I pieced together an old computer system for my 9 year old to load up with games so my system didn’t have to suffer the consequences. Being rather excited about having her own system, she invites a friend for a sleep over and convinces me to take a quick trip to Best Buy for a new computer game.
While perusing the games at the Best Buy, it comes down to three choices:
1.A 10 games for the price of 1 selection (my 1st choice…she thinks not)
2.Sims Hot Date (her 1st choice…I think ‘girl, you are 9 years old…absolutely not!’)
3.Zoo Tycoon (sounds good…has a cute dolphin on the packaging)
So #3 turns out to be the best compromise. I check the following on the package:
1.Rated E for everyone? Check.
2.Processor requirements OK? Check.
3.Hard drive space OK? Check.
4.Video card requirements OK? Check.
5.Operating sytem requirements OK? Check, but not preferred.
6.Audio requirements OK? Check.
OK, off to the checkouts! Get home, begin to install, THEN…the dreaded error message.
Confused about where I went wrong with the purchase, I begin to read the fine print again. Then I see it…’Requires Zoo Tycoon to play.’ Thinking we purchased ‘Zoo Tycoon’ since that is the primary brand on the packaging, I have my daughter search the room for another disk that she perhaps misplaced since the package also states ‘Double Expansion Pack.’
THEN I see the company branding in the lower right corner: ‘Microsoft Game Studios’ and fully realize there is no missing disk, only more software to purchase to make the current software work.
I explain to my 9 year old that ‘In order to make Zoo Tycoon – Marine Mania work, you also need to buy Zoo Tycoon.’ Her response to the situation and the software maker:
‘They just want more money!’
While I believe my daughter is generally insightful (OK…I’m obviously biased), this goes to show that if Microsoft’s deceiving money sucking method of operation during a micro sale is this transparent to a 9 year old, then I’m thinking their other customers likely share the same kind of thoughts.
So she sits…really disappointed. And I sit…pretty unhappy about the deceiving packaging and realize Sims Hot Date* is the lesser of the two evils afterall.
* As David rightfully points out in the comments section, Sims Hot Date is also an expansion pack. However, the packaging is clear…it’s primary branding is not ‘Sims’ with ‘Hot Date’ in much smaller fine print off to the side. So, if we opted to go with Sims Hot Date we would have deliberately made that decision with the understood agreement to also purchase Sims. I could justify that much easier since Sims has a LOT of expansion options…as opposed to a product that requires base software with 2-3 expansion modules that are based on the same general concept (i.e. I’m guessing w/ Sims Hot Date you don’t have to buy an expansion pack each time you want to date a different character or go to a new venue).
ONE LAST UPDATE (then I’ll stop being bitter ;-)): I’m not a big gamer – I stick with free online games like those at www.pogo.com that run on the Java platform. Imagine if each time time I played a different Java based game, I had to 1st purchase a new JRE to run that specific game and any of it’s related expansion modules. For example, I can play Turbo 21 then Buckaroo Blackjack, then play another Java based game unrelated to blackjack like Word Whomp and Sun doesn’t make me purchase multiple versions of Java before I can play these games…in fact I don’t have to purchase Java at all – it’s F-R-E-E – AND it powers a gazillion other games.
OK…I’m moving on with my life now. 😉