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GameStop Offers Apology, Gifts For   Human Revolution  OnLive Voucher Removal
GameStop Offers Apology, Gifts For Human Revolution OnLive Voucher Removal
August 26, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

In the wake of controversy surrounding the removal of a free OnLive voucher from boxed PC copies of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, GameStop is offering affected customers a $50 store gift card and a coupon for a free used game with the purchase of two others.

"We regret the events surrounding this title release and that our customers were put in the middle of this issue between GameStop and Square Enix, the publisher of this game," GameStop said in an e-mail message to customers (as reported by Joystiq).

"And for this, we are truly sorry," the company added.

GameStop admitted to ordering the removal earlier this week, saying the coupon for a free OnLive copy of Human Revolution was included in the boxes without the retailer's knowledge.

"We pulled the coupons because, like all retailers, we prefer not to promote our competitors and their competing offerings and services in our stores," the company said in an earlier statement.

While GameStop doesn't yet offer a streaming game service that competes directly 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.

Square Enix America said earlier this week 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."

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Matt Marquez
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If you take up on this offer you're still just giving them money so they can get away with more crap like this in the future. You're basically just giving them MORE money for screwing you in the first place.

John Martins
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I take it you missed the first part of the offer? There's no catch on the $50 gift card.

Todd Boyd
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They're sorry they got caught, more like. If they didn't want to have the coupons in the boxes, then they shouldn't have ordered the f!@#ing boxes.

Bart Stewart
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This has the feel of an "oops" by both Square Enix and GameStop.

Squeenix didn't tell GameStop what was going in the box they were asking GameStop to sell for them. Oops.

And GameStop didn't tell customers they were taking stuff out of the box, nor did they put in place a policy for employees to offer customers replacement content of some kind. Oops.

There doesn't appear to be malice on either side here, just a serious lack of communication that left customers caught in the middle. Big oops.

Chalk it up to a learning experience for everybody.

Nou Phabmixay
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This must be the next Gamasutra article: What have publishers learned from dealing with retailers. The aftermath of the coupon debacle.

I have to say, watching the public relations from all of this has been entertaining.

David Hellman
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So they thought customer loyalty would be damaged more by viewing an ad for OnLive than from having GameStop open up and remove things from a product.

That's kind of interesting. And crazy.

But GameStop has been gratuitously opening up brand new games for a long time (they call it "gutting" them, see? like fish). SPECULATION: Probably some GameStop executive was personally offended by OnLive and just decided to be a dick about it. Consideration of the customer probably never entered into it.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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"Probably some GameStop executive was personally offended by OnLive and just decided to be a dick about it."

This is the impression I got; it feels like the kind of emotional reaction one would take to defend their pride, not a rational and cool-headed business decision. I don't see how any logical businessman who knows how PR works could think that pulling out the coupons would be better for business than simply returning the copies and leveraging the bad PR against SE.

Adam Bishop
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Gamestop took something out of a product that customers were fully entitled to. The only ethical (and, one would hope, legal) thing to do is to give to customers what they actually bought, which included an OnLive voucher. A $50 Gamestop voucher does absolutely nothing for the people who want to the play the game on OnLive as their purchase entitles them to do.

And another interesting points - Gamestop still sells PS3 copies of Portal 2 with the free Steam voucher inside, do they not? So why allow those but not the OnLive vouchers?

Buck Hammerstein
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ebgames/gamestop is a great store for hard-to-find titles and non-mainstream game releases.

for every of title it easier (and sometimes cheaper) to buy them at the grocery store or bestbuy-type shops. gamestop is where moms go to find out about what junior would want as a new game for his birthday and then she goes and buys it at walmart when she's getting herself some poorly made socks.

seems to me gamestop should just give people the coupons they "stole" out of the game boxes so they can make the comsumer choice to either try OnLive or their version Spawn.

what is the biggest rub is Spawn isn't even available yet, so this move was to prevent people from using an existing service versus one that is still in the ether...

... gamestop executive is currently at home tonight wondering if they will be placed in the "used" pile.

Eric Feliu
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I get the impression that Jonathan Gillian must work at Gamestop the way he is defending the obvious bad move on Gamestop's part.

I do agree to some extent that Gamestop is a monopoly. Read the next paragraph if you care to read my opinion.

A decade or so ago places like Electronics Boutique,Babbages, Software ETC, Funcoland, etc... were all decent places to shop for video games. When all those competitors went away and all you have is Gamestop, the video game retail store has been monopolized in my opinion. You used to have some choice, but now all you have is this huge monster game store chain which can dictate what is sold and for how much. I know you can buy games at other retail stores, but I am mainly talking about dedicated game stores (that's the primary product they sell). That's if you still shop retail for the latest games. I have long since switched to Amazon for most of my game purchases. Every once in a while I will walk into a gamestop if I have time to kill while out shopping. I will occasionally buy an old used video game which Gamestop does have reasonable prices on sometimes. Other than that I avoid the place.

