The pre-ordering for Sony’s highly-anticipated next-gen console, the PlayStation 5 (PS5) has gone live in Malaysia. And like many of you PlayStation fans, I too have been waiting for this moment to come, after jealously watching our foreign peers celebrating their confirmed orders and shipping.
I know many of you stood at the ready at Sony’s website and its Shopee official store before midnight of November 12th, hoping to net yourself the prized PlayStation 5. I was there too, and like many of you, failed. The pain that comes after the unkind “SOLD OUT” words that greeted us almost immediately after the process went live was enough to force many of us to retire to our beds with disappointment.
It was fine though because we knew there were other ways. Sony’s announcement earlier came accompanied with a list of 27 authorised retailers that we could buy from. There is still a chance and god willing, we will grab every opportunity by its balls and get ourselves a PS5. That was what we thought, didn’t we?
Some of you probably contacted your sellers immediately and paid a full booking fee. In fact, one of our Editors in Sabah did that and secured himself a rare PlayStation 5 Digital Edition. But most of you were told to wait for imminent announcements from the shops for pre-ordering instructions.
One of these announcements came from a game shop we Malaysians know all too well. Gamers Hideout is one of the biggest names, if not the biggest in Malaysia. So, when they informed their customers that the PlayStation 5 pre-orders will be done online through their website and not walk-in due to the pandemic, it was received as good news.
People didn’t have to take leave from their work to wait in long queues for a chance we all know to be small, to get a PlayStation 5. Or better still – we could be queuing for the console somewhere else while still attacking this online pre-order in a two-pronged attack. The announcement said November 12, 2020, 12 PM sharp on the web-store. And while we waited, some of us double-checked our banking accounts and credit cards, to make sure nothing would go wrong when the fateful time comes. And to make sure we have that required RM 1869 or RM 2299 needed to get the console.
When 12 PM finally came after half a day that felt like forever, we rushed to click refresh and tried the best we could to find the pre-order button but the celestial ‘network god’ has other plans. The entire website crashed itself to Holland because Gamers Hideout were obviously unprepared for this level of demand, and people were left desperately refreshing their browsers every 2 seconds hoping and praying for a miracle.
40 minutes passed before my refresh finally leads to the desired page. And there it was, the PlayStation 5 disc, digital edition, and the console’s official peripherals and accessories. I wasted no time in choosing the PS5 Disc option, all the while praying to all the old gods and new for the website to stay up throughout the process. But what I saw next would shock me and quite a significant number of other people.
The PS5 pre-orders hosted by Gamers Hideout came with caveats. I was not allowed to buy the PS5 only but was made to choose from a list of accompanying accessories and games that are mandatory for the purchase to go through.
To put it simply – In order to pre-order the PS5, the customer would also have to buy other things (purchase-with-purchase). And yes, they did this with no warning or prior announcements whatsoever. The ambush was there waiting and customers can only choose either to quit or be subjected to their terms.
- I was first asked to choose from a list of upcoming PS5 games that are offered at their full price. It would have made more sense if the games are offered at a discount instead.
- What followed was a “choice” of PS4, yes, PS4 Mystery Game Packs that come in 3 varieties – Sports, Actions, and something else I forgot what at RM 399. Also noteworthy here is they don’t tell you which games you are getting because it’s supposed to be a Mystery.
- And two additional supposed PS5 Accessories like the DOBE PS5 DualSense Trigger Kit and Cover, for RM 49.90 each.
- Oh, for those opting for delivery, there is also a RM 150 option for what they called “CMCO Shipping”, which I must assume comes with armed bodyguards.
What does the community think about this?
While most of the comments are directed towards the store’s website that never seemed to recover from its neverending crashes, there were also comments calling out the forced bundle practice by GH. Needless to say, the protest grew bigger and louder as more people made it to the pre-order page and saw for themselves what awaits them.
Most of the comments called GH out for failing to inform their customers on the shop’s intention to bundle the PS5 sales. To bundle it is one thing and not uncommon, but to do it when stocks are limited everywhere and force the price up by almost 35% was totally unacceptable.
That Bittersweet Disappointment
I came to buy a PS5 at Sony’s suggested retail price at RM 2299 for the Disc version of the console but I ended up billed RM 3098 for the purchase. That is RM 799 more than I expected but nevertheless, I bought it. I bought it because I couldn’t risk waiting longer. Being in the video games media scene, I need it because of the nature of our work.
It wouldn’t be a problem at all for any shops to introduce a bundle program for the PS5 if the console had already launched for some time. But to force a Purchase-with-Purchase on the initial launch itself? While knowing well that stocks are limited and that the people are all desperate to get it? And to do so with no prior warning or heads-up at all? That is just a plain genital-name-worthy move if you ask me.
I can afford the extra charges and didn’t mind paying more to get a unit. But what about those who can’t? How is this not bad practice? You may dress it differently and say you are giving out actual items for the additional prices paid, but in actual fact, you are mandating a purchase that is subjected to a condition of more purchases. This is the same as you holding consumers’ desire hostage and the additional purchases are the ransom.
I dread to think about those who waited excitedly with their hard-earned/saved money, thinking they can count on this household-name-worthy game shop that they have always supported.
Would it have been better if the shop informed its customers earlier? Absolutely. People would have the time and chance to refer to their budget and other factors before deciding. Those who didn’t want it wouldn’t have to sit through that 40 agonizing minutes of refreshing their browsers hoping for the page to greet them, only to be greeted by a firing squad before they can cross the finish line.
To think that this happened on what should otherwise be a memorable day is just truly sad. Gamers Hideout should offer a reasonable explanation for this, and offer customers a chance to refund their unwanted side purchases. But will this happen? One can only hope.
While I do understand that it has been a very hard year for everyone, this still feels very low. As a fan first and foremost, it feels like I was forced to do something I didn’t feel comfortable doing. I understand that in the end, I paid the price as did others. But the bottom line is we should not have been put in that position in the first place.
The current economical climate in Malaysia and the world is not unknown. Gamers who still fork out money from their savings for hobbies should be shown the highest respect and gratitude by those who stand to gain from them. But instead, what happened here is pure bad business ethics and the total opposite of anything respectful.