For those of you who purchased a retail copy of the recent AAA title, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a pleasant surprise was waiting inside the case: a code for a free copy of the game for the OnLive game streaming service. If you bought your copy from GameStop, however, there’s a good chance you found no such thing, and that was no accident.
It seems that GameStop does not appreciate the competition of the game streaming service, so a statement was issued to employees instructing them to open copies of the game and remove the free OnLive token. The tampered retail copies were then still sold as new.
GameSpy initially uncovered the story after a tipster sent in the above image of a printout of the email that was supposedly sent out to employees. After confirming that the sender of the email was a GameStop employee, GameSpy received confirmation from a GameStop another representative that the order to tamper with the new copies of the game and remove the free OnLive code was, in fact, given.
“Square Enix packed the competitor’s coupon with our DXHR product without our prior knowledge and we did pull and discard these coupons,” the representative told GameSpy.
This obviously raises concerns about the legal implications of GameStop’s actions; namely, whether or not the retailer will face any consequences for removing its competitor’s coupons and selling tampered merchandise as new. But there are also other questions which will hopefully be answered in the coming days as the situation unfolds: will those who were shorted their coupons be compensated? Was GameStop actually not notified about the coupons, therefore giving them the right to remove them? Can OnLive pursue legal action against GameStop, and if so, will they? We have contacted an OnLive representative for a statement on the matter, and we will continue to update the story as it develops.
UPDATE: We reached out to GameStop public relations regarding the matter and asked them questions about whether or not customers would be compensated and whether or not their lack of prior notification about the tokens gave them the legal right to remove the coupons and sell the tampered copies as new. We also asked for confirmation of the reports that the tampered copies were being sold and advertised as new; while many sites and customers have reported this, GameStop has yet to release a public statement confirming it. They responded to our queries with the following statement:
“We pulled the coupons because, like all retailers, we prefer not to promote our competitors and their competing offerings and services in our stores. Unfortunately, the coupon was packed without our prior knowledge.”
UPDATE 2: Joystiq is reporting that GameStop is pulling all copies of the PC version of the game from their shelves. A new email confirms the fact that GameStop is working on its own version of a streaming service, though no date has been given as to expected release. The console versions of Deus Ex: Human Revolution are being left on the store shelves for now.