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PC Copies Of Human Revolution No Longer Available At Gamestop (And A Rant)

gamestop memo.jpg

On the whole, we at the Gay Gamer news desk try to keep things safe for work. This means no lascivious photos, no videos dripping with brazen carnality, and most of all, no sailor talk. But every now and then, a story pops up that makes me wish I could toss aside the latter, re-enacting an R-rated version of that iconic scene from "Network."

Earlier in the day, news broke that GameStop had generated some controversy over their PC copies of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Square Enix is running a promotion, whereby those who purchase the game will receive a coupon for the OnLive version, free of charge. How did GameStop respond? By creating up a vortex in the space-time continuum, opening up the boxes, removing the offending coupon, re-sealing them, and declaring them "new," by virtue of the fact that the disc had never been used. GameSpy contacted Beth Sharum, a Gamestop representative, who said that "Square Enix packed the competitor's coupon with our DXHR product without our prior knowledge and we did pull and discard these coupons." While it's unfortunate that no further justification was given, it's pretty clear that the reason was that we pulled the coupons because we can. Furthermore, too bad. it is the nature of the market that companies pursue policies that are in their own self-interest; thus, a promotion that benefits a competitor is not in line with company goals. In any event, rather than issuing an apology, offering a discount (since you're buying, well, most of the package contents), or some other way of making amends, Gamestop has declared that it will continue throwing its hissy fit - pulling all PC copies of Human Revolution - until Square Enix provides a release without the OnLive coupon.

Read on after the jump!

Yes, it follows that cold, business logic to which we've all become accustomed. No, that does not give them a free pass. I've read nothing of other retailers following suit, so for the time, this is a unilateral policy. Thus, GameStop alone deserves to be called out. GameSpy's legal analyst, LA-based attorney Eric Neigher, stated that the legality of GameStop's actions depends on their contract with Square Enix. Still, as speculation (and this is pure speculation) the symbiotic relationship between publishers and retailers - the former needs to have their games readily available, and the latter needs games from major companies - may give Square Enix some pause in taking action against Gamestop, on the grounds that they don't want to anger a major retailer.

Nonetheless, for those who have already purchased and opened a copy from Gamestop: Should you feel especially mischievous, try returning your "new" copy of Human Revolution. When the employee flashes that distinct look of bewilderment - synapses firing wildly as he or she tries to gauge whether or not you're joking - slap a clear label over the side of the box and explain that, by GameStop's newfound standards, this makes it retroactively unopened. Chances are, said employee will look at you like you've proclaimed yourself to be "Trior Greelak, King of the Lizard Men," (and rightly so) because it brings that waft of senselessness that is guaranteed to make you look like a first-rate twit. Unfortunately, this is the kind of asinine logic GameStop has employed.

Of course I don't seriously propose walking into GameStop and harassing its employees. The dreadful reality of retail life (as yours truly knows all too well) is that you're essentially the consumer's punching bag. Chances are, these people are making a laughable wage to tow the corporate line, and as such, their main objective is to get through the workday without someone donning their "angry consumer" face and making those eight hours more interminable than they already are. So by all means, write, get on the phone, go up the corporate ladder (good luck), etc. - but the employees, unlike their bosses, don't see the rewards of an idiotic and predatory policy.


Via Gamespy, GamePro; Image via GameSpy

22 Comments

Shin Gallon said:

All the more reason to never buy from Gamestop, ever.
I bought Deus Ex on Steam, and got some nifty TF2 swag to boot for pre-ordering it. I basically go to them as an absolute last resort, but now, I don't think I'll even do that. I think this just pretty much cost them my business permanently.

Marsten said:

Retail sites in all sectors are afraid of being put out of business by online competition. Gaming stores especially due to the growth of Steam etc. So in that level, it's understandable that Gamestop are concerned.
Until you realise that this coupon is allowing a free download of the game when the hard-copy is purchased, basically giving a digital backup. I assume it's a coupon for ONE copy of the game only. Which means that the net damage to the store's sales of the hard-copy game is zero.
Sounds like they panicked and made a really stupid move.

blackboy said:

Am I the only person who sees square enix in the wrong here. I mean, let's assume that gamestop's statement is true, and the coupon was packaged without their prior knowledge. Wouldn't that make square the bad guy, by trying to cheat out the retail space competition by giving free advertising to a competitor (which benefits square, because, afaik, onlive doesn't sell used games, which square makes no money on). So square is basically trying to move customers to a different distribution method which gives them a greater profit margin, and using a business partner (against their will) to do so.

Caewyr said:

I don't know, if you pre-ordered a copy from Gamestop, assuming you'd get everything the publisher provides in the copy of the game, and before you have picked up or received said copy, somebody has opened it and removed something you've paid for.

Fairly sure thats theft on some level.

Kevin said:

Gamestop has done this for other games - I think that they have a policy of doing so or something. When I bought a "new" copy of Radiant Historia, they had gone in and taken out the registration code that all Nintendo games have. They told me they threw it out.

