Earlier this week I was bemoaning the practice of offering retail exclusives on home video releases. Specifically, I was referring to the upcoming release of Star Trek Into Darkness, which has different exclusive bonus features or other goodies depending on whether you buy it at Target, Best Buy, Walmart, or Amazon. The Walmart and Amazon sets are “collector’s editions” which include a model of the U.S.S. Vengeance or a 1:1 phaser replica, respectively I don’t mind that sort of thing being used to entice you to a particular retailer, but the Target and Best Buy sets both include exclusive bonus features that you can only get via those retailers. So if you want all the bonus features, you’re going to have to buy multiple copies, which is really, really annoying. But the situation is even worse than that.
The folks at Digital Bits did a bit of research and it turns out that in addition to the exclusive content for Target and Best Buy, there is also some bonus content that is only available as CinemaNow and VUDU downloads. Oh, and were you looking forward to an Into Darkness commentary with director J.J. Abrams? You can totally get that! You’ll just need to purchase it from iTunes as an “extras” download. God help the completist Trek fans out there.
Bits says that the featurettes that are split across the various retailers include “The Journey Continues…Again,” “Rebuilding the Enterprise,” “Full of Wrath,” “Kirk & Spock,” and “Visual Preferences.” It’s understandable why the various retailers would want to get some exclusive content to entice Trek fans to purchase their copy from them rather than the competition, but the sheer volume of bonus features that are being left out of the wide-release Blu-ray is kind of infuriating.
This sort of approach is being rightly compared to the DLC (downloadable content) that many game publishers have been embracing in recent years. If you’re not a gamer, DLC can be a lot of different things. As with this situation, many games will launch with content exclusive to certain retailers…meaning it exists on day one of release, but the only way to get all of it is to buy multiple copies, or wait a year or so until it all becomes available separately (which doesn’t always happen). Or it can be post-release content — a variety I personally don’t mind — that adds new singleplayer or multiplayer content to extend the life of the game.
This isn’t the first time Paramount has had customer relations problems when it comes to the Star Trek franchise. The second season Next Generation Blu-ray set was plagued with problems involving the upgraded CGI effects.
What do you think about retailer-exclusive bonus features? Is it an understandable way for retailers to attract your business? Or do you want the whole enchilada on the same Blu-ray?