Editorial — September 2, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Editorial: Devil’s Advocate: The GameStop Edition


Allow me to start this off by stating that this may not be the most popular opinion, it might not even be the “right” opinion, however it’s a different side to an argument that has been controversial lately. So I’m just going to throw caution to the wind, open up this can of worms and prepare for the backlash.

Much ado has been raised over the fact that GameStop opened up copies of Deus Ex Human Revolution copies to take out a coupon for a free copy of the game for OnLive cloud service. Was it wrong to do it? Well it’s a yes with a “but” or a no with an “if”. I will say this wasn’t exactly the best move for their Public Relations to handle, but at the same time, I can’t really fault a business for running a business. So while a ton of people are mad, I wasn’t surprised. After all, it’s business. Then I did some deeper research on the subject.

While, it’s hard for me to defend opening new products to sell to customers, there is more to this than meets the eye. Sure your feelings toward a giant company aren’t going to change, I’m only going to do this in hopes that people don’t rush their local GameStop stores with torches and pitchforks…and if they do I can only hope they think about things before they do.

So while it was wrong for GameStop to open new games to take out the coupons, this was one of those things that was done with poor execution. GameStop might not be the complete bad guy in this overall though. Look at OnLive as the first culprit of this. They sent out the coupon not letting GameStop know about it. GameStop has Spawn Labs and Impulse a direct competitor to OnLive. So why should GameStop allow a direct competitor? It’s like putting a Pepsi vending machine in a coke factory. I can’t fault GameStop for at least stopping the sale of the game.

This was OnLive’s “Trojan Horse” of promotion. They didn’t tell anyone about the coupon, except maybe the publisher Square Enix. When I thought about it, it works for a store like a Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, or any other place that might not have their own direct competition to OnLive. When it comes to GameStop I have to wonder if this was really a way to get one over on their competition.

Second thing, how many people did this really affect? The email sent out said “Please immediately remove and discard the On Live [sic] coupon from all regular PC versions of Deus Ex: Human Revolution”. So however many people bought the game for the PC got a copy of a game for OnLive. Now of those PC Gamers, how many of them have OnLive? Let’s just say for a minute that they did this for every console and PC versions of the game. So everyone with that bought the game from GameStop had a shot at a free copy of a game they already had. Granted it was for a different system, but do you need two copies of the same game on a different system? It just confuses me because if you spent your money ON a console or PC version of a game, why would you play the OnLive version?

I personally can understand if you just used the coupon just for the sake of using the coupon, believe me I get that. I’ve spent money on pre-ordered games and put the codes in for the downloadable content, and never used some of it.

Now comes into the legal question of it. I’ve read that GameStop could be in trouble for this, and then again they might not be. The defense being that GameStop didn’t do anything to the disc itself, nor did they take anything out that wasn’t already advertised with the game. This is only coming off the rough research I’ve done. Had the coupon been advertised with the game on the box, it would be a form of false advertisement.

I will commend OnLive for staying almost silent on the matter. OnLive is sitting back and taking in the free advertisement. GameStop looks like the bullies here, when in fact they’ve only tried to protect themselves. To make it up GameStop offered a $50 store credit, and a coupon for a buy two used games get one free deal for those customers that pre-ordered the game that were out of luck in this mess.

I can concede the fact GameStop shouldn’t have opened the games to take out the coupons. If I was the one in charge, I’d probably suspend the sale of Deus Ex with the OnLive coupon until Square Enix sent in copies of the game without the coupon. I can concede the fact that it’s not what’s best for the consumer, but it’s business. Both parties have to concede something to keep not just the business, but the industry of gaming alive.

It might not have been right in the consumer’s eyes as to what GameStop did, does, and will do in the future, but at the end of the day, can you blame them? Can you blame them when OnLive discretely sent out coupons? Can you blame them if you’re one of those people who might not have used the OnLive version of the game anyway? Can you blame them when they didn’t do anything to the disc? Personally, I think I understand why the monstrous corporation did what they did.

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  • Pilot

    Granted the coupon wasn’t advertised on the box but opening the package is illegal. If they didn’t want to sell the item as is they should have done as you suggested and just send it back. Im sorry but it is never ok to tamper with a product and sell it as new and that’s where the offense is.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/DSB_IV Super Sanchez Bros

    I wholeheartedly agree that opening the package wasn’t right. Stopping or delaying sales might have made people angry about it, but I don’t think anyone outside of OnLive or Square Enix really had any prior knowledge of the coupon.

    I think if OnLive wanted to really stick it to GameStop they should’ve made the coupon an exclusive thing for another store or stores.