Square Enix Christmas Sales Disappoint on Both Sides of the Pond
Christmas has come and gone, and the end-of-year celebrations and shopping extravaganzas are rapidly drawing to a close. What have we got to show for it?
If you were an avid follower of Steam's extremely successful Winter Sale (or Green Man Gaming's, or GOG.com...), your answer might be a wallet weeping in a corner, drained of all its lifeblood. But I'd bank on the fact that you also picked up some pretty good bargains.
Not so for Square Enix fans - at least those who eschewed the Steam sales.
In North America
Earlier this month, Square Enix announced a huge holiday sale with 50% off a wide range of titles. Unfortunately for PC gamers, absolutely every single one of the PC digital downloads listed on sale were already twice as much as the sale prices offered on the Steam sale running at the same time.
For the console gamers, there were actually a few good buys. Classics like Chrono Trigger and the earlier Final Fantasy titles appeared on the list, and there were games for a whole slew of consoles, old and new: Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, PSP, PS Vita, and 3DS. Alas, for console gamers as well! Stock was incredibly limited - within a day or two, roughly half of the sale items were sold out and what was not marked sold out on the store page showed up sold out in your cart.
In my own attempt to pick up FFXIII and FFXIII-2 at a pretty good price ($9.99 each), plus a few other titles that had caught my eye, navigating through the site was a nightmare. When I had finally gotten down to the two or three things that would actually make it through the shopping cart process, and could continue on to my shipping information, I got stuck in an endless loop while verifying my address.
Customer support was impossible to find and promised an extremely long wait time to boot, since I would be competing with every single person who was having troubles with the newly-launched (relatively) Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.
Thanks, but no thanks. $20 adds up, but so do the costs of half-hour (at minimum) international calls listening to screechy elevator music.
In the European Union
Those in the EU didn't actually get a sale in the same sense that we did in North America. Rather, the Square Enix store rolled out a mystery Christmas bundle that promised four Steam keys with an advertised value of £50.00 and cost buyers €6.49 (£4.99).
All the games were emailed to everyone as of December 20. All buyers received the same titles, which were: Tomb Raider, Dungeon Siege 3, Hitman: Blood Money, and Just Cause 2.
For those of you who follow the Steam sales closely, according to PCGMedia, the value of the games on Steam as of the 22nd came to £17.94 since Square Enix has put Tomb Raider on sale for £5.99 on Steam.
Of course, this bundle was bound not to equal £50.00 worth of Steam sale gaming, but many shoppers were persuaded to believe that buying the bundle would net them some of the top games from the last couple of years, many of which are on sale for some extremely good prices on Steam.
As it stands, the bundle features some of what we expected - one top-tier game that really manage to re-galvanize gamer interest in the somewhat tired Tomb Raider franchise - and some that we didn't. While one could certainly imagine that the other titles wouldn't be new, many were taken aback by the fact that the Hitman title wasn't (also deeply discounted on Steam) Absolution and that the rest were extremely old.
Mystery grab bags are always a hit-or-miss, but just because you buy them doesn't mean you should be guaranteed the bottle-of-the-barrel stuff that the publishers are using just to troll you with. €6.49 is not a bad price to pay for the games you get, but spending a little bit more probably could have saved you from getting stuff you probably already own - or have absolutely no interest in.
Merry Christmas to you too, Square Enix. I'll stick with Steam.