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GameStop hands out $50 gift cards after pulling free OnLive game coupons

Game retailer GameStop is handing out $50 gift cards as an apology to gamers who bought PC copies of Deus Ex: Human Revolution after the retailer pulled coupons from the boxes for free versions of the game from cloud gaming service OnLive.

Gamers who bought those copies of Deus Ex: Human Revolution will receive a $50 gift card from GameStop and a two-for-one deal on used games as part of the arrangement. The retailer is backpedaling after saying it did not want to promote competition from OnLive, since the company is reportedly testing its own game streaming service. The Federal Trade Commission did not comment on whether the practice was anti-competitive when contacted by VentureBeat.

GameStop officials told VentureBeat that Square Enix, the publisher behind Deus Ex: Human Revolution, pre-packaged the coupon without informing GameStop — prompting GameStop to pull the coupons out of the game packages. The brick-and-mortar game retailer instructed its employees to open copies of the game and remove the code. Gamers who purchased a PC version of the game were originally treated to a free copy of the game on OnLive, which runs games on powerful remote servers.

“We pulled the coupons because, like all retailers, we prefer not to promote our competitors and their competing offerings and services in our stores,” a GameStop spokesperson told VentureBeat. “Unfortunately, the coupon was packed without our prior knowledge.”

OnLive runs games on powerful remote servers and streams the games like a YouTube video to a web browser. The service can run triple-A titles like Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood on computers and even tablets that don’t have a lot of processing power. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is one of the first few high-profile titles to launch simultaneously on OnLive and PC and gaming consoles like the Xbox 360.

“We were part of their overall campaign, they have a long manufacturing cycle,” OnLive chief executive Steve Perlman told VentureBeat. “It’s the beginning of a trend — we have had some deals with indie downloads like the Humble Indie Bundle, we’re doing distribution inside the box.”

GameStop still relies on sales of physical copies of games and a large part of its revenue comes from buying and selling used physical copies of games. The company is facing stiff competition from digital distribution services like Steam and streaming services like Gaikai and OnLive.

Meanwhile, OnLive has deals with a number of other upcoming triple-A titles like THQ’s upcoming Space Marine and Saints Row: The Third, along with Batman: Arkham City, a sequel to the smash hit Batman: Arkham Asylum. The company will soon run those same high-end triple-A titles on tablet computers, mobile devices like the iPad and devices running Google’s mobile operating system Android.


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