The gaming industry and consumer have been at odds for a while now. The gaming industry is locked out of used game revenue that gamers rely upon to save money while GameStop rakes in the dough. To combat this, publishers have recently been putting an online pass in their games that give games free DLC or online multiplayer if the game is bought new. If bought used, gamers have to pony up $15 to access that content.
It seems this particular side of the business has attracted the ire of customers who went to law firm Baron and Budd to bring a class action lawsuit against GameStop. Why GameStop instead of the publishers? The used game display case tells customers that there is free DLC included on the disc, but leave out the part that says the game must be bought new to access this content without paying the $15 online pass.
Instead of fighting what would be a long, arduous lawsuit, GameStop chose to settle out of court with Baron and Budd. The settlement forces GameStop to put signs in their California stores and online that says used games may require an additional purchase. Another part of the settlement has GameStop refunding affected customers the $15 they spent to access this content. If they are a member of GameStop's Power Rewards program, they will receive a $10 check and a $5 coupon. If they are not a member, they will receive a $5 check and $10 coupon.
“We are pleased that as a result of this lawsuit, we were able to obtain complete restitution for consumers, with actual money paid out to people who were harmed by GameStop’s conduct,” said Mark Pifko, Baron and Budd attorney and counsel in the lawsuit. “The in-store and online warnings are an important benefit under the settlement as well, because if GameStop discloses the truth to consumers, it is unlikely that they will be able to continue selling used copies of certain games for only $5 less than the price of a new copy. In fact, we already know that not long after the lawsuit was filed, GameStop lowered prices for used copies of many of the game titles identified in the lawsuit.”
The complaint seems to have arisen not exclusively from the fact that people had to pay an online pass, but GameStop's trade-in practices. Yes, it's true that GameStop gives you maybe $25 tops for a brand new game and then sells it for $55. This makes them a ridiculous amount of profit and cuts out developers from a piece of the pie. This forced the publishers to implement the online pass which leads us to where we are now.
I don't really see how this is any more GameStop's fault than the publisher's fault, but I do agree that GameStop should warn consumers that buying used games now has ramifications. This is why you buy new, folks. It's only $5 more and you don't have to worry about online pass fees.
If you want to get refunded that precious $15, check out the GameStop settlement Facebook page. It will have information on how to recover "lost funds" from GameStop.[h/t: Kotaku]