It seems anytime I remotely raise complaints or call out huge issues with companies, those lead to becoming some of the most viewed articles on SFG. I always express frustration with how negativity is boosted on the internet, and honestly, I wasn’t sure how to write some thoughts I wanted to vent about certain companies, so I decided to try and add a bit of a positive spin to this all, at least as much as I can.
So yeah, a while back, we grilled Dispatch Games for going MIA (still happening, two years later!), and we grilled Limited Run for awful quality control. Since then, neither two have really done much to improve their reputations or made any honest efforts. In fact, one company has been grinding my gears lately, but I didn’t wanna make an article on them since I still have a lot of faith in them, and I just think that their solution is to establish better communication going forward.
But that got me thinking: What about all the other Limprint folk out there? At this point, limited prints of digital games into physical media has become an explosive endeavor, with businesses popping up almost yearly at this point and me uncertain what is what with them. While I couldn’t possibly review all limited print folk out there, what I did decide to do, is to pretty much give a Report Card on the limited print companies I’m familiar with. You know the drill, A+ to F. I figured this would be the best way to serve as much-requested followup articles on prior companies I covered, while also showing off other companies and the positive side of things for some, along with general advice on how all of these companies can improve, since yes, feedback makes the world go round and I truly believe hardcore efforts can even make the F ranks into A ranks. So, let’s have a fun history lesson and look at all the companies on my mind!
Oooooooh noooooo. This company is the genesis of all these writings, and that’s solely because without a doubt, this company is the worst of the limited print companies, not counting the now-dead Warned Collectors. (who scammed folks out of money years ago, and Dispatch had the balls to try and brag they were better than them) My old articles go into the entire ordeal with them and it still pretty much applies: Brian still runs the show solo, still fails to communicate, still goes on month long breaks, and now as of this post, did succeed in pumping out the remaining 2 digital games they owed (with no attempt to even bother with press releases for them), while showing pics of the Tengoku physical cartridges…
Only for none of them to ship and many ship dates having been missed since then. In fact, as I was drafting this, yet another date got missed, meaning Brian must have overslept on his alarm yet again.
They’ve also wiped their socials entirely once before, seemingly as a response to my articles to prevent the links to specific tweets I put in them from working, so you know it’s sketchy when a company is more concerned about bad press than following through on their promises. The Vinyl shortage is still ongoing, yet Dispatch insists the CEs with the vinyls are in the works, so it seems they’re content on going through with that grift too. As soon as those Tengoku physicals leave the door and I find one on eBay, I’m done with these guys and I advise everyone else to start asking for refunds now if you haven’t, and stick with the digital versions instead, especially if you ordered a Collector’s Edition: those I am convinced, do not exist at all and I’d love to see proof of the contrary.
They did promise DL codes to all folks waiting for a physical, to be fair, but when the Radirgy codes have already stopped going out, they somehow managed to botch this aspect as well. I’m confident by the end of the year, or early next year, Dispatch will be entirely defunct. Hopefully, not with people’s money still held up…
Speaking of codes, Dispatch didn’t even send review codes or a press release to anyone when they launched their two games digitally! (Their press email appears to be totally dead) They’re literally a one-man operation now and I can confirm the other person who helped set up the company is now working for City Connection on their compilations, which seems to be much of much better quality and consistency than Dispatch ever could hope to do, so the remaining major woes pretty much fall on Brian at this point. Seriously, if you have a pending order with these guys, do whatever you can to get out of it, especially those CEs: they ain’t coming.
SFG Grading: F. Abhorrent communication, one-man staff, many, many missed promises, and not even the dev partners are able to get in touch with Brian. Not a good outlook that gets worse by the month. Any goodwill they had from publishing gems like Psyvariar is completely null and void now. Avoid at all costs, and if you’re stuck in an order with them, pursue a refund unless you want to be daring.
Super Rare Games
Here’s one we haven’t really talked about here! These guys are based in the UK, and focus solely on Switch. Having gone on for several years now, SRG’s benefit is that they mostly open sales only when games are in hand, and ship out rather fast: even when they aren’t in hand, ship times are far better than mostly everyone else found here! As far as patience goes, this company is the best for those with lack of it.
This company has put out a wide variety of games, too. From absolutely amazing games like Fairune Collection, Steamworld Heist, and World of Goo, to some fun gems like Chroma Squad, these guys are pretty great at finding smaller scale games and giving them nifty physical editions. There’s even a neat series of mixtapes, consisting of several smaller PC games on a physical USB drive, giving even smaller indies some spotlight!
Unfortunately, there’s still some faults with SRG, and I can’t say I’ve bought from them too often as a result of them. For starters, the games they sign physically are exclusive deals: seemingly permanent, even. So that means when a game like Snake Pass gets signed for Switch, nobody else can publish that game physically on the platform. Not in Japan, not in the US, not anywhere. Considering the aftermarket value of Snake Pass… Yeah, that’s pretty irritating. Say what you want about Limited Run and absurd resale value of their physicals, but them not keeping devs locked down forever at least gives said rare games the chance of a viable, cheaper reprint.
