I'm the assistant manager of a GameStop in NC and I'm hoping to maybe shed a little light on what happened, at least at the store level. Demigod came in our distro yesterday (the 10th) - we received one copy and it came in a box, mixed with other titles. There was no street date sticker on the distro box or on the game case itself. If I remember correctly, Demigod was listed in our New Release list as being a 4/9 ship date, with no street date attached to it. A typical street dated title would have a "SD" followed by the date it is to be released next to the title of the game on the label. So, for example, Demigod would have read:
"Demigod SD 4/14"
Additionally, if a title is street dated, the POS will throw a warning if you scan it before it is supposed to be released and that didn't happen either. So, the game was not street dated according to GameStop's point-of-sale. This means, at least at the store level, employees are correct in selling it. However, the street date of a title is not determined by the retailer, but rather by the developer/publisher. The bottom line is (contrary to what Avalon may think) GameStop screwed up. Ultimately, the fault lies with GameStop's Corporate office. Either:
A| They knew about the SD (which seems to be the case according to Frogboy), decided to ignore it, and didn't put the appropriate checks into place to make sure it was not sold.
B| Somebody REALLY, REALLY screwed up at the corporate office and this whole problem is an honest mistake.
This is no more than speculation on my part, but I'm actually leaning toward A. I've been with GameStop now for three years and I know how they handle release dates. While individual stores or employees may botch up and sell a game early, corporate has *never* told us to break a street date and they are very aggressive in making sure street dates are enforced. I remember before Grand Theft Auto IV came out, some people had a fake letter circulating from Rockstar and Take-Two saying it was OK to go ahead and sell it. Corporate sent out an email to all stores warning that the letter was a fake and that if an employee sold the game early they would be immediately fired. Even if GameStop knows other retailers are selling a game early (I'm looking at you 7-Eleven!) corporate will tell the employees to adhere to the street date under threat of firing.
The point in me saying all this is that GameStop is on top of street dates - I find it incredibly hard to believe that this is a legitimate mistake. Furthermore, Frogboy says that GameStop even asked for permission to sell Demigod early and Stardock told them no. This means GameStop knew the publisher wanted the street date adhered to - which makes it even harder to view this whole debacle as a legitimate mistake.
In other news, Demigod is awesome. Top-notch work GPG and I hope that this ordeal doesn't hurt sales too much. Quality game from a quality developer and publisher!
See you online,