Yes, I will admit that I have one of those lists of companies that I will not buy from, as it pertains to my hobby of video games.
It’s a hobby for me. I don’t have to have a particular experience, my self-identity is not tied up in the video game experience, certainly not to the point that I can patronize just any company for that experience regardless of their actions.
Gamestop fully entered that category when what I call “CouponGate” came to light.
For those who haven’t been watching, Gamestop was recently caught having their employees open copies of Square-Enix’s latest Deus Ex PC installment to remove coupons that would have netted the buyer a matching copy on the OnLive gaming service.
Yes, Square-Enix has admitted to placing the coupon and then not informing their resellers of it. That much is not in dispute. Neither is the fact that the game does not actually call this out on the packaging that there’s a coupon in there.
Here’s where I fall off the excuse wagon, though.
Gamestop has a habit of “gutting” games, opening them up and sticking disc in a drawer in the back to cut down on theft. This is acknowledged, and I’ll admit that the only other way to cut down theft from shoplifting is to follow the department store model, which is to shove all the copies behind glass in their cases, and basically leave a single opened shell out for you to peruse.
This, however, clashes hard with their additional policy of letting employees “rent” the games, and then going ahead and selling them as new, with no real good public policy of having a single copy gutted that is sold as a “display copy” at reduced price.
The latest action shows that they’re willing to not only “gut” the games they’re selling, they might well be quietly removing all sorts of content that, unless you follow on the net and track what the publishers are putting in the box before you buy it, you really have no way of verifying that Gamestop is, indeed, selling you the complete product.
Square-Enix may not have informed them of the coupon, and they discovered it after the product arrived at stores. That is not in dispute. What is the issue, here, and the final straw for me patronizing them, is that they did not take the mature response, and send all the product back with a request that Square-Enix remove the coupon.
This, alone, would have avoided the public firestorm.
And their response? A 2-for-1 game deal, and a $50 coupon, to anyone affected by their earlier gaff.
Not enough. This is big enough, whoever made the decision that the games were to be opened and content removed, should have been fired, full stop.
I don’t add companies to my “don’t buy from ever” list lightly. Ubisoft is there for hideous Digital Rights Management setups. Capcom is there for things like undeletable saves and not having any good original ideas anyway. Sony is there because of their constant efforts towards that we never really own a piece of hardware.
Gamestop, you will never earn my trust now, like the other companies on my list. I am a gamer. You are another waypoint on my way to leaving the new game market, for good.