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The Courts Games Your Rights Online

GameStop Sued Over Lack of DLC For Used Games 345

Posted by Soulskill
from the so-many-shoes-dropping dept.
Absolut187 writes "According to IGN, 'A lawsuit filed earlier this week against retailer GameStop says the company is "deceptively misleading" its customers into believing a used game purchased from the store comes with all packaged downloadable content advertised on the box. This content, however, is only made available for free to those who purchase the game new, as the code to access the content can be only used one time.' I personally don't have a problem with publishers charging for DLC. IMHO, you put in the effort to make it, you have the right to (try) to charge whatever you want. I have the right to take it or leave it if I don't find your price fair (same goes for the main game). But what about the used game market? Should publishers be allowed to destroy the used market for their games by including 'free' DLC with a one-time use code? Should the copyright doctrine of 'first-sale' have any effect here? Or is it up to the consumer (frequently children) to realize that the product will have a reduced resale value due to the one-time nature of the DLC code? Is this any different from the use of unique 'CD-Keys' that are required for online play (e.g. for Blizzard games since 1997 or earlier)?"
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GameStop Sued Over Lack of DLC For Used Games

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  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday March 26, 2010 @01:07PM (#31628634) Homepage Journal

    /me peers into his crystal ball....

    I see game publishers starting to make complete games included on disc as DLC then make the unlock code only valid for the original purchaser. That obliterates the resale market.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 26, 2010 @01:10PM (#31628682)

      Why look into your Crystal ball? Modern Warfare 2 has the same limitation. If I sell the disks, manual with the CD key the other person will be unable to install the game and link it in with Steam.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by berwiki (989827)
        you are talking about computer software.
        I think the parent was talking about consoles.

        Unfortunately, with the 'installable' nature of PC software, I do understand the difference, especially since you cannot play burned CDs in consoles.
    • by VernonNemitz (581327) on Friday March 26, 2010 @01:15PM (#31628768) Journal
      I think the obvious solution is for the game developer to allow online sale of new codes to unlock DLC (at a low price). Then they would be improving the value of the secondhand market, AND be able to get in on that action. Hey, they might even encourage users to sell their games! After all, if a game is bought second-hand several times, and each of those buyers also pays for the DLC (because they are not the original buyers), then in the long run the resales of the game might be worth more to the game maker than the original sale.
      • It's in the article (Score:5, Informative)

        by tepples (727027) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .selppet.> on Friday March 26, 2010 @01:18PM (#31628848) Homepage Journal

        I think the obvious solution is for the game developer to allow online sale of new codes to unlock DLC (at a low price).

        The article stated that such codes were available for sale, but the price was greater than the discount that GameStop offered for a used copy:

        Collins discovered weeks later, however, he would have to pay an additional $15 to access the downloadable content, ultimately paying $10 more than the cost of a brand new copy with the same content.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Friday March 26, 2010 @01:59PM (#31629594) Homepage Journal

        I think the obvious solution is for the game developer to allow online sale of new codes to unlock DLC (at a low price).

        You are assuming that the entire purpose of DLC is not to obliterate the secondary market for games. There's no reason to release DLC except to ruin the used game market. We now have the DLC already finished when the game is released and even included on the disk with the original game. How much more obvious can it be?

        The real lawsuit should be by Gamestop against the game publishers. The people who now keep companies like Gamestop in business will just start getting their games from scene releases and keep the money in their pockets. I'm not saying this is right, but we've seen it happen time and time again. I'm continually shocked at how there are scene cracks of games and DLC within a day of the release date. Of course, I wouldn't download cracked games via bittorrent because that would be wrong, but I have no doubt that every time the game industry comes out with one of these brilliant schemes to squeeze an extra few dollars out of consumers it really just serves to create more people who are willing to violate the law.

        "DLC" is just a gimmick, and something of an insulting one at that.

        • by NotBornYesterday (1093817) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:50PM (#31630450) Journal

          You are assuming that the entire purpose of DLC is not to obliterate the secondary market for games

          That's what kills me. You would think that the game companies would want a robust secondary market.

