GameStop Deprives Customers of Free OnLive Deus Ex: Human Revolution Coupons

August 24, 2011 -

Yesterday it was revealed that cloud-gaming service OnLive and Square Enix had teamed up for a special promotion that would give consumers that bought a retail copy of Deus Ex: Human Revolution for PC a free OnLive version of the game. Well, apparently retailer GameStop was not interested in participating in the promotion. The retailer took steps to make sure its customers did not get an OnLive version of the game - and they did it without telling them.

GameSpy offers a report saying that a number of GameStop customers contacted them outraged at what the retailer had done. From the GameSpy article:

"We received reports from a handful of GameStop customers claiming that their new PC boxed copies of DXHR were opened and the OnLive codes were missing. We also received evidence from an anonymous tipster suggesting that it was GameStop management that made the decision to physically remove the OnLive codes from its PC copies of the game."

A photo of an internal memo shows that (allegedly) GameStop management instructed its employees to remove the OnLive codes. It reads, in part:

"Please immediately remove and Discard the OnLive coupon from all regular PC versions of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Our desire is to not have this coupon go to any customers after this announcement."

GameStop public relations representative Beth Sharum commented on the story to GameSpy in an email, confirming that GameStop was in fact removing the coupons:

"Square Enix packed the competitor's coupon with our DXHR product without our prior knowledge and we did pull and discard these coupons," Sharum said.

OnLive had no comment on the story, but did says they were aware of it.

Thanks to Andrew Eisen for the tip.

Source: GameSpy


Comments

Re: GameStop Deprives Customers of Free OnLive Deus Ex: ...

I'm on GameStops side with this one.

You wouldn't see Verizon packaging their products with some AT&T stuff, would you? Of course not, it's completely absurd. So why would GameStop want to stick their competitors coupons in their products? They wouldn't, and they didn't.

The only concern I have is that they've gone and opened the games without telling anyone why, and I feel that that's wrong. But honestly, after seeing the amount of people who now apparently hate GameStop over this decision, it's not surprising why they wanted to keep it quiet.

There is no lawsuit here between the consumer and GameStop. GameStop are well within their legal rights. Nothing on the cover of the game does it say that it comes with an OnLive coupon, therefore GameStop are not falsely advertising the game or removing goods that come with it (since this promotion was literally only just announced - had Square Enix not said anything, people wouldn't have known until they opened the game).

GameStop and Square Enix/OnLive might have a legal battle, but it'll only get anywhere if GameStop and Square Enix/OnLive had a deal going on and GameStop backed out forcefully. As it stands, they're claiming no such relationship, so I highly doubt anything between them is going to happen.

Re: GameStop Deprives Customers of Free OnLive Deus Ex: ...

The more I look into this, the more I am seeing that Square-Enix and OnLive may be trying to pull a fast one here.  Every mention of the free copy starts yesterday at launch and many are listed as "a surprise" to find a free copy for OnLive available. Anybody else finding a mention of the free copy that pre-dates the launch? 

In regards to special deals, OnLive themselves had one going where you would get the "console" for free and if you already had one, then you would get a free game for pre-ordering it on their service.  Nothing about a free copy via the store PC version was announced that I have been able to find.  

As a practice (and because of the whole DMCA and PC games) Gamestop doesn't "gut" new PC games (from my experience and local stores information) so they (possibly) were not aware of it until people started reporting that they were basically selling the games they had bought from Square-Enix thus becoming advertising for another company that they had to pay for but not agree to.  Basically it's like Wal-Mart selling something that turns out to have Target gift cards inside.  A consumer would be cool with it of course because they are getting something free, but the store was just tricked into pushing a customer into a different service on their own dime.

Eh seems fishy to me.

Zen aka Jeremy Powers
Editor and Host of the Zenspath Podcast (now on iTunes)
www.ZensPath.com
XBL: "PsychoticZen" PSN: "Zenspath"
Nintendo Network: "Psychoticzen", 3DS: "0860-3238-7260

Re: GameStop Deprives Customers of Free OnLive Deus Ex: ...

