5 reasons why free video games aren't all they're cracked up to be

One of the big perks of working within the industry of video games is that you no longer have to pay for video games. They come free. In the post. Gratis. Surely such a wonderful arrangement should bring nothing but happy rainbow sparkles to the hearts of men? Don't count on it.

It might sound like I'm being the very definition of an ungrateful twat here. And I can't argue with that. But it's every person's human right to whine about *anything* they like. It sounds mental thatMegan Fox moanedabout how she looks in her bra and panties. But she did and it probably made lots of ladies want to punch her hard in the boobies.

Above: She looks pretty good to me. But if she wants to whine about it, that's her prerogative

So. Free games. Of course I like them, but I think they could be better. How can I be such an enormous grumbling asshole about something that is certifiably awesome? It's easy. Here's the evidence proving that free games aren't all they're cracked up to be...

Instruction manual? If you're lucky

That's right. It's an absolute outrage and probably a violation of my human rights, but the vast majority of games - be they for Wii or PS3 or 360 - that are sent to professional moochers don't come with instruction manuals. Just look at the vacuum of space where the useful booklet of guidance should be located in this promo copy of Resident Evil 5:

I know less paper makes trees happy. But I like instruction manuals. I get the distinct impression that this is a vertical middle-pinky gestured in the general direction of shameless blaggers.

There's no pretty picture on the disc

Promotional PlayStation and Xbox discs are always completely art free. They are joyless, unsexy flat circles. Round and white with words on. Look at them:

Above: These discs are in no way arousing

They are boring and bland and in no way represent the happy-time potential stored within the pretty rainbow spectrum of data. I suspect game companies have them specially designed by fun-hating communists somewhere in Eastern Europe.

Sometimes there is no box at all

No box. At all. Preposterous but true. It's not unusual to get PSP and DS games in the post that are completely without box. Nothing. Just a UMD or game card. Naked. In an envelope. It's as heartbreaking as opening up a jiffy bag and finding the chopped off finger of a kidnapped daughter.

The disc in a plastic sleeve is also pretty common. In the picture below you can see Super Mario Galaxy 2 as I received it. You will notice that the disc is lovely and colourful and not designed by communists, but there is a distinct lack of box. Instead, the disc is housed within a square, transparent jacket. Which, quite frankly, is a piss poor substitute for a box. Or any kind of container for that matter.

Complimentary PS3 games are also delivered in a cheaper form of packaging, with most publishers favouring the slim-line jewel case. Admittedly they are a neat and compact alternative to the conventional retail PS3 boxes. But they do bugger up the aesthetic of my game storage shelf at home.

Strangely, pretty much everyone besides Sony includes a full colour inlay with the disc. Sony doesn't - first-party PS3 promos are always just a disc in a jewel case. Observe below the difference between a third-party PS3 promo and a first-party PS3 promo.

Above: Capcom at least makes an effort with the PS3 games that it gives away at great expense to itself

Of all the publishers that begrudgingly dish out free games to industry parasites, I think Sony resents our free-lunching habits the most.

The box-art looks crappy

This pretty much exclusively applies to promo copies of Xbox games. The colours are washed out and faded. They have the unhealthy appearance of a full-price game that has got ill and sickly and needs to stay in bed until it dies of some horribly debilitating ink deficiency disease. Examine the side-by-side Nier box-art comparison below and see if you can spot which one looks like it needs to puke in a bucket.

Did you spot it? Yes, that's right. It's the one with the objectionable yellow strip emblazoned with the words 'PROMOTIONAL COPY NOT FOR RESALE' in Ugly Font Bold across it. Ew.

The box art looks crappy AND is sometimes completely different

As if the piss-weak colours and the big yellow banner isn't enough to irritate freeloading scum suckers like me, some companies go one step further by using completely different box art. And the art is always without fail infinitely inferior to the proper art used on copies of the game that must be bought with money earned by honest hardworking citizens. Again, observe the side-by-side comparison below and pick out the copy of GTA IV that I got for nothing.

Wow. You're good at this. That's right, it's the one that shouts: 'Too tight-fisted to buy the game that we invested blood, sweat and tears into over four hard years? Then please enjoy our game in the shittiest package possible. And f*ck you very much for your support. Asshole.'

Dear people that send me free games. The opinions expressed in this article are not representative of my own opinions. Even though I have written them. I am not insane. I'm just being silly for the sake of provoking a response. So please keep sending me free games. I love you all very much.

27 September, 2010

Matt Cundy
I don't have the energy to really hate anything properly. Most things I think are OK or inoffensively average. I do love quite a lot of stuff as well, though.