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The Xbox 360 is here, but you probably don't have one yet. In addition to simply being in short supply, Microsoft's newest system has been kept out of some gamers' hands by retailers who have refused to sell it apart from bundles with particular games in which many gamers may have no interest.
In October of 2000, Circuit City started what has grown into a pandemic of game console launch-time profiteering when it refused to sell PlayStation 2 hardware alone or with one's own choice of games, forcing all of its PS2-buyers to instead buy a bundle that included FantaVision—not, by the way, a beverage-related game that few people would actually want, but a fireworks game that few people actually wanted—or no PS2 at all. This tawdry tradition of price gouging through bundling of unwanted games continues at several retailers to this day, upon which Fry's Electronics has refused to sell Xbox 360 hardware except with four games of its choosing. And adding insult to insult, no discount whatsoever is given for the bundle; each of the four games constitutes a full $59.99 (both too high and yet another insult, as far as I am concerned) of the total bundle price. If you do not happen to want each of the four particular games Fry's has chosen for you, too bad; you can take them or take nothing.
As much as I dislike the idea of being unable to buy a new game console without being forced to buy games from the same retailer at the same time, the sting would be tolerable (outrageous and annoying, but tolerable) if the games were of my own choosing and the number were something reasonable: one or, at most, two. A four-game requirement is excessive and particular-game bundles are wholly unacceptable when I would not otherwise have purchased one of the bundled games let alone two or three or all of them. If games for which I would not spend my own money were thrown in as a free bonus, I would be happy to try them, but people should not have to pay for games they do not want simply to be able to buy the hardware that is necessary to play the games they do want.
Posted by Brian Sexton at 11:49:32pm on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005 (PST)