Northern California District Court has ruled that GameStop stores
throughout the state must place warning labels on used games with
content locked behind Online Passes or similar schemes. The company
will also pay restitution to purchasers of second-hand titles
affected by such restrictions.
news comes after Senior District Judge Thelton E. Henderson
approved a settlement between the company and legal firm Baron &
Budd, who brought a class-action suit against GameStop for its
second-hand practices. B&B alleged that the company was buying up
used games at low prices then marking-up the titles to within $5 of
their original value – even though Online Passes require customers
to pay up to $15 to access some of the games' content (GameStop also sells Online Passes).
B&B says this practice has allowed GameStop to make over $2
billion per year on used game sales alone, without paying royalties
to the games' original publishers or developers.
the settlement, GameStop will now have to provide in-store and online
warning labels for Online Pass-enabled second-hand games such as SSX
and Mass Effect 3. The company will also issue rebates to buyers of
such titles in checks and GameStop vouchers. Baron & Budd says it
will post instructions for customers who feel they may be eligible
for such a rebate on its Facebook page.
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,” says B&B's Mark
Pifko. “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 settlement only applies to Californian stores and customers,
Baron & Budd says it's investigating the chain's practices
throughout the US and urges customers affected by the company's
second-hand practices to make contact. B&B's contact details can
be found at the firm's website.