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Retailers try to outperform the competition — that's the whole point. They are in the business to make money, after all. The problem is when a retailer hurts me, the consumer, as a result of attacking the competition.
As I'm sure you've heard, OnLive, the streaming service that allows you to play games via the cloud, hooked up with the folks at Square Enix to offer a code for a free OnLive version of Deus Ex: Human Revolution with every boxed PC copy. That's a $49.99 value and a pretty sweet deal. My ears perked up a little bit when I heard about that offer. If I do buy Deus Ex, I'll probably pick up the boxed copy for that reason alone.
GameStop, however, decided that you shouldn't have this code. OnLive is GameStop's competition…sort of, except GameStop's own cloud gaming service isn't likely to launch until next year. But whatever, I guess the thinking is that if you use OnLive, you might like it and buy games there instead of GameStop.
So GameStop directed its employees to tear open the retail boxes and take out the codes from every PC copy of the game. Then they resealed all of those packages and sold them as new.
A lot of people will probably never use this code and to them it might not be that big of a deal. More upsetting to me is the idea that a game publisher attempted to offer me some extra value, and a retailer decided that I shouldn't have it.
I think it's pretty cool that OnLive and Square Enix worked out this arrangement together — obviously they both benefitted in some way, but the consumer benefitted most of all.
What's not cool is GameStop deciding that it can alter a product to better suit its own needs at my expense. If it felt that strongly about not supporting OnLive it should have choosen not the sell the game.
GameStop claims that it didn't know anything about Deus Ex coming with an OnLive code. Well fine, If this somehow breaks a previous agreement between the companies then GameStop should have contacted Square Enix and dealt with the situation.
By going about it in this way, GameStop has violated the trust of publishers and gamers. Publishers want to know that their games are going to be sold the way that they want them to be. Can GameStop open every copy of Battlefield 3 and put in a sticker that says "Modern Warfare is better"? Similarly, gamers need to be able to trust retailers to at least some degree. By taking away this offer from us they have basically stolen 50 bucks. That just plain sucks.
So what can we do about it? The answer is simple. Stop supporting GameStop. Don't trade your games in, don't buy there, and don't subscribe to the company's magazine. Show your protest with your wallet. Don't run around on forums and Reddit calling GameStop names, because that won't help anyone. Make a decision and act on it.
I won't visit my local GameStop ever again, and the next issue of Game Informer that comes in my mailbox goes to the proverbial but also literal litter box.