The alleged practice of GameStop lending new copies of games to employees at their stores and then later selling those games as new, unused copies, may be a violation of federal law.

GameStop’s “check-out” policy, confirmed to Kotaku by a number of the chain’s managers and employees, could fall under scrutiny of the Federal Trade Commission.

Reached for comment this afternoon, GameStop officials declined to comment.

“We do not comment on corporate policies that are competitive in nature,” said Chris Olivera, vice president of corporate communications. “As your questions relate to company training, operations and discounting practices, I would not be able to provide feedback.”

Kotaku contacted the FTC earlier today to determine if the practice, which sells games already played by employees at the new price, not the used price—used titles are typically priced about $5 cheaper than brand new versions—would be considered deceptive advertising or marketing. The FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection is mandated to protect consumers against unfair or deceptive acts or practices in commerce. Violations of FTC restrictions are a violation of federal law, according to the commission.

“The Federal Trade Commission protects consumers from unfair or deceptive advertising and marketing practices, and we encourage any consumer with a complaint about a company’s business practices to contact us,” said FTC public affairs specialist Betsy Lordan.

Lordan said she was unable to confirm or deny the existence of any investigation that the commission is conducting. As a rule the FTC does not comment on the conduct of a particular business.

The company’s check-out policy, provided to us and verified by a number of GameStop employees states:

Associates are allowed to check out one item of store merchandise for personal use for up to four days. Merchandise checkout is a privilege, not a right, and may be revoked at any time.

Hardware, accessories, sealed CDs or software programs that must be altered to install may not be checked out. If the on-hand quantity of a product equals one, the item cannot be checked out. Hot titles may also be prohibited from being checked out, regardless of the on-hand quantity in the store.

Associates may only check out items from the store in which they work. Associates are personally responsible for any merchandise they are allowed to check out.

Merchandise must be properly checked out in the Employee Merchandise Check Out Log in the Game Planner.

If the product is returned in unsellable condition, or if anything is missing from the package, or if the product is not returned, the Associate must purchase the product at the current price less Associate discount.

Copying of the software and/or manuals/instructions is illegal and is strictly prohibited. Merchandise that leaves the store without being properly checked out or purchase is considered to be unauthorized removal of Company property and may result in performance coaching up to and including termination of your employment.

According to a number of GameStop employees and managers across the country, all of which spoke to us on the condition of anonymity, new copies of games rented out to employees are often mixed in with the unplayed display copies. And both are sold at “new” prices.

When a shipment of video games initially arrives at a store, managers are told to “gut” several copies of the game, removing the disc or cartridge from the packaging so it can be displayed on the shelf without concern of theft, according to our sources.

The games are then placed in protective sleeves or cases under the counter. If a customer asks why the game is not sealed they are typically told the the game is a display copy. The game is still sold as new.

When check-out games are returned, we were told, they are placed with the gutted display copies. If a customer asks about these, they are typically told they are display copies, not that they have been played before.

Since the copies are often placed with display copies, even managers and employees typically don’t know which of these games have been played and which haven’t.

While some GameStop managers will on occasion offer a “Shop Worn Discount” for a gutted or checked out title, we are told by our sources that this is actually against GameStop policy which states:

“Do not apply Shop Worn Discounts to any new, used or checked out games, it may only be applied for damaged packaging and new accessories which have been opened.”

Headquartered in Grapevine, Texas, GameStop is the world’s largest video game retailer, operating nearly 6,000 stores worldwide. The company’s revenue was $8.8 billion in 2008.picture-31

MASSIVE ACTION GAME

April 13, 2009

– All audio cues (planes flying by, air raid sirens) are actual players causing it or player triggered actions. – 20 years in future, 3 major PMCs bid for war. 3 Factions, only 2 announced now: Raven and Sver – 256 Domination mode. Attackers and defenders. Out layer of defense and inner layer. If your faction wins alot it gets the contract for that game mode and gets XP bonuses and perks. – 3 other game modes: Acquisition(128 player escort-style mode. Steal 2 prototype armored transports and bring to extraction zone). Sabotage(64player, control 2 points for X time then a demolition objective is revealed which must be destroyed). Suppression(64 player team deathmatch) – Customize face, voice, armor. – No soldier class system, but has a free-form kit creation. – Snipers can get more than normal XP for killing people in designated areas of importance – Ranking up gives access to new weapons/perks/leadership positions. – Certain goals for each squad/platoon etc. Have secondary goals like blowing bridges. – Been running 256 player tests since Nov. 08 and plans to have closed/open betas.

“Nintendo holds the publishing rights to ‘Fatal Frame Wii,’ which was developed by Tecmo LTD. and Grasshopper Manufacture and released in Japan on July 31, 2008. Nintendo of America has since then decided not to publish the title in North America – consequently, the title will not be released in this territory. As the owner of the IP, Tecmo feels very unfortunate that the fans of the series in North America will not have a chance to play the game, but respects the final decision made by Nintendo of America.”

This really sucks as i was really looking forward to playing this game.

Paramount Pictures’ Star Trek will hit theaters on May 8th, and the studio has already hired writers to pen the next screenplay.

The current film’s director and producer, J.J. Abrams, has also agreed to produce the sequel.

With writers already working on the follow-up script, they plan to have it penned by this winter and ready to go for a summer release in 2011.

