Game Stop has always been an interesting force in the world of video game retailers. They are fabulous in the sense that they are major players in the used game market, really refining a trade-in infrastructure that allows people to get their hands on new games cheaper.
On the flip side of that coin is the seedy fact that they pay dirt cheap prices for games (I once got a quarter for a three year old Madden title!) and mark them up significantly. It is hard to truly be angry about this though, as they follow a pretty strait forward supply and demand model in their pricing.
Of course as Game Stop grew, so did the concept and popularity of used sales. Used sales is great for the gamer, but horrible for the game developers, as they don’t see a dime off of the used sale. In an effort to mitigate these losses, developers and publishers have begun supplying online pass codes into new games, effectively forcing those who buy used copies to shell out $15 bucks for the same content that would be free if purchased new.
Somewhat surprisingly it wasn’t the publishers and developers who pushed a class action suit against Game Stop for their used sales practices, instead it was the shoppers themselves. BusinessWire is reporting that the California courts have issed a ruling on a class action lawsuit filed against Game Stop:
Under the settlement, GameStop must, for the next two years, post signs on the shelves where used games are sold in California stores, and online, warning consumers that certain downloadable content may require an additional purchase.
Additionally, as part of the settlement, consumers will have the opportunity to recover the additional $15 they would have been required to pay to access the downloadable content. 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.
This ruling also might have a profound impact on the traditional five dollar cheaper used sales for new and popular titles. Game Stop might be forced to keep the price of used games well behind that $15 dollar extra charge, otherwise there stops being a true advantage to purchasing used games.
Now for gamers it might be awesome to see Modern Warfare 3 sold for $39.99 shortly after release, but people need to understand and keep perspective. All this will do is effectively hurt the last major gaming retailer, you the gamer will still have to shell out that extra $15 bucks making your prices essentially the same, and when it comes to older titles you will end up paying more.
This is a potentially dangerous precedent levied by this court ruling. The true problem with used sales it making sure the people responsible for the game see their fair share, but with the customers incorrectly targeting Game Stop, and winning, the solution to the true problem is only getting farther away.