Bundling is a Four Letter Word

A new disease has infected retail and online stores. The disease multiplies and grows with abandon and leaves individuals with a sense of loss and depression, and in some cases, even rage. The condition is called "bundleitis." Your first encounter with this malady probably unfolded before your very eyes during the launches of the PS3 and Wii last year as retail stores took advantage of the machine shortage situation and started to bundle hundreds of dollars of product with the naked game machine that you really wanted to buy.

Walking or logging on to your favorite big box retailer showed a bevy of bundled machines filled with inferior game titles, unneeded accessories, and game magazine subscriptions you could do entirely without. (You already have Gamernode at your service, so why would you need a game magazine?)

The bundled prices are staggering — and offensive. For about a thousand bucks, you can walk away with your PS3 plus an assortment of questionable games and a quick case of high blood pressure for your efforts. Nintendo’s Wii did a little better with its bundles, as long as the supply of Zelda, Red Steel and Raving Rabbids holds out. But a quick glance at most bundled software for the Wii has either Elebits or Monkey Ball, and no more Zelda. The prices for the Wii bundles are about $400, but considering that you’ll want Zelda along for the ride, that will bump up the total to $450. Sure, not as expensive as the PS3 packages, but the stores are still forcing you to buy games that you may not be interested in since bundles are the easiest way to get a Wii these days.

When average consumers stare a $400 to $1000 priced bundle in the face, the involuntary reaction of shaking heads in disbelief has probably caused a rash of whiplash and neck injuries around the world. In the long run, customers feel violated by this ruse to extract additional money out of their already skinny wallets and purses. What’s wrong with just selling a console to the consumer and letting him or her decide what they want to add? In fact, that seems to be happening now — at least with the PS3. When the initial frenzy over the machine died down, and the retailers couldn’t sell their bundles, lone PS3s are suddenly back in sight. But buyers aren’t biting; maybe they were fed up with the greedy stores, or they’re waiting till prices drop even lower — or both.

I know, its all about supply and demand, free enterprise and mom’s apple pie, but the practice of bundling, to me anyhow, seems immoral. But here’s a thought: if we’re going to practice bundling, why not go all the way with this concept? Maybe surgeons should do bundles, too. "Yes sir, we can operate on your broken arm, but you’ll also have to buy a nose job and a hair implant bundle."

How about our education system? Students could only graduate if they buy the special graduation bundle consisting of a donation to the school, the purchase of twelve school sweaters, and season tickets to the college football games.

Our legal system could also use bundling. If you get a traffic ticket, maybe the judge could bundle a few more violations. "Ah, Mr. Smith, I see you have a ticket for illegal parking. Hmm. Why don’t we just bundle a speeding and reckless driving charge to your ticket, too? That will be $1000 and 30 days of community service… NEXT CASE!"

To me, bundle is a four letter word, and the practice needs to be stopped. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because the policy of bundling video game machines with a truckload of items you wouldn’t normally purchase is extremely poor public relations for the game console manufacturers and retail stores. There’s an old saying that goes "if you kick your dog enough times, he’s going to bite back."

If you ask me, gamers are growling.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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