Damon Lindelof (Lost), one of the writers, said “There’s obviously a lot of hubris involved in signing on to write a sequel of a movie that hasn’t even come out yet. But we’re so excited about the first one that we wanted to proceed. Obviously we discussed ideas, but we are waiting to see how audiences respond next month. With a franchise rebirth, the first movie has to be about origin. But with a second, you have the opportunity to explore incredibly exciting things. We’ll be ambitious about what we’ll do.”

ps3_consoles1killzone2picI found this article at www.n4g.com/ps3 and i thought it was very truthful although some would disagree. Either way i still have all 3 consoles and i find myself only playing my PlayStation 3.

The Xbox 360 is currently second place in the console wars race. Microsoft, however, seems more concern about the Playstation 3 than the leading Nintendo Wii. They even went so far to discredit the Nintendo Wii

The Xbox 360 had a year head start on the Playstation 3. As a result on being on the market earlier, Microsoft was able to get a first-mover advantage and got a nice lead before the Playstation 3 launched.

If Sony didn’t delay the Playstation 3, the situation would have been a whole lot different. Sony’s high-definition video game system would have outsold the Xbox 360 (even with the higher price tag) based on hype alone. Not to mention that many of the games the Xbox 360 is getting might have become Playstation 3 exclusives.

In reality, the Playstation 3 is selling about even with the Xbox 360 if you don’t account for the year head start (even more in Europe). Furthermore, the Playstation 3 cost a lot more and had to face stiffer competition than the Xbox 360 did when it launched. As much as Microsoft like to brag about beating Sony, the difference between the two isn’t all that great if you take in the context of the situation.

Grand Scheme

The Xbox 360 is outselling the Playstation 3 handily. However, Sony has more than one video game system. The PSP is selling solidly while the Playstation 2 is maintaining a steady pace. Therefore, Sony actually has a bigger market share than Microsoft. So while Microsoft only likes to concentrate on winning the battle against the Playstation 3, they lack the punch to compete against Sony (and Nintendo) in the grand scheme of the gaming industry.

First-Party Support

Microsoft is growing heavily reliant on third-party support. They recently shut down Ensemble Studios (Halo Wars), let Bungie (Halo 3) go independent and did not attempt to buy Bioware (Mass Effect). Since third-party gaming companies can switch alliances at any time, Microsoft is walking a tight rope.

Sony, on the other hand, is quietly building up the biggest first-part development core in the gaming industry. Their studios span all three major regions (Japan, North America and Europe) and feature tremendous talent. First-party Playstation 3 games are gaining praise and popularity.

With more third-party opting to release multiplatform games, exclusive games on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 may ultimately determined the battle between the two high-definition systems. With less fire power, Microsoft should definitely be concern about Sony.

Free Online

Finally, Xbox Live paid subscriptions are one of the biggest revenue streams on the Xbox 360. The Playstation 3 offers free online play over the Playstation Network. Since the differences between the two networks are superficial, Microsoft should fear for their pockets if the Playstation 3 ever caught up to the Xbox 360 in sales. Not only will they lose market share but they will also lose out on extra revenue since many people will rather pay online for free than pay for it.

The Xbox 360 is only dominating the Playstation 3 in North America. The two systems are just about even in Europe while the Playstation 3 is leading handily in Japan. Because of that and the above factors, Microsoft has every right to be concerned about the Xbox 360 lead over the Playstation 3.

You may or may not have heard about Microsoft’s acquisition of 3DV Systems (makers of the ZCam digital camera), which has been rumored since early February.  For a mere $35 million, Microsoft is planning to use the virtual reality imaging technology, originally developed for defense systems, to power the next evolution in motion-sensitive gaming.

Technology journalist Dean Takahashi was able to demo the ZCam and said it was more accurate than both the EyeToy and the Nintendo Wii.  The major advantage over the Wii is that you don’t have to hold a controller, and you also won’t have to buy stupid peripherals like the steering wheel to make the controls seem more natural.  You could even represent things in the game world by actually holding that object in the real world, like a sword for instance (we all have swords, right?)

It also has an advantage over the EyeToy in that it doesn’t require ambient light to function — the ZCam works perfectly even in a dark room.   It emits its own infrared beams and measures the reflections off of objects, which also makes it more accurate on a 3D plane since it more accurately judges distance.

Of course, the one thing that the EyeToy and the Wii have over the ZCam is that they are both available right now.  As great as the ZCam may end up being, nobody can currently play with it.  Is this going to be applied to the Xbox 360, or will it wait until the next round of consoles and be integrated from the start?  Until Microsoft announces what exactly they’re going to do with this technology, I don’t think Sony or Nintendo have to worry about being dethroned.

Sony has nothing to worry about anything they will always be number 1!!!!

It’s GDC 2009 over in California, and our ears are to the ground.  We’ve had to put up with the rumour mill grinding about Firmware 2.70 for a while now, but we’ve heard more recently gossip in and amongst our Twitter account overnight hinting that Sony are about to announce Firmware 2.70 for the PS3, and there appeared to be some maintenance on the network this morning, according to MGO’s in-game notices.  Whether this will come to fruition or not we’ll have to wait and see, but it has been a while since the last update; so whilst we’re not expecting cross-game chat it would be nice to get something out of GDC.