Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

Online game shoppers duped into selling souls

British retailer GameStation claims it now owns 7,500 souls after inserting a clause into its sales contracts with online shoppers.

3 min read

I first sold my soul to a girl with a very large gap in her teeth. It took me years to get it back. (Yes, souls are recoverable.) But then I met a former trapeze artist from a Hungarian circus. The rest, as they say, is misery.

I have no reason to believe this lady is a customer of GameStation. CC Dreamglow Pumkincat 210/Flickr

So I feel a peculiar and vigorous bond with the 7,500 people who, so mesmerized by the idea of buying a video game, sold their souls to the UK gaming retailer GameStation.

You might think I am making this up. You might think that no one can buy someone else's soul. At least, not legally. Well, please check your own soul compartment, just in case you might have inadvertently sold its contents while ordering up a new Xbox 360.

According to Fox News, you see, GameStation decided to slip a clause into the terms and conditions of its purchase contracts that gave the company the rights to your immortal being.

The clause makes for stimulating reading: "By placing an order via this Web site on the first day of the fourth month of the year 2010 Anno Domini, you agree to grant Us a non-transferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul. Should We wish to exercise this option, you agree to surrender your immortal soul, and any claim you may have on it, within 5 (five) working days of receiving written notification from gamesation.co.uk or one of its duly authorised minions."

The retailer reportedly began this clause as an April Fool's joke, but then developed it in order to prove to itself, the world, and the heated inhabitants of Haedes that no one reads these often draconian draftings.

So it penned this fun addendum to the soul-selling contract: "We reserve the right to serve such notice in 6 (six) foot high letters of fire, however we can accept no liability for any loss or damage caused by such an act. If you a) do not believe you have an immortal soul, b) have already given it to another party, or c) do not wish to grant Us such a license, please click the link below to nullify this sub-clause and proceed with your transaction."

These, you see, are very reasonable people. They do not want merely to steal your soul and make off with it into the digital night. They want you to think very carefully. They want you to take stock of your spiritual situation and consider just how venal a human you have become.

In this case, the retailer not only offered a simple box to tick in order to opt out of the soul sale. It even offered an incentive of a voucher worth five British pounds for merely paying attention to their legalese. But GameStation estimated that almost 90 percent of those offered this redemption did not bother, leaving their souls at the mercy of those who would sell you a Monster Hunter.

GameStation has reportedly said it doesn't intend to enforce its soulless clause. E-mails will be sent to customers to confirm this. However, the spiritual world doesn't work in subsections and codicils. It works in vapors and potions, curses and oaths.

So who knows what has really happened to the souls of these customers? Will they float forever in the ether, waiting to saved? Will they appear in some future Michael Jackson compilation video? Or will some bright and spiritual spark at Goldman Sachs invent a new financial instrument: the Soul Default Swap?