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GameStop Removing OnLive Vouchers From PC  Human Revolution  Boxes
GameStop Removing OnLive Vouchers From PC Human Revolution Boxes
August 24, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

August 24, 2011 | By Kyle Orland
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Major video game retailer GameStop is reportedly removing OnLive vouchers for free, streaming copies of Deus Ex: Human Revolution from the boxed, PC version of the title sold in its stores.

GameSpy reports word from GameStop customers that their boxed copies of the title did not include the OnLive voucher as recently promised, with GameStop employees reporting the removal order came from GameStop management.

GameStop spokesperson Beth Sharum confirmed the voucher removal program to GameSpy, saying "Square Enix packed the competitor's coupon with our DXHR product without our prior knowledge and we did pull and discard these coupons."

While GameStop doesn't yet offer a streaming game service to compete with OnLive, it did purchase streaming technology company Spawn Labs earlier this year, and has mentioned plans to stream content from PC and console games, to platforms including Android and Linux.

GameStop does currently offer a downloadable edition of Deus Ex: Human Revolution through the Impulse digital download service, which it recently acquired from Stardock.

Gamasutra has reached out to the relevant parties for comment and will update as we hear more.

[UPDATE: GameStop has issued an official statement acknowledging the coupon removal and defending the practice:

"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."

Further, a post on GameStop's Facebook page notes that, "While the new products may be opened, we fully guarantee the condition of the discs to be new. If you find this to not be the case, please contact the store where the game was purchased and they will further assist."]

[UPDATE 2: Reports have emerged that GameStop has pulled the PC version of the game off of its shelves entirely.

According to a note allegedly sent by a GameStop employee to consumer game blog Giant Bomb, employees of the store have been asked to pull all copies of the PC version of the game off of shelves for an eventual return to Square Enix.

"As GameStop is developing a streaming service in our Spawn Labs Cloud Computing Division, the coupon that was included is for a competing service. We are returning all copies of the PC regular edition to the vendor in agreement with Square Enix," the note reads.]

[UPDATE 3: Square Enix America confirmed to Gamasutra that GameStop "was not made aware" of the OnLive coupon's inclusion in the boxed game, and said it "respects the right of GameStop to have final say over the contents of products it sells and to adjust them where they see fit in accordance with their policies."

The publisher also encouraged gamers "who want to purchase the PC version of Deus Ex: Human Revolution without additional coupons" to shop at GameStop.]


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Comments


matthew diprinzio
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"Power to the players -- except anytime it interferes with our business, promotes a competitor, or actually benefits the player."

Geoffrey Rowland
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is this even legal?

Todd Boyd
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I'm curious about this, as well. If it is, then that's some scary shit.

Stephen Fletcher
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I don't think it would be legal since to what I've heard it was advertised as being a part of the product. I could have sworn that buying the retail copy was listed as buying both the retail copy and a digital OnLive version of it at the same time.

On the other hand, what is happening to the coupons that are being removed? Is it possible that employee's are able to 'forget' to throw out the coupons and then redeem them on OnLive for themselves for free? If so, then this could get even more messy in general.

Rey Samonte
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Oh man, don't get me started. This is one of the reasons why I can't support Gamestop. One time, they tried to sell me an opened box as new. They assured me that it has never been played with and that the only reason they open the new boxes were for security measures...or something like that. If I'm a paying customer buying something that's new, I'd like to be the one to open the box and have the peace of mind that I'm getting all that I've paid for.



I have no hard feelings towards the employees as they are only doing their job. But corporately, some of their practices just doesn't sit well with me.

Eric Kwan
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They tried to pull that on me, before. Yeah, "It's new," but with scratches on the disc, no manual, and a big-ass sticker stuck right to the case.



Yes. "New."

Scott Lepthien
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Yeah, Gamestop is fairly terrible, on two occasions they have tried to sell me a "new" copy of a game that they had gutted but couldn't even find the display case for. When I pointed out that it was ridiculous that anyone should pay the new price for something that doesn't even have a case they were basically just like, sorry that's store policy.

Ron Dippold
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The games are removed from the boxes as part of the display gutting, then the employees are allowed to play the disks or take them home at night. Those disks are then sold to customers as 'new'.



I don't know if that's official corporate policy, but it sure seems to be widespread.

Eric McQuiggan
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It's not official policy.

Employees aren't allowed to remove disks from stores themselves.



I used to work at a game stop, when we gutted displays, we would carefully put the guts with the disk directly into bags. I certainly don't think it's the best system, but it's not as terrible as people make it out to be.



