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GameStop Unintentionally Aiding Piracy?

| 9 Dec 2008 18:00
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The retailer's open box display policy might be providing an unintended assist to PC game pirates.

Most people who shop at GameStop on a regular basis are familiar with the experience of getting the last copy of a game in stock and being forced to settle for a game packaged in the open case used for the display shelves. It's annoying, to be sure, but it also might be an inadvertent assist to pirates, as Joe Haygood of Aeropause realized while trying to buy a copy of Quantum of Solace for the PC.

"When I said yes to purchasing the game, I noticed the clerk only pulled out a DVD for the game," Haygood writes. "I asked about the manual and he said it was already in the box. Doesn't sound too bad until you realize that the CD code for the game, and to use the Games for Windows Live service was on the back of the manual." Pointing out the problem to the clerk, Haygood found him "less than disturbed about it, stating that, 'it would be fine' and, 'it can't be used without the disc.'"

Haygood went back to the PC games display and found three other open boxes with manuals in them, CD codes and all. A quick snap with a camera phone, some jotting down with a pen and notepad, and anyone could have walked out of the store with a suite of CD keys. Further investigation revealed that this wasn't an isolated incident: three other GameStops that Haygood visited in his area had the same problem. He contacted GameStop for a response but hasn't heard anything back.

GameStop's open box display policy has always been a hassle - my gripe with it has always been that technically, I shouldn't be paying new game prices for a game that has, in a sense, been "used" when it was opened. But that seems petty compared to this. Still, one has to wonder: is this a widespread problem or just an issue with Haygood's regional stores? Have you seen this happen at your local GameStops?

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