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A call for better game bundles.

Games should be bundled with books and movies that deepen the player's understanding of the game and the world at large, benefiting consumer and retailer at the same time.

Gamers are complex people. We're consumers of all sorts of different products, for different reasons and at different times. We mix and match what eat, read, wear, listen to and watch; each feeding into the other, all enriching what we feel and know.

Let me give you an example.

In the film Lord of War, Nicholas Cage plays an arms dealer selling to African warlords and getting paid in diamonds. In the game FarCry 2, one plays a mercenary in Africa, undertaking work for competing warlords, working with arms dealers and getting paid in diamonds.

At some point in FarCry 2, I can't remember exactly when, the game's world made sense to me (and took on some aspect of reality) because I'd seen Lord of War. I realised the futility of what I was doing, the inevitability of the arms dealers, the real cost of the (blood) diamonds and so on. The film enriched my experience of the game and vice versa.

Thus, it seems to me that game bundles shouldn't comprise other games, accessories or doodads, but books and DVDs; indeed anything that deepens your experience of the game and, ideally, vice versa. WWII FPSs could come with the Band of Brothers series or even a documentary on post-traumatic stress disorder. Uncharted 2 could come with a book on Nepal. (The latter is an example of how a big title could drive sales of lesser known products.)

For retailer-created bundles (as opposed to games publishers) companies such as Amazon will have a competitive advantage, since they are likely to have the most products to choose the bundle contents from and be able to ship all items to the customer at once. However, the bundle could be anything as long as there is some way for the retailer to fulfil the order and the customer to make use of it.

For example, if an independent games shop was near an Italian restaurant, they could have a coupon, bundled with Assassin's Creed II, which gave the customer access to a special 15th Century menu and discount at the restaurant.

If you wanted a more outlandish, though entirely plausible suggestion, Afrika, the PS3 game, could come with an offer for safari park tickets. Endless Ocean 2, for Wii, with ones for an aquarium. Don't breakfast cereals have this sort of offer all the time?

(One thing to note -- I've not mentioned digital delivery precisely so you can think of your own examples; I'm sure you thought of quite a few others already.)

As I said at the beginning, gamers are complex people whose diverse interests feed into each other, constantly making us update our beliefs, reappraise what we know and deepening our knowledge of the world at large and the subject at hand.

Why should game bundles be any different?




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