          (Sorry in advance) A quick car analogy - High expected resale value on a car makes a high initial purchase price more justifiable. It also makes the consumer more likely to buy another new car sooner, rather than wait until he/she can afford another steep investment with no resale value. Buyers in the secondary market are often buyers that would not or cannot participate in the primary market. A good used car is a good way to get someone to try your product who otherwise would never would have been exposed to it, and may get them to buy a new one next.

          Here's a perfect real-life example. My teenage son borrowed Mass Effect from a friend and liked it. Eventually he bought a used copy of it. When Mass Effect 2 came out, he was already in line for a new copy. That new sale would likely never have happened if he hadn't experienced the first game free, then cheap. If he can't sell one game to make cash for the next one, he will buy fewer games, and do so less often. Game designers are shooting themselves in the foot by reducing the value of their games on the secondary market. In the long run it will hurt them and the overall industry. Of course, they won't see it that way. If their sales drop because fewer people will pony up $60 - $80 for a game that is worth $0 in resale, they will find some way to blame it on someone or something else ... downloaders ... used games ... anyone but themselves and their policies.

          • by dgatwood (11270) on Friday March 26, 2010 @03:17PM (#31630838) Journal

            The problem is that content creators think that their works are somehow "special" and unlike physical objects. As long as we as a society continue to play into that delusion, they will continue to believe this, will continue to believe that their efforts to undermine the resale market are productive, and will continue to believe that any loss in sales due to those efforts are caused by piracy. Until they hit rock bottom, they will have no reason to question their delusion.

            When you deal with delusional people, there is no reasoning with them; they are well beyond that point. All you can really do is isolate them where they can do no harm. Stop buying products that try to restrict resale, then write them a letter to tell them why you decided not to buy their products. Then wait for those companies to die off and for new companies run by saner people to emerge from the ashes. Buy their products instead.

            Now you might be asking yourself why you wrote the letter if the companies won't change. Well, a few of them might, but that's not the reason for the letter; the people reading your letters likely have no say in the matter, or else the policies would change. The reason for the letter is that the people who read your letter are the ones who are still going to be out there on the ground and in the trenches starting up the new companies that replace these companies, giving advice about what works and what doesn't, being the voices of reason. So at least in the long term, the letters help, albeit not with the products and companies currently out there.

            It may be a long painful journey, but the only way to fix most companies is to run them out of business and start over. Just say no to single-use downloadable content.

        • by metamatic (202216) on Friday March 26, 2010 @03:58PM (#31631442) Homepage Journal

          You are assuming that the entire purpose of DLC is not to obliterate the secondary market for games. There's no reason to release DLC except to ruin the used game market.

          Not really true. It's also a great way to jack up the price of games without it being obvious on the sticker.

          For example, you buy the latest online FPS, and find that there's a map pack ($15) and a weapons pack ($15) available as DLC. You have to buy them, or you can't find anyone else to play multiplayer with. Hey presto, the $60 sticker price is actually $90.

          Then after a few months when you've moved on to the next game, you go to sell your game used. Except the Game Of The Year edition is now out, with the DLC included, for $30. Which means your used copy without any DLC is worth practically nothing, rather than $25.

          I noticed this trend a while back. Ultimately, I think the game publishers are playing a very dangerous game [ath0.com] jacking up prices this way, because there are people like me who would have paid $50-60 for a new game, but will instead wait and buy the cheap copy a year later rather than be doubly screwed over by DLC.

          It's possible that the extra money they make from suckers who still buy games brand new will more than offset what they lose from people like me no longer buying anything at first release, but I'm doubtful.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Then they would be improving the value of the secondhand market

        As things stand they want the second hand market to go away, and I doubt they're smart enough to follow your suggestion.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by The MAZZTer (911996)
      My crystal ball says people will buy games online [steampowered.com] which can't be resold. Oh wait, that was my crystal ball OF THE PAST. My bad.
    • Look on the left. [imgur.com]

      It clearly says that the DLC is for retail purchases only.
      • I got news for you.

