Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
09 September 2006
Just between you and me...
Tonight, I had this exchange with dude at local GameStop.
Me: I'd like Game A and Game B. [I point at games in used Game Boy Advance game case]

Dude: Ok. [he opens case, hands over games]

Me: While you've got that open, can I look at the Castlevania? [I point at Aria of Sorrow]

Dude: Sure. [he hands it over]

Me: [I peer closely at the label, then in the case right above metal contacts] Yeah, that's counterfeit. Thanks.

Dude: Oh? That's cool. How can you tell?

Me: First key was the label. That one doesn't look like the one I own. Then when I looked at the contacts, I didn't see the word "Nintendo" on the circuit board. Look here at Game A. [I hand him Game A, pointing at circuit board]

Dude: Whoa. [he takes Aria of Sorrow from me] You're right, it doesn't say "Nintendo". That's cool.

Me: Yeah. If you peel the price sticker off, you can probably tell the back of the cartridge is slightly different. And if you take the case apart you'll see a nasty cheap battery and a blop of black epoxy or something over the main chip.

Dude: Whoa. Learned something tonight! [he hands back Game A, puts Aria of Sorrow back in case] As long as it's just between you and me, no problem, right? [he closes case]

Me: Uh. I guess so.
So much for well-trained employees. I can't tell which response I like better: this one, or the guy who told me that the counterfeit Zelda cartridge really was real and that he'd be happy to power it up and show me...


--Matt Matthews at 21:41
Comment [ 21 ]

Comments on this post:

That is contemptable. Perhaps GameStop employees need training in both spotting the fake games and proper ethics.

By Anonymous MattG, at 10 September, 2006 11:35  

I don't know if they are actually trained in that kind of stuff. I'll ask my friend who works there.

I'm going to assume that Gamestop wouldn't care about counterfeit games because they can't just deny some 16 year old kid a trade-in becuase he got his game suspiciously from Ebay. I'm probably wrong, but I'm trying to look at it from a corporate point of view.

Plus, they probably assume that less than 1% of gamers can actually tell counterfeit games from real ones, so what's the harm in selling one back to someone not in the know? It's still covered under their "guarantee".

By Blogger Bigelow, at 10 September, 2006 16:43  

Here's a funny thing. I stopped buying GBA games online (except new+sealed from retailer like Wal-mart, GameStop, etc.) because I got burned 3 separate times on counterfeit GBA games (Bubble Bobble: Old & New, Double Dragon Advance, and Racing Gears Advance, all replaced with originals in my collection now).

Instead I buy used games I can inspect ahead of time, at a retailer like GameStop. Not that GameStop doesn't have counterfeits -- they clearly do -- but I can at least make much better informed purchases.

By Blogger jvm, at 10 September, 2006 16:58  

Bigelow: Here's the thing. I think that these retailers are safe doing what they're doing.

Someone (like Bob) will set me straight, I'm sure, but I think if you buy a copyrighted work in good faith and sell it in good faith, you're not liable if it is, in fact, a counterfeit.

So as long as a place like GameStop has a "buy everything, sell everything" policy that doesn't encourage examining the goods except to ensure that they play, they're probably safe.

Now, how does that change when a third party, like myself, comes along and tells them they have bogus goods? No idea.

By Blogger jvm, at 10 September, 2006 17:00  

I suppose my only question is why not keep the counterfeits you get? Did you return them? I can't recall, even though you perhaps posted abou them here.

I'm pretty sure it's legal to own a bootleg, but not to sell. I don't believe you're in any trouble for hanging onto the wack carts.

What did you do with them?

By Blogger rufbo, at 10 September, 2006 22:14  

I used to work at EBGames and they never said a word to me about counterfeit carts.

By Blogger Kat, at 11 September, 2006 01:28  

In two cases (Double Dragon Advance and Racing Gears Advance) I'd been already paying at the high end of what I was willing to pay *for the real thing*. I wasn't going to let the seller give me a fake for a premium price. For the Bubble Bobble, I didn't know about the fake for a long time, so I still have both.

For what it's worth, I was also sold a "prototype" of Road Riot 4WD for the Lynx a long time ago by Carl Forhan (now of Songbird Productions). Turns out to have been a run created by an unscrupulous third party and inserted into the market as prototypes. Carl notified me when he found out about it, I kept it, and as far as I know I sold it in an auction labelled correctly (i.e. chip on a board, not a prototype).

Which is to say, my first encounter with a fake was pretty far back and on an unlikely platform.

By Blogger jvm, at 11 September, 2006 06:36  

Is there any good reason why game stores aren't covered by pawn shop laws? They are a great place to deal in stolen and counterfeit merchandise because they don't have to keep any records whatsoever.

By Blogger Troy Goodfellow, at 11 September, 2006 17:52  

I think game stores here in CA take your name and copy your id or something.

By Blogger Zachary, at 11 September, 2006 21:04  

JVM, This is off topic, but isn't Racing Gears Advance just plain awesome? It reminds me of a game (name?) that I used to have for Genesis with oil slicks, rockets, and mines. Maybe you know what I'm talking about.

I got hooked on that type of top-down racer ever since I played RC Pro-Am back in the day.

By Blogger Bigelow, at 11 September, 2006 21:18  

Bigelow: Yep, RGA is definitely a good game. Reminds me of Racing Destruction Set (which I played on the Commodore 64) crossed with Power Drive Rally (which was on the Jaguar and Megadrive).

