I don’t get it, 2K Games and Gearbox Software.
I spent $60 on your Game of the Year Edition of Borderlands for the PlayStation 3. I was happy to double-dip on Borderlands, given how much I enjoyed it on the Xbox 360. In fact, according to my Raptr data, I spent 55 hours playing it. I was looking forward to playing it again on my PlayStation 3, with all of the DLC this time. I was a little concerned when I opened the case and saw a DLC voucher inside; after all, a Blu-ray disc has a ton of room… so including the extra 4.41GB of DLC on the disc should not have been a problem. Still, I was fine with letting the download go while I slept overnight.
After going to the PlayStation Store and entering the voucher code, I was surprised to find that it didn’t work. I grumbled, and tried again. Same result. After a brief Twitter exchange, I decided to let things go until morning, figuring that very few people bought the game at midnight and that things would be fine later.
Now it’s past noontime here, and the code still does not work… and I am justifiably angry.Even though the problem now looks like an issue on the PlayStation Store side of the house, since I see that others are having the same issue, I hold 2K and Gearbox responsible. What good reason is there to not have the DLC on the same disc? There isn’t one. It’s meant to dissuade trade-ins or buying used. Instead of having all of the content available on physical media, give a one time use code (that may or may not work) and let the consumer take the 4.41GB hit on his or her bandwidth cap. Buying the game used simply means that you are buying the same game that’s been out there used for nearly a year but with different artwork.
I understand that, if this situation resolves itself, there’s still a $10 savings buying the GOTY version of Borderlands for $60 versus buying the standalone game for $30 and the four DLC add-ons for $10 apiece. I don’t get, however, why some GOTY versions of games (like Oblivion for example) have the DLC content included within physical media for immediate installation while others resort to Voucher Roulette. I bought this game new, and yet have to jump through hoops to access the content that I paid for. What’s worse is that half of the paid content is digitally distributed, which will require at least an hour of time to download and install. All of the Borderlands GOTY content, between the PS3 mandatory installation and the DLC, consumes a whopping 7.11GB of hard drive space. I’m not sure that I see the value of the this package when all is said and done. I’m now soured on the experience, have to wait for a resolution, still have to devote the time to download and install the DLC, and saved a grand total of $10 versus buying a la carte. If I could return the game, I would… but because it’s a problem with the DLC and not the game, I’m stuck with it.
Publishers and developers need to stop catching consumers in the crossfire when it comes to their War on Used Games and the battle with resellers. Had they not been fighting this war, I’m willing to bet that the content would have been on a disc instead of via a 12-character code that’s still worthless 12 hours after buying the game and removing the seal. I did nothing wrong. I spent money on your game and bought it new… and yet I am treated to this experience?
Tell me why I shouldn’t have just bought Borderlands used, and then bought the DLC that I wanted for it.
There isn’t a good reason why, other than wanting to make even more money on assets that have been around for some time already– which you would have gotten from me when I bought the DLC. Instead, I played by the industry’s rules and got burned in the process. I don’t want to hear arguments about who is at fault. I don’t want to hear how “stuff happens” and that the situation will be fixed. If I buy a game at the full $60 price tag that the industry seems to think it deserves for providing us with such fantastic entertainment, then I expect to have access to what I have paid for.
I shudder to think what Sony has done with its Uncharted 2 Game of the Year package. How much of that will be voucher-only? Will they work?
I’m pretty much done with GOTY packages after this mess, personally… and my distaste for this console generation and the industry’s blatent lack of regard and respect for its consumers continues to grow. It’s appalling.
There probably won’t be a game this year that will outsell Modern Warfare 2. Sure, I’ve talked a bit here about some of the game’s controversy before, but one man’s opinion likely won’t dissuade scores of people wanting to see if Infinity Ward can top its huge hit from two years ago. The hype is at a fever pitch, and the release date is oh-so-close…
… but there are plenty of people playing the game already. In fact, gaming social networking site Raptr is showing that over 4,000 hours of gameplay have been logged by users so far. That’s over 24 hours in advance of the game’s alleged street date.
Yes, it’s another broken street date. Like Borderlands and Tekken 6 before it, Modern Warfare 2 is an example of how the street date system is impossible to enforce… and further evidence that street dates must end. It’s not even a suggestion or a gripe anymore– it’s almost mandatory, with the Pandora’s Box that a game like this has opened. Nothing’s definite, of course, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lawsuit of some sort was coming involving either Activision, Infinity Ward, GameStop, and/or any other retailer that sold Modern Warfare 2 early. Why? Well…
Any players who purchased a legit retail copy will not be reset or banned. Only modded / pirate versions will be.
That quote, from the Twitter feed of Robert Bowling from Infinity Ward, indicates that there will be no statistic, rank, or leaderboard reset when Modern Warfare 2 officially launches on November 10th. That means that, arguably, the players who were wrongly sold copies of the game early will be at an advantage in terms of rank, leaderboard standings, perks, and so on. That’s unfair in a competitive multiplayer game, especially with a head start of several days over those who are forced to wait.
A potentially even bigger issue is GameStop’s decision to break street date in this instance. What’s peculiar about this situation is that GameStop only cleared certain locations to break the date, allegedly due to competition doing the same. Here’s GameStop’s explanation from its Vice President of Corporate Communications, Chris Olivera:
This past weekend, GameStop made the decision to break street date and sell reserved copies of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 in select markets where other retailers had broken street date. Our decision followed many conversations with Activision and was an effort to protect our customer base.