It is kind of sad really because I used to really enjoy shopping at the old EB and similar game stores. Now I just get games delivered to my door.

Jamie Mann
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There's parallels with this situation in the UK: where there used to be several national game retailers, there's now only a single company, who owns both Game and Gamestation.

However, the main reason why physical companies have closed down or merged isn't because of monopolistic behaviour from the survivors; it's because the market is shrinking. And it's shrinking for the same reason as the market for other physical media (e.g. music and movies) is shrinking: the internet[*]. Not only are online stores generally cheaper and more convenient (e.g. greater choice), but increasingly, media can be streamed from the internet or downloaded, meaning that no physical media is required.

This is why companies such as Gamestop are behaving the way they are: where once they (collectively) effectively had total control over the market, their markets have shrunk and their influence over both gamers and publishers has been severely weakened.

Overall, as time passes, they're getting further and further away from being in a "monopoly" position...

[*] As you yourself said, people are increasingly using Amazon and Ebay!

Aiden Eades
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Can't help but laugh at some of the comments here. Quick rundown.

Yes I count what they did as stealing when they removed the vouchers. Why? If I sold you a car, (yeah i know car analogy) and you bought it in full confidence it had everything with it. Then found when you went to pick it up i'd removed the upholstery wouldn't you be pissed?

I also count gamestop as a monopoly (they same way I count game as one in the UK) but then again most highstreet stores are these days. All selling the same products for the same or similar prices. And I consider the used game market daylight robbery. I've bought a game for 50 played it, and well... it was rubbish (fable 3) completed in a day so I returned it the next morning. All i could get was a trade in. All it was worth trade in was 15, they had other copies used for 45. Now when they're making that much profit I do find it disgusting. its why i don't trade in games anymore. (I actually had an offer of 50p for a game once, a game they had on sale for 15 still, the game was still shrink wrapped)

Honestly instead of the voucher and the "buy two of our rippoffs and get a third free" deal I think they should just give back the damned vouchers.

And considering it happened in USA I honestly wouldn't be suprised if a few gamers got together and tried to launch a class action against gamestop.

Rich Boss
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Wow this is a really shitty apology.

"Earlier this week, GameStop removed a competitor's coupon from standard edition PC versions of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a recent release by Square Enix. We were not aware that the product box would contain this competitor's offer." This is setup, or introduction. Boring.

"We regret the events surrounding this title release". How interesting that they regret the events and not their own actions and roles in the events. This is blame avoidance.

"and that our customers were put in the middle" Well, given that the customers put themselves in the middle of this to complain about Gamestop's actions, I am not sure it is appropriate to apologize for. Kind of like apologizing to someone for THEM being in the way of MY fist. This is also blame avoidance.

"of this issue between GameStop and Square Enix, the publisher of this game," Here is where Gamestop assumes that the gamers are not a part of this issue. This tactic strengthens the above argument that the gamers should not have been standing where Gamestop was attacking. This will alienate some people and they probably won't know why.

"And for this, we are truly sorry," This sentence was to get the word 'sorry' into the letter because an apology must have that word to be taken seriously. This sentence is a bit odd, technically I don't even know what 'this' is since there is no subject to be found in this sentence, which is conveniently avoided by starting the sentence with a conjunction. The sentence could conceivably be referring to itself, in effect apologizing for its own poor grammar. Kind of gives this apology letter a bit of creative flair. I like it.

"For your inconvenience, we would like to offer you a free $50 GameStop gift card and a Buy 2 Get 1 Free pre-owned purchase. We want to earn back your trust and confidence in the GameStop experience. Please bring in this email and your store receipt or order confirmation from and present it to a Game Advisor." The whole last paragraph deals with their positive reinforcement scheduling. Boring.

This gets rated 2 out of a possible ten points. I gave one point for that funny sorry sentence and one point because they at least tried. The majority of the argument is based on an ancient social structure which has an extremely well understood manipulation methodology. I cannot give points for any argument build on this method that is not functionally perfect. This one is only OK, so no points were awarded.

Marcus Miller
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I stopped shopping at GameStop after they screwed me out of my 360 on launch day. They never got a dime of my business after that. Fool me once, shame on shame on you. Fool me you can't get fooled again.

Justin Kwok
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Am I the only person who wishes he had purchased the Deus Ex HR PC version from Gamestop? I mean, I don't like that they removed the coupon (I think it's pretty despicable) but as a consumer, I wouldn't have used it anyway and now I get $50 (the price of the game) plus a buy 2 get 1 free deal. I mean, the only person really getting screwed here is OnLive...

I don't particularly like Gamestop but I definitely feel that this is an acceptable apology. People speak about principle but what about the principle of promoting a platform that you're not interested in packaged with the game in the first place?

Adam Bishop
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What about the people who actually want to play the game on OnLive? I know the fact that the PS3 version of Portal 2 came with a free code to play the game on Steam was one of the deciding factors for me to purchase that game.

