Welcome to our first edition of Gamer Mondays here on Stealthy Box. This weekly editorial is going to feature situations in gaming which do nothing but piss us off as gamers. We’ll be covering a specific topic every week and these editorials will always be evolving as the industry evolves as well.
The first issue I’m going to get into in this debut edition is the decision for publishers to create retail exclusive content for video games that we all know and love. I’m going to be covering preorders, money-printing titles like Skylanders, and anything else that plagues us as gamers when it comes to this subject.
Do you miss being able to walk into GameStop (comfortably) to pre-order a game where you’d get some badass physical item the moment you do so? Yeah, I do too. What happened to that? Now, we’re greeted by publishers cash grabbing us for digital content that we can’t see or appreciate when the console is off. To make matters worse, these publishers are now giving retailers different pre-order bonuses so that the only way we can have it all is if we buy and return multiple copies of the game to get each DLC code — or we can wait a month and pay actual money for it on the PlayStation Network when it was given out for free to begin with.
It’s getting out of hand. I’ve honestly quit pre-ordering games like before unless it comes with a physical item such as an art book or includes something cool that I feel should have already been included with the game to begin with, such as maps and missions. And let’s be honest, most of these pre-order “incentives” are starting to be nothing more than pure cosmetic changes to our characters or game.
Publishers need to open their eyes and realize we’re their life blood as gamers. We buy their product. Show us some love by giving us pre-order content that matters, that we can physically hold and appreciate when the PlayStation is turned off. And let us have it regardless of where we choose to buy your product. Don’t force us to change where we buy video games just because you think all retailers should offer something different. By the way, these publishers that are guilty of this still do offer physical items, they’ve just changed the game.
Do you know what they’ve done instead? They’ve upped the price between $99.99 and $199.99 and called it a “Collector’s Edition.” That is all that is, nothing more than awesome pre-order swag we used to get for free, now sold at top dollar despite the lack of craftsmanship and quality going into the product. Have you seen eBay lately? People who do choose to go to multiple locations to grab DLC or choose to purchase multiple collector’s editions then go online and sell them to the highest bidder — to people who weren’t able to do the same due to time restraints or even unaware that it was being released in that format.
All of this could be avoided if publishers just showed they cared about the consumers that love their products by offering them a one-stop location to get it all instead of making them drive all over a city to get that fix. I’m tired of it. I don’t do it anymore and I won’t do it in the future.
It gets worse. Ever since Activision found out how much money they can make with Skylanders, we’ve witnessed a massive cash grab movement to retail exclusive behavior. Toys ‘R Us pretty much has a monopoly when it comes to games like Skylanders and the recently released Disney Infinity. It’s bad enough I am shelling out $13.99 for individual characters, but now they’re telling me if I want to collect them all I have to go to a specific retailer and buy the SAME figures a SECOND time because it’s made a bit differently? I need (if I want to be a completion junkie) to buy a Legendary Stealth Elf or Crystal Lightning McQueen which doesn’t differ much from the normal versions I already bought? That’s ridiculous. What makes it worse is I can’t just pick them up at Best Buy while I’m there buying the others, I have to drive across town to TRU to get them because they’re only available there.
Disney has taken this even one step further than Activision, which is kind of surprising. They have released retail exclusive power discs to TRU as well, and things like this sell out immediately. You can’t go a couple of days later because everyone knows you can only buy them from one store. That leaves people without the extra time forced to check on eBay if they’d like to get a complete set. This is where the price gouging comes into play and the end user, you and I, lose. Disney knows this ahead of time too. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out this is going to happen. These types of items shouldn’t be limited at any time, they should be made readily available in mass quantities. Show appreciation for the people that support your jobs.
It’s a shame that those of us willing to stand up to these practices are so few and far between. I guarantee you if pre-orders started to decline dramatically due to digital content being offered in place of something physical, the industry would change to suit our needs as gamers. Is that selfish? I don’t think so. The same goes for retail exclusives. If Toys ‘R Us couldn’t sell out of its stock so easily, they’d stop buying up these opportunities. However us gamers just don’t have the restraint to stop — unless it’s a $500 console like the Xbox One, then we can come together and create change that benefits us all. Think about that. Help change this trend, don’t be the guy that helps keep the option on the table.