2 December 2008


Is that the future of buying games? I'm not talking about getting a game and then having to pay more to get features and content. No, i'm talking about buying the 'same' game from different retailers.

Due to recent increased competition in the UK games retailer market and also due to the financial dip we're in, retailers are having to work at getting people's custom, which they seem to be doing by offering exclusives. Now, i don't know if they're paying the developers or publishers for these exclusives but it's beginning to get a little confusing when knowing what you're going to get and if you'll be able to access all this offered content in the game.

For example: Prince of Persia (the new one)
  • You can buy the standard game - no bells or whistles
  • You can buy a standard game with a nice case from HMV or GAME
  • You can also buy a nice case with some unlockable codes for character skins from Play
The bog standard game is £5 cheaper but all the other three versions are indentical in price (which is fair enough, it's up to the retailer to set the eventual price) but my question is if i want the game the only shop i'm going to get it from is Play..... but if i didn't hear about the game when it was released or had to pick it up later on due to financial restrictions do i still have access to those character skins in the game through natural progression and unlocking ability? Do these games have the same content?

It's a similar situation to Shaun White's snowboarding over in America. Target teamed up with Ubisoft to make extra content for the game that's only available in Target stores. Now, it's $5 more expensive than the normal version.... but that's extra content that you can't buy through DLC or anything....

I'm trying to think of a similar business situation but the only one that comes to mind is in the music industry, where 'artists' (because i'm sure it's more to do with the labels) have recently begun selling their albums and then a few weeks later (or simultaneously) selling a new version that has exclusive content such as 4-6 new songs for an extra price. This means that fans either have to buy two versions of the album or do without - though some of these songs are available through downloadable stores.

The practice seems to be a good way to hoodwink the consumer into paying more for the product they wanted and it also seems a good way to alienate your consumer base by splitting up the products into haves and have-nots. I was lucky in seeing the Play offer because i don't normally shop there and because i'm a big fan of the PoP series i immediately switched my pre-order and paid £5 more just to ensure that i still had access to that cool content..... but really, it comes down to lack of information. The same way that DRM is peddled and practiced on the PC the process is not transparent and so we, the consumer, have to make uneducated guesses when deciding how or where to buy our products.

It's a confusing world out there, developers, please don't make it worse.

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