Add this one to the list of news items that are incredibly disappointing but nowhere near surprising. Apparently, games retailer GameStop has decided that there is still a chance to sell even more used copies than they are currently moving, provided that they remove the ways that customers can distinguish old from new. In a reportedly leaked directive from EB Games, GameStop's Canadian branch out retail stores, employees are now directed to cease shelving used games separately, and even price each copy with the same colored stickers.
Up to this point, EB Games stores in Canada didn't just separate used games sections from full price ones, but used yellow stickers for used copies and white for unopened. Kotaku has received the news from an employee, along with documentation explicitly stating that this is anything but an isolated incident or misunderstanding. Aside from removing different colors in pricing, the document in question also instructs employees to discard the signage itself, further adding to the case that the used and new sections will be removed entirely.
Another employee has even come forward and claimed that they were directed to place new copies underneath used ones, regardless of price discrepancies. The veracity of these claims hasn't been confirmed, but are certainly in keeping with the rumored (we said rumored) business practices of the parent company GameStop.
If this rumor proves to be true for EB Games in Canada, then the biggest issue here - aside from the publishers once again being left profitless from the retail sales - is the increase in online passes for multiplayer functionality. If the consumer is already somewhat unaware of the necessity to pay an extra $10 to get access to all of a used game's content, then this added hurdle just makes it even more likely that they'll have to pay extra. Considering the used prices of popular games like Modern Warfare 3 or Battlefield 3 are usually only $5-$10 below new versions, customers could end up paying even more money because the retailer wanted a few extra bucks.
While this next step in removing ways for a customer to know exactly what they're buying is sure to enrage a large portion of gamers, it's getting harder and harder to be surprised by stories like these. GameStop recently made headlines when it order employees to open PC copies of Deus Ex to remove coupons, and continually feeds the rivalries in the FPS genre by making it appealing for gamers to trade in the competition.
Since this is only a reported directive given to EB Games, there is no reason to think that this same practice will be instituted by GameStop's stores worldwide. However, the idea that GameStop could justify further complicating the issue of used games versus new isn't a hard one to buy, and if this proves to be true, then gamers around the world should take notice.
Regardless of where you stand on the ethical and financial ramifications of the used games market, it's hard to argue for giving consumers less information to make their choice. And while 'new' and 'used' may be written on the stickers themselves, the removal of distinctions between markets isn't going to make this issue any easier to solve.
What's your take on the rumored directive? Think the mixing of used and new games is another questionable business move by GameStop, once again biting the hands that feed them? Or is that an overreaction? Leave us your opinions in the comments.
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