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Shopper shares confusion over deceptive video game purchase: 'I do feel kind of ripped off'

"Only realized when I was home."

"Only realized when I was home."

Photo Credit: iStock

Unnecessary plastic packaging can be aggravating and damaging to the environment, but at least it's usually wrapped around an actual product. One frustrated Redditor took their story to the internet after they received a plastic package that didn't even have their item inside.

What happened?

According to the Redditor, they wanted a new Nintendo Switch game — and they didn't just want to download a digital copy. "Bought Just Dance 2024 from Game as I wanted the game card," they explained.

Photo Credit: Reddit

The box in their photo appears to be a normal plastic case for a Nintendo Switch game, with the name and a list of participating music artists on the brightly colored cover. Only a tiny label in the bottom corner provided a hint about what the unfortunate buyer would find inside.

"Only realized when I was home that they'd given me a box which only contained a download code," complained the Redditor.

Why does it matter what form the game came in?

There are many reasons a buyer might want a physical copy of a game. For example, they might want to protect it from deletion, save storage space on their device, or be able to resell their copy of the game once they're finished with it.

Selling a box that looks exactly like a physical copy, but with no game cartridge inside, seems deceptive — and one tiny "download code only" label doesn't fix the issue.

Meanwhile, the box itself is a problem because it's an unnecessary use of plastic. It creates plastic waste that is difficult to recycle and, when not handled correctly, pollutes the environment.

"I get some people like to display the case, and that getting a box is better than a bit of paper as a present," said one commenter. "But I do feel kind of ripped off opening a box of nothing."

What is the company doing about the plastic waste issue?

Ubisoft, the maker of the game, did not respond to The Cool Down's email request for comment on the packaging practice. 

Their website, however, details their "play green" initiative, the company's commitment to global carbon neutrality. One tenet of this commitment is waste management, in which they state that zero single-use plastic, overall reduction in all types of waste, and optimized recycling are part of the plan. 

Given how much plastic the video game company uses, though, this seems like a very small step in curbing waste and reaching their target of zero single-use plastic. 

What can I do to reduce plastic waste?

Buying digital copies of games is one option, but it comes with its own problems, such as the need for more digital storage.

Another possibility is buying games secondhand whenever possible.

Secondhand items in good condition are a much better bargain than buying new ones, and when you buy items this way, you keep them out of landfills. You can trade in your old games and get new pre-owned ones through services like Decluttr.

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