Amazon has introduced a new way to try and get money from people in exchange for goods. To be more specific, people who love gaming. It has opened up a Retro Zone gaming portal on its site. Unfortunately, it doesn’t inspire any sort of confidence. While it is a way to cater to a specific audience, it isn’t doing so in the right way.
If Amazon really wanted to try and build up goodwill among people who love games, maybe they shouldn’t be trying to focus on gimmicks and tearing down deals people are paying to access. Because really, this sudden Retro Gaming Zone section feels like a quick way to capitalize on something that has become topical due to the proliferation of plug-and-play systems like AtGames’ Atari and Sega Flashbacks or Nintendo’s Nintendo and Super NES Classics. Amazon brings up this portal like it is something for people to get excited about, when it is really bringing together a group of things we probably don’t have much interest in.
After all, the sections are divided into retro-themed apps, toys, gaming elements, and attire. It is not like anyone put actual effort into ensuring the things we are seeing have real value or actually apply. The bottom of the page even says, “Retro Zone was happily curated for you by Amazon Appstore.” Maybe that’s why the Stranger Things mobile game, which is fun and all, but a new product created in a 16-bit style, somehow slipped into a section that should be focusing on things connected to actual retro games. One of the top “recommendations” when I visited was a European copy of Star Fox for $489.99.
Part of this promotion is also Amazon exclusives in games. But most of these are garbage too. The only ones worth exploring are the exclusive background music included in the copies of Rayforce and Raystorm available via the Amazon Appstore, but that only amounts to two new songs in each game. Oddworld: Munch’s Oddyssey gets you an orange Abe skin, in case you want to be reminded of the retailer while playing it on your Android device. And Glow Hockey: The Amazon Edition has a table, puck, and paddles with Amazon’s logos on them. In case you’re keeping track, only three of those four apps even qualify as retro.
Now how Amazon could really cater to gamers? Stop taking away the things we like. Remember how I mentioned that earlier? Amazon Prime used to be a great service for people who liked buying new games. Like Best Buy Gamer’s Club Unlocked, you could get 20% off of games you pre-ordered or purchased within two weeks of their launch. Except then, abruptly, it took that away. Suddenly, the discount only applied to pre-orders. In some cases, pre-orders for games like Call of Duty: WWII or Destiny 2 didn’t have that 20% discount. And should you live in Canada, well, in 2017 your discount dropped from 20% to 10%.
Instead of trying to sell us on things designed to try and tap into nostalgia and might be crappy or overpriced, maybe Amazon should show a little actual interest in a huge gaming audience. A curated section of retro gaming items of real value would be great. Classic games from our region, official merchandise that is high quality, and apps that don’t have Amazon logos strewn throughout them would be nice. But the Retro Zone is the equivalent of a store representative approaching us the way Steve Buscemi did in 30 Rock when he dressed up in a “youthful” way, approached some kids, and said, “How do you do, fellow teens?” We know what’s going on and don’t appreciate it.