It has been a while since the controversy over used games has been in the news. However, there has recently been a reminder that some publishers don’t like missing out on potential revenue from second hand sales, with Bethesda threatening a lawsuit on a man who tried to sell his PS4 copy of The Evil Within 2 on Amazon.
Some context: A US man named Ryan Hupp purchased a copy of The Evil Within 2, but ended up upgrading his PC instead of buying a PS4. As a result, he decided to sell his unopened copy of the game on Amazon to make some money back. However, when he advertised his item as “New” (meaning that it hadn’t been opened), Bethesda’s legal team, Vorys, reached out to Hupp and made him take the listing down.
In a statement to Polygon, Bethesda claims that this has nothing to do with it being a second-hand sale. Instead, it is because the item was advertised as “New” when it should be “Used”. Because Hupp was not a recognised reseller and because they cannot verify that the game was not opened, used and re-sealed, Bethesda cannot guarantee that the warranty is still valid. If Hupp had just advertised it as pre-owned, Bethesda claims they wouldn’t have threatened legal action.
On one hand, Bethesda’s legal team has a point. Advertising something as new if you can’t fully prove that it is in a “new” state puts the seller in difficult legal territory. However, this seems like an absurdly heavy-handed approach to solve this issue. It seems obvious to the average consumer that Hupp meant that it hadn’t been played, rather than it was straight off the factory floor. Furthermore, Hupp owned that copy of The Evil Within 2, so having the publisher step in and try to dictate what he can do with it is somewhat unreasonable.
Bethesda is no stranger to lawsuits; they are still attempting to take down a Westworld-themed copycat of Fallout Shelter.