You opened the game and removed some of its contents so of course you're selling it as a used copy at used prices, right GameStop?

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: GameStop Deprives Customers of Free OnLive Deus Ex: ...

Probably not, or am i the only one who recalls how they sell OPENED and USED games at full price should someone bring the opened case off the shelf up to the counter?

i don't even bother with that anymore, i ask if they have a sealed copy behind the counter, and won't even buy from them if they don't. not to mention make sure its known to the entire store WHY i'm not :)

Re: GameStop Deprives Customers of Free OnLive Deus Ex: ...

I agree with you too only in my case, I'll order online so that I am guaranteed a brand new sealed copy. Not really for PC games (I have Steam for that) but for my 3DS.

Re: GameStop Deprives Customers of Free OnLive Deus Ex: ...

Yeah, that's exactly what I'm getting at.

I don't shop at GameStop for that very reason.  Not only do they gut their games, they use industrial-strength super glue to affix their giant price stickers to the case.  I'm not paying full price for an open game with a marred case.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: GameStop Deprives Customers of Free OnLive Deus Ex: ...

I was about to say that!

Seriously tho this is just a bad move on GS's part.


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: GameStop Deprives Customers of Free OnLive Deus Ex: ...

According to a local Gamestop manager that I contacted about the issue (but wants to be left nameless) this is in regards to Gamestop buying Impulse which is becoming their own streaming game service so OnLive is viewed directly as a competitor in this regard.  Not sure how in a legal sense this falls, but how far off is it with someone like Wal-Mart or Best Buy selling a movie that comes with a digital copy from iTunes which is a competitor of their own? I haven't heard or seen any cases of those being removed, but in fact flaunted actually.  This isn't going to end well regardless.

Zen aka Jeremy Powers
Editor and Host of the Zenspath Podcast (now on iTunes)
www.ZensPath.com
XBL: "PsychoticZen" PSN: "Zenspath"
Nintendo Network: "Psychoticzen", 3DS: "0860-3238-7260

Re: GameStop Deprives Customers of Free OnLive Deus Ex: ...

Depending on your state, this could be a deceptive trade practice (misleading/omitting/lying to customers about a part of the product which is part of the package that they are purchasing). I'm sure Gamestop protected themselves with a "participation may vary" kind of disclaimer all over their stores and websites. 

What's more likely to happen is that the backlash that hurts them most will come from Square, who could very easily pull Deus Ex from GS stores. The bottom line is, abide by your contract with the publisher or supplier (which means obeying their rules written in) or risk losing your supply.

But no, I don't believe that Gamestop's involvement automatically means antitrust violation. 

Re: GameStop Deprives Customers of Free OnLive Deus Ex: ...

Nothing on the box, in either Gamestops or Square-Enixs advertising, or any other source I could find ever actually shows or states that a free OnLive copy will be included with the game.  I checked the twitter account for Square-Enix and OnLive and even they don't mention it (and call it a surprise) until after the midnight launch of the game was well underway.  They tried to smuggle a free add through Gamestop while riding on their reservations and the company's ad money that they pumped into it, got caught, and now people are blaming the people that caught them for trying to resolve this issue that was dropped on them. 

Square-Enix themselves have come out and said they did this without permission or Gamestops previous knowledge.  They are taking the copies back and hopefully fixing this issue so people can get their game.  

Zen aka Jeremy Powers
Editor and Host of the Zenspath Podcast (now on iTunes)
www.ZensPath.com
XBL: "PsychoticZen" PSN: "Zenspath"
Nintendo Network: "Psychoticzen", 3DS: "0860-3238-7260

Re: GameStop Deprives Customers of Free OnLive Deus Ex: ...

What a crappy move. It is pretty sad when you react so badly to competition. There may be some kind of anti-trust issue going on here and it will be interesting to see what plays out in the near future.