-Former Gamestop Employee

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

E Zachary Knight
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Arstechnica has verified it with GameStop PR:



http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/08/report-gamestop-openin
g-deus-ex-copies-removing-free-game-code.ars



This is flat out disgusting. How can they possibly expect to not get a severe backlash from both consumers and game publishers from this? What the crap were they thinking?

Jonathan Gilmore
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One time I am in complete agreement with you Ephraim.

E Zachary Knight
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A Broken clock is right twice a day. ;)

Harry Fields
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Bye bye gamestop. I hope the next console refresh embraces digital delivery more. Cut brick and mortar that does crap like this out. Instead of bringing something of value to the equation, they decide to rip the streaming pass from boxes customers buy? So anti-consumer.

Ryan Miller
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This is almost as disgusting as the time a Gamestop employee told me that ex-Infinity Ward members had gone on to form Sledgehammer Games so they could sign with EA in order to publish Modern Warfare 3.



(...in the interest of getting me to pre-order, of course. It didn't work.)

Geoffrey Rowland
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well...who buys PC games at gamestop anyway? heh

Evan Bell
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People buy PC games? This is news to me.

Arnaud Clermonté
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The PC version is the best IMO.

Evan, here are more exciting news for you:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steam_(software)

Philip Michael Norris
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I do. Steam, baby!

Richard Eid
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"Voucher Removal Program" ???



And it's not like someone snuck in after GameStop received shipments of this game and stuck OnLive vouchers in the Deus Ex packages. They were bundled this way at manufacturing. So how can GameStop claim that Square Enix packed these vouchers without their knowledge? It shouldn't even matter. Also, being that you're buying an open package, are you getting the game at a discounted price? LOL, no I know.



Soon, no Steam games. Will GameStop begin removing the slip that has the CD-Key on it for Steam games?

Rob Wright
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I'm so confused by this. Can GameStop really open up a product from another company, tamper with it, and box it back up again? Where is Square Enix on this? And why is Gamestop freaking out when they don't even have a competing platform? That's like EA saying it won't put games on Steam because....oh, wait a minute....



In any event, pre-orded the game through Amazon and got the voucher. I stopped buying from GameStop years ago when they failed to deliver on three pre-orders in a row.

Tom Baird
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I put this in a different ballpark, in so far as it's EA's product and they have every right to choose where they want to sell it. If Eidos had worked a deal with GameStop, where GameStop copies lack OnLive vouchers, it may not be good for marketing, but it's certainly not going to be nearly as sketchy as GameStop effectively vandalizing someone else's product on their own shelves.

Ali Afshari
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Although I can somewhat understand their askew perspective on not wanting to support the competitor, what harm can it really do to leave the vouchers in? They sold the physical copy to the customers. The opened package can't be returned for a refund, so it's not like the customer decides to stick with the Onlive version and return the physical media to the store...the most they can get is ridiculously low trade-in credit. Gamestop should have either had the foresight to set up a specific deal with Square Enix for Impulse in Gamestop inventory, or just leave it alone. I have Assassin's Creed Revelations on pre-order with them because that's the only way to get a special edition in the US (and I'm a whore for the collectible schwag), but this is the last thing I ever buy from them.

Billy Bissette
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Speaking of Steam, if Gamestop did this because they don't want to promote their competition, then why do they sell Steam games? Every Steam-enabled title is promoting another company's online store that is in competition with their own store services.



If you want to make the distinction that "requires Steam" isn't the same as "coupon for free service", then what about Portal 2? Didn't the PS3 version of that title come with a free Steam download of the PC title? I don't recall Gamestop objecting to that promotion.



The answer most likely being that Gamestop thought they wouldn't get caught removing the Onlive coupons. And once they were caught, not carrying PC Deus Ex isn't exactly as costly as not carrying Valve's games.

Alex Leighton
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Anyone know if EBGames is doing this in Canada? I wasn't planning on buying it on PC but I would be interested to know.

Nels Anderson
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Does it matter? Just go to FutureShop or any other retailer. It's not worth patronizing EB/GameStop for any reason when they do things like this (amidst their legion of anti-consumer, anti-developer policies).

Richard Eid
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Rob Wright: GameStop is now the proud owner of a shiny new Impulse. So they do, indeed, have a competing platform.

Rob Wright
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Sure, but Impulse is a digital distribution paltform for game downloading, not streaming content, right?

