In case gamers were already somewhat rattled following the news today that GameStop employees were personally removing OnLive coupons from PC copies of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the latest reports won’t help. The video games retailer had previously refused to comment until further investigation had been conducted, but now an internal email has apparently been leaked revealing orders to not only pull all PC copies of Human Revolution from shelves, but that they will ultimately be returned to Square Enix. Why? Because OnLive competes with GameStop’s own yet-to-be-released streaming service.

In case you haven’t been following the events today, allow us to explain. Square Enix – the publisher of Deus Ex: Human Revolution – had worked with streaming game service OnLive by including a free coupon code with every physical PC copy of the game. Pick up a boxed version of the game, get a coupon for a free version to play via OnLive. It’s part of the package.

But it wasn’t long before accusations came flooding in that GameStop employees were manually opening the boxes, removing the coupons, then resealing them and selling them to customers. According to a leaked email, these actions were carried out as per a directive from the company itself.

Now it seems that gamers who had hoped to pick up a PC copy of Human Revolution – since it’s apparently the best version – will have to find it from another retailer, as GameStop employees have been directed to remove all copies of the game from store shelves until they can be returned to Square Enix.

That’s according to another internal email that has been forwarded to Giant Bomb, revealing the reasons behind the company’s suddenly suspicious behavior. The name of the game is competition, and the directions could put publisher relations with the retailer in seriously hot water:

“At this time please pull all Regular PC editions of Deus Ex: Human Revolution and place them in your backroom. These will be recalled at a later date.

As GameStop is developing a streaming service in our Spawn Labs Cloud Computing Division, the coupon that was included is for a competing service. We are returning all copies of the PC regular edition to the vendor in agreement with Square Enix.

Any unfulfilled reserves of the Regular PC Edition should be taken care of with the inventory set aside in your backroom.
Please honor any returns with a receipt.”

Needless to say, this is a serious event if the rumors turn out to be accurate. It wouldn’t be out of line to suggest that GameStop is seen in several different ways by those within the games industry. The retailer’s place as the king of used game sales – the type of transaction that some developers see as akin to cheating – doesn’t come without making a few enemies, but this kind of practice seems to be without precedent.

When the reports first came in, many may have assumed that GameStop was up to something complicated, or possibly misunderstood. But now it seems that if the accusations are to be believed, GameStop has shown that if a publisher has plans to help a competitor, they won’t hesitate to remove copies of a game from their shelves. The ramifications of such a case are serious to say the least, so hopefully things aren’t as bad as they seem.

Exactly what kind of streaming service is in the works at GameStop is open to speculation, but the retailer already taking a preemptive strike against others in the genre is a shock. There’s no doubt that gamers will have opinions on the new reports, so feel free to sound off in the comments.

It’s unfortunate to think that this could take some of the attention off of the fantastic game that DX:HR is, but hopefully official statements from GameStop and Square Enix will be coming shortly. We’ll keep you updated as it happens.

[Update: Square Enix responds to GameStop’s actions]

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is available now for the Xbox 360 360, PS3 and OnLive. PC gamers, it seems you made need to buy your copy from a new retailer.

Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: GiantBomb