets stuck buying it is pretty much SOL because he can't prove it wasn't him that broke it, let alone that it was the employee.

I repeat, letting employees borrow new games, and then selling them as new, is fraud, with a capital F. It is fraud against the customer, and if the store returns defective products to the vendor, it is fraud against the vendor as well.

I'm not suprised. It is GameStop after all. (1)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529581)

I have been boycotting GameStop for years. Ever since they sold a copy of a game I pre-ordered. In light of these new revelations, maybe they didn't "sell" it.

It's not just game stores... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27529625)

Bookstores do it, too. At one independent bookstore that's long since gone out of business in Atlanta (Oxford Books), we were allowed to check out books, then put them back on the shelf to be sold as new. We were told not to read them in the bathtub, that kind of thing. Read a lot of books that way, actually.

This isn't news...been this way since before 1993 (1)

haplo21112 (184264) | more than 5 years ago | (#27529781)

I was a manager of several Babbage's stores way back in the distant past. Babbage's was the company (along with Software etc after a merger) that Gamestop came from. All the way back then we were allowed to "check out" software. The rule at least then was that you could only do so if the software didn't require registration or keys to use. So pretty much no Microsoft software, but most other software and video games of the time were fair game.

Is it April 1st again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27529957)

I really don't understand why this is such a big deal.

I work at a Gamestop now, and yes, we do check out new games periodically. Everyone in my store who does this takes great care in making sure the game remains pristine. No one uses any of the promo material (i.e. the map pack that came with Gears of War 2), and PC games with DRM are restricted from this practice entirely.

In addition to the games being in new condition, you can look at the disk you're buying before you buy it. If you're not happy, ask for a different one, even a sealed one if we have one. Most people have figured this out, why haven't any of you who are complaining?

Finally, our return policy is extremely lax. You have a problem with your game? Return it. I know I couldn't give a shit less whether it was actually defective or not, and neither could most of the employees I work with. We're caught in the middle of keeping corporate happy and keeping the spectrum of five year olds, functional adult gamers, parents, thieves, and those with a severe lack of hygiene happy. Its a difficult game to play sometimes, but we're usually willing to go out of our way to do it.

Calling this a "scandal" is blowing things way out of proportion. Don't buy games at gamestop if you don't like the policy. No one will care.

What does the law (or FTC guidelines) say? (1)

dschuetz (10924) | more than 5 years ago | (#27530331)

It's not like people didn't already know (or guess) this. But I am curious what laws or FTC rules might apply to this. I frequently see modest "open box" price reductions for electronic items like TVs and such, and honestly. I'm not sure it's unreasonable to expect the same of software that is no longer in original, manufacturer-sealed state.

God I wish Microage hadn't closed down... (1)

slackbheep (1420367) | more than 5 years ago | (#27530343)

I had to work through that "crappy teenager jobs" stage at McDonalds, Wal-Mart, and Westfair foods. It looked so promising at 12, when I noticed the till staff was using the work pc to play shadowrun on Genesis.

Eh, whatever. (1)

V50 (248015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27530381)

I wasn't aware of this, it's good info to know, but really no big deal. As long as the game is sold in a new condition, it's fine with me. Really, they have to do this so that employees can be knowledgeable on the products they sell.

Anyway, from my experience, I've bought many games from Gamestop, both new and used. They've all be in fine condition, with most of the used games indistinguishable from a new copy.

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