Richard Eid
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Either way, it's getting a game to a customer. OnLive, Impulse(GameStop), Steam, GFWL, Origin...these are all competitors. They each have their own client that must be installed onto your PC in order to access products through each respective service.

Rob Wright
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True, Richard, but I suspect there's a difference in terms of audiences. Some people, I imagine, will chafe at the idea of paying for games as a service and not actually owning the code/software license. Therefore, they are more apt to purchase a title via Steam/Impulse/Origin/etc. But other gamers may like the convenience of a cloud gaming platform and not care about owning the actual content.

Richard Eid
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You don't own any of the games you "own" on Steam or any other service. Just a license to play them. Same goes for retail games. The difference between all of them and Origin is that games (licenses) you purchase from Origin don't require any local storage on your PC.

Richard Eid
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Uh...take all the times I said Origin in this post and change it to OnLive.



Sorry.

Gil Salvado
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I never knew why I didn't bought games at GameStop - probably because it's not as common as other retailers in Europe - but now I do have a reason to continue not being one of their customers.



If they wouldn't had bought Spawn Labs, they probably wouldn't had removed the vouchers. From a business point of view I can almost understand their move, but it is either very close to unfair business practices or is definitively illegal.



We're at the brink of the digital distribution age and may rest assured that retailers will show a lot of elbows in the coming years.

Evan Bell
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Given Game Stop's size and position in the marketplace this could very well be an anti-trust violation. Too bad the justice department stopped caring about anti-competitive practices in the year 2000.

Duong Nguyen
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GameStop, stopping the future one game at a time.. GameStop is scared to death of online distributions, as they should be. It's only a matter of time before before buying a box game is a luxury for the few willing to pay a premium.

E Zachary Knight
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They aren't scared of digital distribution. After all, they own Kongregate (a streaming browser based game site) and Impulse (a digital distribution platform)



What they are scared of is competition to those platforms. They saw an opportunity to land a direct blow against a competitor and took it. Now they have to deal with the fall out.

Daniel Piers
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I would even understand if they replaced the OnLive vouchers with Impulse vouchers, but this is just shitty.

Adam Bishop
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And with that I will officially no longer be purchasing anything from their stores.

s d
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While GameStop @doesn't yet offer@ a streaming game service to compete with OnLive -------



doesnt yet offer? Nice one. We can thank EA for setting this practice in motion (Ala EA's



removal of BF3 from steam). But when you don't even offer a competitive service, where



is the concern for the customer? It sounds like a greedy albeit sour grapes business



move... yay Gamestop.



I will avoid buying games through Game stop on purpose now.

Kevin Patterson
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Well, if Gamestop pulls the coupon, they should replace it with a coupon for Impulse. If they do not, they are in the wrong. I hope more games have this type of thing, I want to see more Valve - Portal 2 deals where I can downloaded the pc version when i buy the console version. I already hate buying from gamestop, i hardly buy from them anymore.

Todd Boyd
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If they replaced the vouchers with a competing service, I would think that is arguably WORSE.

Christopher Enderle
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I really don't get the EA comparisons. EA can do anything it wants to do with anything it owns, it doesn't even have to sell BF3 at all anywhere, but Gamestop is stealing something OnLive paid to have put in every manufactured retail box.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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How heavily was this voucher advertised by Square/OnLive? Also, how obvious does GameStop make it that you won't receive what you expect at their store -- do you have to wait until you get home and open the box?



I don't think I would mind at all if GameStop decided not to stock copies of DEHR in response to this, or pulled copies, but tampering with a product like this to lower its value for the customers while still wanting to profit from it seems highly illegal. Is this legal?? I expect a class action or federal investigation...

Christopher Enderle
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Too bad class actions are hard to come by these days. After months of lawyer fees and arbitration, congratulations! Here's the $49.99 that digital streaming version was worth in the best case.

Jonathan Murphy
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What they did right there wasn't legal. They could be sued if we had a functional law system. In 5-10 years Gamestop will be dead anyway. One day it'll all be online downloadable and or streaming. Doing stuff like this just makes that day come faster.

Anton Maslennikov
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Some EULAs are implicitly activated when their package is opened. Often there are clauses about using the CD afterward. I wonder if, by having gamestop open games before selling them, if a purchased open game is in a legal grey area until it's put into your drive.



I should have been a lawyer.

Eloy Ribera
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This thing is really interesting. If OnLive is their competition right now, maybe the 360 & PS3 are too, because they offer downloadable games bypassing the shop.



