“We ain’t got it, dawg.” is never an acceptable excuse.
Do you remember being able to go into your video game store of choice, being able to buy a game, and walk out without any conversation other than handing whoever was working the register the sixty bucks for your game?
I want to take a minute this week to talk about “whatever” editions and exclusive retailer releases.
And per the established trend with Bitter without Continues, let’s begin with a personal story.
Fuckin’ Gamestop, right?
The best stories from most ire-struck gamers usually begins with the pretense that SOMEHOW, a game player was wronged in some capacity by the most prevalent of the brick and mortar franchises you see in strip malls everywhere.
It was a couple of years ago. (According to Wikipedia, it was 2008. Everything after 1995 and Chrono Trigger is essentially a blur.)
The concept of buying souped up editions of games had been around for a little bit, and my local, solitary GameStop in the mall was essentially my best (and only) solution for getting any of them. We had a Walmart, but…let’s be honest. Who likes going in there?
But to note is that Every. Single. Time. I went to pre-order some kind of amazing game release that I MUST HAVE, that had some kind of bonus shit in it, I always got janked out of it.
The Dead Rising T-Shirt.
The 512MB USB drive Dogtags from Battlefield 2142.
My Mass Effect 2 Collector’s Edition ENTIRELY.
The list goes on, is endless, as are the excuses as to why they aren’t here in my cavalcade of collector shit that I never use inside my residence at the Experimental Solitary Habitation Cube.
The time that bugged me the most?
Let me tell you about my Street Fighter IV experience.
One day, internet based videogame news outlets were informing me that STREET FIGHTER IV was coming into my goddamn home.
This doesn’t sound like a big deal in a world now largely cynical and unimpressed by most of Capcom’s recent track record. (That whole losing Kenji Inafune, the father of Mega Man, for reasons of Capcom being essentially TERRIBLE, didn’t help matters at all. Neither did their inclusion of ironic fat-ass Mega Man 1 box art MM in Street Fighter X Tekken.)
BUT AT THE TIME, the KING OF THE STREETS WAS COMING BACK!
No, not that. I’m talking about STREET FIGHTER! CAPCOM finally counted to IV after nearly 20 editions and variations of their own formula, and gave the world the better parts of Super III: Third Strike, and then included a few new people. PLUS, the game LOOKED AWESOME, and had people pumped for it’s return.
I mean, it’s STREET FIGHTER! Even if you’re terrible at it (which I am), there’s few games that are more fun to play in a group setting with other people who are terrible at it (which they usually are.) to feel like you’re something awesome.
A Video game with Fightin’ Men! That fight each other! With trash talk accompaniment! I know i’ve talked about it before, but there’s a lot of fun to be had in that.
I was pumped. I had been making due by playing SF III: Third Strike on my MAME Cabinet (another column, I promise), as well as the Udon studios remastered (but inherently clunky) Street Fighter II: Turbo HD Remix on my 360 for days in anticipation.
Work had been informed. I am taking RELEASE day off as a vacation day. I am going to eagerly anticipate the 10:00 AM opening of my game store, waiting at the gate, foaming at the mouth, with anticipation of owning a game that was going to give me bare knuckle, beat ass friendly competition that would last for (what then was mistakenly construed as) years of fun to come!
In fact, the game frequently comes up as a topic of levied challengemanship versus my personal video game rival, a chump I know as FJ Kole, and whos tales of arcade rivalry will wait for another future column about heroism.
Anyway. So, Gamestop already had me lock, stock, and shoryuken, right? They knew I was going to get the game, right? And Capcom, now no stranger to producing SEVERAL editions of the game was presenting this option.
The Collector’s edition. The big box. The game….but wait….with MORE shit.
And what did this entail?
A Big box. A tiny book full of special moves from somebody at Brady/or Prima Games (Which I have yet to understand since the advent of Character Move lists being included in game, but…Brady/Prima/Whoever Games needs to stay in the print business, I guess.), A Crimson Viper standup statue thing for your desk, and a copy of the butchered US Street Fighter II: The Ties that Bind animated movie. All for ten bucks more at launch.
(Oh, and the game comes in it too, I guess.)
But wait. Gamestop, those sly boots, are going to throw in something additional. A Collectors HEADBAND with a Street Fighter IV logo on the tail end of it!
Take a minute for this to sink in to know the effective importance of the words I have just typed here.
