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The legality of bundles

Justin Murray

When we say $699 for a game console, a PS3 (plus game and tax) is likely the first option that pops into a respondent's mind. That may be true (given varying tax rates) but we're thinking of something completely different -- the GameStop Wii bundle. Most gamers find the bundle amusing, especially since the Wii is going to be available in droves on launch day. However, some people actually think the idea of bundling games and accessories with a console is (scary music theme) illegal.

In a discussion with GameDaily, an antitrust litigator by the name of Bob Freitas says that gaming bundles could fall under antitrust law. While he admits the grounding is weak, he points to a concept called "line forcing" -- forcing extras that are not needed to utilize the product before the product will be sold -- which is a key indicator of an antitrust violation. That method of thinking is all well and good, but we find that to be a bit of a stretch.

Bundling games and accessories with the Nintendo Wii may be unethical, but we can't find much ground for it to be illegal. For starters, GameStop is not the only place we can buy our Wii; we could always send our business to Wal-Mart or Best Buy or Third Street Gaming Emporum and Pet Store. A Wii is not a necessity to life like food, medicine, or even a car in many American cities (except to maybe Eric Cartman). Maintaining a healthy economy requires a balance between consumer and business rights and calling a game bundle illegal tilts the balance of power too much toward the consumer side. We should keep our legal system out of the bundle decision, they have better things to think about. Just vote with your wallet and then sit back and watch GameStop Online try to explain to R. Richard Fontaine, CEO of GameStop, why they have a warehouse full of $699 Wii bundles when everyone else is sold out.

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