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GameStop Opening Deus Ex Boxes, Removing Free Game Coupon 343

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-won't-need-that dept.
DisKurzion writes "A leaked GameStop memo indicates that employees are to open the regular PC release of Deus Ex: Human Revolution and discard the included OnLive coupon. From the article: 'GameStop spokesperson Beth Sharum confirmed the practice, telling Ars that "Square Enix packed the competitor's coupon with our DXHR product without our prior knowledge and we did pull these coupons.'"
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GameStop Opening Deus Ex Boxes, Removing Free Game Coupon

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  • Tampering (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CSFFlame (761318) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @05:42PM (#37197154) Homepage
    Isn't this tampering with a new product?
    • Re:Tampering (Score:5, Insightful)

      by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @06:18PM (#37197718) Homepage

      Oh you can bet this will be quite actionable unless there is a contract agreement to the contrary.

    • Re:Tampering (Score:5, Insightful)

      by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @06:33PM (#37197902)
      By reasonable standards, yes, but Gamestop used to sell used games as new. [kotaku.com] This is basically a monopoly that abuses their customers. And their customers are largely under 18 year olds with more disposable income than experience or common sense, so they keep shopping there.
      • by morari (1080535)

        Used to? They still do. The last time I went in there was to buy the last Wolfenstein (2009). The very day it came out, yet they someone only had the display copy for PC. The box was on display, the game was shoved in a paper envelope and filed away in a drawer. They expected me to pay full price for an opened product. I walked across the parking lot and got it from Wal-Mart instead, where they had dozens sitting on the shelf. I didn't have to put up with any sales pitches over frequent shopper cards or sub

        • I didn't have to put up with any sales pitches over frequent shopper cards or subscriptions to lame-ass magazines either.

          I wish there was a code word or short phrase for "I don't mean to be rude, and I know you are required by your employer to ask, but stop trying to upsell me or get me to sign up for stuff." When I was working there, I'd prefer it when people would just ignore my greeting, which was supposed to be followed up with an annoying sales pitch. I'm not sure others would agree though.

    • by Tharsman (1364603)

      Indeed. There are two potential outcomes of this.

      A: class action lawsuit.
      B: If the game includes a game key to install, OnLive will work with SquareEnix to recognize that number as a valid cupon number.

      Hopefully they approach option B. I rather users actually get what they paid for than lawyers dip in a huge percentage of a class action suit's settlement.

      I have to say, I have test-played OnLive, and the system is amazing. Only reason I have not bought a single game from them is I like to own a copy I can pl

    • by mysidia (191772) *

      Isn't this tampering with a new product?

      It's false advertising if they state it's a new product / sealed in box, without informing that it is an "open box" product.

      Fortunately for GS; the product is not a food item or medication, so there is no risk that their tampering causes bodily injury or death.. if it were, and they broke the seal on the package before purchase, it would be a federal crime called Tampering with a consumer product.

      • Re:Tampering (Score:4, Informative)

        by Luckyo (1726890) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @08:11PM (#37199382)

        You do realise that the reason why these rules exist is because products you mention are PERISHABLES? As in they can become fatal when opened in wrong environment, and are sealed to increase their due date.
        Medicines are also often controlled substances.

        You can be absolutely certain that any product that doesn't fall in that category (or similar category where opening product may cause significant harm to the product itself) can, and often will be opened by retailer if there is a suspicion of something being wrong with package. They absolutely have this right, both legally and contractually with their supplier. You have to be utterly ignorant of how retail works (and why it works the way it does) to claim otherwise.

        And no, removing coupons that were put against retailers' desire, and possibly agreements does not fall into this category. And even if they remove the coupons, the game itself is completely unused, and therefore new.

        The only thing they may be doing wrong is false advertisement if package includes mention of the coupon, and retailer doesn't specifically mention the lack of this coupon before sale is made.

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      No, because in their agreements, they absolutely have the right to open product to inspect it written down.

      This is true for almost any major retail agreement, and this is why every retail shop has a shrink wrapper machine in the back.

  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @05:43PM (#37197170) Journal

    So... let me get this right.

    If you're competing against a fast-growing distribution method that has the potential to completely under-cut your own business model, the best way to do that is to... engage in behaviour that will really piss a good portion of your customers off?