Ludicrum said:

@blackboy: And I suppose you also believe that Valve was the "bad guy" for including a Steam copy of Portal 2 in the PS3 version of the game? Where was GameStop's anti-competition policy when PS3 owners started receiving free copies of Portal 2 on a rival digital storefront?

They did not protest against Steam (hell, they even advertise that the PS3 version comes with the Steam version in Portal 2's product page), but when a smaller company like OnLive attempts the same thing, they'll have none of that! This is a case of a larger company trying to stamp out a smaller one. GameStop is not some poor innocent victim here, and they deserve none of your sympathy.

SuperSwede said:

@blackboy

There is a point to be made that, as you said, Gamestop didn't know about the promotion -- I'll take them at their word. Still, the fact that they're the only ones raising a stink about this (I've read nothing indicating that other retailers have followed suit) leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I'm curious to see what Gamestop's policy is for buying used PC games; if their return policy is like any other retailer, they won't let you RETURN an opened item -- for very sensible reasons, they would probably only exchange it for another copy of the game.

I'd even be fine with Gamestop saying that they will won't buy back any used copies of Human Revolution on account of the OnLive promotion, butselectively removing a portion of a product on the ground that you don't like it (and selling it at full price, to boot), just comes across as petty.

Hsahj said:

@Ludicrum

The difference between Deus Ex with On Live and Portal with Steam is that On Live is an independent company that was not created by a single studio, publisher, whatever.

On the side of Steam, the Service (Steam) was created by and is owned and operated by Valve, the company that made Portal.

Looking at it from this point of view Square is advertising for GameStop's competitor. Valve was advertising themselves.

If Square put the code in without GameStop's knowledge then I think GameStop is in the right.

ecco6t9 said:

@Kevin

Only 1st party have codes. In Japan all games have codes, In Europe some 3rd party games have them.

fillerbunny9 said:

@ecco6t9: this is not wholly true. games like the DS remake of FFIV or Dragon Quest IX (Both Square-Enix titles) came with registration codes as well. while I do not think that Atlus has set up this arrangement with the big N.

seraph said:

@SuperSwede

I'd say whether Gamestop has a right to do what they want with the product they've purchased from Squeenix is already decided - and whether consumers should feel ripped off is simply a matter of communication. Can anyone here honestly--swear to Cher--say that they know someone who purchased the PC version of Deus Ex EXPLICITLY because it came with an OnLive code?

If no, then people are just getting up in arms because Gamestop couldn't be more subtle about it, is all. And I'm going to point out that the fact that Deus Ex isn't sold there currently is just as likely a decision by SE or Onlive as it is by GS. Recalls can happen if any party feels wronged.

insiderinfo said:

So...i work at gamestop. In the interest of not losing my job i want to remain anonymous. That said, the pulling the code thing is stupid. The general reasoning is as follows:

According to the information i was given, the code, which was ONLY in regular PC copies of the game (i.e. not the augmented edition), was added without gamestop's knowledge. There is a standing agreement between GS and Square Enix based on endorsements etc. The details were not shared with an underling like myself, however, GS is in the process of establishing an addition to the family of companies that will be (if it is not already) in direct competition with OnLive. To my knowledge, the recall is temporary and the game will be re-released without the code.

Is it a dick move? Well yeah. Is it good business? Depends on your definition of good, but many would argue yes.

And also, @SuperSwede thanks for the anti-harassment bit. I can't tell you how many phone calls i had to field today from irate customers. I had been off for 3 days and had no idea what was going on when the onslaught began before the store even opened.

Richard said:

So just like "insiderinfo" discussed, there is a big difference between the Steam codes from Portal 2. When Portal 2 was released, GS was still working on buying Impulse. They probably hadn't even made the offer when they made buying agreements for Portal 2. So there was no competition to be worried about then. GS didn't have a digital distribution network then.

Now that they do, it's a different ball game. And if the stories are true that GS is working on a direct competitor to OnLine (streaming PC service), then there is even more to worry about if you're GS.

The real problem I saw here is that this was a real missed opportunity to both parties. Had they worked together, I'm sure Square could have packaged a code for the Impulse version of the game, which would have helped GS spread the install base of their fledgling digital arm. But they didn't, and now GS has a bunch of egg on their face.

