Hey, remember the free Deus Ex: Human Revolution OnLive code that comes with the retail PC version? If you bought your copy at GameStop, chances are you didn't get the code. It turns out that the retailer decided not to participate in the promotion ... by force.
GameSpy is reporting that GameStop employees received notice yesterday that they were to open new PC copies of Deus Ex and remove the free OnLive token. To repeat: GameStop employees were told to open new copies and remove contents intended to be sold with the game.
A GameStop representative confirmed to GameSpy that the company is removing the tokens, saying, "Square Enix packed the competitor's coupon with our DXHR product without our prior knowledge and we did pull and discard these coupons." Indeed, some of our own commenters claiming to be GameStop employees said the same thing in our post revealing the OnLive promotion yesterday.
Joystiq is currently investigating the issue, including the possible legal implications of tampering with a product and selling it as new.
Update: GameStop has issued an official statement on its Facebook page. We've also turned to our go-to legal guru, Mark Methenitis, for his comments. Find both after the break.
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 assist.According to Methenitis, GameStop's actions were "probably legal." The packaging of the PC version of Deus Ex: Human Revolution makes no mention of the OnLive promotion and, as such, GameStop can't be accused of false advertising or deceptive trade practices. "From the consumer angle," said Methenitis, "there's not much."
The corporate angle, on the other hand, could be a different matter. If there was an agreement between Square and GameStop prohibiting such a promotion, GameStop could be "completely justified" in its action. Absent of such an agreement, "OnLive and or Square may have a claim against GameStop for tortious interference or something else based on the activity." That said, without any details as to the distribution agreement, the legal implications of GameStop's actions remain murky.
Regardless of any legal repercussions, the court of public opinion certainly isn't looking kindly on the retailer.
Update 2: We spoke with OnLive CEO Steve Perlman about the bundling strategy and its limitations. He told us, "You can think of this as cloud game meets physical media 1.0."