    It's not actually the removal of the coupons that bugs me - it's the opening of the game boxes. I know that some retailers do this a lot - fortunately, it's rarer here in the UK than it is in the US. But I really don't like it - I've certainly bought "new" DS games in the past in the US that had saves already on the cartridge (presumably a staff member's).

    It's not as if they're just competing against download distribution. I've never bought a game from Amazon or play.com that had been opened before it arrived (well, aside from the time our local post-office staff decided that stealing was fun, but that's another story) - and those are almost always cheaper. Seriously, do these bricks and mortar retailers even want to stay in business?

    Actually, IANAL, but is there a legal issue here? If there's a reasonable expectation that every copy of the game includes this coupon and Gamestop are removing it, are they committing fraud or theft or something? Either from the consumer or from Square-Enix? I mean, surely Square-Enix must have a civil case here - and it's almost at the kind of level where it starts to sound criminal (if it happened in the UK at least).

    • by prgrmr (568806)
      IANAL either, but I would expect that GameStop owns the games until they sell them, and can do with them as they wish, given that the games are their property. What they are obligated to do or not to do contractually with the game maker may be a different story.
      • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @05:51PM (#37197296) Journal

        I suppose it depends on whether the coupon is advertised anywhere. If it's advertised as being included with the game - and especially if there's a marking on the game box itself saying "coupon inside" - then there are all kinds of trading standards laws that would be getting broken in the UK. I've no idea whether there are US equivalents.

        If the coupon isn't advertised anywhere, then it may be murkier.

        • by snowgirl (978879)

          It's iffy... Gamestop could be seen as diminishing the value of the item that they're selling you (specifically by the exact value of the coupon), so if they're selling it at standard price, you could have a legal claim to recover the "damages" done. However, I doubt that the coupon is for more value than the $25 that it takes to file a small-claims action (YMMV, this is Washington State's value). So, really the only option is a class-action suit from anyone who purchased the game and did not receive a coup

          • I would think that the publisher does have some recourse.

            This isn't like how the movie studios can't stop redbox from renting new movies without paying more (since anything they can't get from a distributor, the operators just go buy at a store)...gamestop probably has a contract.

            If gamestop was making a free and clear purchase and then reselling the items, they might be ok doing this...but I bet that in exchange for getting a massive discount on the game, they have agreed to some pretty clear terms whi

          • by Mitsoid (837831)
            I would suspect that unless *Gamestop* advertises there is a coupon inside, they are not falsely advertising.... It was not there advertisement --- Think similar to Fast food chains "In participating stores" -- They can't force all privately owned stores to follow a promotion...

            So even though the game might be advertising it, I don't believe they can force their advertisement on others (but by the same token, those same game designers are not required to sell their product to Gamestop, or barred from hav
            • by mysidia (191772) *

              I would suspect that unless *Gamestop* advertises there is a coupon inside, they are not falsely advertising

              The 'false advertising' would be the advertisement that we sell this product, this new game; instead of "We sell an open box copy of this product that has some components removed which were contained in the original product"

        • I think there's a legal issue even if it isn't advertised... from Square's pov. Now that word has gotten out that they're doing this, Square could claim that GS's practices are hurting the sales of their game. Not a law broken, as such, but certainly grounds for a civil suit.

        • by mysidia (191772) *

          If the coupon isn't advertised anywhere, then it may be murkier.

          If the coupon were not advertised anywhere, we on Slashdot would probably not know or care about it.

      • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @05:59PM (#37197434) Journal
        They need a sales tax license, and they need to have the product for "resale" to avoid paying sales tax themselves upon purchase. This sort of tampering may place them under requirement to pay sales tax on the product, rather than reselling it as a new product--they're not authorized to alter it and resell it....
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        But how can they sell it as a new product?
        These are now open box games not new games.

        • by AndrewNeo (979708)

          They've been selling opened games as new for a long time. I've heard plenty of stories of employees 'borrowing' new games.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            If they "Borrow" a new game then they "used" it making that a used product. Sounds like they need to be sued for this.

            • Why would anyone sue? Best case is you'll get a new, unopened game in exchange - probably the same as if you just took the game back to the store. Then the salesmen try to push the "borrowed" game to someone who doesn't care.

      • by funkatron (912521)

        IANAL either, but I would expect that GameStop owns the games until they sell them, and can do with them as they wish, given that the games are their property. What they are obligated to do or not to do contractually with the game maker may be a different story.

