Amazon locks top games behind a Prime paywall (updated)
Update: Some of the UK listings are starting to switch back, suggesting the Prime block was a mistake. At the time of writing Grand Theft Auto V remains Prime-only in the US, however. Our original article follows below.
For many, Amazon is the go-to place to buy video games. Now, the company is using that influence to incentivise Prime by requiring a subscription for select game orders. As VideoGamer reports, this applies to top titles such as FIFA 16, Far Cry Primal and Battlefield Hardline on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in the UK. Similar restrictions are also live in the US — we’ve spotted the Amazon Prime label on Grand Theft Auto V, for instance. The requirement is only in place, however, if you want the order to be fulfilled by Amazon. At the moment, you can sidestep the problem by selecting a third-party merchant on the site instead.
These are big, popular games. When asked about the decision, the company told VideoGamer: “One of the many benefits of Amazon Prime is access to exclusive selection on a number of great products. Customers who are not Prime members can sign-up for a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime, or they can purchase those items from a Marketplace seller.” Amazon has taken a similar approach with other forms of media — in the UK, for instance, you need a Prime subscription to buy Spectre on DVD.
Amazon has used games to drive Prime sign-ups before. In the US, you can get up to 20 percent discounts on pre-orders and newly released games if you have an active subscription. At the moment, this includes Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Doom, Overwatch and Homefront: The Revolution.
It’s not clear whether this is a timed promotion or something Amazon will enforce indefinitely. The move will, in all likelihood, convert a few customers into Prime subscribers, however it could also aggravate people that can’t afford, or would otherwise have no interest in the service. Amazon might be big, but it’s not the only place that sells video games — digital stores like Steam, for instance, are growing in popularity. Amazon is, therefore, risking its market dominance and its customers’ loyalty.