Living life in the Limelight is nothing new for GameStop, one of the only remaining, and fuctional, video game retailers in the US. GameStop has been a constant source of ire and joy for many fans of the video game industry. Whether you enjoy them for their eclectic collection of used video games, or dislike their practical abuse that very used video game concept; you probably know that when it comes to GameStop they really only look out for themselves. There have been several controversies surrounding the company and their definitions of used video games. One instance was their policy on allowing GameStop employees to check out merchandise for up to four days. Sounds great, who doesn’t want to rent a game or system for four day straight and for free! Well, not so fast. When the four days are up the item rented is simply repackaged and sold as if it was still factory sealed. Isn’t that great, knowing that you may have purchased a game in the past for full price that was not only opened, but played by another person? Well, it only gets wore from here on.
With the release of Deus Ex: Human Revolution last Tuesday, GameStop has managed to once again be the center of controversy. Square Enix, the company behind the game, had included a bonus gift with every purchase of a physical copy of Deus Ex. Included with the game, was a code that could be used to play the game using the OnLive services for free, a $50 dollar value! Square Enix, a partner with OnLive, saw this as an opportunity to not only make their customers happy, but allow them to test the new cloud gaming format in hopes of spreading the word. A great deal for everyone involved, right?
Well, according to GameStop, someone forgot to inform them of this fact. So, in traditional GameStop fashion, their response was to open up every single copy of the brand new Deus Ex game, and remove the coupons. Afterward, they sealed up the now morally tainted copies and simply planned to sell them to unsuspecting customers at full price. Fortunately for us, a leaked copy of the mandate released by GameStop made its way around the internet, causing a backlash of negative press. GameStop’s immediate response to leak was, “We don’t make a habit of promoting competitive services without a formal partnership.” What’s wrong with this picture is not that GameStop would open up new merchandise to remove a competitor’s promotion, but that they would do so with the intention of never informing their customers. It’s a shady practice, and one that should not be forgotten easily. There may be no legal issue’s here, as the packaging never mentions the OnLive coupon; however, there is an ethical business issue present that should be addressed by the company.
Since the backlash occurred, GameStop has already attempted to make up for their momentary lapse in business ethics. The following day GameStop promised anyone who purchased the physical copy at one of their stores would receive a $50 GameStop gift card. A fair trade in terms of reimbursing the coupon that was removed. However, it still doesn’t make up for the fact that GameStop was specifically trying to go behind their customers backs, and remove something from a product they were purchasing, all the while charging factory sealed price. When this didn’t prove to be enough, GameStop decided to pull all copies of Deus Ex and return them to Square Enix for new copies that no longer carried the coupon. I’d like to think we, the gaming community, will hold onto this experience and attempt to change the way GameStop deals with its customers…but chance are that just won’t happen. Regardless, I think it goes without saying, “You dun goofed Gamestop. You dun goofed.”