Amazon UK has begun restricting the sales of certain video games if ordered directly from the site, making them exclusively available only to Prime members.
Regular customers without Amazon Prime memberships might be in for a surprise if they attempt to buy a video game from the megasite’s UK branch. There are reports that Amazon UK have made several games in their inventory exclusive to Prime members. Instead of a friendly “add to cart”, non-members could be accosted by a little blue box tempting them to try Prime for 30 days. That is not enough to tempt everyone, however, and that little blue box is making some customers blue in the face with frustration.
VideoGamer reported the phenomena early this morning and Amazon had this to say in response to their story:
“One of the many benefits of Amazon Prime is access to exclusive selection on a number of great products. Customers who are not Prime members can sign-up for a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime, or they can purchase those items from a Marketplace seller.”
Amazon’s reply feels impersonal and sounds more like a sales pitch than a sympathetic response. Regardless of their tone, they still offer alternatives to those upset with the situation. Customers can opt for the 30-day trial period or they have the option of purchasing the item from a Marketplace seller. However, it seems more logical to cut out the middle-man and simply buy from another retailer.
There is not an exact list of what games are now exclusive to Prime members, but some of the games listed in the UK store were FIFA 16, Far Cry Primal and GTA V, along with a handful of others. Upon further investigation, these games were found to still be available to non-Prime members in the US, with the exception of the PS4 version of GTA V.
Amazon’s recent foray into Prime-only products has been minimal and it is rare to see an item restricted only to those with a membership, but then it is becoming more rare to not be a Prime member at all. Since the program’s creation in 2005, Prime has become a popular feature at the online megastore and Amazon has been aggressively pushing for new subscribers.
Amazon rarely releases their numbers, but they’re estimated to have between 46 to 80 million members. It appears that the allure of free two-day shipping is just too strong for a lot of people.
It’s hard to understand how making games exclusive for purchase makes sense financially, until one takes into account that a Prime membership costs $99 per year. With this in mind, it is clear that the tactic is to coax more costumers into becoming members. While this appears to be restricted to slightly older games – there is no evidence this is happening with new releases – it’s safe to assume more games will become exclusive as time goes on. If they do, there is one perk that could help: Prime members can get up 20% off new release games and pre-orders.
To be fair, exclusivity in gaming is not rare and certainly not restricted to Amazon. There are games and content exclusive to systems, items only available through pre-orders, and even timed releases. One of the biggest culprits of this was last year’s Tomb Raider, which was first available only to Xbox One users when it was released back in November.
Console exclusivity may frustrate some, but others find this type of competition health. For example, one of our writers shared their opinion on Xbox and PC exclusivity regarding the upcoming Gears of War 4.
Love it or hate it, this trend doesn’t seem to be on its way out. As for the Amazon situation, the only good advice in this case is that if a game is only available to Prime members and you don’t want to become one, shop somewhere else.