        Any sale is a retail sale unless you have a reseller license.

        Check your local state laws on sales tax - it explicitly defines a retail sale.

    • by jitterman (987991)
      I see legions, using P2P and usenet to bypass any codes whatsoever... Fortunately, that hasn't entirely obliterated the original sale market yet (despite what publishers would tell you).
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      /me peers into his crystal ball....

      Balls of crystal? I'd have gotten a less fragile implant.

  • ...I understand that publishers don't make any money off used games sales...I get that. What I don't get is why game makers still insist on doing their hardest to prevent the used game market from existing.

    We can easily buy used cars, we can easily buy used computers, hell we can even easily buy used movies. Why are publishers being such dicks about used games? /rhetorical question

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      ...I understand that publishers don't make any money off used games sales...I get that. What I don't get is why game makers still insist on doing their hardest to prevent the used game market from existing.

      Because they can. They already tried this with books, sheet music, and phonorecordings. Then we got First Sale law, which says that you can resell anything you get in your hands regardless of what it says on it, which is why used CD stores can sell you CDs released "not for resale - for promotional use only" etc.

    • Re:You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ircmaxell (1117387) on Friday March 26, 2010 @01:34PM (#31629166) Homepage

      I understand that publishers don't make any money off used games sales

      Sure they do. The ability for someone to sell a game will cause some people to buy more games new. Say they buy a $60 game. Then, in a month when they are tired of it, if they can sell it for $45, the next new game will only cost them $15. The publisher got $120 in sales, but the buyer only paid $75 (well, neglecting the time-cost of money). I'd bet this is the way a lot of younger people buy brand new games. They sell one or more slightly older games to pay for the newest one... Sure, there are some like me that don't sell games unless they really suck, but then again I have the money to be able to do that. If I was pushing a strict budget, you can bet I would sell the older games to finance the newer ones (and when you're talking a 5 or 10% difference between new and used, why not go new and have a better chance of resale later)...

      Why are publishers being such dicks about used games?

      Because they can, and because we still buy their games. It's as simple as that. If we as a unit boycotted games that have these kind of stupid restrictions, I'd bet they will change their policies. But the fact of the matter is that most people don't care enough to make a boycott effective (and hence it won't work)... Does it suck? Absolutely...

      • but then again I have the money to be able to do that.

        There's just too many people like you, who are want to pay to play, and have that option.

      • Of course they (the publishers) see that as someone else choosing to spend $45 on a used game instead of buying a new game from them.

        The re-seller in your example may purchase more new games with the extra money from his old games, but that doesn't equal the "lost sale" that the publishers perceive. And it's slight worse than that - most newly released games are already available second hand within a few days of release - and at only a very slight discount. In exchange for a paltry discount on a breaking

    • by steveo777 (183629)

      They aren't doing anything to prevent used sales. They're encouraging new sales with free stuff that makes the game a bit more fun or interesting. The DLC that this kid didn't get is completely unessential. There is no prevention. Prevention would be requiring downloading DLC that makes the game playable or completable. Even if they did make you do that, we have no right to be outraged unless the publishers don't tell us about this.

      Bioware knows that people would catch on pretty fast if they had to dow

      • The DLC that this kid didn't get is completely unessential.

        Until it is. And in fact, it pretty much IS.

        You can argue that certain parts of the game are not essential, but that wouldn't make any sense. Terms like essential simply do not fit with video games. Nothing is essential in video games. You could make the color red a DLC item and still not call it essential. The terminology just doesn't work when applied to video games.

        Right now I have a copy of ME2 that has features built into it which I cannot

    • by Talennor (612270)

      ...I understand that publishers don't make any money off used games sales...I get that.

      Actually, you're wrong. Publishers do make money off used game sales. Not directly, but easy to see if you analyze the system.

