Why Gamestop Shouldn’t Screw Around With Its New Games

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Screenshot - 847305

People love Gamestop. It’s one of the biggest video game retailers in the world. In face, it's one of the few that are able to keep stores open. Folks stop in there every day to buy used and new games, while also placing pre-orders and scoring exclusive goodies in the process. However, as of late, some folks haven’t been too keen on their business, particularly the practice of “gutting” new games – placing boxes on the shelves and then selling them at a new price when they’re only “like new”. Even if the game itself hasn’t been played, it’s been OPENED, thus making it USED.

But Gamestop may have gone even further into their judgment today. An email leaked out by an employee (who is no doubt being hunted down and will be fired if he or she is ever discovered – that’s corporate policy, I suppose) indicated that Gamestop was once again tampering with a new product, this time by the request of the corporate suits.

Here’s the skinny. Deus Ex: Human Revolution released this week. Those who buy it for PC get an added incentive as part of their package – a code to download the game, free of charge, on the OnLive service. This allows them to play it through their PC, Mac, or MicroConsole, if they own one. That’s a cool little bonus and a good way for OnLive to spread the word about their cloud gaming service.

UNLESS Gamestop is selling it, mind you. Per the report, corporate has asked stores to “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.”

Apparently, Gamestop wasn’t notified that Square Enix was teaming up with OnLive for the promotion.

Since Gamestop doesn’t make any money from the OnLive service, it feels that this move is justified. It stated the following on its official Facebook page:

“Regarding the Deus Ex: Human Revolution OnLive Codes: We don’t make a habit of promoting competitive services without a formal partnership. Square Enix packed the competitor’s coupon with our DXHR product without our prior knowledge and we did pull these coupons. 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 purchase and they will further assist.”

There’s a bigger issue here than Gamestop might realize. Yes, it may feel like it has the right to remove this code from packaging, but it’s actually coming across like this bully who tells you, “You’ll take what we give you when you buy it from us!” It’s one thing to alter a package where it’s no longer new, but it’s completely another when you remove something that’s supposed to be part of the package to begin with – regardless if you were involved in the partnership or not.

What is Gamestop saying to its customers by doing this? “OnLive sucks, you didn’t want the code anyway.” “We’ll be removing stuff from future games, like inserts and DLC codes that we were supposed to sell you separately.” “Ah, come on, you didn’t need that instruction manual.” This isn’t likely to come from employees’ mouths anytime soon, but what’s to stop Gamestop from doing so in the future? It may not seem like a big deal to some folks, especially if they don’t have OnLive, but the fact is, they’re altering the product that you’re paying top dollar for. You’re buying a game that’s supposed to be new, but isn’t – even if the disc is in “new” condition. It’s not new!

It’s a business move, and a dick one at that, proving that Gamestop is thinking of its customers in a secondhand matter, at least as far as this situation is concerned. They may be in the legal right as far as partnerships are concerned, but they should be more concerned about saving face with the folks who buy from them. You can bet that some people, particularly avid Square Enix fans, probably won’t look at them with high regards.

What’s more, Square Enix and OnLive could consider some kind of legal charges, in terms of tortuous interference (as deemed by Joystiq legal guru Mark Methenitis) to packaging. This battle could go on for weeks, and who knows what other altering the company has in mind.

Regardless, it’s a little hard to shake when Gamestop screws with your new products like that and sells them secondhand – despite how the condition of the packaging may be when they’re finished. They should just leave well enough alone, even if they don’t make that extra amount of money that they intend. Hey, guys, you’re getting money from the sale. Be happy with it. You never know when your greed is going to come back and bite you in the ass.

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Robert Workman
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