If anybody knows anything, they can understand the importance and seriousness of all things headband related. Let’s take a second to acknowledge Awesome people who wear headbands.
There’s never a situation in which I don’t wake up every morning and wish I had valid reason to, shortly after getting dressed (maybe before!), to put a headband on, with a determined “pull hard for secure knot” action, and feel like I’m ready for anything the day can throw at me, which could range from simple clerical duties, to punching grown ass men off of motorcycles.
And Gamestop was going to GIVE me one. FOR FREE. Just for giving them five bucks in advance for a game I was already going to get.
Every day until launch was filled with whimisical dreams of five to seven hit combo perfection, all accomplished with surgical perfection, against the face and gut of every poor chump I knew at the time, thinking they had game – the adrenaline pounding in my head, kept in check from my super-serious badass headband, coursing with sweat of the good fight.
I’m not a religious man. But the anticipation level for this was like not only meeting God, but having pizza with him and finding out he’s just as much of a fan of 1988’s Bloodsport as you, and wants to talk about it for hours at a time.
ITS GAME DAY. It’s OUT. I’ve got an entire day off from my grown up responsibilities and after a brief excursion into the world, had intentions of sitting ON my ass and playing the motherloving mess out of a video game until my eyes and thumbs died. A chocolate milk (the drink of choice) was procured in anticipation of waiting for the steel security gate to open at the store. Every second was an agonizing hour away from every Flash kicking. Every lightning leg. Every fierce to rising Dragon Punch.
A Electronic beep. A motor kicked in. The gate went up.
And…This is where I met something called a McLean.
It was 10:01. A Tuesday. I was the only person inside the medium-sized Gamestop at LakeShore Mall. I’m shaking with anticipation of picking up a game that I’ve been wanting in my possession at this point for months. I’m old enough to probably need a little more composure than I’m showing, and I’m encountering the status quo entry level customer service representative experience you come to expect from a 16-18 year old shell.
I’ve never seen this person in my entire life. But here is the transaction of dialogue that occurred.
McLean: “Yo. Homes. Whatchu want?” (this guy, incidentally, if the name of McLean, unsure if this is first or last name, but present on his name badge, is as white as Wisconsin Winter.)
Me: “Oh. I’m here to pick up my Street Fighter IV: Collector’s edition with the headband. Here’s my receipt.”
McLean: “Nah, dawg. We ain’t got it.”
Me: “*hesistation and system shock as all blood in my body pours into my face.* Wait, what?”
McLean: *laugh*, “Nah, i’m for serious. I ain’t got any. We didn’t get any on the truck.”
Me: “Please tell me you’re kidding.”
McLean: “Look, I got some boxes here, but I can’t go through em. I mean, shit. But you should just wait and come back tomorrow.”
I know that many of my new readers have never had a face to face conversation with me, as we’ve only met through our shared interactions here and in the comments section. I like to think that i’m a pretty okay guy. Kinda melancholy, if you will, if not passionate about my interests.
There is a thing that can happen, however, if someone decides to, say, be bro-han street style cool with me if I don’t know them, and as this day taught me, tried to dismiss “shit news that I don’t want to here.” with mutual comradery and a jocular attitude. It usually involves the MOST INTENSE PISSED OFF face a human can make. At least in my mind it is. And it may look something like this.
I was not having this nonsense. In fact, i’ve never felt like the consumer directly wronged by an organization before, especially one that’s entire function is based on providing a sole, nationally available product inside of it’s storefront. But it just happened.
I briefly thought, “Oh, this poor McLean person. He probably has loved ones that are going to have to identify him after I take both of his arms, stuff them into his anus and leave him battered inside the Gamestop display case.”
Instead, I mouthed out a couple words that I couldn’t seem to get out, stammered, shot an incredibly evil look, went home, and I believe got on social media to angrilly discuss the issue, the way I am now.
I had to wait. The ONE goddamn thing I wanted to do, had planned to do, had been disarmed by indirectly by this…fucking punk, a logistical error, and an organization that took pride in absolutely fucking up EVERY single PRE-order incentive I had ever attempted to get, each time saying to myself, NEVER AGAIN.
I coped. Frustrated. Mad face all day. And I waited. The next day, fortunately, I was also off (I essentially had alloted a three day “middle-of-the-week-weekend” deal.), and as before, waited for 10:00 to roll around, to, less enthusiastically enter the store and have the courage to not get myself arrested from completely and erratically LOSING MY SHIT on empty cases and display racks.
