On BT Games Preorders, Recommended Pricing And Social Network Policies
Some time last year we got an email from long-time reader of the site — and everyone’s favourite parasite — Zhameer about an issue that is near and dear to all of our hearts, and that’s freedom of expression.
See, he was on the Megarom Games Facebook page when this happened and his post there led to his being banned from the BT Games Facebook page. Unfair, right? It’s not as if he slandered BT Games with his response on a social network of all places but it didn’t matter because he was banned and so he came to us about it. We then got in touch with BT Games and after a few weeks, marketing manager Karl Klöpfer responded with some explanation based on his understanding of what happened. I responded to Karl but have since not received any reply and so I’ve decided that it’s time we talked about this.
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Why now? Well you see, one of the issues that Zhameer raised — and we’ll get back to that freedom of expression point in a bit — was that BT Games did not post up a recommending pricing structure within a reasonable amount of time, often only revealing the price of a game on or just before the release date for that game. I myself have observed how BT Games would either flat out ignore or decline to comment on pricing for games in the past, when asked on such places as Twitter and Facebook. However the other day I was on the BT Games website and I noticed that Watch_Dogs has a preorder price listed even though it’s more than a month away. Well hot damn.
According to Karl, in his email response, BT Games was basically a slave to the Rand-Dollar exchange rate and so they didn’t feel right putting out a price and then having to change that price later on. I did afterwards point out that other sites (such as Kalahari, the site mentioned by Zhameer in his initial comment on Facebook) already do this and don’t get hated for it and the miscommunication can be entirely handled by using the acronym ‘RRP’ which stands for ‘recommended retail price’ and effectively accounts for fluctuations. It seemed a bit like a PR response in any case and the lack of response to my own words seemed to vindicate that notion, but nonetheless, it seems that they have actually listened and are offering some RRPs where possible. So kudos to them for that.
Personally, there just is not a reason to hold back on a price until the last minute. All that you end up doing is losing customer faith because they can’t trust you to be straight-up with them about things. Especially when you’re dodging replies and banning people for making statements on a social network, I cannot emphasise this enough.
So coming back to that point about freedom of expression, Karl explained that the BT Games Facebook page was created for the purposes of sharing news, posting competitions and adding value to their customers’ experiences, however they maintain the right to ban people for posting complaints and telling other customers where else to buy products. He likened it to someone standing inside a BMW dealership and asking customers not to buy BMWs. But here’s the thing, he wasn’t standing inside the BMW dealership, he was standing in a whole other place and you decided to act on that. I mean really, it’s a social network and you cannot (read: CANNOT) dictate terms in that way. You cannot say to paying customers who have supported you for years that they can visit your page any time they’d like but they dare not have an issue with your service in public. May I just add once again that the post Zhameer made was done on Megarom’s Facebook page, not BT Games, and so none of those ‘rules’ ought to have applied. But they did. Somehow.
He of course did mention that there are channels through which to follow up complaints but let’s be honest here, I don’t think there’s a single person reading this who believes that those channels would be as effective as a simple post on a social network, or surely Zhameer would not have been banned from the page altogether.
The thing is, neither the site nor myself hold BT Games to blame for any of this, and Zhameer himself holds no grudges through this entire ordeal — in his opinion it was just some community manager with a gripe, and now the company as a whole must defend that one person’s actions. As far as we’re concerned, there’s no reason for witch hunts, or throwing anyone under the bus, or anything of the sort and that is why we didn’t immediately post about it but offered BT Games the opportunity to respond and explain the situation to us.
BT Games actually has some really great preorder incentives and even if they tend to hold off on pricing, they do so while offering some cool reasons to commit your money to them anyway. So we will give kudos where they are due. It is nice to see that Watch_Dogs does have an RRP though, so long before its release date. Hopefully this continues in future with other games.
But please, don’t interfere with an individual’s right to freedom of expression; it only makes you look guilty, BT Games.