Deus Ex Fiasco: The End of GameStop?

Deus Ex Fiasco: The End of GameStop?

GameStop is a big corporation, easily the first name that comes to mind when we think about game retail. Therefore, when it pulls a boneheaded move, the entire world can see it. It’s like watching a ten mile-high baby steal from a huge cookie jar. And, like a child, GameStop is capable of showing genuine remorse when it’s caught doing something bad–but given GameStop’s latest stunt, it’s not clear if remorse and an apology will be enough to repair consumers’ trust in the company.

Long story short, ladies and gentlemen who picked up their brand-spankin’-new PC copies of Square-Enix’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution at GameStop discovered with the help of the internet that their copies of the game had been sullied just a little: before the game had gone on sale, GameStop employees had been instructed to open them up and remove an OnLive token that allows for a free digital download of the game.

To GameStop’s credit, it fessed up on its Facebook page as soon as the screws were put to it:

“Regarding the Deus Ex: Human Revolution OnLive Codes: We don’t make a habit of promoting competitive services without a formal partnership. Square Enix packed the competitor’s coupon with our DXHR product without our prior knowledge and we did pull these coupons. While the new products may be opened, we fully guarantee the condition of the discs to be new. If you find this to not be the case, please contact the store where the game was purchased and they will further assis[t you].”

Unfortunately, GameStop decided that the best way to deal with the fiasco would be to slice through the knot and take the PC version of Deus Ex off shelves.

Needless to say, the gaming community was registering its rage across the internet in record time, and rightfully so. GameStop is on the verge of launching its own streaming service, so it understandably sees OnLive as prime competition. But it’s unacceptable to rip open games, remove bonus content, re-package the whole shebang, and sell it as “New” to unassuming customers.

GameStop has waded through some sticky PR situations in the past, and some critics are wondering if this will be the incident that prompts consumers to look at other options, including online purchases, independent retailers, streaming services and more digital downloads via Steam and Origin. The likeliest answer is “Probably not.” While people are turning to digital options more frequently, that’s simply a matter of course. Generally, however, we have pretty short memories when a game company or retailer pulls a dumb stunt. Sony’s online security snafu, for instance, has faded to the backs of our brains and it’s gaming as usual. Similarly, GameStop’s little “Oops” will just go on the company’s list of incidents. For some of us, that list will already be packed with examples of inexcusable business practices, and that will be enough to make us turn away. But most of us will be back as soon as we need to trade in an old game for some new hotness.

As for the mainstream public–the men and women who are buying birthday gifts and rewards, the boys and girls who are running in with their allowance jingling in their pockets to buy that game they’ve been aching after for months–few of them are going to have any idea that GameStop pulled any shenanigans at all.

Also, GameStop has issued an apology for screwing with Deus Ex buyers, and though their forgiveness package is basically a clever way to get people to buy and trade more of their games, it still might be enough to make most people say, “All right–we forgive you this time. Just don’t do it again.”

And maybe GameStop won’t do it again. Or maybe it’s just a matter of time until it pulls another silly stunt. In either case, keep in mind that your wallet is a powerful, wordless means of telling a company “Eh, we all make mistakes, it’s okay,” or “I’ve had it; I’m going elsewhere.”

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

2 Comments

  1. They’re a retailer I have had (largely) positive dealings with but “loyalty” is not part of our relationship. Since I have so many other options, I don’t feel motivated to adopt a three-strikes attitude of leniency towards them. If they were a local mom & pop indie joint, maybe, but they’re just another corporate box.

    In light of this gaffe, I figure I’ll switch to Amazon. Even if I’m representative of a small segment, a small dent in their revenues has a non-zero chance to be a scarecrow teaching other companies, “Hey, I got a crazy idea — let’s not screw up *before* we get caught!”

  2. GameStop has been opening new games for YEARS. The employees open them, play them and bring them back to sell. I met one person who purchased a Nintendo DS from them just to find it had already been played. (they found profiles on the system) GameStop has been dead to me for a long time. This is just one more reason. Long live OnLive!

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