When it comes to used games and DLC, buyer beware.


It’s not a big secret that efforts are being made by companies such as EA to limit the appeal of buying used copies or pirating their games by including one-time DLC codes, a bonus for players that buy a new copy of a game. So if someone sells a used copy of say, Dragon Age or Mass Effect 2 to Gamestop, odds are very, very good that the next person won’t get the freebies from it because who can resist free stuff, right?

It’s a shrewd way of handling the used market from the publisher’s perspective, but the core game is still intact. You can still play the game all the way through to its ending, but if you want that fancy new Dragon Armor, you’ll need to pay a little extra for the privilege.

But according to IGN, it seems that one player wasn’t very happy about it.

James Collins has filed a class action suit against Gamestop over his experience with a used copy of Dragon Age. According to the PDF copy of the suit, he bought a used copy from Gamestop for $54.99. He then discovered that he was no longer able to download the free DLC advertised on the packaging “a couple weeks later” and attempted to return it. By that time, the seven day limit on returns had passed leaving him out of luck.

Gamestop’s seven day limit on returns may sound inconvenient to some, but I remember when it used to be thirty days with no questions asked. I know a story where one guy came in every 29 days to return whatever he bought. It was within the rules set up by the store, so there wasn’t really anything that could be done. It eventually shrunk down to the seven days, mostly due to the abuse.

I’m curious, though, to know why it took him several weeks to find out that the DLC wasn’t working. Untimely RROD?

On one hand, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be an uphill battle if only because he has to prove that Gamestop knowingly deceived him.

As far as I know, the only check that Gamestop employees do whenever someone turns in a game for trade-in is to make sure that the disc doesn’t look like sandpaper. To test whether the DLC is actually still working, they’d have to load the game up and try the code which would render it useless if it worked. It’s a clever monkey wrench for used games and is probably one reason why EA and others are looking to include more of these wrinkles in their titles later on.

But the main game is still intact and depending on whether you really want Shale in your party or can’t live without Dragon Armor, completely playable. It isn’t a crippled experience without that DLC. Personally, I think DLC as a nice bonus but completely integral to the experience? Not really, but that hasn’t stopped someone from thinking that it should be.

According to Spong and GamesIndustry, Codemasters’ Rod Cousens had suggested going back to what was essentially the shareware model where you buy part of the game and if you like it, buy the rest later on. It did well for Wolfenstein 3D and Doom in the early 90s on PCs, but for next-gen games? After so many generations of console titles have been sold as complete experiences? Not sure how many people are willing to pay for half of a game today, unless it was clearly an episode but even that has its own issues.

One possible result of this mess: Gamestop changes its policies yet again.

Some kind of statement will be amended on their receipts, they’ll train their employees with a new spiel, or make a sticker to put on used game boxes essentially saying something along the lines of “DLC may not be available”…much like how Geek Squad stickers on Xbox 360 games always seem to ask if you need help in installing them at Best Buy.

Will it keep Gamestop from offering awful trade in values and hiked prices for used games? Probably not.

On the other hand, used is used. Sometimes you’re lucky you get a manual, so it’s easy to assume that not everything else will be included despite what the box says. With as many warning labels as there are out there warning us on doing things such as using soap for what it was intended for, the answer is likely already there.