The GameStop/OnLive Debacle: How I Like To Think It Happened

GameStop Underling: Huh. That’s interesting.

GameStop Boss: What is?

Underling: These Deus Ex: Human Revolution games Square Enix shipped us include a voucher for a free OnLive copy of the game. I don’t think they mentioned they were gonna do that.

Boss: What? OnLive? But we just bought our own digital delivery game service - Impulse! That makes OnLive our competitor!

Underling: I suppose it does.

Boss: We better open the boxes and remove the vouchers.

Underling: Wait, what?

Boss: But we should still sell the game as new and unopened at full price. Also, we shouldn’t tell the customers.

Underling: Even if that isn’t illegal, it definitely opens us up to lawsuits. Plus it will anger our customers and generate a lot of ill will toward us.

Boss: I don’t see you throwing out the vouchers our customers will believe themselves to have paid for.

Underling: Okay, we removed the vouchers. Now a lot of people are really mad at us.

Boss: Hmm. We better put out a perfunctory apology that shows no remorse whatsoever.

Underling: Check. Do you want to also try to make it up to the people we ripped off? Maybe we could give them back the vouchers we basically stole from them.

Boss: Dear God, no! That would suggest that we believe that what we did was wrong and we’re trying to set it right. We better give them GameStop gift cards instead.

Underling: Okay… I suppose that’s still sort of reasonable.

Boss: Also, we need to stop selling Deus Ex immediately.

Underling: Wait, what?

Boss: If we can’t sell it without our competitor’s voucher, we won’t sell it at all.

Underling: You’re saying it’s so important to us that our competitor not give away something to people who are already our paying customers that we are willing to give up all physical sales of a hotly anticipated, heavily marketed game that’s getting rave reviews and is a serious contender for Game of the Year? And in so doing, force people to buy it from a competitor?

Boss: That’s exactly right.

Underling: If we’re that worried about the efficacy of this marketing scheme, why don’t we just start doing it ourselves?

Boss: What are you saying?

Underling: We could give anyone who buys Deus Ex from a us a voucher for a free Impulse copy.


Underling: Heck, we could do it for other titles too. It could be our thing! I mean, we own the dominant physical games retailer, and now a digital one - why not get some synergy out of the situation? We’re uniquely poised to take advantage of this. We’d be giving people a reason to shop at GameStop, instead of taking one away!

Boss: You’re fired.

Underling: Wait, what?

Boss: You heard me. Clean out your desk. Go home and play a video game or something.

Underling: …fine. Steam should be done downloading Deus Ex by now anyway.