Most people with eyes see what's going on and that it is complete bull****.
I don't think most game producer companies would shoot themselves in the foot so easily: NOT everyone prefers doing it online. NOT everyone CAN do it online. Unfortunately special privileges go hand in hand with compliance AKA V.I.P. status for customers who do it the way the company wants.
I agree that IF this took root, this is just another way to squeeze people who refuse to do it the way the company wants. The only way I would think something like this could be fought (besides customer protest and chain stores boycotting the products) is to try to see if this business practice falls under the definition of a trust. I'm pretty sure it doesn't, though, because it is only this company. If it were to be done by multiple companies, then it might go somewhere.
This does raise a good point, though. Game chains and physical stores (which IIRC sell MOST of the actual gaming goods) would begin protesting the practice as unfair. Think stores like Target, Wal-Mart, GameStop, Fry's Electronics, Radio Shack, Best Buy, and a number of other places. I could see a lawsuit happening if this trend were to begin picking up. But then again, what do I know? I can barely predict my own future, let alone the weather or movements of an industry.
At what point does one begin to evaluate the downside to cutting out the middle-man?
"I cant see S***! --YOU GO TO HELL!" --Tourettes guy