DLC is a wonderful thing. Through the wonder of DLC I have managed to fill my hard drive with extra costumes, stage and characters whilst emptying my pockets of actual money. I have spent money on a pair of shoes that don’t exist, and yet haven’t bought a new pair of ‘casual’ shoes since 2008. Free DLC is great but the best kind by far – and by ‘by far’ I mean the worst kind mostly – is Exclusive DLC. This bain of gaming existance is the digital form of punishment for our collective sins. We brought this on ourselves by buying games cheaper online, the retailers had to preserve their businesses and started doing deals in exchange for EXCLUSIVE content. They will give up floor space/web space in exchange for a set of digital pants or a gun that shoots out flaming nipples, and yes we all go nuts for it. With Halo Reach there were a multitude of codes made available. Some for pre-ordering the games and the rest were specifically tied to specific versions. This is the story of my hassle filled attempt to get the right code for my purchase and the surprises along the way.
Disclaimer – Story isn’t as funny/exciting as any road trip movie featuring DJ Qualls.It all started with the announcement of the Halo Reach limited edition console by Bungie. I had been looking at upgrading to a 360S for a while and decided that the bundle offered me the best possible value – as it contained two limited edition controllers and the game itself. As I watched the team members fawn over the sleek design a pop-up bit of text explained that the bundle would also contain exclusive Waypoint avatar gear, Elite armor and an episode of the Halo Legends animated short film collection. I was sold, until that is, I discovered that the console was exclusive to the Game group in the UK. I think I speak on behalf of the majority when I say that Game is literally the worst thing to happen to British gaming over the last decade or so. Their involvement in the bundle was enough to make me reconsider buying it at all… should I hold out until the Kinect 250gig console bundle and just get the game? I was tempted by the limited edition stylings and contents but my morals were in a quandry.
Luckily for me – I assumed at first – my wife stepped in and made the decision for me, placing a deposit at a near-by Game store. Well thirty miles away, but ‘near-by’ is as close a word I dare use. I figured that as the bundle was actually quite cheap in comparison to the US release costing $399.99 which directly translates to about £255, which normally is the figure you would add VAT onto, but instead we got it for a VAT/recession busting £249.99. This made me realise that Game *had* to be selling this on a narrow margin, hoping for attatchement ratio sales to accommodate for the lack of profit on the machine itself. I figured that by using some store points I had sat on a card from a while ago and not buying anything else but the console I would be getting my machine but not helping Game to make a good profit.
And that is how things stood until a few days before release.
Then things got a little screwy.
Firstly we realised that due to commitments I would be unable to get to the store 30 miles away during their usual opening hours, and would only be able to make the trip on the Saturday after launch – while renting the game from Blockbuster in the meantime. My wife called up to confirm that this was ok only to be told that we were only guaranteed on the day of launch and that by Saturday there would be a very good chance that the machine would be sold. Annoyed she asked to speak to the manager, only to be told that the manager was “too busy to talk to you” which was a red rag to my little blonde bull. Refusing to accept this churlish tone and attitude she repeatedly asked to speak to the manager of the store until lo and behold the manager came on the line to assure us that the machine was going to be held until the Saturday and that our name would be placed upon said console immediately. Relieved we sat back and looked forward to renting the game. Only Game hadn’t finished mucking us about yet.
Three days later we received a telephone call from the store explaining that the consoles had just arrived and we were asked if we still wanted ours. Of course we said yes but we had to ask why we were being asked when a console already had our name upon it. Of course we had simply been fed a load of rubbish to get us off of the phone, there were no consoles there that day, had we even spoken to a manager at all? Turns out we hadn’t.
So it get’s to the Wednesday after Reach Release Day and stories start popping up on the web about console bundle buyers finding the wrong codes in their box. Instead of the console specific codes they were finding the codes intended for the Legendary edition game bundle, with the literally legendary flaming helmet being part of it. I was now quite enthused, I was in a win/win situation. I would get some exclusive content, one way or another.
