The Hidden Genius Behind Amazon Preorder Credits

Amazon.com is easily the best place to buy video games online. If you’re an Amazon Prime user, there really shouldn’t be any other place to even look when you preorder games; especially on titles that offer free release day delivery. Amazon’s greatest incentive, however, is all of the $10 and $20 credits they give out for preordering select titles. We see the chance to save some cash, and we’ll jump at games that we’ve been watching. So what reason does Amazon have to do this? Why do they seemingly cut into their profit margins?

Well, Amazon doesn’t say if some of these credits are subsidized by publishers, but even if they aren’t, the credits still work out in Amazon’s favor. First, it definitely drives up the number of people wiling to pay for Prime memberships since online shoppers have started to move their game buying almost exclusively to Amazon. Secondly, the credits expire in a fairly short window, so you’re forced to return to Amazon.com to shop soon after your initial purchase to make another or you risk losing the credit. And since it isn’t an instant discount, the credit is essentially shared between two purchases (example: you buy the first game at $60, receive a $10 preorder credit, and buy the next at $50. Basically you bought two games at $110, which is more of a mild discount overall.) Finally, you must preorder the game to get the credit, meaning that you’re paying full price for the game and not buying it after any sorts of price drops.

Another thing to consider is that Amazon.com now takes games back in for trade-in credit. What many people are doing is preordering games that offer the credit, playing them to completion, and then selling them back to Amazon. When it’s said and done, the game ends up costing the gamer about $20-$25 depending on how quickly they finish it and send it back, but Amazon.com is free to sell the game a second time in the used market where they don’t give any cut to the publisher. In this case, if a game carried a $10 credit, Amazon.com sells it for $60, subtracts the $10 in revenue from another purchase, leaving us at $50. They later buy the game back for $30, and sell it again for $50. They’ve taken in $110 revenue and paid out $40, for a net price of $70 for what was originally a $60 game. It’s also possible that that same game comes back in as used again and out the door multiple times, each time making Amazon a bit more profit.

The system is amazing both for Amazon.com and for its customers. For people who buy 2-3 games per month, the preorder bonuses get used and rarely expire, making their hobby just a bit cheaper. It’s up to them if they want to trade the games back in to Amazon, but it’s just as good of a place as any to do so. Amazon has created a system where the retailer increases their revenues but still manages to lower prices for the end consumer. In these days it’s truly rare to see a win-win scenario between retailer and customer, and Amazon should definitely be commended for what they’ve built.

Note: For those unaware of what Amazon Prime is, it’s a yearly fee that Amazon users can pay in order to receive free 2-day and heavily discounted overnight shipping on all eligible items (basically anything shipped by Amazon). It also gives users free release day delivery on many of the bigger name video games.

Bulletstorm Video Review

Here’s our full review for Bulletstorm. Overall it is a great shooter with some intense action, an interesting combat system, and memorable moments throughout the campaign. The pacing is a little uneven, but the second half of the game more than compensates for the game’s slow start. Take a look at the review below.

Final Score: 4 out of 5


The End of the Game Over Screen?

At this year’s GDC there was lots of talk about it possibly being time to do away with the game over screen in games and to find new ways to deal with failure states in video games. Some argued that the game over screen was nothing more than a relic from the arcade era when the game was needing to demand more quarters from the player. Since early console games were either ports of arcade games or versions of the games already out in arcades, many of the conventions found in arcade gaming made the leap to consoles.

In our upcoming podcast we’re going to be discussing failure states in current games and whether or not the game over screen is necessary. We’re hoping for extra input from our readers and Gamer Theory forum users. If you want to comment on the issue, please visit the Gamer Theory Forums and chime in.

Link to the Gamer Theory Forums discussion thread: The Gamer Theory Forums – The end of Game Over?

Best Zelda fan art ever?

