The bastards got me

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Those of you who keep an eye on the forums may notice I’ve refrained from joining in with the GTA4 chat – and there’s a reason for that. In a desperate bid to make sure I actually finish my degree this year, I decided I wouldn’t buy the game until my essay deadline had passed, on the 6th of May. But over the last couple of days, having witnessed the inevitable ‘OUT OF STOCK’ labels plastered all over the GTA4 boxes in every games/entertainment shop I could think of, I’ve started panicking – what if I can’t get a copy on the 6th of May? I’ll fucking hang myself, is what. So, I resolved to get the game ASAP, and just not touch it until my work’s done.

So, off I went to sunny Wood Green (officially the 18th worst place to live in the UK, fact fans!) to try and secure a copy. I’d heard on the interwebs that everyone was getting a new shipment today, and the kids weren’t out from school yet, so I figured my chances were pretty good. Surprise, surprise – I figured wrong. HMV, GAME and, um, Argos – all out of stock. So I head over to Gamestation, and – lo! – a massive display in the front of the shop, with a load of GTA4 boxes, sans the aforementioned labels. They’re charging 45 quid for it, which is a bit steep, but I’ve got a copy of Universe at War to trade in (it’s shit, by the way), and I’m desperate.

I take a box over to the counter, and cautiously ask the manager, “Is this actually in stock?”

“Er, yeah,” he replies, “but you have to buy a guide book with it.”

£57 for the lot, and I bought it like a total moron. In all fairness, they gave me 20 quid for Universe at War – which is roughly 20 quid more than it’s worth, for those keeping score – bringing the price down to £37. But it still stings, man. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it makes excellent business sense and everything, and if there’s any game worth owning the guide book for, GTA4 is probably it. But I’ve already started boycotting CEX after they figured it was fine to buy people’s Wiis off them, sell them second-hand at something like a 50% markup on the RRP, and take Wii Sports out of the box and charge an extra fiver for it. And if this sort of thing continues at Gamestation, I reckon I’ll find myself visiting there a lot less too. Of course, what would really be great is if we all just stopped falling for it – but I’m aware I’m totally part of the problem on this one.

And don’t get me wrong – I know that these underhand sales tactics aren’t exactly new. I’m sure we all remember Gamestation forcing potential Wii owners to buy bundles with a load of crap games, because it was the only way to shift them. But I think what I’m getting at is: Does anyone remember them pulling shit like this before GAME made their bid to take over?