Bear with us. See, Criterion have gone all digital download crazy lately. First Burnout Paradise goes download-only over the PlayStation Network, then they go and release a big, free update over the same PlayStation Network. The former the kind of thing to stop you buying a game new from GameStop, the latter aimed - supposedly - at keeping you from trading your game in at GameStop. The new game thing, GameStop can't be too happy about, but the latter - messing with the one thing the company relies upon to stay alive - that's really going to piss them off, especially considering comments made to MTV by GameStop vice president of merchandising, Bob McKenzie. Asked about the uneasy relationship between GameStop and publishers over digital distribution, Mckenzie replies:
McKenzie: We tell our publishers we're not afraid to compete with anybody on digital downloads. It's just they can't make it that they have an unfair advantage. There isn't. The customer can come into our stores and buy "Burnout Paradise" at the same time they digitally download it [on the PS3] or they can digitally download it from GameStop.com. Multiplayer: What would be an "unfair advantage"? McKenzie: If you could digitally download a game prior to it being available for retail. Or if you could get something unique in the game that you can't get within your retail copy. That's what we would consider an unfair advantage.
It's no secret the only people happy with GameStop's trade-in program are GameStop shareholders. Sellers get screwed (they give you HOW MUCH for your game?), buyers get screwed (they then turn around and sell it for HOW MUCH?), publishers get screwed (because they don't see a cent from any of this). While in this instance the Burnout bikes are easily available for people buying either copy - retail or digital - seeing such a sizeable piece of DLC turn up so long after a game's release certainly adds plausibility to the rumour that it's aimed at stopping trade-ins of the game. And if these rumours of EA crafting the DLC as a shot across GameStop's bow are true, we can't help but wonder how long until a publisher takes that next step and actually gives their digital download an "unfair advantage"? GameStop Promises Huge Stores, More Games, Special Drums And No Fear Of ‘Burnout' [MTV] Free Burnout Paradise bikes upgrade out today [GamePro]