When the new generation of video game consoles started rolling out, electronics retail giant Best Buy started pushing their Gamer’s Club Unlocked membership. For a one time fee covering two years, this membership provides a number of benefits for gamers. You get bonus rewards points for gaming purchases, bonus trade-in values, exclusive deals, and more. However, the number one benefit that draws a lot of gamers to this membership is its discount on new games. If you walk into a Best Buy store with your Gamer’s Club Unlocked membership and buy a brand new game, instead of paying $59.99 for that title, you get it at $47.99. That’s right, all new physical games get a 20% discount with the membership! Due to these savings, Gamers Club Unlocked has become a popular choice among gamers to the point that online retail giant Amazon had to start its own version.
For several years now, Amazon has been known for its Prime membership and all the great benefits that are found within. The latest addition in more recent months has been the 20% off all physical games pre-ordered. While the discount doesn’t reach quite as far as Best Buy’s (Amazon’s only works on pre-orders and games up to two weeks old) it’s still an added bonus bringing new and keeping faithful Amazon customers locked in for business.
While looking at these popular services, I thought to myself, it would be nice if gaming networks had something competitive with their pricing. I’m no expert on the numbers or actual process for selling games digitally but for years now, many have lamented that digital games should be lower than their retail versions due to the fact that a lot of cost has been cut in comparison. There’s no physical disc to manufacture and distribution is very simple. Several middlemen are cut out of the process for digital downloads. So why are they still the same price and sometimes even higher than those at retail? Well, whatever the reason, this doesn’t seem like it’s going to change any time soon.
Still, many developers and publishers are opting for downloads only and even more would like gamers to purchase digital downloads to cut costs and raise profits. My thought was, why not create a program like Best Buy and Amazon?
Although this would likely have to be approved by each individual publisher, would you be more inclined to purchase digital games if they were 20% off with a membership?
PlayStation has PlayStation Plus. Xbox has Xbox Live Gold. Other networks may not have any particular membership program but could they introduce one that offers gamers these benefits for a small fee? What would you be willing to pay to get 20% off of new games?
Whether it’s included as another feature of the current PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold memberships, or added (again, for a fee) as another special level, or in the case of Steam and other networks, a brand new membership offering several benefits, I think various gaming networks could profit from a program like this. They could limit it to just pre-orders and games no older than two weeks old like Amazon. Or they could make it all inclusive and make all games 20% off with the membership, like Best Buy.
I think whatever path they took, if they take one, it can only bring them positive turns in business in the digital field. After doing a non-scientific survey of my peers, all seemed to respond favorably to the idea and unanimously agreed that they’d purchase and download more games with a discount program.
For sure, there are hurdles that still need to be overcome in the digital distribution field. For example, ISP bandwidth, price, reliability, and coverage is one thing that holds a lot of gamers back from downloading a lot of games – or any at all. Another factor is the limited storage capacity of many systems. Still, there is a growing market and these aforementioned things can improve.
What do you think? Would you be more inclined to purchase digital games if you got a 20% off discount? How would you want the program to work and how much would you be willing to pay for membership? Sound off in the comments below!