Deus Ex PC Discs Get Free OnLive Version; GameStop Yanks ‘Em Out

By  |  Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Gamestop isn’t winning any fans today for its decision to remove a free streaming OnLive copy of Deus Ex: Human Revolution from the boxed PC version of the game.

Publisher Square Enix had partnered with the streaming game service OnLive on the promotion. But because OnLive is a threat to Gamestop’s retail business, company management ordered employees to throw away the vouchers before selling the game. “GameStop’s policy is that we do not promote competitive services without a formal partnership,” the company said on its Facebook page. Hundreds of angry comments followed.

Removing the OnLive copy strikes me as an odd move for a few reasons:

  • OnLive’s an awesome idea, but the experience of playing high-end PC games off a remote server still isn’t responsive enough to replace PC gaming. The technology needs at least another year or two before it’s ready for prime time, and by then Gamestop may have a streaming game service of its own. Why risk losing business and customer goodwill now?
  • When Portal 2 launched on the Playstation 3 in April, it included a free download of the PC version through Steam, Valve’s digital distribution service. Like OnLive, Steam competes with Gamestop for business, so why didn’t Gamestop remove those vouchers? (Maybe that’s the kind of “formal partnership” Facebook refers to in its statement.)
  • This is the Streisand Effect at work. GameStop just gave OnLive a whole bunch of free publicity. OnLive ought to capitalize and partner with another retailer for the promotion. I’d love to see Amazon step up and let buyers stream their OnLive copy while they wait for the boxed version in the mail.

To me, Gamestop’s decision is more puzzling than infuriating. The only people who should be really angry are those who already bought the game at Gamestop, expecting the OnLive copy inside. Everyone else should take their business elsewhere.

UPDATE: Gamestop has now removed the coupon-laden copies of Deus Ex: Human Revolution from store shelves. I love the subtle mockery of the retailer in Square Enix’s press statement: “Square Enix invites gamers who want to purchase the PC version of Deus Ex: Human Revolution without additional coupons to buy the game at any one of over 4000 GameStop stores in North America, or purchase a digital download copy online from”


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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Guest Says:

    Boy, this is also looks like tortious interference with a business relationship. Nice job admittin you are doing it on a Facebook page.

  2. zadoc Says:

    Having been in management at Gamestop, I know that they are encouraged to not only rip off their own stores and slander competetors, but also to rip off the customers. This comes as no surprise.
    I would be surprised if Gamestop didn't break a law.

    Poll: Did Gamestop commit a crime by opening copies of Deus Ex and removing a free code for competing service OnLive?