        Would messing with the contents of the game box affect their ability to claim that it's "new"? I genuinely don't know but my expectation of buying a new product would be that it is the product the manufacturer shipped out, no changes, no wear and tear (well, transport bumps), no missing pieces etc. Taking stuff out the box and selling as new is dodgy in my opinion but I don't know the legal stuff here.

      • by ewanm89 (1052822)
        I think that's against the EULA, they are contracted to sell licenses of the game as specified by the publisher.
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @05:55PM (#37197360)

      I don't know what the reasoning is, but they do it. They reseal them when they sell them. So it is nothing different for this one. If you demand factory sealed games, Gamestop was never a place you shopped.

      Also to note Onlive isn't a distribution method. Onlive is a service where they run the games on their servers and stream you the video. The idea being you don't need to have a good computer to run the game. In reality it sucks badly since you only get a low bitrate 720p steam, meaning it does not look like you get with a high end system, more like with a low end one, and there's interface lag because of the network round trip.

      In terms of digital distribution, Gamestop actually is in that business, they purchased Impulse some time ago so they now sell games online as well as in stores.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        I did not know this. I always ask for a sealed game when I shop their, never taking the open ones from the shelf. I guess I will stop going their at all.

        How is it legal to claim that these are new games?
        Does amazon also open games and sell them as new?

        • I think the only requirement for selling something as new is that it has not been sold before. You find at places like, say, Target, that they can sell an item even if the box has been opened and the contents inspected, which happens sometimes by curious customers.

          Amazon does not do that. It would be inconvenient for them to do so. They are about low costs of operation. They just ship the games out as they receive them.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            So then even their employees using the item does not make it used?

            Glad to hear that about amazon, I will from now on not buy new games at GS.

            • I would think that would qualify as it being used, though I don't know the law well enough to say for sure.

          • by gfxguy (98788)

            Interesting point... there's a lot of contention with dealerships that get "dealer" tags for cars instead of regular license plates, they (or their spouses or employees or whatever) can drive the car for YEARS and then sell it as "new," technically speaking.

    • (IANAL) The legal issue here is going to be tortuous interference, however GameStop could just as easily argue that adding the coupon for a competitive business to be distributed by GameStop without their knowledge could itself be considered tortuous interference, especially since the only purpose for giving away a free game to GameStop customers would be to interfere with the relationship between GameStop and its customers.

      Granted, I'm sure the coupon is in every box, not just the ones sold through GameSto

    • by mysidia (191772) *

      Actually, IANAL, but is there a legal issue here? If there's a reasonable expectation that every copy of the game includes this coupon and Gamestop are removing it, are they committing fraud or theft or something?

      The coupon's part of the package. Meaning it's also part of the product.

      If you know from the manufacturer sources that the coupon is part of this product, you go to Gamestop, buy the product, and open the package to find part of the product missing then the product is not complete.

      This i

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      What you're talking about is selling used as new. That is usually illegal.

      What they're doing here is opening the package, checking contents without using the actual product (game). This does not make the product used.

  • by tekrat (242117) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @05:45PM (#37197206) Homepage Journal

    Cool. I can violate every provision of the EULA, and it's GameStop that has to agree to the terms.

    I wonder if that'll hold up in a court of law?

    • by ge7 (2194648)
      Just because GameStop agreed to the EULA by opening the box (not that this has ever been agreed to in court, or that I know of Deus Ex even having this), doesn't mean you can violate their terms.
      • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @06:23PM (#37197780) Homepage Journal

        Yes, you can. You didn't agree to shit, Gamestop did. You are under no obligation at all to abide by the EULA, especially since I'll bet that EULA has a clause about non-transferrable property that kicks in upon opening of the software packaging.

        Gamestop is then violating the EULA, their problem, not yours.

        As it is, this is product tampering, and bait and switch, not to mention anti-competitive practice.

        • Yes, you can. You didn't agree to shit, Gamestop did. You are under no obligation at all to abide by the EULA, especially since I'll bet that EULA has a clause about non-transferrable property that kicks in upon opening of the software packaging.

          Gamestop is then violating the EULA, their problem, not yours.

          As it is, this is product tampering, and bait and switch, not to mention anti-competitive practice.

