Amazon built its business on a simple premise: It was the place to go to buy all your stuff. Today, Amazon offers a wide range of products and services, including its own branded tablets, ebook readers, and video-on-demand solution — but the basic idea of Amazon and the Amazon ecosystem remains the same.
Amazon Prime is meant to be a value-incentive program that encourages people to pay a yearly fee to Amazon in exchange for free two-day shipping, access to the video-on-demand services, and several other perks. It seems, however, that Amazon is testing an experiment in multiple markets (both the UK and US are reportedly affected). Some video games and movies are only available from Amazon if you’re actually a Prime member.
This screenshot was taken on April 22, 2016. Earlier stories from publications like Business Insider also identified a number of video games that were similarly restricted; Amazon has since responded that these games would be taken off the Prime-only list (affected titles included GTA 5, Far Cry Primal, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Battlefield Hardline and Rainbow Six Siege). This appears to be an experiment with making Prime content exclusive, but it’s unlikely to sit well with Amazon shoppers who aren’t already Prime members — and it’s not hard to see why.
Offering perks like free shipping and video services when consumers fork over $99 a year is one thing . It’s not much different than any other perk or reward program that companies have experimented with for decades. Instead, imagine going to Walmart, seeing the stack of merchandise you’d come to purchase, and being told “Sorry, those are for Walmart Gold customers only.” Amazon can claim to offer the same product through its third-party resellers, but the entire point of ordering through Amazon is that it’s Amazon — as opposed to Bob’s Discount Video & Vacuums.
It doesn’t make sense for Walmart to tell its customers to go buy at Target, and it doesn’t make much sense for Amazon to tell customers who aren’t using Prime that they have to spend another $99 a year for the privilege of buying something at Amazon. That’s the kind of attitude that would leave me looking for another retailer, whether I liked Amazon or not.
Thus far, Amazon doesn’t seem to get this point. When VideoGamer.com asked the company why it would lock certain games to Prime customers, the company responded with the following:
“One of the many benefits of Amazon Prime is access to exclusive selection on a number of great products. Customers who are not Prime members can sign-up for a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime, or they can purchase those items from a Marketplace seller.”
Apparently Amazon thinks telling people to buy their products elsewhere or fork over $99 for the privilege is a winning strategy. We’ll see if that holds true.