      Person A buys a game new (ex. $50), plays it, sells it to a used game broker (ex. $20).
      Person B buys the used game from the broker (ex. $40), part of this purchase goes to the broker for facilitating the transaction, part goes to subsidize the original purchase price (the $20 Person A received when selling the game comes from this purchase).

      So Person A effectively purchased the gam

  • Why not both? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by halcyon1234 (834388)

    Honestly, I don't see why they can't get money from both the new and used market.

    Keep the "one time use" DLC code in the box. Anyone who buys it new now has a "value add" (though, they are paying a premium for the new game)

    If anyone buys that same copy used, instead of "hell no", they should get a screen that says "This code has already been claimed. But for just $2.99, you too can have this exclusive content"

    I'm sure someone can find the right price for that-- and it'd effectively be pure profit. (No, you

    • Ideally, the system should also have a "relinquish" command. If I buy a game, get the DLC, then decide to sell the game, I should be able to "deactivate" that code (assuming it's tied to my gamer id or something? Who knows.) Then the next person can download the dlc for free. GameStop might even require people to log in and deactivate their codes before trading in a game, so as not to screw over the next user.

      The entire reason the DLC system is being used is so that the content does NOT travel with the game, reducing the resale value.

    • by tepples (727027) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .selppet.> on Friday March 26, 2010 @01:20PM (#31628916) Homepage Journal

      If anyone buys that same copy used, instead of "hell no", they should get a screen that says "This code has already been claimed. But for just $2.99, you too can have this exclusive content"

      If by $2.99 you meant $14.99, you have the situation described in the article.

      • by gauauu (649169)

        I play Smash Bros. but want to switch to PC gaming. What platform fighting game should I try? (SFIV != platform.)

        Super Mario War [72dpiarmy.com]
        Liero [http]

        Of course, your question is a lot like asking:
        "I play Starcraft, but want to switch to console gaming. What RTS should I try?"...sure, there are some mediocre answers and pathetic attempts, but trying to find an alternative to one of the best games of a genre on a platform that generally doesn't cater to that genre means you will be disappointed.

        • by tepples (727027)
          Thanks for your suggestions.

          Of course, your question is a lot like asking:
          "I play Starcraft, but want to switch to console gaming. What RTS should I try?"

          How about "I play Smash Bros. and Mario Kart, but I like mods, and I don't like having to devote one machine (a PC) to indie games and a separate machine (a console) to major-label games. Can you recommend games for me?"

    • by canajin56 (660655)
      That's what they do. That's why they're being sued. GameStop is selling a box that says the game has multiplayer. It does not, you have to buy it if the game isn't new.
    • Re:Why not both? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by The Moof (859402) on Friday March 26, 2010 @01:26PM (#31629008)

      If anyone buys that same copy used, instead of "hell no", they should get a screen that says "This code has already been claimed. But for just $2.99, you too can have this exclusive content"

      That is what happens already (EA even has a gimmicky name for it: "Project Ten Dollar"). And the basis for this lawsuit.

      The lawsuit revolves around the box art advertising something like "2 Free Exclusive Maps for Download" and don't mention anything about it only working for the first buyer. So your used game advertises 2 free maps (due to the publisher's box art), but when you go to redeem, they demand payment. Cut and dry false advertising. I can't tell you 'buy this and you get this free!' but demand cash for the free part after you purchase the original item.

      The misguided part of all this is going after Gamestop. The fault lies with the publisher advertising free dlc and requiring payment. Gamestop is just a store who sold you the used game.

      • by copponex (13876)

        The misguided part of all this is going after Gamestop. The fault lies with the publisher advertising free dlc and requiring payment. Gamestop is just a store who sold you the used game.

        Why? The publisher does offer the content for free. It's GameStop who should be putting stickers on the pack saying, "You will be required to purchase the DLC for $x.xx".

        • Re:Why not both? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by SydShamino (547793) on Friday March 26, 2010 @01:46PM (#31629370)

          Indeed. This is no different than buying a used box of LEGO bricks that claims "over 543 pieces!". If you buy the box used, and find just 300 parts inside, it is not The Lego Group's fault for false advertising. It's at most misrepresentation on the part of the reseller.

