UPDATE |BigPond has corrected a pricing error which affects the content of this story. See the story body text and comments for more information.Internet service provider BigPond is again doing the pony-dance of appearing to create value for subscribers without really creating it, with its new BigPond Games Shop download service.
UPDATE | BigPond has investigated and amended the price of the Tomb Raider game referred to below. Corporate Affairs Manager Craig Middleton writes: "The figure of $89.95 had been supplied to us as RRP. We have double checked and reduced the price to that which Atari promote. As a rule, our prices are RRP for non BigPond members and 20% off for BigPond customers."
Internet service provider BigPond is again doing the pony-dance of "appearing to create value for subscribers without really creating it", with its new BigPond Games Shop
download service.The service offers 20 per cent off the price of full, leading-edge commercial game titles, as long as you're a BigPond customer for broadband.The service does let you try out any game in the catalogue for an hour before you have to pay for it, but in terms of pricing, BigPond is selling a false economy.
When I checked the site out, and picked a game at random -- Tomb Raider: Legends -- the '20% off' price for BigPond subscribers was $71.95. At Games Warehouse, it goes for $72.95, and that's with a physical install disk in case something goes wrong with your installation.
But what amazed me was that the price for non-BigPond customers was $89.95 - a full $10 above Atari Australia's published $79.95 RRP for that game.
It's easy to offer a huge discount to your customers when you've inflated the price to begin with.
When I received BigPond's press release announcing the service, it looked quite interesting. It's certainly less lame than BigPond's previous service, "GameNow" (which will continue to run concurrently) which allowed unlimited games to be downloaded and played as long as an ongoing monthly subscription fee was paid.
The trouble with that service was that, as with any all-you-can-eat buffet, the quality of the food wasn't exactly cordon bleu grade. GameNow never had the hottest game titles, so it was never going to appeal to serious gamers.
One would have thought that BigPond would have resolved that problem for BigPond Game Shop. However, its range of games will be no competition for bricks-and-mortar game shops for now.
Hot PC games that one could expect to be in any game store, such as Half Life 2 episode 1, Heroes of Might and Magic 5 and Rise of Legends weren't included in BigPond's Game Shop catalogue.
BigPond is taking pre-orders for anticipated games like Neverwinter Nights 2, which it says will be available for download the day boxes get put up on store shelves.
On the upside, BigPond Games Shop secures entire game downloads with DRM, so you can copy them to DVD and share them with friends, who also get an hour's free play time.
And BigPond recognises from the outset that people are going to be worried about the DRM failing or their computer crashing and downloaded game being lost.
"Should a customer have a legitimate reason for reinstalling a purchased game, such as upgrading their PC or having a file crash, the site will accommodate a limited number of reloads at no extra charge," said Justin Milne, Group Managing Director of BigPond.