          No, sorry. The EULA agreement pops up during installation. Bait and switch does not occur since the coupon was never promised. Not providing a competitor's marketing coupon cannot reasonably be considered as anti-competitive.

      • by sjames (1099)

        Why not? The whole legal basis for the EULA is that you took a specific action to indicate agreement. In the case of GameStop, you didn't take that action.

        That leaves you responsible only for the default copyright terms.

        Of course, it would cost you plenty to actually get such a ruling IF you could find a court that doesn't just go through the motions.

        • You would have a valid point, except that every PC game I've ever bought (boxed/retail) that had a EULA, popped it up during installation and asked you to agree to the terms before allowing you to continue the installation process. So the "specific action to indicate agreement" to which you allude is clicking "I agree" and "Continue" in the installation dialog box.

          I can't remember a single game that came with a Microsoft Windows style "BY OPENING THIS BOX YOU FORFEIT YOUR SOUL" EULA. Also, as previously
  • Cereal box (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Palshife (60519) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @05:46PM (#37197232) Homepage

    This would be like my grocery store opening my cereal box to get the toy out so that I'm more likely to buy toys from the store.

    Fucked. Up.

    • by MobileC (83699)

      It'd be more like the store opening up the cereal to remove a toy advertising a competitor they told the distributor not to include in the first place.

      • by fafaforza (248976)

        Still fucked up. I don't want any of their employees opening my food and possibly contaminating it. If you don't want to sell the product with the toy, send it the f back and demand product without the competing product. Your inter-business dealings have little to do with the customer you supposedly serve.

        • Still fucked up. I don't want any of their employees opening my food and possibly contaminating it. If you don't want to sell the product with the toy, send it the f back and demand product without the competing product. Your inter-business dealings have little to do with the customer you supposedly serve.

          Do you eat your DVDs? wtf?

      • That still does not justify the actions. A store has the right to chose what they do and don't carry, If they don't want the coupon, they don't have to carry the game. Either way the customer has to have a notice letting them know things have been removed. You cannot just take something out of a product and sell it at the same price and keep it hidden from the customer.
  • ... and this is why I don't buy my games from the galactic empire (gamestop) anymore...

  • To think I wanted to work there as a child...
  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by daemonc (145175) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @05:55PM (#37197362)

    What a bunch of deusbags.

  • by Rinnon (1474161) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @05:56PM (#37197366)
    When I purchase something that is advertised as "New" I expect it to BE new. I want it to be sold to me as it was shipped from the distributor. By opening these boxes and removing whatever the fuck they want, are these games even allowed to be called "new" anymore? I avoid shopping at Game Stop to begin with (There is fortunately a local store that has better prices and more selection), but when I DO need to buy a "new" game from them... I'm going to start insisting that they only give me sealed boxes. If a game is not still factory sealed, I'm going to demand it be sold at the used price point, as this is essentially now an "open box" item.
    • by jmauro (32523)

      Umm, this is GameStop. They don't sell Factory sealed items, even on things marked "new".

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        They sure make it appear as though they do.
        I take the open box to the counter then request a sealed one. If they are resealing them than I want to pay open box not new prices.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      when I DO need to buy a "new" game from them... I'm going to start insisting that they only give me sealed boxes.

      They have resealing machines. You can't count on a sealed game to be "new" at GameStop.

      • by Rinnon (1474161)

        when I DO need to buy a "new" game from them... I'm going to start insisting that they only give me sealed boxes.

        They have resealing machines. You can't count on a sealed game to be "new" at GameStop.

        Aw nuts. Guess I'll just not shop there at all.

    • by vux984 (928602)

      When I purchase something that is advertised as "New" I expect it to BE new

      You do realize the clothes you buy may even have been tried on by someone else, right?

      Do they lose their "new" status too? Or do you after trying on a jacket, demand that they bring you one that no else has tried on?

      By opening these boxes and removing whatever the fuck they want, are these games even allowed to be called "new" anymore?

      If they opened printer boxes, dropped a usb cable inside, and slapped a sticker that said "USB cable

  • by BaronHethorSamedi (970820) <thebaronsamedi@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @05:59PM (#37197432)
    True story. I went to Gamestop once to pick up Dragon Age: Origins. I'd seen the DLC advertised with a new copy, and that sounded like a good deal. The clerk offered me a used copy for slightly below the $60 asking price. I specified I wanted a new copy for the DLC, so he took the box out from behind the counter, I paid for it and left.