Or so I thought.
Saturday comes and console is bought while I stay with the kids in the private car park for Frankie and Benny’s – rehearsing an elaborate routine to explain our parking there while not being ‘customers’ with the kids – the wife gets into the car with an air of smug self-satisfaction. She had not only secured double reward card points on the purchase, but also blagged two sets of pre-order armour codes. Bravo indeed. One set for me and one set for my 360BFF and fellow Lolocauster Scarred Star. Nothing now could go wrong, the potential for a Legendary code coupled with bonus bonus codes, I allowed myself to smile on the way home.
This would not last.
So skip forward twenty or so minutes and we find ourselves home after a fairly uneventful drive and I am sat at the kitchen table carefully dissecting the sleek black and silver box in front of me. The console comes out, is admired and carefully sat down by my side, the controllers are picked up, fondled and loaded with batteries and the game is loathed as it is in one of those ‘bundle copy’ boxes and comes with a bland white and black ‘bundle copy’ disk. No chance of trading that in later then, but never mind. I get to the bottom of the box and realise that something is missing… no codes at all. No Legendary, no nothing so as I normally do in times of GENUINE PREDICAMENT AND EMERGENCY I took to the Internet!
I found lots of similar stories, people in the UK who were getting the Legendary code, but no Halo Legends content code… I couldn’t find – and still haven’t found – a single person who got the normal console content code. This led me to one of two possible conclusions:
1) The contents listed had been ‘upgraded’ to the Legendary codes to offer a better deal to those buying the most costly of all the bundles
2) My codes were missing due to some issue in the production/packaging process
Obviously my first port of call would be Game. So I fired off a polite email:
Yesterday I collected my husbands Limited Edition Halo Reach console from the Spalding, Lincs Game store after a week of panic as to whether it would be held or not – essentially as a result of a staff member telling us that we might not get it as we could not get to the store until the Saturday in a very rude tone – and now we have got home and found that some of the contents of the limited edition are missing.
Listed on your website it states that a code is available to download a Halo Legends episode and some Elite Armor. (This is seperate to any pre-order bonus armor) and yet this code is not present at all. I have done some looking around on the internet and it seems to be a problem that has affected other consumers also. Obviously a download code is a small part of a big package, but one that is VERY desirable to me and one of the reasons I bought the console in the first place.
Your help with this matter is VERY much appreciated.
Which I think was rather polite considering I wanted to write something that would be normally used by a Bernard Manning tribute act – surely one exists?
I waited a fair while before getting impatient and firing off a question to the Twitter persona of the Game stores @Gamedigital who responded in a quick and efficient manner before popping over to the customer services team with my email address and bumping me up the queue. I was positive that the drama was almost over when I got the official response from Game’s customer service team:
Thank you for your email and I apologise for the delayed response. We are currently receiving a large number of customer queries due to the launch of Halo.
Unfortunately these codes are put in the item by the Publisher and as we are the retailer we do not have access to these codes. However, we recommend you visit the publisher’s website to solve your query.
Contact details are usually found on the packaging of the game, but if you have lost any of these details they can be found on the company’s website.
Alternatively if you do not wish to contact the publisher then please return this item back in to your local store with the receipt within 28 days and the store will be able to refund or exchange this item for you.
I apologise for any inconvenience and if you have any further queries please don’t hesitate to contact us.
The Team at GAME
Which is easily translated as:
Dear Money Tree,
Sorry we didn’t email back sooner we have had a lot of complaints this week.
You didn’t get a code? Not our fault or problem, blame Microsoft.
Microsoft can be contacted at…. ah sod it, you have Google, go find the number yourself.
Shut up or bring it back so we can re-sell it as new stock to someone who isn’t aware of the proposed contents or their consumer rights.