          And even misrepresentation can usually be solved by a disclaimer posted at the point of sale stating that used products are sold "As Is". Missing the downloadable content advertised on the box is little different than missing the free stickers and included manual advertised on the box.

          • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

            it is not The Lego Group's fault for false advertising.

            It would be if the Lego Group were the ones to remove the missing 243 pieces, and then demanded extra money to get them back.

            That's -exactly- what has happened, the box says nothing about it being one-time-use content, just that it comes free. When a person sells it, especially given its digital nature, you expect that free content to come with it. By all rights it should, the original purchaser has no right to the content once they've sold the disk.

            However EA is charging $15 for it when the box says it i

          • by AusIV (950840)

            But if I'm buying a box of LEGO bricks that is advertised to be used, I'm going to be skeptical of anything advertised on the box that describes the new product. Marking something as used implies that it's not quite the same as it was when it was new, even if it comes with original packaging.

          • by Kjella (173770)

            That highly depends on how you look at it, the game as such is complete exactly as purchased including said code so all the 543 pieces are there. It's the publisher that isn't honoring it, and it doesn't say anywhere clearly say "good for one time only". What if the person who originally bought it tries installing it later on a completely different machine, will he get the same message? I would think so. In short, Gamespot shouldn't be held responsible for the publisher's misleading advertising. The closest

        • by The Moof (859402)

          The publisher does offer the content for free.

          But they aren't. They're demanding (FTFA) $15 for the 'free' add-on. It's not Gamestop's responsibility to look over every game's box art to ensure its advertising is legit. The publisher should've put the "Free Content" advertising on as a sticker that Gamestop removes before selling the game used.

          I'm not a fan of Gamestop, and there's plenty of suspect practices they encourage, but this isn't one of them.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by copponex (13876)

            It's not Gamestop's responsibility to look over every game's box art to ensure its advertising is legit.

            It is if they are selling it.

            • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

              Bingo.

              This is basically a case of EA screwing GameStop by screwing GameStop's customers. I imagine if they lose GameStop will be going after EA to get their money back.

      • The misguided part of all this is going after Gamestop. The fault lies with the publisher advertising free dlc and requiring payment. Gamestop is just a store who sold you the used game.

        And if Gamestop altered the box to match reality, they could be sued by the publishers for messing with their trademarks or somesuch. i.e. Some people legally bought Barbie(tm) dolls, modded and sold them. Mattel(tm) sued because they didn't want BDSM Barbie.

        • by nedlohs (1335013)

          Yeah sure.

          And they got sued for putting price stickers on them too!

        • by nedlohs (1335013)

          Oh and do you have a citation for that?

          I see some similar lawsuits all of which Mattel lost. The publishers can already sue Gamespot for numerous reasons that they won't win (that their games aren't close enough to the front, that the lights are the wrong color, etc, etc) adding another is irrelevant.

      • by nedlohs (1335013)

        So if I sell you a used car and you then find out that I had ripped out the stock stereo system and replaced it with a cardboard cutout, you are saying that Honda is responsible?

        Gamestop sold a used game that did not contain all the material the new game contained. They need to state that upfront, not the publisher. It's possible a used game could still have the working codes, if the original owner didn't bother using them after all.

        This is *exactly* the same as selling a used game without the manual - it's

        • by The Moof (859402)

          So if I sell you a used car and you then find out that I had ripped out the stock stereo system and replaced it with a cardboard cutout, you are saying that Honda is responsible?

          No, but if Honda issues a warranty with the car, the warranty moves with the car regardless of how many times it's sold. They don't make you pay for a new warranty for every owner.

    • by steveo777 (183629)

      It's not like they're charging money for the game to be playable or completable. I think this is a brilliant way to keep people buying new content. Bioware knows that they're losing a used sale so they make up for it by offering some trivial (I have played Mass Effect 2, and it IS trival) DLC that you may or may not want. They also know that there would be massive upheaval if they forced you to pay $5 to complete the game if you buy it used.

