A strange story started circulating on Polygon overnight involving a man who attempted to resell a sealed copy of The Evil Within 2 as a “new” product on Amazon Marketplace. Bethesda’s law firm Vorys took issue with the listing, and threatened legal action against the individual. The company’s view is that there’s no way to tell that the product is in fact “new”, and thus it should be advertised as "pre-owned" – even though it’s never been opened or played.
This has of course prompted some people to get ratty on social media, with the publisher being accused of trying to shut down used game sales. According to the company’s senior vice president of marketing and communications Pete Hines, that’s not the case at all. “We're not trying to stop anybody from selling used games,” he told Eurogamer.net. “He, specifically, was trying to list it as a new product as if he was GameStop or Best Buy. He's not a company, he's not a distributor.”
The issue, in Bethesda’s eyes, seems to come down to the wording. “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, somebody kicked across the floor and scratched and ‘Oh they took out the insert that had the special items I was supposed to get for buying this.’” It’s a fair point, but there’s always a degree of trust that needs to be placed in the merchant when shopping on sites like eBay or Amazon Marketplace, and that’s why feedback systems exist.
“We are not trying to stop anybody selling a used game, we would never try and stop anybody from selling a used game. We do have an issue with people representing they are selling a new copy of the game when we have no ability to tell it is actually new, so we aren't going to allow somebody to say 'this is new'. If you want to sell your copy of the game, it's 'pre-owned'.”
Our view is that this is a total overreaction. A quick search reveals dozens upon dozens of sealed copies of The Evil Within 2 being as “new” on eBay right now, and we can’t imagine Bethesda’s lawyers will be contacting all of them. Maybe it hopes this action will operate as a deterrent; honestly, it feels like it’s just wasting its time and money to us.