Why Bethesda’s Stance on the Sale of ‘New’ Games is Flawed

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By now, you’ve probably heard about Bethesda threatening to take legal action against someone trying to sell their unopened copy of The Evil Within 2 on the Amazon marketplace.

You can read the original article about the matter here, but the gist of it is, because the person listing the item wasn’t an authorised reseller who could offer a warranty, Bethesda considers listing the item as new as false advertising; “We can’t verify that the game hasn’t been opened and repackaged”, it told Polygon.

While I can understand Bethesda’s viewpoint to an extent, it seems like a heavy-handed way of dealing with an issue that it really didn’t need to address – if there had been any problems with the game, Amazon would have no doubt worked with the buyer to resolve the situation. But beyond that, Bethesda’s stance on ‘New’ game sales is simply flawed. Why? Because of gutting.

Many stores across the world, including heavy hitters such as Game and Gamestop, often employ a practice of removing the innards of brand new games so that they can put the cases on the shelf. They remove the factory seal, and place the disc and possibly any accompanying leaflets or manuals in storage, usually alphabetised. Speaking as a gamer, it honestly drives me mad; when I go to a shop to buy a new game, I expect it to be brand new and sealed. Instead, buying from the likes of Game usually results with me paying full price for a game that has fingerprints on the disc and marks on the manual and case.

Recently, when buying a new Xbox One X, Game went one step further into the depths of absurdity. Running a promotion with multiple Bethesda titles, I was supposed to get a new copy of Fallout 4 for free with my console purchase. The member of staff serving me moaned and groaned about how they haven’t got any though, “Head office haven’t sent them out,” he said. Asking how he should put it through the till, “Just give him a second-hand copy” the manager asserted. “You don’t mind, do you?”. To be honest, I didn’t, but then what choice did I really have? Besides, at this point, I already own multiple copies of the game.

Bethesda’s stance on new game sales is all well and good, but perhaps it should look at its authorised resellers and their business practices before bringing the hammer down on individuals. The practices that Game, Gamestop and other stores that gut their products employ conflict with Bethesda’s stance of what a new game is. Sure, they might come with warranties, but anyone buying them can’t be sure that they haven’t been opened. It’s like a roulette; sometimes they go away and bring you back a sealed one, other times they feel around in a drawer, put a disc in the box and then put a seal on it. You can’t be sure if all the pamphlets that might include download codes are in there. And you can’t be sure that the disc is going to be free of any marks or scratches.

So, Bethesda, I appreciate the games that you make, I really do, but on this one I think you’re out of order. An individual who has purchased a sealed game and then decides to sell it has more of a right to re-sell it as new than a store who guts games and then simply places a sticker on the box to seal it. When someone describes a game as brand new and sealed I know what I’m getting. When I walk into Game to buy a new game, it’s like I’m opening a loot box; sometimes I walk away happy, but most of the time I walk away wishing I’d bought from elsewhere.