Microplay, an independently-owned video game specialty store in Reading, Pennsylvania has always been known for their shady practices. Whether they're making trips to the K-Mart nextdoor and filling shopping carts with clearanced PS2 games so that they can sell them for $40, or going to the GameCrazy down the street and taking advantage of their Classic Plastic deal where they can get any 3 games on PS1, SNES, Genesis, Dreamcast and N64 for $10 so that they can sell them individually for up to $40 at their store, the general gaming community in Berks County knows how these guys operate.
But no matter how slimy they do business, gamers keep going back because not only do the employees at Microplay know their stuff when it comes to games, but they have a pretty fine collection of new and used classics for relics like the Sega Saturn and Dreamcast as well as hard-to-find titles at just-under-Ebay prices.
Aside from Microplay's pawnshop-like ethos that makes GameStop's system seem fair, Microplay is also known for intentionally selling games early. This may seem great for gamers who can't wait to get their hands on the latest blockbuster titles, but this hurts the legit operations that have to play by the rules. Typically, when a huge game like a Madden or Halo is shipped to retailers, there's a blinding, bright, flourecent orange flier that says something along the lines of "DO NOT STOCK UNTIL STREET DATE. IF SOLD BEFORE THE STREET DATE, YOU COULD BE FINED UP TO $XXXX.XX." But since Microplay buys their games from third parties instead of directly from the game companies, they have a bit of an unfair advantage that grants them a bit of immunity and allows them to play by their own rules. Great for Microplay. Great for gamers. Shitty for all the other stores in the area.
Yesterday, my friend sent his girlfriend to get him a copy of Little Big Planet when he heard that some stores accidentally broke the street date. After driving from store to store, she wound up at good 'ol Microplay where they actually had some copies, but that's no surprise given Microplay's track record of breaking street dates. The only problem was that they were actually charging $100 for it! When asked why they were charging so much, one of the clerks told her that it had a certain song that wouldn't be included in the final retail version, so the version they had is going to be highly sought after by collectors. The only problem is, there's probably going to be patch that will render the song unhearable, so spending $100 on the game is pretty much useless. Oh, and here's the real kicker: to justify the $100 pricetag, they said "well, it's going for $130 on Ebay."
Are you kidding me!?!? Ebay comparison pricing is NOT how you f*cking do business!
As if that weren't shady enough, when I found out about this, I immediately called Microplay and acted like an average customer. I asked if Little Big Planet was in stock yet and all they told me was that the release date was pushed back. No mention of them having it in stock and trying to hawk it off to naive customers for $100. When I told my girlfriend, she figured that maybe they didn't try to pull one over on me because I'm a guy. The braniacs at Microplay obviously know that guys know everything about games and girls don't. Need proof? My girlfriend called them asking for Little Big Planet and - surprise surprise - they had it in stock for $100. She asked them if there was a difference between the version they had and the version coming out next week. They didn't have a definitive answer.
This article should totally be finished right now, but I just went to Microplay, and YaYa and I managed to con 'em into letting us take a look at LBP. They had it locked in a display case right behind the registers. (I pretended to text while I took the above pic with my phone.) So YaYa's asking the dude about the game and why it's so expensive. He gives us pretty much the same story: that the game was recalled and they got their shipment early and no Sony reps came to their store to take 'em back. We asked the clerk if there would be a potential patch that would render the song nonexistent and he said that he heard the game was being re-pressed altogether, but he wasn't sure.
Okay, so even if the game's being re-pressed, a Sony could easily patch the song out if they wanted to. And if someone really wants to hear a song with lyircs from the Quar'an, they can just upload the MP3 to their PS3.
Microplay has done some douchy things in their day, but this is by far the douchiest.
If you'd like an advance copy of LIttle Big Planet for the PlayStation 3, feel free to call Microplay in Reading, Pennsylvania at 610-939-9496. They'll totally hook you up.