Take Two Interactive and the Great Artificial Scarcity Swindle

In the wake of Grand Theft Auto 4, egoeccentric brings you a guest post from our roving reporter SweetNeatPete:

December 1965. Beatlemaniacs worldwide eagerly anticipate the release of Rubber Soul. An abashed Parlophone spokesman explains that there simply aren't enough copies of the album to go round at the moment; fans who haven't booked a copy of the album several weeks in advance, or who didn't rush to their local record shop in time to book one, will just have to wait.

Did this happen?

May 25th, 1983. Arguably the most anticipated film of the decade thus far, Return of the Jedi opens in theatres... 100 theatres. World-wide. A spokesman for Lucasfilm explains that George Lucas is eager to see people queueing round the block, and has taken the precaution of limiting the number of prints available to ensure that this is the case.

Did this happen?

April 29th 2008. Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto IV is released... I think you get where I'm coming from here...

Now there was a time in the '80s when very popular albums would indeed see a shortage on release. What ended this? Not a slump in (absolute) sales figures, no no, it was the relative ease of high-fidelity home copying of these albums that put paid to this (also blatantly engineered) scarcity. Once Mr End-User discovered that only one copy of the album was required for whole bunches of people to own and enjoy it, Mr Supply-Side got his act together very very quickly indeed.

What is the exact difference between an album (on CD) and a game? Jewel case = game case. Liner notes = manual. Disc = disc. At what stage in the production process does it become physically impossible for a major player in an industry which has been bigger than Hollywood for several years now to ship product in volumes commensurate with demand? Very simple - it never does. It's not impossible. It's very possible. So possible that there are only two credible explanations for the shortage of copies of GTA IV. Either TTI are stupid/lazy or they're doing it on fucking purpose to generate 'buzz' and 'vibe' and other non-words liable to make my fists itchy.

Personally I refuse to book (or "pre-book"; the exact difference has never been clear to me), because I would then be allowing my 'user wallet' or 'net spend' or as English-speakers would put it my 'money' to help perpetuate this practice.

Never thought I'd say this, but we need to take a leaf out of the '80s' book. To paraphrase Orwell: Hope lies in the Pirates. Aaaaar!

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May 1, 2008 at 6:09 PM Evil Bob said...

Interestig point about the Book/Pre-book thing. What the hell is the difference?