It really is new, we promise….

Would you buy a product labeled “new” if it was previously opened? No matter the circumstance under which is was opened. Let’s have a hypothetical. You are in a store, and are staring at two products on a shelf, both exactly the same, and for the same price. The difference between these two products is that one is wrapped nicely in manufacturer’s cellophane, and the other has been opened. The opened one does not appear to be damaged in any way, nor is it missing any of the packaging contents. Which one would you pick up to purchase? A story, and a discussion inside.

So, I recently purchased a Playstation 3. I have had a Wii since launch day and had been putting off purchasing a PS3 mostly due to cost concerns. Anyway, the point is I have one now.

This past weekend I went to my local video game retailer in search of a shiny new game to play on my shiny new game system. While perusing the racks of PS3 games, I happened across Orange Box. Now, I am not a fan of first person shooters. However, Orange Box has Portal included, which I have been lead to understand is a great puzzle game. Also, OB has Half Life 2, which, yes it’s a FPS, I did enjoy the original Half Life on my PC some years ago. Anyway, I pick up orange box and notice the cost is a mere $20. Twenty dollars for 5 games? What a deal! I decide to buy it.

This was not a Gamestop, I try not to shop at Gamestop whenever possible. This was a similar dealer of fine video gaming equipment and accessories. Like Gamestop, there are racks of empty game boxes and they keep all the actual games behind the counter. I marched up to the counter and announced: “I would like to purchase one copy of Orange Box for the Playstation 3. Post haste, my good man!”.

“New, or used” he asked. “New, please” I replied.

He rummaged through the drawers of new games for a few minutes, having no luck finding a new copy. Finally with a puzzled expression he went to his computer terminal and looks it up “Ahh,” he said, “it shows we only have one new copy, must be on the shelf, wanna go grab the box?”, he told his associate, who dutifully bounded off. I immediately got a sour feeling in my stomach, because I know what is about to take place. I honestly considered telling them to forget it. Were this a $60 game, I would have, immediately.

The associate reappeared with the empty Orange Box packaging. The gentleman who was to ring me out rummaged through another drawer of “new” games which had been opened, removed from their original cases, slipped, sometimes lovingly, oft times not, into a paper disc sleeve, and left for the day when some unfortunate and unsuspecting sucker (in this case, me) comes along to purchase it and raises no fuss about the fact that a “new” game had been opened already (Super run-on sentence from hell!).

Frank (that wasn’t his name, honestly I don’t know what his name was, but I don’t want to call him “the gentleman who was to ring me out” any longer. So I now dub him Frank, I hope he enjoys his new name.) pulls the game disc out of it’s sleeve, pops it into the Orange Box packaging and rings me up. I pay Frank, begrudgingly. Like I said before, if this were a $60 game, there is no way in hell I would stand for that. This is a $20 game, which would be thoroughly examined as soon as I get to my car for any sign of abuse.

Frank, pleased with his sale, and I, less than pleased with my purchase, wished each other a swell day and I left. Once in my car I immediately pulled the game disc from it’s packaging, and inspected the data side of the disc. To my horror, there is a huge nasty greasy fingerprint.
By “fingerprint” I don’t mean the kind you get when you press your thumb against a clean wine glass. No. This was the kind of fingerprint one could only get if you purchased a McDonald’s triple bacon cheeseburger, removed a patty from the tower-o-sammich and smeared your thumb across it. Then, placed your newly greased thumb immediately and directly onto the data side of a brand new Orange Box game disc. This, my friends, is the horror I held in my hand, my “new” game disc had a fingerprint so greasy and nasty, that looking at it in profile revealed it actually had visible depth.

Any normal person, by this point would have had enough and returned the disc, provided they stood for even buying an new opened game in the first place. But I, being tolerant to a fault muttered to myself angrily and thought “Well, I can just scrub that off with a soft cloth, but if there is any damage to the disc itself when I do, I’m bringing it back, so help me.” We all know this to be a complete lie.

The ending to the story is much less interesting, I got home, and wiped the disc with a soft cloth. The disc was fine, no visible scratches or other damage, and it plays perfectly. This, however, is not the point.

Can we really still call opened games “new” and pay new price for them? I understand that game stores do not want a game box with game inside sitting on the shelf, this would make theft far too easy. Why not have the distributor send an additional empty box for a game with the store’s order? How about getting an additional copy of the game box art printed out and put into a blank game case? Keep the games in cases behind glass (like Target does). There are any number of things that can be done that do not include opening new games.

I did not raise a fuss, although up until that point I didn’t know that store engaged in that practice. I sort of regret it now, why would a store ever stop doing something their customers don’t like if their customers don’t reject what they are doing? Gamestop won’t care one way or the other what their customers complain about, or don’t. However, this game store, while still a chain, is much smaller and may be more apt to listen to customer complaints. Who knows, all I know now is, Portal is awesome!


5 Responses to It really is new, we promise….

  1. Carolyn says:

    Having been to “said store” in the past, I also know that they will not let you return the game as new either, i.e. you buy it as a gift and the person already has it, because it has no packaging on it any longer and they have no way of knowing if this was the “sold as new” game or just a used copy. LAME.

  2. heyricochet says:

    I usually will not ever by a game that has been opened like that unless its a really cheap price, or if its a rare game. No matter what they say, buying a not sealed game is not buying a “new” game, it has been open and handled and put in an inferior case then the one that it came in. It is used. Plus, I’ve definitely heard of employees “checking out” games.

  3. MrGYoureSwell says:

    I can’t stand buying these so-called “gutted” games. And like heyricochet I’ll only buy these if they’re really cheap or rare. It is true that our least favorite retail game store doesallow its employees to “check out” these games. In most cases, these game discs aren’t evaluated before they’re checked in. I’ve mentioned the idea of a membership-based game retail store for hard core gamers. Probably not feasible, but I’d gladly pay dues to shop at a store where used games in mint condition are the only trades accepted and in lieu of snotty uninformed game jockeys, we get a savvy fellow enthusiast, who isn’t just a salesman. Ah, perhaps in a perfect world.

  4. ruiner9 says:

    Having worked at said stores, I personally have no problem with gutted games. Most of my former coworkers treated them pretty well. And also, based on experience, no clerk is going to deny a request to look at the back of the game disc before you purchase it. And if he says no, immediately walk out. That’s just bad customer service juju.

    Now ebay… THAT I stay away from. Unless it’s like, Panzer Dragoon 3 or Radiant Silvergun.

  5. Jen says:

    A friend linked me to your blog and I found this post very funny! I hate that most stores try to pass off opened games as new. If its been played by someone other than myself or my family then its just not new.

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