I don't know which game you're talking about on the Genesis, but my interest is definitely piqued. Any other bits you remember?

By Blogger jvm, at 11 September, 2006 21:24  

Bigelow: I'm guessing Rock 'n Roll Racing by Blizzard. That's been recommended more than once by commenters here, as I recall.

Available on SNES, Genesis, and in remake form on GBA.

By Blogger jvm, at 11 September, 2006 21:26  

Hmm, not Rock and Roll Racing.

I'll check around and get back to you.

By Blogger Bigelow, at 11 September, 2006 21:28  

Ok I found it, I guess it wasn't that hard.|||||1551

It's called Combat Cars. Me and my brother played this for HOURS. If you like RGA, then I guess this would be it's older brother, and R&R Racing would be like a stepbrother or something.

By Blogger Bigelow, at 11 September, 2006 21:34  

Bigelow: Added to the Curmudgeon Gamer Memorial Library acquisition list. Thanks!

By Blogger jvm, at 11 September, 2006 22:01  

You should not rely on me to provide legalistic blather about copyright, much less comments of actual substance about copyright. But, because it's been awhile, I rise to the bait...

Of course, a counterfeit cartridge is probably also falsely trademarked, so it's not just copyright law that could come into it. (It also conceivably means that the buyer could argue they were defrauded; I'm not sure if a buyer has standing to sue for buying copyright-infringing material, per se, but see below.)

In any case, my preliminary Google search finds that NACS (National Association of College Stores) disagrees with jvm: from their faq,

"A store can be liable for unknowingly copying or selling works where permission is required."

In fact, re-selling infringing material is pretty clearly copyright infringement (namely, distributing without permission of the copyright holder.) Here's where that "see below" mention comes in: I imagine a buyer might be able to sue a seller of copyright-infringing material in that they bought something that it turns out they can't legally resell. It wouldn't be copyright infringement, but some kind of commercial fraud or something.

Whether copyright infringement "in good faith", like unknowingly selling counterfeits, could be a criminal offense (rather than just a civil one) depends on whether the infringement was "willful". (See here.)

I like to think that the reason I'm considering the possibility that one can sell counterfeits unknowingly but willfully is because the law is sneaky, not because I'm an idiot.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, case law (which I know very little about) has grown up that handles cases of "willful blindness" and other cheap attempts to dodge liability; if someone really felt strongly about that counterfeit cartridge, they could make the case that GameStop "knew or should have known" (especially after jvm told an employee) that they were trafficking in counterfeits. If their business practices kept them from knowing things they didn't want to know, and didn't serve much other purpose, the law generally puts that in the "willful blindness" category.

What the outcome of such a case would be is an open question, depending on the specific facts at hand, which is why lawyers don't bother to post this kind of speculative jibber-jabber.

By Blogger Bob, at 13 September, 2006 01:30  

My shady EB/Gamestop story: I bought a new GBA game (Harmony of Dissonance, coincidentally) from an EB and when I got home and started it up, the cart had someone else's save data on it already. So they actually re-shrinkwrapped a return and were selling it as new! Amazing.

By Anonymous Metaly, at 29 September, 2006 16:07  

Oh my God. I work at Gamestop and have been more than entertained with these counterfeit posts. "derka...I wonder why Gamestop employees aren't trained to detect counterfeit games...derka durr" Maybe its because they are too busy dealing with f*cktards like you all day long. Has that thought ever crossed your mind? Or are you too busy reading tutorials on how to detect fake gameboy advance games and finding new ways to convince your parents that just because you haven't had a girlfriend ever and all your friends are guys who play D&D doesn't mean you are a homosexual.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 05 October, 2006 05:52  

I'll pass your diagnosis along to my wife and children. They've always been impressed with the deductive powers of GameStop employees.

By Blogger jvm, at 05 October, 2006 07:21  

well, having worked at EB, we don't get any training for things like fake cartridges and whatnot.. I have been looking through some of our cartridges, but haven't found any fakes yet.
As far as Metaly's post, I'm not saying that didn't happen, because I don't know how your store is, but I've never seen any of my coworkers do that. The best I can hope is that they had used that particular game in their game boy interactive (so long ago, as that's likely the case.. though, we had an SP interactive until about June, so, maybe not so long ago) But, maybe it was the game they had in the interactive, since we do use new games in those. Might not be, I don't know the full situation, it's just a possiblity.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 08 October, 2006 00:18  

Not all Gamestops/EB Games do this. It IS NOT an accepted practice. Quite a few know how to spots fakes but some managers/ associates as with ANY industry are gonna have a few that just don't care. Before you buy a used game use some common sense and inspect it. Don't lump ALL GS/EB peeps in one lot just because of the acts of a few. As for pawn shop laws EB/GS stores DO GENERALLY fall under pawn shop laws, hince why you are supposed to be 17+ w/ state issued ID before you do a trade transaction. Again many DO NOT follow best practices. As for buying a "new" game with save data....get over it, delete the data and move on, thatusually happens when someone bought the game for their kid and it was too hard so they return it within specified time period. Most managers rightfully so should resale as new as it is usually in good condition, especially a cartrdge based game. Now if a customer has that big a deal about it most will give a "shopworn" discount. Seems a lot of complaining about GS/EB lately in the news, what has Wal-Mart bashing gotten old? Let's see if any of you do your job 100% perfect? Bet money you make mistakes too, cause last time i checked no one has walked on water in over 2000 years.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 08 October, 2006 20:10  

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