Gamestop’s Deus Ex Coupon Controversy at a Glance

Posted by Tim Sheehy on Aug 25, 2011 in Videogames |

Deus Ex Human Revolution

[Update 8/25 via Wired: Gamestop to remove all regular edition copies of the game from their stores effective immediately. Returns to be accepted with receipt.]

Earlier today someone leaked an internal Gamestop e-mail which instructed its employees to open sealed copies of the recently released PC title Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and remove a coupon which entitled their customers to a free copy of the game via On Live — a streaming service that would allow players to run the game remotely via a PC or On Live console. The game would then be sold as new at the full list price despite having its case tampered with and its voucher missing. Sounds terrible, right? But is it really that cut and dry? Can Gamestop be the only party at fault? I know it sounds insane from the perspective of the consumer, but there is a reason to their madness.

Gamestop currently has plans to launch their own streaming service in coming months. The vouchers promote what they would consider the competition and were reportedly included without their knowledge or consent. Square Enix may have been required to divulge the contents of the package prior to shipping it, but apparently failed to mention the promotion. I have no way of knowing if that is indeed the case, but I imagine not, otherwise Gamestop would have been quick to point out that Square Enix violated the terms of a client/vendor contract. Had they been informed, Gamestop would have likely negotiated an alternate promotion for their own copies of the game similar to the DLC promotions that have become common place amongst retailers. It may not have been fair to them, but why would they want to punish their loyal customers as a result?

Deus Ex Gamestop e-mail

In my opinion, from a marketing standpoint, Gamestop should have either decided to pull the product entirely, or sell it as is. It should be noted that they wouldn’t have made much money on in the first place beingĀ  a new title — Gamestop makes most of their income through the sale of used games. They then should have made an attempt to secure a deal with Square Enix to include a copy of their next title via their own service as an exclusive. Finally, had they actually been upfront and forthcoming regarding the policy rather than attempting to pull a fast one on their customers, it may have simply blown over.

Unfortunately, that last solution no longer an option. Those consumers have lost out on an additional copy of the game. Gamestop decided to meddle with someone elses product to suit their own needs and has garnered a ton of negative publicity as a result. I think we can understand their actions, but we shouldn’t defend it. They made a blunder and even if Square Enix is to blame, there were other solutions to the problem. Someone will probably lose their job over it, and there’s always the prospect of a class action suit orĀ  tort claim, but there’s always the chance that the retailer could apologize and make amends. Their customers deserve that much.

image via arstechnica

Tim is a pro-blogger and freelance writer out of San Diego, California. In addition to, several outlets he’s written for include the Japanese culture and entertainment blog, Japanator, and the collectible toy culture site Tomopop. For more information, follow him on twitter, or check out


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