PS5 Bundles Suck
Contributed by DJMMT
I cannot remember the first console bundle that ever existed. I was probably alive for it, but I don’t recall what it was. What I do recall is that the first console bundle my family ever purchased was the Nintendo 64 – Super Mario 64 console + game bundle. Since then, I have purchased several console bundles. While not every console I’ve purchased has been part of a bundle, I always preferred bundles where available with games I actually wanted. This makes sense, because you have to buy games when you get a new console anyway, so getting them together is very convenient.
Another major benefit of console bundles, at least in later generations, was the prospect of specialized console designs. Buying a bundle didn’t just mean getting a console with a game you wanted. It also meant getting a cool limited-edition version of the console printed with a case/shell based on a game franchise you like. Examples like the God of War PS4 and the HALO Infinite XBOX Series X are both modern examples of a long running tradition of adding value to console bundles. I remember how angry people were that they couldn’t get one of the Spider-Man PS4 consoles.
For as long as I can remember, console bundles have had value. That is to say, there was a reason to buy a bundle above and beyond just being able to get the items in the bundle as a single purchase. For multiple generations, bundles were cheaper. Buying a console bundle saved you money in comparison to buying the console and game as two separate purchases/items. Even without the specialty console designs, buying a bundle was just a good purchasing decision. With the exception of bundle only titles, like the original Wii Sports, it was never really about supply. Stores like GameStop might act like software supply is still a serious problem, but the reality is that it hasn’t been since the introduction of digital downloads of games. There are zero games that you can’t get day one today. When a new game releases, unless you genuinely have issue with buying digital, or need a specific version of a game, like the Collector’s Edition, you can always get a game on release day without preordering it. And depending on where you live, that’s true for physical vanilla editions as well.
There are always available copies of a game on launch day, if you live in any populated area. Walmart, Best Buy, GameStop, Target, and several other stores sell games. And that’s not including online sellers like Amazon, Newegg, and all the physical stores I already mentioned. If you actually want a game day one without preordering, you have to put in effort not to be able to find a copy. And again, you can always buy a digital copy. I remember the old days. I remember trying to find a new physical copy of Mirror’s Edge; and it was sold out everywhere. I remember trying to find a copy of Pokémon Yellow and it being unavailable at literally every physical store. That was actually the first online purchase my dad ever made. He got me Pokémon Yellow for Christmas and risked the security of his identity and payment information in a time where the internet was still young and under regulated. Today, this isn’t an issue. So the idea of the value in a bundle being the ability to get a copy of the game with no other benefits is less than ridiculous. It’s downright irrelevant.
With all that in mind, I have to say that Sony has completely fumbled the ball with PS5 bundles. Honestly speaking, they’re absolute garbage. PS5’s are still rare in some places, so I get why some people would buy a bundle just to get one. But in general, the PS5 bundles offer literally zero value. They’re just the console and the vanilla edition of the included game with no discount. Why is this even a thing? Why isn’t there any sort of value in these bundles? The PS5 is the most easily customized console Sony has ever released. You can snap the faceplates off in seconds. Why doesn’t every bundle come with special printed face plates for the included game? Why don’t you save any money? Who thought any of this was acceptable?
I get that PS5’s are still in demand. But what does that have to do with bundles? Why bundle the console at all if there’s no added value? In fact, when you consider the issue of DLC, the bundles are actually a worse deal than buying the game separately. Currently, the two most popular PS5 bundles are the Horizon Forbidden West bundle and the God of War Ragnarök bundle. In both cases, the Digital Deluxe Editions and the Collector’s Editions are the better way to buy the game, because of the extra content included. If you just buy the vanilla version, you have to pay for all the DLC separately. Some of the extra content can’t even be purchased separately from the special editions. So if I’m really a fan of Horizon or God of War, it’s actually not in my best interest to buy either of them bundled with a console. At the very least, the bundles should have included the Deluxe Editions of the games. In my case, I’d never buy the vanilla edition of either game, because I actually do want all the content at the best prices possible. The bundle actively prevents you from being able to get that.
I bring this up because I’m currently thinking about buying a PS5. I always planned on buying one, so I started looking at bundles. After more research than I should have needed to do, I’ve concluded that they’re all shit. It’s a way better idea to go to Best Buy because they’re doing customized bundles. That way you can at least choose the game you want paired with the console, since you’re not saving any money or getting anything special any way. And a third-party seller is more likely to offer a discount on the overall purchase, regardless of the bundle prices set by Sony.
I had been waiting for the announcement of a PSVR2 bundle, only for them to announce that there won’t be one. You can get PSVR2 bundled with a game, for no discount, but you can’t actually get the headset and console bundled together. Again, who approved this? Data from eight previous generations of consoles, and Sony thought this was the best way to do any of this? It doesn’t make any sense. At this point, you can’t even call it greed. It’s just flat-out stupidity. I literally can’t think of a single reason why any experienced console gamer in 2022 would buy any of the PS5 bundles other than absolute desperation to get a PS5 due to a lack of availability of the console. Because the bundles offer absolutely no benefit compared to buying the console and game separately. Like unless you really just don’t care about DLC, there’s just no reason to buy them. And I hate that this is the case.
Here in Taiwan, bundles, when they aren’t shit, are the best way to buy a console. Sometimes, stores force you to bundle games you don’t even want when you purchase a console. Like when the PS5 first released, they were no joke forcing you to purchase the console with two garbage PS4 JRPGs I’d never even heard of that weren’t localized to English. Let me say that again. It was so hard to find a PS5 that sellers were forcing you to pay for garbage PS4 games with them so they could unload trash stock that they otherwise couldn’t sell. And people went for it. The consoles were so hard to find that they could basically force people to eat shit in order to get one. Thankfully, they weren’t too hard to find for very long here, so this crap stopped. But the fact that it happened at all is unacceptable. However, it never happens with bundles. Because you can’t force someone to buy games on top of a console that already comes with a game. It’s just illogical at that point. So I’d absolutely love to buy a Horizon Forbidden West bundle with special limited edition face plates and a Deluxe Edition of the game. Or a PSVR2 bundle that offered a discount compared to buying the console and headset separately. But none of these options, or any valuable options exist.
The PSVR2 bundle is the full cost of the headset plus the Horizon VR: Call of the Mountain game. Why not just include that for free with all PSVR2 headsets? That thing is super expensive. The least they could do is toss in a VR game people actually want to play. All these bundles are bad, and Sony should feel bad.
It’s angering, because I know eventually I will buy a PS5. And that’s the entire problem. It’s why Pokémon Scarlet is full of bugs. It’s why Bethesda games are always riddled with problems. And it’s why Sony has put in no effort with these bundles. These companies are so solidified in their success that they know they don’t have to try and will still sell millions of units. I’m absolutely part of the problem, but we’re talking about millions of people. There’s simply no way to fix this issue because most people simply don’t care. No matter how much we complain, we still end up buying the next console or game. So they’ll keep putting out shit and pretending it’s gold, because what reason do they have to stop?