Justin Kwok
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Yes, those people are welcome to be angry. But are the people complaining about the "apology" gift those people? I really get the impression that there are a lot of people being offended on behalf of others (i.e. they didn't buy the PC version from Gamestop and didn't get the $50 offer).

So, yes. I'd like to hear from someone that bought Deus Ex HR for PC from gamestop knowing that there was an OnLive coupon in there and expected to use it and is STILL upset even though they're getting a $50 gift card and a buy 2 get 1 free offer.

Cause otherwise, I'm not really sure why they're complaining. I have a problem with Gamestop opening a game and selling it as new but they've always done that. Removing something is even more lame. But giving people the offer they have should more than make up for it (you're basically getting the game for free).

Pallav Nawani
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Does the $50 gift card allow you to play on OnLive?

Thought not.

Justin Kwok
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I don't have OnLive, nor am I interested in it (yet). What the $50 gift card does allow me to do is play a completely different game (possibly more than one) on any of my systems. Does an Deus Ex OnLive coupon do that? Thought not.

So the question is, which one do you value more? Although, the point is moot, because as I pointed out before, I didn't buy the PC version from Gamestop. I am in no position to have been actually slighted by the removal of the coupon.

What I think I'm seeing is a whole lot of anger against Gamestop (I don't like Gamestop myself) that is outside of the issue of the coupon. People are angry that Gamestop has a monopoly, that it opens new games and then sells them as used... this is all stuff they've been doing forever. Taken as a single occurrance (removing the coupon and then giving people $50 gift cards as an apology) I think Gamestop has done enough to make up for this mistake (removing the coupon).

Darcy Nelson
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I guess it would've been one thing if there had been an ad in the box for a service which potentially competes with GameStop, but considering it was an actual voucher/coupon for said service (and therefore had some kind of value) I think that's another thing entirely. And while that makes perfect sense to me from a business standpoint, I think it's kind of ironic considering GameStop sells and promotes products from competing publishers side-by-side in their store. Also, you'll definitely have to count me among the number who wishes they pre-ordered the game, I could've used that extra $50 towards the Skyrim collector's edition!

Harlan Sumgui
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Gamestop controls the market comprised of those without creditcards etc. You know, the 13 y.o. who gets $100 for his birthday. Yes gamestop has competition, but not in all demos.

Guy Costantini
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I won't touch the debate with a 10 foot pole since it seems many here have personal and emotionally charged feelings here.

However, I am curious why onlive would not just say they will give anyone with a valid key onlive access. First come first serve up to X, where X is the number of coupons they gave out. This would be a good competitive response.

Rodolfo Camarena
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Jeffrey Crenshaw made some valid points and should be read and reread to fully comprehend exactly what he is trying to say.

I'm also a developer and do not see any monies made from resold games. Do I care? No, not really. I didn't get into the industry to become rich or for the money, but I do have to support a family.

I have also worked at GameStop for quite some time and was a Store Manager. I have attended the Manager's Conferences held in Vegas. At this position, you learn a lot more about how GameStop runs and makes its money.

GameStop is a business. Let's get that acknowledged. They specialized in selling used games and systems. They make they money from selling used games. Developers and Publishers rely heavily on GameStop to sell their product (this is observed through the 'reserve program') so that they can be guaranteed that an allocated amount is 'pre-purchased' which should closely match their initial target. If that target is met, then the extra product sold to 'walk-ins' is a plus.

GameStop has total control. There are no other retailer that can sell through products better and faster than GameStop can. They get the most allocation of products because GameStop will get them off the shelves. They have clever promotions to entice customers to bring in their older games to trade in towards that new Madden or Final Fantasy game, save you some money, and lets not forget about the Powerup Reward card, formerly Edge Card. Who doesn't want to save 10% off used games and also gain 10% more on your trade-ins? With stacked promotions, customers can actually afford to not only get what they came for, but have enough left over to purchase additional "add-ons". It's too good and so easy!

Coupled with employees (good employees) who actually take the time to talk to their customers and explain things with them, its falls on the customer if they take the offer. Of course, many employees want to keep their job and exhibit outstanding performance, so they cut corners and not tell customers a few things... but there are many great stores around with outstanding Managers who have great customer loyalty because don't beat around the bush. I don't know... I always approached issues as a customer first, then a Manager. Would I buy, reserve, trade-in this or that. It then comes down to your own morals and business ethics.

Anyway, I may have gotten off the subject, but this debacle didn't hurt GameStop's stocks at all. Companies will find a way to beat the giant and it has started with DLC. Mortal Kombat, in my opinion constructed a way to fight against this by the online kode. Of course you'll want to play online, but if you bought a used copy, that code is no good and you'll have to purchase a new one for $10. So you might as well buy a new copy instead of used. Lawyers are getting crafty, so be on the lookout for similar tactics from more companies in the future.