    I got the game home, opened it, and there was no code for DLC included. Then I noticed the game had been unsealed and re-wrapped. I took it back to the store, presented the receipt and said, "Hey, you sold me a used game at full retail." The guy tried to backpedal, saying it was a new copy that had been opened for display purposes, and maybe someone had stolen the DLC code. It was late, so at that point I offered to take the used copy he'd previously offered if he gave me the right price for it. He then said that was the only copy they had (though he'd previously tried to sell me on a used copy before presenting me with the "new" one). He hastily provided me with a full refund.

    Then I went to a competitor's store nearby, where I found a new (i.e. sealed) copy for $40, DLC included. I have not set foot inside a GameStop since. My definition of a "new game" is one that's gone from the factory to my hands without the contents of the box seeing daylight. GameStop, it seems, has other ideas.
  • by Hahnsoo (976162) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @06:05PM (#37197526)
    The Wired article on this does a more balanced job at handling the legal ramifications:
    http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2011/08/gamestop-onlive/ [wired.com]

    Basically, Gamestop may be in the right, legally, if Square-Enix has a pre-existing contract with them with a non-compete clause. As the article states: “Existing contracts between GameStop and Square may have barred this kind of promotion, and so GameStop may actually be justified in their action if Square is in breach of some promotion/marketing agreement”

    But they can also be in legal trouble over this, as the article also points out, for a number of different reasons.

    Nowhere on the packaging does it say "Free OnLive coupon", apparently. I haven't looked at the packaging myself.
  • by Xian97 (714198) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @06:09PM (#37197578)
    I quit shopping at Gamestop because they opened many of their boxes. Since they are selling new games along with used for consoles, how do you know which you will end up with? Case in point, I purchased a Nintendo DS game for my daughter. Christmas Day when she opened it up and put it in her DS there were saved games on it already - it had obviously been used. When I bought it, I mentioned that the box was not sealed, and they claimed that they had to do that else they would get shoplifted. I replied that other stores have less employees in the store but don't have their games opened and behind the counter.

    Another time in a different Gamestop my son bought the PS2 game Devil May Cry, again the package was open and the had the discs behind the counter. A few days later while playing it asks him to insert Disc 2, which was not in the box. We went back to the store and they still had the 2nd disc.

    In both cases they made good, but after those experiences they lost me as a customer, and I had been shopping there nearly every week since they were Babbages. It sounds like they have still haven't learned not to open packages.

    In this case it's even worse - don't they have to break the security seal to get the coupon? In the old days they could just re-shrink wrap it, these days most games come with a security seal as well.
    • by captjc (453680)

      I shall throw my hat into the ring as well. There are two Star Wars games in the Starfighter series, Starfighter and the sequel Jedi Starfighter. Having playing the first, I decided to buy the second during a used game sale at GameStop. I got home, only to find that they have given me the first game instead. It would have just been a simple misunderstanding but the douche-bag at the counted decided to give me a hard time about it, including repeatedly asking the question, "what's the difference?" Eventually

  • If so, why? The few times I've gone in there ( "well, it's been a while, they have to have gotten better" ), I have left disappointed.

  • The stealing codes is semi-new. But opening the box and storing the disks somewhere else is something they've done for years.

    The employees will even take the games home and play them, then they'll sell the games to you as 'new'. Except when activation codes don't allow that.

  • Are there any lawyers (as in, licensed to practice law) who are gamers who are reading this willing to take this one pro-bono?

    • Are there any lawyers (as in, licensed to practice law) who are gamers who are reading this willing to take this one pro-bono?

      Only if they're idiots.

  • Legal or not, this is pretty clearly poor practice for the customer and rather shady. But it's nothing new. Gamestop is little more then a pawn shop these days anyway. Their PC selection has been so pathetic for years that I'm surprised they even sell this game.

    I stopped going there years ago when I went to buy a game and was instead lectured about how I should pre-order. I then walked across the street to a big box store and bought it without the lecture. This is a terrible company and as soon as their paw

  • *shrug*

    This doesn't bother me at all.

    Unless they are re-sealing the boxes and are representing them as unopened, I don't see the problem.

    Caveat emptor used to mean something.

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