Polygon recently published a report about Bethesda threatening an Amazon seller with legal action for reselling a sealed copy of The Evil Within 2, saying it has also sent similar notices to other sellers.
Vorys, the legal firm acting on Bethesda's behalf, said reselling the game was unlawful and therefore subject to legal action if they don't take it down. The firm insisted that Ryan Hupp, the reseller, is not authorized to resell games, which makes his resale of a "new" copy illegal.
Reselling games is so ingrained in the culture of video games that nearly half of GameStop's profits are generated from it. Gamers often sell games they've finished, either because they're done playing it or they're saving up cash toward buying new titles. Resales of certain products are also protected by a U.S. law called the First Sale Doctrine.
Bethesda: You Can't Sell Used Games As 'New'
A number of publications thought Bethesda was simply overreacting. So Eurogamer went ahead and asked Pete Hines, the company's senior VP of global marketing and communications and marketing, about the issue during QuakeCon 2018.
"[Hupp was] not trying to sell a secondhand game, he's trying to sell a new game," said Hines. "He was listing the product as if it was new. All we're saying is if it's a previously owned product, you have to sell it as a previously owned product — you cannot represent it's new because we have no way to verify what you're selling actually is new."
Hines added that a person could have opened the game up, played it for several hours, taken whatever inserts or stuff that's inside the case, put it back in the shrink wrap, and called it "new" — but it still wouldn't be new, because the player has owned it already, according to Hines.
"[Y]ou bought it, so just list it as a used title. That's it, that's the end of the argument."
Bethesda Is Preventing Anyone From Reselling Games
Hines clarified that Bethesda isn't preventing any seller from reselling used games. People sell used games all the time, and the company understands that completely, he said. However, the company wants resellers to stop listing their games as "new" even if they aren't.
"He's not a company, he's not a distributor... and we don't want our customers buying stuff from a vendor like Amazon where they think they're buying a new product and suddenly finding out they got a disc that's been played..." said Hines.
Per Polygon's report, Hupp said he had purchased the game but never played it. He was supposed to purchase a PlayStation 4 but upgraded his gaming PC instead. So, he decided to sell the game on Amazon.
After a wave of negative reaction circulated online, Hines said he wanted to set the record straight.
"We are not trying to stop anybody selling a used game, we would never try and stop anybody from selling a used game."