I don't normally visit GameStop. I buy most of my games on Amazon or at other local stores so I probably won't miss anything by not shopping there again.

Re: GameStop Deprives Customers of Free OnLive Deus Ex: ...

I'm waiting to see what else is going on as well before throwing everything down, because if this really is an issue of Square-Enix sending these out without prior knowledge of the company, should they be required to sell basically invites to move away from a physical store and into someone else?  I agree this should have been handled in a smarter and more sensitive manner, but I am looking to see what else is going on with this and it there are any prior instances that may not have been so publicly known.  Should a retailer just sell something that is slipped in without being told? Not trying to start a fight, but do want to talk about this and see where it goes.  Will be brought up on the show we are recording tonight for sure.

Zen aka Jeremy Powers
Editor and Host of the Zenspath Podcast (now on iTunes)
www.ZensPath.com
XBL: "PsychoticZen" PSN: "Zenspath"
Nintendo Network: "Psychoticzen", 3DS: "0860-3238-7260

Re: GameStop Deprives Customers of Free OnLive Deus Ex: ...

One of the questions I have is whether Square or any other publisher is required to disclose coupons inserted into retail packaging. I would suspect that GameStop received the same retail packaging that stores like Walmart, Best Buy and Target received.

I have also been made aware that PS3 versions of Portal 2 came with Steam codes for a free steam copy. As far as I am aware, those were not removed.

This is a new problem and will have some very important consequences in the future. I would hope that everything gets sorted and everyone comes out relatively unscathed.

Re: GameStop Deprives Customers of Free OnLive Deus Ex: ...

Not that Steam code was not removed. In fact my brother and I played Portal 2 Coop almost that night, him on my Ps3 m3 on my PC.

Re: GameStop Deprives Customers of Free OnLive Deus Ex: ...

Funny you should bring up the whole Valve issue because when I talked to my contact, I brought that up as well.  We both agreed that this could cause issues with future titles like Battlefield 3 requiring Origin, all Valve games requiring Steam, etc.  The Portal 2 stuff pre-dated the purchase of the company so Steam was not viewed as "competition" in that regards at the time is the best we could come up with.  It may also be that OnLive is much smaller than the juggernaut that is Steam.  I don't even play PC games that much and I have to respect their force in the industry right now.  

Now in regards to the companies receiving the same packages, this isn't the case.  Take Mortal Kombat for instance that was released recently.  Each copy at launch had store specific codes already in the packages for each location, except for Gamestop with gave them out at the time of purchase.  Companies do make specific special cases (Metroid Prime had a K-Mart exclusive that came with a game demo disc if I am not mistaken) so it does happen.  I do think a company has to disclose what is going to be in a case because Gamestop becomes liable for whatever is sold in said package.  If they did not agree to include that code, then Gamestop I think would have the right to remove it.  I also think Gamestop has handled it in a very bad way.  So both are up to something and once again the consumer is paying the price.

Zen aka Jeremy Powers
Editor and Host of the Zenspath Podcast (now on iTunes)
www.ZensPath.com
XBL: "PsychoticZen" PSN: "Zenspath"
Nintendo Network: "Psychoticzen", 3DS: "0860-3238-7260

Re: GameStop Deprives Customers of Free OnLive Deus Ex: ...

I would think that those situations were an exception rather than the rule though. I can certainly understand promotional copies being different depending on the retailer. However, when there are no promotions, they would all get the same copy.

As far as I was aware, there were no store specific promotions with Deus Ex. Not that I really followed it before now.

As for liability, how does that work when you are not allowed to return opened merchandise? As a consumer, If I go to Gamestop and buy a PC game, begin the install process and do not agree with the EULA, I still cannot get my money back even though I did not install it. If I were allowed to return the game, I could understand them wanting to know exactly what is in the package. But that is not the way things are.

Re: GameStop Deprives Customers of Free OnLive Deus Ex: ...

