Amazon Makes Some Games Only Available On Prime, But Good Luck Guessing Which Ones

Image courtesy of Zach Egolf

Amazon Prime started out a few years back as a way for power users to save on quick shipping. These days, it sometimes feels instead like Amazon is crawling one inch at a time toward a Costco-style membership-only future behind the Prime gates. The latest goods to move behind the velvet rope? A bunch of big-name video games.

UK-based site Videogamer first noticed the change late last week, when customers alerted them that attempts to purchase Grand Theft Auto V were being met with a message that the game was available to Prime members only. Over the weekend, gaming sites discovered that yes, this applies to the U.S. site too.

For example, searching Amazon this morning for last year’s hit Fallout 4 brings up the following:

fallout4aznprimepc

Non-Prime customers can still buy games from any third-party Marketplace seller that has them in stock; the Prime-only restriction only applies to products sold and shipped by Amazon.com.

The restriction, however, is both wildly unpredictable and also apparently inconsistent. For example, with Fallout 4, only the PC version is Prime-gated: anyone can still buy all of the Xbox and PlayStation console versions.

Meanwhile, both Polygon and Engadget reported over the weekend — with images — that they found the PlayStation 4 version of Grand Theft Auto V Prime-locked… but this morning anyone can buy the PS4 version and instead, XBox copies are restricted:

The PS4 version is not Prime-gated and the XBOne version is, as of 10:00a.m. on April 25, 2016.

The PS4 version is not Prime-gated and the XBOne version is, as of 10:00a.m. on April 25, 2016.

Locking big-name games behind the Prime banner may feel like a big step, but Amazon has clearly been making forays into the $21 billion gaming market for quite some time.

Last year it acquired game-streaming juggernaut Twitch for just under a billion dollars. Early this year, Amazon began offering 20% discounts new game pre-orders to Prime members and cheekily launched a free development tool for high-fidelity, 3D, big-budget-style games that just so happens to come pre-integrated with Amazon Web Services and Twitch.

As to the rhyme or reason behind which games are Prime-locked, when, and why, Amazon has not yet specified — although we have asked for comment, and will update if we hear back.

In the meantime, Amazon says in a statement, “Customers who are not Prime members can sign-up for a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime to benefit from these exclusive prices or they can purchase these items or similar products from third party sellers often fulfilled and shipped by Amazon.” And there’s always the monthly option, we suppose.