CVG recently reported that UK-based online retailer SimplyGames has been accused of blatantly profiteering from gamers who have pre-ordered Sony’s PlayStation 4 by upping the price from £350 ($558) to £415 ($662). Those who do not pay this £65 ($103) upgrade ransom have been told they will lose their pre-order, although PixelEnemy has noted that those with orders of two or more units are guaranteed to receive a system on launch day.
This hits gamers on two fronts. One, it is illegal to demand more money after the contract price has been agreed, a view shared by the UK Trading Standards Institute (TSI). According to the Metro, the TSI has threatened an injuction against the company. Two, by guaranteeing larger orders, this opens the floodgates for re-sellers to hold customers to a second ransom on auction sites such as eBay, as people clamour for the console before Christmas. While the demand can only be a good thing for Sony, the negative publicity is not something the Japanese firm wishes to court. SCEE even issued a statement confirming they were not behind the forced upgrades.
“Sony is not and would not force anyone to buy something they don’t want. We value our consumers and offered the bundles precisely to give them choice and value. And the key word there is choice. We continue to work closely with our retail partners to ensure we offer this choice against the challenges of managing demand and inventory in the climate of amazing excitement and unprecedented demand for PlayStation 4.”
Sony’s defence came after the company was directly accused of being behind the exorbitant bundle upgrade, but Eurogamer managed to get a picture of the forced deal packages which looks to include unofficial dual-charging cables. This indicates that the bundles have been jangled together by the retailer. A comment from SImplyGames customer service (also obtained by Eurogamer) reads as follows:
“We can confirm that the reason that we need you to select one of the new bundles is because we will not be receiving as many [stand-alone] consoles as we first thought that we would be. We have therefore made a range of bundles available to you, the cheapest of which is the console-plus-game bundle that comes with either Killzone: Shadow Fall or Watch Dogs for £399.99.”
However, as Eurogamer notes, these official bundles were not the ones offered by SimplyGames when they started to force consumers to upgrade, and still represents a large mark-up of the original price.
Sony has suggested that those customers who do not receive a stand-alone console at launch will still more than likely receive one by Christmas, which is the biggest worry for many. Yet as Sony and SimplyGames continue to misdirect and accuse each other over the debacle, it is apparent that it is SimplyGames’ reputation that is taking the biggest beating. A number of poor decisions on SimplyGames’ part, from the bullish way it demanded more money to prioritising those who ordered two or more consoles (i.e. resellers) has left a bad taste in many gamer’s mouthes. Not only do the TSI’s comments urge the Home Authority to intervene during the matter, but UK gamers have been flooding forums and comment sections to protest the ransom demands.
I have been a customer of SimplyGames in the past, and while their pricing is not as competitive as some, they often hold decent sales. However, just like I rarely use Amazon now due to their immoral tax payments, I will be actively avoiding SimplyGames in the future. If a company believes that it can profiteer off the wishes of gamers, many of whom are parents or relatives buying Christmas presents for their loved ones, then the only way it will learn is by hitting it where it hurts – its profits.
As of this writing, the pricing of stand-alone PlayStation 4 pre-orders on SimplyGames remains at £415