The story starts with a gamer who had a passion for action and role playing games. So he went down to his local GameStop and found himself choosing whether to pay $60 for a new copy, or $55 dollars for a used copy. Well he knew $5 can go a long way in the long run and purchased a used copy of the popular game: Dragon Age: Origins.
The box it came in had amazing features which revealed more about what this purchase came with, advertising about an additional character and quest content that could be downloaded for free upon purchase. This is the main reason why the gamer purchased the game. The game was loaded into the console, ready to begin the fun when all of the sudden, something was not right.
When the game was played, the gamer was excited to use the content, only available when downloaded free online. The gamer’s name was James Collins. When Collins attempted to download the content, he found himself unable to do so because in order to get the content, you either need an activation code, or give up $10, which is the price of purchasing another activation code.
Activation codes are required in order to get additional features on selected EA Games, including Dragon Age: Origins. Collins knew the box said it was free and GameStop never warned him about the additional fee for purchasing activation codes. Collins knew this was wrong and went back to GameStop except this time, he brought his game with him. He attempted to get a refund for the misleading information written on the box. GameStop refused to give him his refund, because it exceeded its 1 week refund date.
Collins notified his lawyer and successfully sued GameStop with the following written on the suit:
GameStop, who makes more than 20% of its revenue and nearly $2 billion from the sale of used video games, is aware of this issue, and continues to fail to alert customers that this content is not available on used games, [...] As a result, GameStop tricks consumers into paying more for a used game than they would if they purchased the same game and content new.
Of course, this is only part of the story. According to IGN.com, after Collins sued GameStop, more action was required to be taken by GameStop:
Mark Pifko, Baron and Budd attorney and counsel in the lawsuit said, “We are pleased that as a result of this lawsuit, we were able to obtain complete restitution for consumers, with actual money paid out to people who were harmed by GameStop’s conduct.”
He added, “The in-store and online warnings are an important benefit under the settlement as well, because if GameStop discloses the truth to consumers, it is unlikely that they will be able to continue selling used copies of certain games for only $5 less than the price of a new copy. In fact, we already know that not long after the lawsuit was filed, GameStop lowered prices for used copies of many of the game titles identified in the lawsuit.”
Today, the settlement has been reached and puts restrictions on GameStop locations in California, where Collins purchased his game. For the next 2 years, gamers will start to see warning signs, informing them that certain games come with an activation code only when purchased new.
I have worked with GameStop before and never once was I told to inform customers of anything to do with activation codes. This is mostly because it is usually written in small print on the back of the box, unnoticeable unless you have the intention of looking for it. Often times, I would read the back of the box or hopefully spot it out in plain site before selling these games to customers. This was a common problem when I was selling Need for Speed: Most Wanted to customers. Luckily, I was aware of this at the time I was selling the game since I was often updating ThatsItGuys with EA Games’ related articles about their money making techniques.
I often see these warnings in advanced during my game testing experience as well while working for EA and often would inform them about the severity this could cause among loyal gamers. I am certain this is not the end with EA’s new activation codes and gamers creating lawsuits against game selling franchises.
The Actual Lawsuit: