SimplyGames PS4 ransom: what’s really going on with people’s PlayStation 4 bundles?
The big news today seems to be online retailer SimplyGames apparent attempts to force its customers to upgrade their previously vanilla PS4 pre-orders to more expensive bundles. In some cases with a hike in price of as much as £120. The threat if you don’t want to stump up the cash? Lose your pre-order. So what’s going on?
It all starts with a post on the PlayStation EU forums from user ‘misterck’:
“So i have just lost my release day guaranteed PS4 order because simplygames sent me an email to change my preorder to one of sonys apparnt bundles, not one is the same as any of the sony bundles and the prices are ridiculous, i could no longer order just the console at regular price so was forced to cancel.”
‘misterck’ then provides an ‘awful bundle link‘ to the options now available, the cheapest of which is a PS4/game combo with either Killzone: Shadow Fall or Watch Dogs for £399.99, a price increase of £50.
Eurogamer soon got hold of the email which talks about finalising stock configurations with Sony, before stating that what it’s finally getting will differ from choices originally made to the customer. Here’s the main body of the message:
IMPORTANT – Your PlayStation 4 order
Thanks for bearing with us whilst we finalised Stock Configurations with Sony. We now have completed this process and as mentioned last week the pack configurations that we will actually be receiving DO differ slightly from the section you originally made.
For this reason WE NEED YOU to update your order
- This ONLY affects the console/pack choice within your order. Other products within your order are not affected.
- You WILL receive your order on the day of release.
- You MUST make a new console choice.
- You can now INCREASE the number of consoles on your order – and ALL will arrive on day of release!!! That’s guaranteed.
Other customer emails forwarded to Eurogamer from the retailer say, “We have not been deliberately misleading. We advertised the original console bundles based on the information we received from Sony some time ago. We were told the stock configurations were changing and this has lead to the change in the bundles we are able to offer”.
The claim being that the allocation of PS4 bundles has varied so much from the initial promise that SimplyGames oversold its allocation, meaning it needs people pick other stuff instead. However to confuse things even more, some of the bundles apparently contain third party USB leads, meaning they’re not from Sony and something the retailer has put together itself.
Another email forwarded to Eurogamer admitted, “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 solus consoles as we first thought that we would be”. ‘Solus’ meaning just the console. The email continues, “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.” As Eurogamer and misterck point out, the cheapest, £399.99 bundles weren’t originally available when the pre-orders first went live.
Talking to MCV SimplyGames director Neil Muspratt said “Whilst this is very regrettable, we have taken the decision not to get involved with internet speculation, rumours and untruths. We can confirm that ours is largely a retailer-lead initiative and on site we have listed a combination of Sony bundles and our own PS4 bundle offers. By and large these offers have been very well received, to the point at which our launch allocation has now all been sold through.” In a statement to CVG Muspratt also made it clear that the company would not be changing its offers, adding, “The vast majority of customers have understood what is going on and have updated their order, it’s just commentators who have stirred it up”. Slightly going back on the ‘not getting involved’ bit.
Sony were quick to issue a statement on the situation via MCV:
“We value our consumers and offered the bundles precisely to give them choice and value. And the key word there is choice. We have not nor would we ever force people to buy one of these instead. Sony is not and would not force anyone to buy something they don’t want. Since the announcement of these bundles we have been asking retailers to reach out to their pre-order customers to give them the choice of taking a bundle (which hadn’t been announced when they placed their original pre-order). 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.”
Pixelenemy also claim to have information from a source that suggest Sony aren’t directly to blame, rather a third party distributor:
“Centresoft who handle the UK distribution of Sony products called all retailers (80% independent names including Shop.to, SimplyGames etc, as well as supermarkets) and stated that the allocation of CONFIRMED pre-orders for independent retailers were now comprised of 50% solus machines and 50% bundles. We were given a couple of Mega packs, 9 Killzone bundles and 3 Watch_Dogs packs. All of which are the same bundles being offered to everyone.
However, when I asked if customers chose not to have a Killzone pack, would they be entitled to a solus machine that was originally allocated, we were informed no. Other retailers were informed they were to take additional DualShock 4s for a high attach rate for the machines, again meaning “forced” bundles being offered by the likes of SimplyGames and whomever else is being told this. Again this is being sold to us by Centresoft. They are the only official channel other than being direct with Sony in the UK.
This basically means that customers who don’t wish to upgrade to any of the bundles we have left (believe me when I say Killzone ISN’T in our top 10 of pre-ordered titles) are being left in the dark or on the wave 2 list of stock which is not guaranteed before Christmas.”
Crucially the email points out that Sony deal directly with the larger retailers like Amazon, Play and Game and will “cater for them more” because of the volume of sales involved. Centresoft pick up the smaller shops and outlets and appear to be the source of the shift in allocation. So it looks like a large change in the proportion of bundle types being made available to smaller, independent retailers has left SimplyGames unable to honour it’s original pre-orders, hence the ‘NEED’ to change the orders.
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