Also, as a developer (and costumer) this is a very bad move from GameStop. If they are building their own game streaming system, how will them try to convince developers to launch on their platform? If they want exclusives, they have to start thinking on ways to pay for them...

Sean Currie
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And all my sympathy for the retail giant and my insistence that no industry has a right to second sale has just completely gone out the window. This was a third party tampering and stealing (yes, stealing) a portion of the product that was intended to go toward the consumer.



Is it too much to hope that the entire industry turns around and yanks all their product off GS' shelves?

Keith Patch
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I for one agree with Gamestop here. It was a dirty move by Square-Enix, but I think that GS should have made their actions clear rather than let the consumer simply find out after the purchase.



Although, I also feel that they should have pulled the game altogether, but that's a bit of a profit hit there. I wonder who'd lose more if GS decided to stop selling S-E games...

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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How was this a dirty move by SE?

Tyler Martin
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Indeed. I'd say it definitely wasn't a dirty move by SE. They can put whatever kind of voucher or coupon they want in the box really, and they did announce it well before release. This shouldn't have come as a shock to Gamestop.



Now I'm not saying Gamestop has no right to be annoyed by it. They certainly do, and are well within their right to not sell the game. But that certainly doesn't give them the right to open every copy, remove part of the product and continue to sell it as a new copy at full price.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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"They certainly do, and are well within their right to not sell the game. But that certainly doesn't give them the right to open every copy, remove part of the product and continue to sell it as a new copy at full price."



Yes, this is exactly how I feel. GameStop fully has the right to not sell or pull the game, and I'm glad they eventually did that. But tampering with the product like their first instinct was is unethical, should be illegal if it's not, and frankly a bit unprofessional and driven by emotions.

Martain Chandler
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Poor Gamestop. The marketplace out-evolved them. I wonder if this will end up killing them.



http://www.google.com/finance?client=ob&q=NYSE:GME

Matthew Gill
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Wow. I'm not sure who I'm more irked with. GameStop for pulling a stunt that could very well be legally challenged or Square-Enix for rolling over like they did.



GameStop has made a way of business out of damaging the game industry. It's a shame to see the same industry ask, "How high?", when GameStop says, "Jump."

Rey Samonte
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Sadly, I was surprised to see S-E's response to this practice.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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Wait, I haven't read SE's response yet, what happened?



EDIT: Oh, I didn't realize this had been updated a third time, I see now.

Jeremy Reaban
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Who buys PC games at Gamestop, anyway? They've ceded that market pretty much since the PS1 era...

Jeremy Alessi
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This wasn't a good move for GameStop. This drama will cause more interest in OnLive than the voucher ever would. They should have spent their energy making a better service. Not that they are incorrect in their reasoning but ruling by principle isn't always the best idea. They managed to simultaneously stifle their content provider's business, anger consumers, and raise awareness for their competitor.

Joe McGinn
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Five years from now they will be as obsolete as Blockbuster, and record stores before them.

steve roger
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Some of the comments I am reading regarding this story don't make a lot sense. Gamestop is no more evil than most other retailers. This includes digital service companies and Onlive. And claiming that Amazon.com is a better alternative is just silly. Gamestop sells games. In great numbers. It also markets games pretty well. Not everybody is connected to gaming online like you guys.



Wake up. It is a tough retail world.

Andrew Tilot
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Game stop wont tell you but games with out manuals cost on less, and open packages can be inquired about lowering the price.

Lorenzo Gatti
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Gamestop has been unable to compete on price and range of products with online sellers and on service with independent stores; losing trustworthiness is only the final nail on the coffin.

Eric Gilbert
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This sets a horrible precedent. Gamestop's only legal options were to sell it, not sell it, or work with SE to send them copies without the coupons. What happens when retailers don't like something in a special edition bundle or something? And what happens when they start to break up those special editions to sell the contents individually? Or take out vouchers from one game to give away with another (they would be giving it away for free either way)?



Shame on SE for rolling over.

NeKeysha Guyton
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...wow. Not that I've bought PC games at Gamestop, but still...wow. But even though I've been a loyal customer for years (owing to the professionalism of the local employees, not the company itself), I'm not sure if I want to continue letting them have my business. In any case, they've kind of been on the decline as a company, anyway.

Matt Marquez
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People still buy from GameStop? Why? WHY?

Marc-Andre Caron
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This is as if Google could no longer find Facebook in web searches now that they're also in the race to social dominance.



If you're lowering the quality of your primary business because of your side project, it looks like failure across the board.


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