This Week in Games is a weekly column where Vicky Blake pulls apart the biggest stories in gaming each week. This week, she looks at the impact of scalpers on gamers and wonders why the industry isn’t working harder to discourage them.
Lfriday, God of War: RagnarokCollector’s Editions went up for pre-order. And last Friday, dozens God of War: Ragnarok Collector’s editions started popping up on eBay.
The fanciest version – the Jotnar Edition which can only be purchased through the game in the UK – costs £230. Well, more accurately, it cost £230, at least for those lucky enough to secure a copy when pre-orders went live. For everyone else, we are now at the mercy of scalpers. Right now, at best, you’re looking at a £200-ish mark-up and a selling price of around £450. At worst, you could stick another £150 on it.
I know I’ve complained about the game here before, but the only retailer in the UK seems to secure exclusive collector’s editions and I’ve been undercut by them time and time again, over the years. So even though I’d rather put my left eye out with an ice cream scoop than willingly pay them, I often willingly pay them a lot because what I want isn’t available anywhere else.
Of course, I couldn’t buy the collector’s editions, I guess. No, I didn’t need the mask-sized replica of Corvo that sent Humiliated 2’s collector’s edition, as I didn’t need those pretty – and pretty pointless – ones Destiny 2 Collector’s Edition, either. my The Last of Us Part 2 The idol is still in the box. I’ve always been a sucker for those things.
I don’t think any of us were surprised then God of War: RagnarokThe Jotnar edition sold out in just five minutes, while to our surprise the less fancy – but still expensive – collector’s edition sold out after just half an hour. I have no idea of the quantities available, but – as is the case these days – demand clearly outstrips supply.
It’s annoying enough when publishers limit both their CEs and the amount you can buy them from retailers; It’s different when you get lost in a scrum, not because of competition with other fans, but because of some dickcheese scalper and his bulk buying bot.
If it wasn’t already painfully obvious, this absolutely infuriates me. Like: Life isn’t hard enough already, you know? Everything is weird, constantly, all the time. It might be down to the day and the weather and how cold your boss/partner/parents are today, but we’re living – well, existing – in a perpetual state of crisis, hanging on from one-one-two-two-days-at-a-time. An event of a lifetime for another at a dizzying tempo. Of course, we all have to make a living. Sure, times are tough and we’d all love a little extra cash this summer. But doing so at the cost of someone else’s happiness? Are you buying as much “limited” stock as possible so you can sell for double the original price? Fuck you, bud. What you call capitalism, I call selfish graft.
Sometimes, a scalper sticks his head out long enough to moan about the differences between luxury and necessities – oh, won’t someone please think of the poor scalper! – but nothing they say will make up for the unintended suffering of gamers. I’m not saying that 230 quid on a digital code and a handful of plastic storage is the smartest way to spend your money, but like I said: life is strange. If paying a little extra for your favorite video game and getting a bonus tat (someone typing that from a room full of tats, I say lovingly) makes you temporarily happy, then my friend, go for it.
The most frustrating part of this is, none of this is surprising. Nor is it inevitable. Valve – after witnessing firsthand how “smoothly” PS5 and Xbox Series X pre-orders went six months ago – took some basic steps to make this happen when pre-orders for its delicious little handheld, the Steam Deck, went up. On sale this time last year. You had to already have a Steam account to qualify and no, it wasn’t flawless and lessons could still be learned, at least Valve tried. At least an attempt was made to stop this.
It seems we’re the only ones suffering here: the gamers. Publishers sell their pre-orders – maybe even make some tasty headlines about their super-popular CEs – auction sites get their commissions, and scalpers – vankers sell pre-orders before they even own the game. – Overcharge the fans. Sure, we can collectively agree not to give up and pay over the odds, but my frustration is not with the fans who reluctantly pay more, but with the publishers who sell these “limited editions”.
Valve has shown that with a little foresight, hobbling scalpers can be made. So why aren’t other companies and publishers trying to do the same?