GS opening copies of new games is nothing new. That's been standard practice for years. They used to open at least one copy of every new game for display. If they sold their last copy, it sold as an open "new" copy. That was always hard to deal with considering PC games that had one time use codes and all, but regardless it's nothing new. Stealing packaged product however... that's something new and vicious altogether. When they realized what happened, they should have immediately returned the product instead of deceiving customer and vendor alike.

annon said:

So, I too work at Gamestop. We dont sell PC games at our store so I guess this isnt an issue for me but I read SO much hate on gamestop online. Our store is great and friendly. We have to follow procedure. Just because Im not allowed to return your opened game, doesnt mean I dont feel for you. I would never look at anyone like their stupid if they tried to return a game. People get nasty with us daily. Its a REALLY hard job. Harder than physical labor and other public and customer related jobes. So please be nicer to Gamestop employees. Many of them try. If you have a bad gamestop (Ive been into SO many rude and pretencious ones before) then find another.

tropicofanatic said:

@annon Harder than physical labor? C'mon, drop the hyperbole. I imagine you get a lot douchebags in your line of business, but c'mon, all you guys do is play video games and stock shelves all day. Plus, Gamestop has always had a special place in hall of hatred for taking the games out of packages, putting them behind the counter and selling them as "new". Sorry, but if the factory shrink wrap is taken off, it is not "new". Also Gamestop has been ripping off gamers, buying their old games for pennies and then reselling them, usually without manual or decent cover, for like two dollars under new retail price. The best thing about digital distribution is that it is killing middle men like Gamestop.

insiderinfo said:

I've had a number of jobs at other retailers, and i can say, with certainty, that GS is one of the easiest jobs I've ever had. Now, contrary to popular belief, we do not play video games all day. God how i wish! But, that said, the day to day of the job is not difficult, tedious and repetitive at times, but i play RPGs so I'm very used to that.

At any rate, @annon try food serivce sometime and you will miss GS desperately. And @tropicofanatic the whole taking it out of the plastic for a display has always rubbed me the wrong way, but short of putting every single game behind a glass display, there isn't really a way to deal with the volume. And i know, places like Wal-mart do that. But stores like GS can't justify the added security measures not to mention the sacrifice of storage space to keep every game inside its original packaging. I think everyone is entitled to their opinion, and i know that GS isn't perfect and i am not here to make that claim. GS does provide a valuable service to the gaming community, and if you play the system right, the trade value works in your favor. But that, like most sales, is all about timing and watching for particularly good deals.

And as far as the treatment of employees, it's a don't kill the messenger thing. GS associates are not the ones making these decisions, or in many cases even the ones acting on them. They are there to help you find your game, make recommendations for you, and provide other information that you, the customer, require. Most of them, depending on location of course, get about 10 hours a week and they are either doing it because they REALLY love games, they need the discount, or it works with their school schedule. Every retail job requires you to deal with idiots, a**holes and thieves, it is the nature of the beast. I am incredibly grateful to the customers that are kind, patient and understanding, you guys make my day, but you become callused to the behavior of people because otherwise, no one could deal with the job.

FieldMedic said:

I'm sorry but GameStop is in the wrong here.

Once they found out that Square Enix had included the OnLive code inside of the packaging they should of wrapped up the cartons of the game back on the pallet and shipped them back to the manufacturer for a refund. You don't apply some shady, under-handed tactics by altering the product and selling it as if it's original. Car dealers can be sued if they did that, and a game supplier should be no exception.

ecco6t9 said:

Square Enix puts registration codes in for it's own Members website, DQ9 and DQ6 ended up with Nintendo codes since Nintendo published both.

Which kinda sucked since I need the Square Enix points more than the Nintendo Coins.

SuperSwede said:

@insiderinfo

Of course, hombre. I too work in a retail store, so i never encourage ANYONE to give employees a hard time. Those of us on the bottom rung of the corporate ladder are miserably aware that we are, for all practical purposes, the first line of defense for any gaffes the company might make.

In any event, in case you didn't already receive an email from your employers, there's a rather lovely offer coming to those who purchased a PC copy of Human Revolution. The article will be up tonight, but let me say that i'm pretty impressed with the way they're doing this.

John said:

Never buy from Gamestop! It's that simple. They need to fall and from their ash, hopefully, we'll see smaller retain chains emerge. There are other options. I walk in that store to shop what's new and then leave and purchase somewhere else.

Anon said:

@tropicofanatic & @insiderinfo

Ive done food, its much much easier. You get fired if you play a game. Ive never played a game there on the clock. Its MUCH much more than "just stocking stuff". Maybe its also my gamestop. We are one of the top in the country and are expect to stay as such, so sales, cs and EVERYTHING else is far exceeded upon and expect at ours than your average GS. The Managers account for this too. Our older manager, she was easy to get along with but with the new one, we can never seem to do enough. We see people come and go so much because they cant handle it. I would be long gone if I could find something else. Ive looked. I dont want to go into details, cercamstances keep me there and I long for another job. Its not as easy as just quitting. Life is never that easy.

tropicofanatic said:

@insiderinfo

that doesn't make any sense that you Gamestop doesn't have any "space". If Gamestop didn't have space, you wouldn't even sell the games with covers. Sorry, but that doesn't fly, because I remember back when Electronics Boutique was still open, they sold all their games in factory shrink wrap and those stores are about the same size as Gamestop stores. No, the reason why Gamestop takes the games out of the shrink wrap is because they don't trust their customers and don't want people to steal the games. I'm not trying to be contradictory, just logical. But I do appreciate your comment.

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