Bethesda Defends Legally Threatening Consumer Over Sealed, As-New Game Sales

The Evil Within 2
Bethesda has been catching some heat following a report that it threatened legal action against an individual who was attempting to sell a sealed copy of The Evil Within 2 on Amazon. In response to the backlash, Bethesda's senior vice president of marketing and communications, Peter Hines, offered up some clarification on the matter, including Bethesda's stance on used game sales.

Hines insists that Bethesda has no issue with individuals selling used games. What the publisher does take umbrage with, however, is when an individual buys a game from an authorized retailer and then turns around and sells it as new, even if the game is still sealed in its shrink wrap.

"You could have opened it up, played it for five hours, taken whatever inserts or stuff was in there, put it back in shrink wrap and said, 'Hey this is new.' It's not new—you owned it, you bought it, so just list it as a used title. That's it, that's the end of the argument," Hines told Eurogamer yesterday at QuakeCon 2018.

From Bethesda's vantage point, once a person buys a game, it becomes a used, secondhand product no matter what the circumstance. If that person then decides to sell the game, it should not be listed as new, even if it was never opened.

The Evil Within 2 Game Boxes

That is precisely the situation that led to the backlash and subsequent clarification by Hines. An Amazon seller named Ryan Hupp had purchased The Evil Within 2 for the PlayStation 4 in anticipation of buying the console. He later changed his mind and instead spent his money upgrading his gaming PC. Hupp then tried to sell the still-sealed game as "New," and that perturbed Bethesda.

Hines further explained that if there is something missing from a game listed as new, or if this is something wrong with the disc itself, the onus falls on Bethesda to make it right. Hence why the publisher only wants authorized sellers listing sealed games as being brand new.

"We're not trying to stop anybody from selling used games. People sell used games all the time—we understand that, we're not trying to stop that," Hines said.

"[Ryan Hupp] specifically, was trying to list [The Evil Within 2] as a new product as if he was GameStop or Best Buy... He's not a company, he's not a distributor... and we don't want our customers buying stuff from a vendor like Amazon where they think they're buying a new product and suddenly finding out they got a disc that's been played, somebody kicked across the floor and scratched and 'oh they took out the insert that had the special items I was supposed to get for buying this'," Hines explained.

What it all boils down to is that Bethesda has no way of verifying whether a sealed game owned by an individual is actually brand new with all original contents, therefore it feels those games need to be listed as 'used' or 'pre-owned'.

"You can't say that it's new because I have no way to verify that, and ultimately that person is our customer we have to deal with and if there's stuff missing or things that have happened we're the ones that are going to have to make it right," Hines added. "You want to sell it as new, go to your buddy and say, 'Hey I haven't opened this copy, it's new, give me $60 for it.' If he buys it from you, knock yourself out, but don't go on Amazon and represent yourself next to a retailer who we know we shipped sealed product to and they're going to sell you an actual new copy of the game."

It's not clear how diligent Bethesda is being about its policy on secondhand game sales. A quick peek at Amazon shows several copies of The Evil Within 2 that are listed as "New" by third-party sellers, on both the PS4 and Xbox One.

What is your feeling on Bethesda's explanation? Does the publisher have a point, or is it drawing a line where none should exist? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!