      Also, I think that the case is valid against Gamestop, and that it

    • I would say it was a problem if game makers were deliberately leaving out important parts of the game as DLC to try and force new sales. I'm sure that'll happen at some point, but not so far. The two games I've seen it with are Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age. In both cases, the DLC you got with buying new truly was an addon. The game was a complete game, worth $50, without the DLC. There wasn't some massive hole that you said "Man there really should be something to do here," or a very shortened game or anyth

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday March 26, 2010 @01:17PM (#31628812) Journal

    If there's some kind of bold feature list that says "free downloadable content" on the game's cover, then GameSpot and other sellers need to take a marker or sticker and block it out, because otherwise it's false advertising.

    It's just like when I bought a Used Xbox 360. The description said "turn on the wireless controller and start playing immediately" but when I receive the X360 no controller was included. I contacted the seller and he tried to deny responsibility because "that was just a generic description from Microsoft and only applies to new consoles not used." However when I complained to Paypal they sided with me and gave me a $20 refund (which I then used to buy the missing controller).

    Used or new, sellers are responsible for what they advertise. If it's on the cover's description it either must be included, or if excluded, blacked-out of the cover.

    • by spottedkangaroo (451692) * on Friday March 26, 2010 @01:25PM (#31628996) Homepage
      paypal sided with you? then you're certainly correct. QED.
    • by s73v3r (963317)
      When you bought the system, did the seller say he was including a controller with it?
    • "If there's some kind of bold feature list that says "free downloadable content" on the game's cover, then GameSpot and other sellers need to take a marker or sticker and block it out, because otherwise it's false advertising."

      But Gamestop isn't making the claim - the game company is.

      Better yet would be that since games are able to be sold and re-sold, any claim that appears on the cover regarding free add-ons, should apply to the first purchaser or the hundredth. If a game company wants to charge for add-o

      • But Gamestop isn't making the claim - the game company is.

        And in the new product, the DLC code is there and usable, with the tear-off cover still in place. But Gamestop is selling an altered version of the product without the publisher's involvement or endorsement. Just like removing the manual or even the disc. If anything, this might even be a violation of trademark ("you're devaluing our product's reputation by selling an inferior version in our trademarked original packaging!"... not that I want to give them ideas)

    • I completely agree, but I think there is a due diligence issue here too. If I purchase the game new then I would assume that the person I resell it too will have access to the DLC that I received with it. By that not being clearly explained to the purchaser that it will only work once then it is obviously not tied freely to the product itself but is instead another product completely. If I could prove that a majority of people have this expectation of togetherness. Which the blacking out expectation would d
  • A meritless Lawsuit (Score:3, Informative)

    by CorporateSuit (1319461) on Friday March 26, 2010 @01:18PM (#31628860)
    It's not going to work. Gamestop is rich enough to have lawyers that will squash this little unification of idiots. I have no love for Gamestop, but I downright hate litigous morons. This "I'll sue everyone because I'm almost too stupid to breathe!" attitude SHOULD be stomped on, even if it is stomped on by an "Evil Inc."
    • The packaging said something. The buyer had no reason not to think that the packaging was accurate. The packaging was not accurate.

      How does this make him a litigious moron too stupid to breathe?

  • Publishers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by magisterx (865326) <TimothyAWiseman@NoSPAM.gmail.com> on Friday March 26, 2010 @01:20PM (#31628902)
    I agree with ggeezz. I hate the "one time use codes". If it is part of the core game, then it should be on the disc with no need for codes. If it is an add on, then sell it to everyone as a separate add on. Even when I do buy it new, the need to input that code is an annoying detraction and slowdown from what is supposed to be a pleasant experience in my very limited leisure time. I love Dragon Age Origins, best game since Planescape Torment in my opinion, but putting in the codes for shale and the armor were a royal pain on a PS3. I do not think any party has done anything ethically wrong really, but I think the publishers, not Gamestop, is taking a consumer-unfriendly and inconvient stance on this. Also, this may not apply to eveyone, but when I buy a console game new, I do so factoring in the fact I can resell it as part of the price. If I loose the ability to do that, then either a game will have to be cheaper or it will have to be so good I am convinced it is really worth the full $60. Dragon Age Origins would pass that test, but most of the other games I have purchased recently would not...
  • CD-Key (Score:5, Informative)

    by rockNme2349 (1414329) on Friday March 26, 2010 @01:22PM (#31628938)

