Gamestop has taken the PC version of Deus Ex: Human Revolution off store shelves following the removal of bundled OnLive download codes.
An alleged corporate email posted on Giantbomb calls for staff to remove the game from shelves and store stock in the back room ahead of shipment back to Square Enix.
Employees are asked to honour all returns presented with a receipt.
Earlier today, GameSpy cited an anonymous employee of the retailer, who revealed an instruction note handed out to stores asked the employees to remove the OnLive codes from all PC versions of the game.
This report was confirmed by GameStop representative Beth Sharum, who said: "Square Enix packed the competitor's coupon with our DXHR product without our prior knowledge and we did pull and discard these coupons."
Square Enix responds
Square Enix has issued a conciliatory statement in the wake of Gamestop's decision to cease offering Human Revolution for sale.
“As part of Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s boxed offering on PC, Square Enix included a third party coupon. GameStop was not made aware of this inclusion and Square Enix respects the right of GameStop to have final say over the contents of products it sells and to adjust them where they see fit in accordance with their policies.
"Square Enix invites gamers who want to purchase the PC version of Deus Ex: Human Revolution without additional coupons to buy the game at any one of over 4000 GameStop stores in North America or purchase a digital download copy online from www.gamestop.com."
Gamestop is yet to reply.
Speaking to Industry Gamers, games industry analyst and qualified attorney Mark Methenitis said the retailer "probably" had grounds to remove the codes.
"It's probably legal. GameStop isn't removing any essential element of the product. It's like taking the Nintendo Power promo out of a Nintendo game," he said.
"The only issue would be if the box advertised the promo and GameStop did nothing to change that, there might be a deceptive trade practice or false advertising kind of claim. But from the consumer angle, there's not much."
"It's probably legal. GameStop isn't removing any essential element of the product."
Initial reports suggest the game's packaging isn't labelled, as the codes came as a surprise to many purchasers.
Methenitis also said there's little chance Gamestop is in dubious legal territory by opening the boxes before sale.
"The act of opening the box didn't necessarily mean the product went from new to used. And GameStop also isn't using the disks, so I don't think they're crossing the line to become used games," he said.
While consumers have little legal traction in this case, Square Enix is a whole other story.
"GameStop and Square may have had a marketing agreement prohibiting this kind of promotion, in which case GameStop may be completely justified. If not, OnLive or Square may have a claim against GameStop for tortious interference or something else based on the activity," Methenitis explained.
No shared saves
Those opting to purchase a copy of Deus Ex via OnLive will pay the same as retail, around $49.99, so having an extra copy lying around if you use the service would have been a nice thing to have.
Unfortunately, Joystiq reports there's no cloud-save feature, meaning the two copies can't be used with the same save file.
OnLive CEO Steve Perlman said mods used in the stand-alone retail version could cause issues, but the company is interested in pursuing more promotions, and may build save compatibility into future titles.
"You can think of this as cloud game meets physical media 1.0. This first version doesn't have cross-pollination between your local PC and the cloud," he said. "That'll probably be like 2.0."
Original article by Stephany Nunneley with updates by Brenna Hillier.