Category: Buying and Selling

CDProjekt RED’s Example: What other’s need to learn

First of all, Steam has a great sale on both The Witcher Enhanced Edition Director’s Cut and The Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition for about another 14 hours on steam. Getting both for less than $6 has me purchasing them through their service, even though I already own both on disks.

Second, I have to commend CDProjekt RED for doing something few other companies with its presence in the gaming industry do: it puts the game and the players who play it before the profit. Given, I don’t know the people who work at CDProjekt RED personally, but my experience as an owner of The Witcher games supports the points made in this article on PC Gamer, which is that satisfying the players who purchase their games is more important than trying to ring every penny they can get for every minute addition that they create for the game. This is the exact opposite of what infuriates gamers more than anything: day-one DLC (the non-free kind).

On top of this, CDProjekt’s games don’t require disk-checks, at least not following all of the updates that I applied to them upon installation. I believe the first game may have asked me for the disk before I updated it to current, which I had to do manually by seeking the update file online and applying it (learning of the Director’s Cut convinced me to do it quickly). However, the second game updated automatically with prompts as soon as I installed it (never asking for the disk when playing). Either way, I have both games and can play without any no-cd cracks and still free of spinning my disks in the drive. CDProjekt isn’t broke, but I have to assume that its bank isn’t anywhere near as dense as companies like Bethesda, EA and Ubisoft. So, why do they act as though nerve-wrecking DRM is so crucial to their survival? Do pirated copies of their games truly make such a dent in their return? How many die-hard fans of past SimCity games had to deal with disappointment on day-one of playing their pre-ordered copies of SimCity thanks to EA’s paranoia? How about Blizzard’s Diablo III? Find a chart that displays how much these games brought in from initial sales (pre-order and day-one), and tell me if the DRM used was truly necessary to the point taken. A starting company releasing a new game franchise with these tactics would never have seen returning customers for a sequel. It would have been its undoing.

Truth be told, I have always been a bargain-hunter with games. Few games have seen a pre-order from me over the years. I even waited until The Witcher games were both below the $20 mark before I bought them, despite my praise for the company (note: I wasn’t familiar with the company or its games prior to purchasing them at the bargain prices). On top of that, I’ve always sought after the security of physically owning the medium that I buy the game on (preferring disk over download). Yet I’ve been forced to transition to cloud-based purchases through services like Steam because owning the disk is nearly useless now. You’re given a disk with the data on it, but the activation key for the game is the only real item of value, which usually still requires you to download the game in-full from the net without using anything on the disk. In the end, the disk is worthless without a Steam, U-Play or Origin account – unless someone produces a hack that allows you to install the game using the disk’s data independent of those services. In other words, piracy – or the potential for it – remains either way.

The main point I wanted to make of CDProjekt here though is that they don’t use DLC to amplify their profit from a single project. I have always waited on the past Elder Scrolls games, because I knew the likelihood of an edition including all DLC would be released and dropped to a bargain price. The same goes with BioWare and 2K Games titles. But if you look at what CDProjekt did with Witcher 2, you see that whether you bought the standard game on release-day or bought the Enhanced Edition after it was released, you ended up with equal overall content for the game without dishing additional out-of-pocket to get it.

It’s obvious to me as I read online to research a game’s DRM requirements before purchasing that more people are growing to accept the presence of services like Steam as we move forward, and the cries of foul over over-priced and day-one DLC have diminished as well, but I simply couldn’t help but point out how the evidence from CDProjekt’s success in the gaming industry shows that the excessive DRM path, as well as leeching customers for additional content, is surely not necessary for a company to thrive from its product, let alone successfully create and distribute a product that meets or exceeds the standard. Here’s to hoping that their practices continue, and perhaps they may influence others to share the same strategy.

Walmart.com Story

So, I need a book for a course I’m taking for this Spring 2014 semester. Fortunately, Amazon has the book and I can get it with my 2-day shipping as a Prime member. It’s paperback, but I’ll deal with it.

Well, after placing the order with Amazon, I search online for help with a problem in the book using the book’s title and come across Walmart.com’s listing for the same book at the same price in hardback edition. I think anyone would make the same decision that hardback is better than paperback, especially for a decent-sized textbook on technical university study material, so I go add the book to my cart, check out of the Walmart website and cancel my Amazon order. This was done on evening January 19th. Walmart says the book will be delivered by January 24th. I can deal with that.

Throughout the week, I periodically check the order status on the book and see it constantly saying ProcessingYour order is being processed. Once I get to the night of January 23rd, I’m a little concerned. After all, I can’t just wait forever to get the book, because I need it for assignments. So, I click the Contact us about this order link on my order information page and write out a small paragraph message stating the issue and my concern.

Here’s my response from the Walmart.com representative, who doesn’t even have the professionalism to give even their first name in the signature:

Hi Jerry,
We apologize for the delay in shipping your order number *************. Unfortunately, you order is in backordered it is means that the item will show in stock on website, but out of stock at closest fulfillment center to you. So you have two options: wait for the order to be filled or cancel the order and reorder when item is back in stock.
If you have additional questions, please reply to this email or call us at 1-800-966-6546.
Sincerely,
Walmart.com Customer Care
So, the website will list an item as in-stock even when it isn’t? Of course, after receiving this response, I go to the item on the site and see it is now $20 more expensive and actually listed as Out of stock online. As of writing this post, I have gone back to Amazon and re-ordered the original paperback edition of the book, which will now take waiting another two business days to get via their usual UPS shipping – making the additional wait from when I would have originally had the book over a week. I know, as I’m sure Walmart does, that my experience will do little to dent their business. Walmart isn’t going to be hurt by anything I say, but if you find yourself needing something promptly, such as a textbook for a university course, I’d recommend not relying on them to fulfil your order any more promptly than they have done for me, especially if you are considering cancelling an order somewhere else to do it.
A final word on this: even though Amazon no longer offers all items at a tax-free cost, and even though they no longer have considerably lower prices in comparison to other online merchants, Amazon has never allowed me to process a transaction for an item listed as in-stock that was actually out of stock – and, in this case, discontinued. The worst part about it is that Walmart.com didn’t even notify me of the situation – not even four days later. They simply left my order hanging in the Processing status, and I would know nothing if not for taking the time to write to their customer support.