Now some people would simply think that the path had ran dry, but not I… not by a long chalk – and when I say a long chalk I mean metaphorically, not that I am currently able to write on blackboards from the back of a classroom.
I responded as such, and then got onto the big boss man of all things Xbox UK community based @AceyBongos asking for his support with this very frustrating – and yet admittedly small – issue.
Thank-you for your response, I appreciate that this is a busy time for a gaming retailer however I cannot accept the shift of blame that you have demonstrated.
If I got home and was missing the controllers would you have had the same response?
The fact of the matter is that your stores (Game/Gamestation) is advertising the bundle as containing:
The Xbox 360 Limited Edition “Halo: Reach” Bundle features:
- An exclusive silver design
- Two custom Xbox 360 Wireless Controllers with artwork inspired by the game
- A Standard Edition copy of “Halo: Reach”
- A token for the Limited Edition Elite armour set, an episode of “Halo Legends”
- A “Halo: Reach”-themed Xbox 360 wired headset.
- As an added touch, the specially designed console in the Xbox 360 Limited Edition “Halo: Reach” Bundle not only captures the look and feel of the game, but also features custom sound effects from the “Halo” universe.
Plus the promo video on the Gamestation site also lists Waypoint Avatar gear.
Surely there is a problem when a widespread issue – I’ve yet to speak to ANYONE who had a code in their console box after buying from Game stores, as evidenced by this thread on the official Xbox Forums http://forums.xbox.com/34309024/ShowPost.aspx#34309024 – is simply dismissed as the publisher’s fault. It only serves to futher annoy me that I now feel entirely abandoned by Game now that you have my money. Surely it would be in everybody’s best interest for the retailer to support the consumer rather than just point away nonchalantly and blame someone else for an error. I accept that the problem lies with the publisher but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a responsibility.
I would hope that more can be done to rectify this issue, as I am not happy at all. First we had staff members being rude to me down the telephone when I made an enquiry about collections and now we are being dismissed post-purchase. The fact is that we bought our console on the Saturday after release due to work scheduling stopping me getting to the store, and complaints about the lack of codes were made from the day of release. Would it not have been fair to have at least mentioned at the time of sale that there may be an issue? I have heard reports of people going back in store for a replacement console – to get their code that they were promised and paid for – and found that the replacement had no code either, hardly a good basis to travel 30 miles to my store to return empty-handed.
Hopefully now you may provide a better solution than simply pointing me vaguely at someone else, heck even provide a telephone number or email address for me rather than make me search for them!
I look forward to hearing your response
Which again was far more polite than I think Game’s Customer ‘Service’ Team deserved.
Whereas @AceyBongos responded very promptly and by this morning had sorted it out for me to contact Xbox Support for further support – appropriately, I have yet to have any response from Game. Wankers.
Only I should probably take that back, as my wife – who has been seething with rage at the customer service nightmare we have become embroiled in decided to take a third course of action.
This afternoon she called the store we bought from to complain to the manager – the real one this time – and demanded that a console be opened in-store to look for codes. There was just one code and we were told we could travel to pick it up. Not good enough for the wife who made the manager scratch the code and read it down the phone to her. As she wrote each number/letter down I typed them into Xbox.com’s code redemption form and lo and behold I was now the owner of a Legendary edition code granting me a flaming helmet without having to visit any of the local slummy hookers and pay £12.78 for the privilege. So with Xbox Support working on a solution to my problem in terms of ‘actual’ content I *should* have received I was now the owner of a spare set of pre-order codes and a nice set of Legendary edition content, and that is where the story ends… I am still unable to say that Game have responded with a satsifactory response and Xbox Support has yet to finalise their side of the bargain, but we are assured that this will occur tomorrow morning without fail. I will keep you posted.
Oh, and while I remember… if you have entered a code from any version, make sure you load up Halo Waypoint as this can unlock other items (the avatar toys and videos specifically) as I’ve noted that some people are having trouble finding the items after entering the code.