And McLean was there. Again. And we attempted the diplomatic civilities. Again.
Me: “Hey. So, is Street Fighter IV in?”
McLean: “Nope. We don’t have it.”
Me: “LOOK, MOTHERF–”
McLean: “Dude, i’m fucking with you. Here it is.”
McLean: Yeah. You got a receipt?
(financial exchange, identification verification)
Me: “Wait, is the headband in the box?”
McLean: “You seriously want that? We only got two.”
Me: “Uh, yeah. I paid for it.”
McLean: “Gonna go all Karate shit?”
Me: “Look, can you give me my headband?”
McLean: “Yeah, hold on.”
(me, resisting going all Karate Shit, waits.)
McLean: “There you go, man.”
I leave without another word, annoyed as ever, but beating the odds, with the actual extra bonus shit I had actually paid for, in lieu of frustration of having to deal with “the fucking punk YOUTH of the world.”, and furthering my descent into old and crankydom.
(Postnote to this story. Forgoing karmatic retribution and not having sympathy for the working class, I came back the day after, talked to his manager, and YES, actually got this asshole fired for using profanity at me and being absolutely unprofessional. This is the ONLY time I’ve ever complained about ANY customer service situation ever, and even if it was extreme, felt it justified. Whatever car wash or jail cell McLean is inhabiting now, I wish him all the luck in the world and hope he’s learned to carry on a professional cadence and serious mindset to the place that gives him pennies on the hour.)
Yeah. This Gamestop in particular continued the trend hereafter of screwing me on a good 9 out of 10 preorders I ever attempted until I had the good sense and fortune to move FAR the hell away and not be victim to it anymore.
But yes. This is the time I fought over somebody over getting a headband.
And i’m not going to lie. It’s awesome. I’m wearing it right now as I write this column, with same enthusiasm I had the moment I clutched it from the hands of villainy personified.
To be honest, as cool as it is, as is i’m sure rest of the stuff in my collector’s edition game (that I probably looked at twice, repackaged, and haven’t thought of in over five years.), I kind of miss the simplicity of knowing I was going into a retailer, with the intentions of handing them my valuable parent’s money, and getting a box with a game in it.
No frills. Just what I paid for. Nothing more, nothing less. (If Nintendo gave me a poster inside, well, bonus, but It wasn’t anything I ever banked on.)
We’re past that now. We’re in the era of collector’s/legendary/magnanimous edition. And if we thought paying sixty bucks for a game was Ludacris at best…
…sorry. Ludicrous at best, we’re now given the option of shelling out as much as TWICE that just to get some merch, or bonus discs, or whathaveyou.
Is it worth it? Especially when it’s got the possibility of failure to materialize in your hands? When you sit and stare at your Legendary Halo 3 Not-big-enough-to-fit-on-yo-damn-head Spartan helmet, is it perfectly maintained, or does it have a thin veneer of dust on it, falling into disinterest and background clutter? Aside from the time that you had company over and someone remarked at the majesty of the lifesize amazon.com exclusive Gears of War Lancer chainsaw rifle you had, when is the last time you even thought about it, or took it out of the closet?
Is the pack-in exclusive something that’s really needed? I get that retailers do it to get people in their building. Don’t buy from THEM, Buy from US. We’ll give you an in game HAT. (*Hat available two weeks after game purchase. Token redeemable for one free hat purchase. Hat available for Marketplace/PS Store congruently.)
How much novelty bullshit do we need in our home before it becomes too much?
I’m writing this in a period of transcendental thought towards my living condition. I have an apartment cluttered to the brim with knickknacks and artifacts from bygone eras of wanting to have gimmicky swag, that’s all run it’s course.
I’ve got a shelf full of games that might have the words EXCLUSIVE MAKING-OF disc on the packaging that I’ve probably never watched, and will never watch.
I forgot that I had a bobble-head Vault Boy figure, until it fell off my DVD rack the other day and saw that it was on the floor.
And right now, I’m wondering…well…what would I do differently with it all if I had some more room in my teeny tiny living space.
I’m not discrediting anyone’s interest in collectibles, and the hunt to maintain them. I’m just wondering at what point did I need to get (and pay) for more? And even so, what the hell is the endgame with all of this shit on my bookshelf?
Excuse me. This headband’s not gonna tighten itself, after all.
This column is dedicated to the memory of McLean McLeans’s fucking short lived tenure as a GameStop Wageslave. R.I.P, homey.