Well the exception is starting to become the rule the more and more stores that get exclusives ahead of time.  I'm betting Batman: Arkham City will have the exclusive Robin code in the box to keep employees from giving it out to friends.  Even non-game items like Transformers are starting to get more and more store specific models and extras like games do to try and push a person from one location to their own. 

The only store specific I knew about was Gamestop was giving away the arm they displayed at Comic-Con this year.  A really nice replica of the main protagonists right arm, sword included. But that's a stretch for an "exclusive" I grant you. 

And the whole liability issue I was talking about with the packaging or even the game is from times like (sorry to bring this back up) Grand Theft Auto Hot Coffee.  The stores were not at fault for leaving that content on the disc, but they got burned and attacked by parents groups left and right for it.  That is an extreme example I am aware, but within the vein of liability I am talking about them avoiding by knowing what is in the case.  

And please don't start me on the issue of a EULA...those things are ridiculous and just a way of legally getting away with murder in my opinion.  As for not being able to return those I believe that falls into the whole lovely Digital Millennium Copyright Act as I have had it explained before.  If I am wrong about that, please point me in the right direction and I will check it out with a smile. :) But in the end the store has the right to return the game as their own act, so it would vary from store to store and person to person.

I'm going to get some more details after work tonight and talk it over with the others on the podcast, but I would love to talk more directly with you sometime on the manner if possible.

Zen aka Jeremy Powers
Editor and Host of the Zenspath Podcast (now on iTunes)
www.ZensPath.com
XBL: "PsychoticZen" PSN: "Zenspath"
Nintendo Network: "Psychoticzen", 3DS: "0860-3238-7260

Re: GameStop Deprives Customers of Free OnLive Deus Ex: ...

Yeah, the EULA thing was just an example of why someone would want to return a game but can't.

That said, the liability issue you propose does make sense, although it should not be so. Gamestop would not want to be the source of ire from consumers if the coupon somehow did not work. But I think that is a minimal risk. They are also replacing the possibility with the very real ire of consumers buying the game expecting the coupon and not getting it and that is directly their fault.

As for the DMCA, don't get me started on that. That is one of the most anti-consumer pieces of legislation turned to law in the history of the US.

I am all for a more in depth discussion, I do believe you have my email address.

Re: GameStop Deprives Customers of Free OnLive Deus Ex: ...

Thought of a recent example of this happening as well, but on a different front.  Part of the reason that Gamestop is removing this code is because while they are selling the game, it will include a means to drive customers possibly to a competing service....same reasons for why Steam removed EA games because they pushed people to Origin instead of Steam for sales.

I know if is different in a way, but it is more alike though if you replace Steam with Gamestop and EA with Square-Enix (keep up with me here)....if you bought Dragon Age 2 on Steam you would be pushed towards Origin for your add-ons, downloads, etc. which would also lead you to possibly moving to Origin for purchases instead of Steam.  While I believe that is a consumers choice, I can also see how Valve (Steam) could move to protect themselves.  And just like this situation, they are going to have to deal with the reactions be it positive, indifferent, or just plain ends up pushing them in the direction they tried to avoid regardless.  EA added those features in even though Steam had it listed as a no-no, so the removal happened and accusations started flying.  No one will be able to tell who is really at fault because no one person can make every ones moral decision for them about either one.

Sorry if that sounded like an odd rant or made no sense, I'm running back and forth at work doing this, organizing for the show tonight, and getting my work done lol. :)  And yeah, I will be emailing you probably tomorrow since we are booked for a good bit tonight.

Zen aka Jeremy Powers
Editor and Host of the Zenspath Podcast (now on iTunes)
www.ZensPath.com
XBL: "PsychoticZen" PSN: "Zenspath"
Nintendo Network: "Psychoticzen", 3DS: "0860-3238-7260

Re: GameStop Deprives Customers of Free OnLive Deus Ex: ...

Valve did not remove EA's games from Steam. EA pulled them.

 

Valve's statement on the subject tells you everything you need to know about that debacle.

 
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