With the growth of digital distribution, there has been something of a split in the gaming industry: those that like to keep their media firmly and securely in their hands – while the rest keep it securely on their hard drives.
The choice of physical media or digital has become especially complicated for the PC market – and is one of the pinnacle decisions of any game choice, especially with games like Deus Ex: Human Revolution causing a stir.
That’s why, instead of having gamers worry about which format to choose, publisher Square Enix and cloud gaming company OnLive decided to team up and offer both. For gamers that purchased the physical copy of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, they would also receive a copy of the game from OnLive for free. As a retail offer of $49.99, it’s not one that most PC gamers could pass up.
Yet that’s not quite the happy ending that it should have been: it turns out that retail mogul GameStop wasn’t as interested in the promo, and began to physically remove the OnLive codes from the retail copies – and reseal them as if nothing happened. After receiving several confirmations from anonymous employees, it seems that it was in fact GameStop management urging the OnLive codes to be removed.
In response to the accusations, a GameStop representative stated that the company did in fact order the removal of the OnLive coupons – but that no further comments could be made until research had been done. OnLive has yet to make a comment (along with Square Enix) – yet, as it stands, they both will have some strong words to say.
[Update 2: Square Enix responds.]
Whether or not GameStop knew about the OnLive code scandal or not, how they handled the matter is dumbfounding. If there was an issue with communication (i.e. they didn’t know the codes would be in packaging) then the smarter choice would have been to remove the game from the shelves until it was sorted out. Now they run the risk of hitting countless different types of lawsuits and fines – as well as losing the already tenuous trust of their consumers.