My Beef With Gutted Copies of Video Games

Recently, I took a stack of games to my local GameStop, hoping to get a new copy of ModNation Racers. I didn’t think that this would be a difficult process. Three GameStop’s later, I gave up on them and traded in my games at an indie video game retailer instead, because they had brand new copies of ModNation Racers in stock. GameStop had copies too, but only gutted ones.

If you’re not familiar with the process behind ‘gutted games’, I’ll explain. I’m not sure what other retailers do this, but GameStop and EBGames are the most common place you’ll see this practice happen. What they will do is open up brand new copies of games and use the cases for display and put the discs away. Once they run out of sealed copies, they will then try to sell you that gutted copy for the same price as a brand new game.

In my eyes, there is all sorts of wrong with this. To me, the word ‘new’ means sealed in the original packaging. I think that the moment GameStop or EBGames takes off the wrap, places a price tag directly on the case and removes the disc, that’s a used copy. They’ll try and tell you that the game is as good as new and try and sell it as new, but there’s a good chance that your gutted copy has already been played by a GameStop or EBGames employee.

Apparently, I’m not alone in my dislike for this practice, as a blog post on Kotaku about gutted copies got over 100,000 views, over 800 comments and it may have gotten them in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission. GameStop said they would review this practice, but that was over a year ago and as recently as a few days ago, GameStop still tried to sell me a definitely open/possibly used copy of a game for the same price as a brand new disc.

I wholeheartedly disapprove of anyone selling anything opened and potentially used at the same price as a new version of the same thing. If I’m going to pay the price for a brand new game, I want to get it in brand new condition, not gutted or potentially used. I’m glad that I voted with my wallet and took my business elsewhere.

6 thoughts on “My Beef With Gutted Copies of Video Games

  1. Gil October 2, 2010 / 10:14 AM

    I’ve already written a page about this exact same thing. It totally irritates me when they try to pull this BS. And the look on their faces when you ask for a sealed copy and not the display is like deer in headlights. “But it’s new. No one has played it.”… Umm no it’s not new and odds are pretty good that one of you employees has tried it out. How the F&*($ are you legally trying to sell an opened copy of something for full price. No other place do they sell display models for full price. This is one of the major reasons I don’t shop at Gamestop. Their business practices are crooked and borderline illegal.

    • Jett October 2, 2010 / 3:44 PM

      Can you link to your post about gutted copies here? I’d like to see it.

      • Gil October 3, 2010 / 1:20 PM

        here’s my link. I absolutely hate that even after multiple years of people complaining about this problem, they still don’t do anything about it. I Think it’s because there are people out there who actually pay full price for the gutted copies.

    • Allyn October 17, 2010 / 11:21 PM

      I was a store manager for EB and GameStop for seven years. In those seven years, I had a grand total of one customer irate because of gutted product. He also wanted to pay with a credit card, but he refused to let us run his credit card through the register because he said we would steal the numbers. If I gave him the “deer in headlights” look, it was because I wasn’t sure that he and I were on the same planet.

      Different stores have different rules. I didn’t let my employees check out games and take them home. In my view, that was asking for an internal theft problem. (I ran the store in my region with the lowest shrink four years running. Nobody stole from me. Nobody.) I did let customers try out games on the store demo units if it would help them make a buying decision.

      In seven years, gutting product was never an issue in my store. The outrage online at GameStop’s gutting practices baffles me, because it’s so contrary to my experience working in the stores. The choice is either to gut games to have display product or to have no display product at all; the margin on new video games is so tight that everything has to be locked away.

      The reason GameStop has done nothing about the “problem,” Gil, is that insofar as GameStop is concerned, it’s not a problem. Gutting product is a necessity of doing business, and it’s an economical solution to the problem of having product displayed in a way that facilitates sales and minimizes theft. One idea I’ve seen floated online as a “solution” is inserts for display cases; EB looked at that about five years ago, before the GameStop merger, and corporate’s judgment was that it was impractical, possibly illegal due to publisher copyrights, and financially insane in terms of getting stores the materials and then keeping them stocked to make it work.

      If you think GameStop’s business practices are shady and illegal, don’t shop at GameStop. I don’t shop at GameStop; I don’t think their business practices are illegal, I do think they’re shady, and they’ve yet to pay me for my final week with the company four years ago. Losing customers won’t make them change their gutting practices, though. Beyond GameStop’s blind adherence to doing things the way they have always been done (they’re not an innovative company by any means), until there’s a method of displaying product that’s cheaper than gutting, GameStop will continue to gut product.

  2. teknophilia October 2, 2010 / 2:48 PM

    I agree, at the very least, give some sort of discount for the gutted copy. Most smaller stores will give better trade-in deals, sadly, since these are smaller, most people don’t go to them.

  3. Tom August 3, 2012 / 2:39 PM

    Lol haha keep trying to defend your pathetic cause . Look at stores like bestbuy where they lock away the new realsed games at the front. You know what they put for the display I price of paper with the game you wants picture on it. If your sorry GameStop is so cheap that it can’t print out a picture then maybe you shouldn’t be in business in the first place. Anyway what are you going to do when next gen consoles come out and your not going to be able to buy or sell used games for them. I will be laughing while your stores and all your employes jobs go right down the sh$$er.

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