The world’s largest video game retailer may be in some hot water as a result of some recent investigative reporting by Kotaku’s Brian Crecente and Michael McWhertor. After speaking to unnamed GameStop employees at locations around the U.S., the popular game blog has exposed GameStop’s practice of selling employee-played games as new copies.
GameStop allows its employees to check out store merchandise for up to four days of personal use. Whenever new games are received in the stores, GameStop puts the box on display and keeps the disc behind the counter for security purposes. These new, unused discs often get mixed up with the copies that employees are allowed to check out and take home. As a result, when a customer buys a new copy of the game and pays full price, they may not really be getting an unused copy after all. Since the new copies that have been gutted from the packages are often kept in the same spot as copies that employees can check out, even employees aren’t always able to distinguish which of these games have been played and which haven't. Should customers question why the game is not sealed, GameStop gets around the issue by stating it is a display copy and leaves out the fact that games could be used.
The practice appears to violate both federal and some state laws in regards to false/deceptive advertising. GameStop wouldn’t comment on the situation.
Some GameStop managers will offer “Shop Worn” discounts for games that have been gutted or checked out, but this is against company policy. In fact, GameStop’s official policy says exactly the opposite—that discounts shouldn’t apply to new, used, or checked out games. You can read GameStop’s official check-out policy in the full Kotaku article.
Assuming you get a good, working copy of the game, it may not be that big of a deal, but if the game comes with a card that contains redemption codes for additional features (Call of Duty 4 comes with redemption cards for additional map packs for instance), customers are at risk of receiving a copy with the redemption code missing or already used. The easy solution would be for GameStop to start selling any unsealed games as used. After all, customers aren’t allowed to return games as new if the plastic has been removed, even if the disc has never left the case.