There are some problems with this explanation:
- Earlier on Sunday, Activision commented to Kotaku that the company had not given any retailer the green light to break the date, which would presumably include GameStop. Robert Bowling also mentioned the same thing via Twitter. Someone’s either lying here or withholding some facts about the situation that we’ll probably never learn. Either way, it’s not a good thing.
- Picking and choosing markets to break street date doesn’t make the decision any more ethical. GameStop is going to look worse in markets that it’s holding fast with, because consumers do not care about an agreement with a publisher that has no bearing on them. Where’s GameStop’s proof that just those markets have instances of broken street dates?
- Lastly, the decision to break the street date at all is a marginal one, at best. How much potential revenue was GameStop set to lose if they’d waited the extra few days like most other retailers? Couldn’t they just cite the distribution agreement in lawsuits against other businesses who broke the date?
It’s understandable that publishers want to try and appease all of their retail clients. The street date system was designed to try and ensure that all retailers would have equal ground when a significant title launches, but the success of this system was predicated on retailers cooperating and enforcing street dates. Despite the threats of hefty fines, it makes no sense for retailers to follow street dates. If Activision decided to fine GameStop, GameStop would likely file a lawsuit claiming that they broke the street date because others did the same. Other retailers would possibly sue to make the street date distribution agreement null and void. Activision could try to withhold product, but how would it get sold?
It’s all a vicious cycle that can easily be avoided by simply ending the street date policy. Send product to retailers in an orderly fashion and allow retailers to sell games as they arrive, like we see in most cases during the year. There isn’t a good enough reason for stores to sit on games that can be sold immediately. It’s time for publishers to rethink their shipping strategies. If they want high-profile releases in stores on a certain date, make a deal with a shipping company (of which there are plenty) and send them all overnight directly to each retail store. It would be up to each retail chain to alert publishers to the stores that product must be sent to. The responsibility of getting games to retail in a timely fashion for merchandising and sale lies as much with the game’s publisher as it does the retailer.
Enough is enough.
I’m stepping out from behind my normal standards of writing to opine about something that annoys the hell out of me when it comes to gaming retail. I’m not talking about used game sales or stickers or selling opened games as new… but a different situation altogether.
I’m talking about street dates.
In theory, street dating game releases is a good idea. It removes the possibility of shipping delays by allowing retailers to receive the game and deliver it to stores so that everyone can buy it at the same time– sometimes as “early” as midnight. Everyone should have the game by the time the street date hits, so it’s a matter of hitting up your favorite store and picking up the game that’s released.
When retailers are all on the same page with street dates, it’s fine. Unless you’re working as a reviewer and receive an advance copy from the software publisher, there are no advantages here. If a store is having a midnight opening and you want a game bad enough, you can be one of the first to buy it. If not, you can line up at the store when it opens that day and buy the game then. However… when retailers are NOT on the same page, which is becoming a more common occurrence, street dating becomes a hindrance to the consumer. Being told by your retailer of choice that you cannot buy a game, although it’s in stock (even unofficially) and despite other retailers or locations actively selling it. I’ve already seen evidence that notable releases like Borderlands and Tekken 6 have had their street dates broken, some 3-4 days before the actual sell date. That’s ludicrous when I’ve already paid for my game at a certain retailer, and regardless of whether it’s arrived yet or not, I’m not privy to fnding out and it wouldn’t matter anyway since the game won’t be sold to me before its street date.
Frankly, that’s a load of crap.
Believe me, I understand what the potential consequences are for retailers that are caught breaking street dates. There’s usually a fine of some sort to be paid to the publisher. If you think about it, though, might it be worth it for retailers to break street dates knowing full well that consumers want to buy the game in question immediately and that it’s physically in the store just waiting to be sold? Those are potential missed opportunities for retailers, which means potential loss of revenue. If you tell me that I can’t buy a game at your store until the next day, I’m going to leave unsatisified and, unless I pre-paid for the game at that store, will wind up buying it elsewhere.
The bottom line here is that the street date system is broken and either needs to be retooled or discontinued.
If the system is to be kept intact, then more serious consequences for retailers (and employees) must be instituted and enforced. Fines should be raised, or the offending retail chain should see a decrease in priority from publishers and vendors to where they receive new releases up to three days later than other chains. If it’s an independently owned “Mom & Pop” game store, that store should be cut off by its supplier for a period of time (2-3 weeks). Receiving new releases late or not getting them at all will seriously affect the store’s bottom line and should be enough to get retailers to ensure that street dates aren’t broken again.
Preferably, the street date system should simply be eliminated. When a retailer gets a shipment of games, it goes out for sale. Retailers can estimate arrival dates, as they do for most games anyway, but simply not guarantee availability. If a publisher wants to have a “Mortal Monday” or “Rocktober 13th”, then the publisher should coordinate shipping to ensure that the product arrives by noon at retailers. Shipping companies can handle this kind of load, so I really don’t buy any potential excuses regarding logistics.
As much as I’d dead-set against digital distribution as a way to buy my games– unless they’re Xbox Live Arcade games, for example– at least everyone gets a shot to buy the same games at the same time. No clueless employees, greedy managers, or anything else is involved. For now, though, something needs to be done about this kind of retail distribution inconsistency. It’s unnecessary, frustrating, and is easily fixable.