California is simply a weird state. As you may have read and heard about that fact several times through our show and on The UpStream, the great state of California has always tried to do things just a little bit different than the rest of us. They've tried to ban violent video games, impose extra restrictions to any game that is not rated Early Childhood and are the reason that products anywhere else in the country say that the state of California recognizes that lead in products might be a bad thing. Combine the crazy state with a company like GameStop and you're bound to eventually get something interesting out of the pair.
That's exactly what happened this week. GameStop stores in California will now be required to post downloadable content (DLC) warnings on used games that make the free item or map pack void upon first use.
If you haven't been keeping up with the times, GameStop has been selling used games. To combat the potential loss in profit (and the potentially disastrous videogames that result because of it), developer studios have been including free DLC codes for items like weapon or item packs with new copies of the game. GameStop would then resell the used copy, sans free item, and would not tell customers that it was not included with the used copy. The customer would then go home, perhaps not realizing the free item is no longer valid (even if there was a code still in the game box), and would be unable to get access to the content unless they paid an extra $10 to $15 to purchase a new code for their use. GameStop would also sell the codes at the same price. So in the end, a new copy of the game that would cost $59.99 would be resold at $54.99 by GameStop and then you'd have to pay another $15 for a code, paying more for a used copy of the game than a new one.
GameStop's new requirement in CA comes after a class-action settlement from 2010 over sales of used games that said there was included free DLC on the box. Mind you, the box the game is sold in is exactly the same box that you'd get if you purchased a new game.
Law firm Baron and Budd's attorney Mark Pifko is happy about the decision.
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 paid by GameStop's conduct.
For the next two years, GameStop now has to put signs up in their used sections of their stores and online that state that customers may have to pay for additional content that was previously included in the used title. For the customers who have been "affected" by this, here are the terms of the settlement.
Consumers who purchased qualifying used games and who are enrolled in GameStop's "PowerUp Rewards" customer loyalty program can receive a $10 check and a $5 coupon. Consumers who purchased a qualifying game, but are not members of GameStop's loyalty program, can receive a $5 check and a $10 coupon.
While I am glad to see GameStop having to shell out a lot of money and lose a ton of revenue, I am not okay with the reasoning behind it. Warning: A take on the matter not related to the news shall follow. It goes right back to the era of entitlement that we currently are living in. The same person who didn't realize McDonald's coffee might be hot now purchased NHL 12 from GameStop, which on the box says that the code can only be used one time and comes free with a new copy, and is mad because they didn't take the time to read the text and understand that the $5 they saved buying a used copy may end up biting them in the rear at the end of the day. My question is do they really expect customers to now read the signs that state the same thing? Without getting too comfortable on my soapbox here, one could assume these people who got duped by GameStop are the same ones that think liquidation sales have great deals on the first day. Maybe GameStop should also hand out a mini-trophy to everyone who helped with the company's dividend payout that says "Thanks, you're a star!" Remember, in 20xx, everyone's a winner!
I want to know your thoughts on the matter. Tell us what you think in the comments below and be sure to follow the settlement on Facebook for more details.