I know that last week was officially my "Arrogance in the Industry" parade, but it seems that the "fine" folks at GameStop just felt so darn dejected at their lack of a placement on my list that they went out of their way to make jolly old asses of themselves. For those of you that don't know what I'm talking about, last week GameStop told its employees to pull a coupon for OnLive - a new digital online game store - from their copies of Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
While Square Enix's response of basically saying "that's coo', whatever, they can do what they want" is almost laughably bad, the gamers that bought from GameStop are of course less than thrilled; especially due to the fact that these games which had been opened and modified were sold as completely new games fresh out of the box. Had the memo to store employees not been leaked then people might never caught on that they were being jipped out of a $50 dollar value when buying from GameStop.
As GameStop tries to back-pedal by offering incensed gamers some free stuff (that they kind of should have gotten off the start anyways) I can't help but almost feel bad for the retailer (note that almost doesn't mean I do). I mean, they've gone beyond the kid that gets angry, takes their ball and goes home. They're the kid who gets angry, takes ANOTHER kid's ball, then goes home, proving beyond a shadow of doubt to the rest of the playground that they're a fucking moron in the process.
I can see why GameStop would do what they did, they don't want to give free rep to their competition. GameStop is planning on debuting a digital content delivery system of its own, not to mention the fact that it as a brick and mortar store still does have to compete with the ever increasing presence of online distribution giants like Steam and the inbuilt stores that Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft have established. However, they could have - and arguably should have - handled this situation so much better. I'm not the brightest tool in the shed (derp) but looking at this it took me not even five minutes to spin the unforeseen inclusion of this coupon into something that could have helped GameStop significantly.
Run a promotion. Tell people that buy Deus Ex that if they open it up and give the GameStop employee their coupon for OnLive, that the GameStop employee will give them a coupon for $75 for when the GameStop digital store comes online. All of a sudden GameStop aren't the bad guys anymore; sure, they're undercutting Square Enix, but this is business, you do what you have to do as long as you aren't overtly pissing off the customers. Word will spread that there's a good deal going on at the franchise, so more people will come in and buy the game from them, and then of course when the digital service comes online, you have a bunch of people will free money to spend. Once they spend that money though, they're more likely to stick around, because one purchase, just one small purchase even, can engender that customer loyalty that all retailers, online or physical, need to survive.
It's still a little dubious, I'll admit, and it would probably lose GameStop a little money. But hell, they're losing money now thanks to this whole debacle, AND on top of that they're got to deal with the PR nightmare and gamer backlash this has caused. They didn't have to sit there and just grin and bare it, but in the end even that would have been better than the decision they did make.
This sort of segues into what I'm probably going to be talking about for a majority of the week, if not the whole week. Buying games. There's now more than ever the increasing amount of choice of just where and how you want to get your titles from. Things like different release content for different stores, digital gamestores, and just the internet in general have made the once simple task of buying games now almost a game in and of itself. The question is, who's playing who, and who's going to lose?