By John Walker on August 20th, 2013 at 1:00 pm.
We’ve long lamented the inanity of delaying EU releases. Archaic systems meant that games were once released on Tuesdays in the States, and Fridays in Europe. And before the oceans between were concreted over, most were in ignorance of the difference. But now, in our contiguous international continent, this gap has become rather problematic. From the blatantly obvious way it encourages piracy (“This game is available, your friends are enjoying it, but we’re not going to let you buy it!”), via the tiresomeness of not being able to play friends via multiplayer/co-op, to the ridiculous hiding from social media, YouTube, etc half the world needs to conduct to avoid having games ruined, it’s obviously a dated and anachronistic way of things. With PC gaming so dominantly sold online in the UK and US, it’s time for it to end.
Now apply this all to a game that’s not even getting a physical release in the UK! Europe and Asia’s Saints Row IV, that you can’t even find a link to pre-order on PC on its own website, is artificially delayed until the end of the week.
Saints Row IV is out now in the States. One of the best games I’ve played in years, it’s a tremendous thing. But currently, in the UK, its presence on Steam is a bait and switch. Check the Coming Soon list and you’ll be excited to be able to play the game today:
Click through and… oh.
It’s not uncommon for this to happen, as infuriating and stupid as it is every time. The conflict of dates is likely Valve’s fault rather than Deep Silver’s, and SRIV has always said it’ll madly be the 23rd on its store page. But in this instance it’s spectacularly ridiculous, since – for whatever mysterious reason – Deep Silver aren’t selling boxed copies in the UK. Instead they’ve affixed a surprisingly high £40 price tag on the cheapest digital version, (with a bargain £4 off if you pre-order a game that’s already out elsewhere on Earth), and then fruitcakedly declined to release it at the same time worldwide.
The arguments for delayed releases usually come back to retail. EU retail releases on a Friday, the infrastructure is designed around Friday, and changing it would cause the very fabric of space and time to snap and whiplash, throwing us all into the endless void. Digital is therefore simultaneously delayed, so as to avoid furious shopkeepers throwing poo at the windows of games publishers. But when you’ve taken away the physical release, there’s not even this papery-thin rationale remaining. At this point, you’ve simply got stupidity.
So it is that I can report Saints Row IV is out, except it isn’t, and if you’re in the States you can enjoy it now, and if you’re not you can’t, unless you don’t pay them for it, which is illegal and you shouldn’t do it. If you’re in mainland Europe you can pre-order a physical copy, perhaps a fancy special edition, and have it Friday. If you’re in the UK, you can just sit there and stare, wondering at why.
(And Australian viewers have got until 12th September!)
We’ve approached Deep Silver for a comment, but everyone’s very busy with Gamescom kicking off.