Video game retailer GameStop has admitted to removing coupons from boxed PC versions of Deus Ex: Human Revolution for free versions of the game on cloud gaming provider OnLive.

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

“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 launche simultaneously on OnLive and PC and gaming consoles like the Xbox 360.


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“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.”

OnLive representatives told VentureBeat the company didn’t have anything new to add.

GameStop is reportedly testing its own game streaming service, which would compete with OnLive when launched. The company 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.

“You will see more combo deals like this,” Perlman said. “Everyone who buys a disk can get it on other devices too — you buy the disk and get it everywhere.”

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