    Is this any different from the use of unique 'CD-Keys' that are required for online play (e.g. for Blizzard games since 1997 or earlier)?

    Yes, the CD Keys for Blizzard Games travel with the game. Only one can be active online at any time, but you are perfectly able to uninstall the game and sell it to someone else. DLC is locked in.

    • but you are perfectly able to uninstall the game and sell it to someone else.

      You're also perfectly able to keep the game installed and sell it to someone else.
      You can continue running the game (using a spare Broodwar disc or an ISO).
      Then you have two people trying to use the same CD key.

      • Scenario 1)
        I play starcraft for a year, I am done playing, so I sell to my friend directly. I give him my CD-KEY and ownership is transferred. Since as you mentioned I could keep it installed, this requires trust.

        Scenario 2)
        I play game X for Xbox 360 for a year, I am done playing, so I sell to my friend directly. I give him the codes but he CANNOT use the DLC that came with the original purchase. The content of the game is tied to the first purchase.

        Even if two people installed with the same

        • Correct.

          So if you buy Starcraft used at Gamestop, you have no way of knowing how many people are out there with the CD key you just purchased. Could be zero. Could be published on a website somewhere (in which case Blizzard has probably banned it by now).

          So its a similar issue to the one-time use codes.

          • Re:CD-Key (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Chris Mattern (191822) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:21PM (#31629998)

            No, it's not the same at all. The StarCraft second-hand purchaser is only denied his online play if the seller commits fraud. The XBox 360 second-hand purchaser cannot, under any circumstances, get online play without paying the game publisher a second time for the same thing. Those are two completely different situations.

    • by WaXHeLL (452463)

      WoW CD Keys don't travel with the game...

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Friday March 26, 2010 @01:23PM (#31628974) Homepage

    Yes, game companies should be allowed to do one-time-use codes in their games. Yes, this is going to mean the games aren't particularly attractive in the used-game market. The problem is stores like GameStop that don't clearly mark their used games clearly as to what's advertised on the packaging that isn't actually going to be available because somebody else has already used it up. And I think that should be the responsibility of the used-game sellers, not the publisher. They're the ones who know that copy's used, after all.

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Friday March 26, 2010 @01:31PM (#31629112)

    The buyers should be demanding a lower initial purchase price due to the lower resale value.

    And if the box says there's included stuff that isn't included in the resale version the seller needs to state that. Just like that have to state that the manual is missing, etc.

    • I agree. The reason such a thing doesn't really matter so much yet is (at least in my experience) the in-box DLC is just shiny extras, like in Forza 3, where I got a couple tracks and some cars, none of which are used in career mode. It makes buying an original copy a little nicer, like the physical trinkets in old computer games, but it doesn't change the game.

      Now if we were talking entire expansion packs, like if the Fallout 3 GOTY edition came with DLC cards instead of an extra disc... then we'd be
  • Good for Consumers. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pwileyii (106242) on Friday March 26, 2010 @01:36PM (#31629184)

    I've got two game that use this types of system, Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2. I honestly think this system is good for consumers in the end because it should decrease the cost of used games. We all know the Gamestop, as well as the other used game sellers, make a killing on buying and selling used games and this may get them thinking about reduced the price on these titles. I find buying a used copy for $5 less then the new copy and bit ridiculous in the first place and I'm hoping this will have the effect of reducing costs. As for the DLC itself, it is never a fundamental part of the game, it is simply a bonus you are getting for supporting the game developer. It is like getting something free for buying new and I like free stuff.