In honor of The Legend of Zelda’s 25th anniversary, an artist in Japan posted this image that he created himself. The picture is amazing (click the image to enlarge), and I wouldn’t be surprised if this artist had a future in doing concept art in the gaming industry somewhere. Check it out, it’s quite good.

The Legend of Zelda Fan Art (click to enlarge)

January 2011 NPDs

So looking over the top ten sales for January 2011 and one this is clear: people like their dancing games. With Guitar Hero meeting its death and DJ Hero likely bowing out as well, it seems that the next new craze in the music genre is to get rid of the plastic instruments and to just plain dance. As expected Call of Duty: Black Ops still held the top spot, and here are the rest of the results.

  1. Call of Duty: Black Ops (360, PS3, Wii, DS, PC)
  2. Just Dance 2 (Wii)
  3. Dead Space 2 (360, PS3, PC)
  4. Little Big Planet 2 (PS3)
  5. Zumba Fitness: Join the Party (Wii, 360, PS3)
  6. NBA 2K11 (360, PS3, PSP, Wii, PS2, PC)
  7. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (360, PS3)
  8. Dance Central (360)
  9. Michael Jackson The Experience (Wii, DS, PSP)
  10. DC Universe Online: The Next Legend Is You (PS3, PC)
So looking at the list above, Just Dance 2 on the Wii outsold ALL THREE versions of Dead Space 2. To make that even more crazy, Just Dance 2 has been out since October and it’s still holding off a huge game in its debut month. And yes, dance games comprise 4 of the top 10 right now. Don’t feel bad for Dead Space 2, however, the game has already become a certified hit.

Mirror’s Edge 2 canceled?

If true, this would be very disappointing news. According to a Press 2 Play TV report, which was translated by Eurogamer, DICE had presented a prototype for the sequel to EA and EA made the decision not to pursue the project further. We don’t know how far along Mirror’s Edge 2 was in development, but a hard blow at this stage could really put the game’s future into serious doubt as DICE is currently working hard on Battlefield 3 for PC, 360, and PS3. Despite EA’s show of confidence for Mirror’s Edge in the past, things aren’t looking good for the sequel.

Here’s hoping that EA has just told DICE to hold off on Mirror’s Edge 2 until Battlefield 3 releases, because Mirror’s Edge was actually a great game despite its flaws with the combat system. I had high hopes that a sequel would be able to smooth out the rough shooting (or remove it entirely) and provide more interesting paths through the levels.

Best Game Ever: Streets of Rage 2

Note: Best Game Ever is a series of posts I’ll be doing dedicated to the best games ever made. Each game I profile will be a game I’d accept as someone’s answer to the question, “what do you think the best game ever is?” So please, do not email me and tell me I’m stupid for posting about game X when game Y is clearly superior. And you never know, game Y might be the next game profiled. For more in the series, check out the “best game ever” category in the side bar.

Streets of Rage 2.

Released for the Sega Genesis back in 1992, Streets of Rage 2 was the follow up to the popular Streets of Rage. Very much a product of the early 1990s when beat ’em ups were a dime a dozen, Streets of Rage 2 still managed to stand out in an insanely crowded genre.  Like many brawlers of the era, Streets of Rage 2 suffered from generic names (Mr. X, Max Thunder, etc.), repetitive enemy types, and a world right out of the beat ’em up template set; but these couldn’t drag down the addictive and enjoyable gameplay offered. In a big improvement over the original Streets of Rage, each character in the sequel had their own unique set of moves and special attacks. The different play styles offered by each character lends to repeat plays through the game, especially in multiplayer.

The music in Streets of Rage 2 was also quite good for the beat ’em up genre. Rather than simple loops, we were treated with varied and fancy beats. One of the first things always mentioned when Streets of Rage 2 is brought up is that the soundtrack was one of the best on the Genesis. Obviously, I would agree.

If you were ever a fan of the beat ’em up genre, and you want something more than Final Fight or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Streets of Rage 2 is a great way to get your fix.

For these reasons, Streets of Rage 2 is the Best. Game. Ever.