GameStop has acknowledged that it removed coupons for free OnLive copies of Deus Ex: Human Revolution from the PC version of the game.

OnLive and Square Enix announced yesterday that as an extra incentive for gamers who couldn’t quite bring themselves to pull the trigger on the new Deus Ex release, all boxed copies of the PC version of the game will include a coupon for a free copy from cloud gaming company OnLive. I don’t really see it as a “seal the deal” offer but it might come in handy someday and hey, free stuff is free stuff, right?

Not if you bought it from GameStop. Shortly after it went on sale, buyers began reporting to GameSpy that their supposedly brand-new copies had been opened and that the OnLive coupon was missing. Dodgy, yes, but things didn’t get full-on greasy until an anonymous source provided the site with a photo of an email, allegedly from GameStop management, telling employees to pull the coupons from the PC version of the game and throw them away. “Our desire is to not have this coupon go to any customers after this announcement,” the memo said.

Confirming the situation, a GameStop rep told GameSpy that the removal of coupons was in fact mandated by the company. “Square Enix packed the competitor’s coupon with our DX:HR product without our prior knowledge and we did pull and discard these coupons,” she said.

To be fair, it’s a tough situation for GameStop. The company is effectively being forced to promote a direct and even existential competitor, without any say-so in the matter. But cracking game boxes and pulling freebies sure doesn’t pass the smell test, particularly from the perspective of OnLive, which probably sunk a hefty chunk of change into making this happen. And then there are the gamers, who at the bottom line aren’t getting stuff they’re supposed to, and that they paid for, simply because GameStop doesn’t want them to have it.

Tough situation or not, that’s pretty greasy.

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