  • that such offers apply to the new product, not the used product. It's a bunch of people whining about nothing and I hope the case gets tossed out of court.
  • I'm surprised that game companies haven't started doing this whole one-time console locking code business for the whole game. It would completely destroy the used games market for that game, forcing people to buy it new if they wanted to play the game at all.

    • They have. It's called Steam.
      http://www.digitalruin.net/node/55 [digitalruin.net]

      • by TheSpoom (715771)

        I am aware of Steam; what I was saying is that now they can use this locking DRM on consoles, preventing even the resale of console games.

        PC games have been toying with DRM and hardware locking for a while; I see this one-time DLC as the beginnings of an attempt to kill resale entirely on consoles.

    • by WaXHeLL (452463)

      Because instead of a single person suing gamestop, you might have gamestop suing the video game publisher... which i'm sure is a legal fight they don't want to take on...

    • I've often wondered if those one-use codes for DLC are even really legal (in the U.S.), because of the First Sale doctrine [wikipedia.org]. Of course, until someone with money to spend on a lawsuit to settle the question, does, then we'll likely never know the answer.

      Perhaps GameStop could sue one of the publishers on behalf of their customers, and make the case that the First Sale doctrine should prevent developers from locking DLC to a particular user.

      Or, maybe some lawyer that specializes in class-actions could get a c

  • Not everyone is familiar with online games and whatever DLC means. After some trial-and-error, I'm thinking it means downloadable content. But sheesh, define terms if it's not common.
  • Gamestop offers a 7 day return window - during which the purchaser can determine if the content is available or not; but the purchaser apparently didn't bother to try. The cover art states that the DLC is available only to full retail purchasers; which was not the case here. I fail to see how Gamestop, or even the publisher, did anything wrong. I don't like the DLC model; but that's solved by not buying the product.
  • First Digital Sale (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:30PM (#31630130)

    These restrictions, gimmicks, and weird clauses tied to the purchase of a game are probably legal. However, they are clearly an attempt to damage a product's resale value, and they are in spirit a violation of the first sale doctrine.

    We need strong laws to protect the right to resell digital content, just as the first sale doctrine protects our rights to resell our physical property as we choose. Such a law would clearly be fair and in the best interest of the consumer.

  • The used game market is the reason prices for games never drop much at retail. Publishers know no matter how low they drop their prices they will be undercut by Gamestop. That's why on a platform like Steam you see massive discounts and "clearance sale" prices, because publishers don't have to worry about losing money to resellers who simply skim the tail end of a game's sales tail off its profit curve.
  • The principle of first sale exists for a very specific reason, and it is exactly the case here. First sale exists precisely so that the buyer can have a standard, simple understanding of what "buy" means. Muddling the notion of "buy" makes the free market more complicated, inhibiting the ideal of perfect information.

    Of course, in this country we regularly seek not the free market. This is particularly true of late with copyrighted works. Given the DoJ has been populated with former RIAA lawyers, you can gue

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      If we're going to go with this crap about "intellectual property" the consumers better get the benefits as well as the disadvantages.

  • by bugnuts (94678) on Friday March 26, 2010 @03:36PM (#31631100) Journal

    Although blizzard is not known for being particularly open with their tech by going after private servers and such, they will recognize first sale by making any world of Warcraft game playable if bought used. Cd keys can't be reused and it's against the Eula to give your account to the new purchaser, but that person can send in the physical cd key and will be sent a new one to make a new account.

    I would love to see dlc hacks get tested in court and win a precedent. There are so many analogies which show how messed up this is ... Like having options on your car only valid for the original purchaser, like having your AC disabled when you buy used.

  • Resale Market (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wisnoskij (1206448) on Friday March 26, 2010 @04:56PM (#31632320) Homepage

    To developers the resale market is akin to the piracy market, the people stealing money from them.
    Of course they will try to destroy it.

    They even have more reasons to hate the resale market since not only does it remove game sales, people are making money off it their loss in sales.

/earth: file system full.

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