So this adds an extra, more infuriating layer of FOMO on top of the nature of the business to begin with. My personal burn with these guys came from a certain game, Evoland Legendary Edition. The day it was released, I had health insurance to pay, and figured it’d be in stock by the time I got paid a week later, and well, it wasn’t. Unlike most other recent SRG games, the resale value was stupidly high, at $130 USD. Thanks to their lack of reprints, and even a lack of something like LRG’s blowout sales, there was no chance at all I’d ever get Evoland physically on Switch without paying more money from my pocket: except for a stupid blind box system a while back, which I argue is outright scummy gambling. Thankfully, Red Art Games picked up the PS4 rights for the game, and that release is still readily available for more reasonable prices as of this article, but sadly due to SRG’s hold on the Switch version that release will never be obtainable again.
But all right, fine, you miss some, that’s the nature of any collecting hobby unfortunately. So what about games I did get, what did I think about them? Well, I found a lot of them to be pretty fun, and well put together: no problems with shipping quality, packaging, or bonus goodies like the trading cards. The Two Tribes Collection was a cute double bundle of one of my favorite indie devs, and for the most part you buy what they advertise and you get what you pay for.
With that said, there have been a few slim exceptions to this rule, the biggest for me that drove me nuts was Octahedron, a super fun platformer published by SRG a few years back. This game is absolutely worthy of a physical release with great controls and a fun soundtrack, so there shouldn’t be anything wrong with the release, especially since the switch port is really good… Except the build on the physical cart is broken. Yes, broken. Per several mutuals I have confided with who’ve tried to 100% the game, dying on the final boss crashes the game. This is not an issue in the digital version at all, and seems like a super easy fix, yet two years later and… Nothing. No bug fix, no statement, nothing. Absolutely shameful and while I didn’t make it close to the ending of the game due to my backlog getting big, I had a lot of fun with this game, so knowing I have a technically broken version of it just does little to motivate me to keep playing.
But wait! Every year at the start of January, they open up a super handy Super Rare Membership Club! Here you can get early access to their games, enter a discord server, and some misc bonuses and goodies. All for the price of a game. Uh, yeah, needless to say, this is a pretty stupid concept, gating a discord server behind FOMO, but for that price, you’d expect to get top tier service, and in this regard, I can’t really vouch for my own experience, since I do not find the membership fee worthwhile at all to do so myself, but… Having heard from folks who did pay the fee for one year, it’s not anything special.
Recent SRG games don’t sell out too fast, meaning the early access doesn’t really do anything. And any hope you may have at fixing stuff like the Octahedron bugs due to being in the same room goes out the window, for the staff just flat out refuse to answer anything regarding that issue: trust me, my friends tried to no avail. Add the fact that this club is FOMO-fueled with a limited time and limited slots, only once per year? Yeah, uh, this hurts the brand more than helps it, I feel.
SRG also tried another initiative before the Mixtapes, and while the Mixtapes are a fantastic concept, their prior idea, really didn’t work out so well. Super Rare Shorts is a lineup of physical games from SRG, but this time, they’re physical only. That’s right, no eShop release whatsoever. To mitigate this somewhat, the games are open-preorder, and more easier to buy than normal games… But that also means once they’re gone, nobody can play them. This had major backlash all around when first revealed, and in the end they mitigated the complaints by pledging to release these shorts as PC itch.io games later down the line. Fine, still a stupid FOMO-induced lineup, but at least the games will be available for newcomers to pick up later down the line.
The big problem? The first Short, Heaven’s Machine, is a barely expanded version of another game that already exists on steam… And it’s buggy as hell. With this “physical only” mindset, it seems that patching the game is out of the question. So in the end, you get a game that isn’t even truly exclusive, barely quality checked to be worth the time. At least with the mixtape you get a wide variety of DRM free PC games to try out that I find to be much more worthwhile despite also being limited. Hopefully Super Rare can learn from these big missteps to not repeat such acts in the future, and stick to their good qualities: fast shipping, good packaging, and fun releases.
Just fix Octahedron already.
SFG Grading: C-. I don’t feel the guys at SRG ever meant any ill will with most of the stuff that I find problems with here… But stuff like Shorts and the Membership club are weird additions that didn’t need to be done. Otherwise getting standard, non-short games from them? Still good to go, if they put out something you like… Just hope they didn’t put a buggy build on it. They will do great frequent updates if anything gets delayed in shipping though, so you don’t have to worry about years long order waits, and they ship in very, very good packaging. I haven’t had much lately from them that caught my interest, otherwise it would be rated a bit higher, but if they put something cool out, I’ll get it if I’m casually able to do so.
This is a bit of an oddball company: Publishing some very niche and odd games, these guys do limited print runs that you can preorder ahead of time… Or just buy when in hand. Like with everything manufactured ahead of time, there’s a wait, but none of these seem to be too terribly long. The good news is that you usually can find a game on either the US VGNY site or the EU Pixelheart site, and I was able to get the Shmup Collection with ease by just casually saving my money. They ship in secure boxes and you get a basic standard edition just as you’d expect.
Even better, you also get more frequent updates via email, with them tracking each individual step of the production process! Why other limprints don’t do this, I have no clue: Their lineup may be a lot of niche stuff, but some legit fun games such as Tanuki Justice and the upcoming Andro Dunos 2 (One of the final 3DS games ever!) are available to pick up, and they’ve been very, very receptive on social media, so any problems are easily resolved! Pretty cool folks, no complaints and I’m excited to see what future stuff they pick up. They may not have any blockbusters yet, but what’s available is put out with care, and I’ve had zero problems with anything I’d ordered or looked forward to from this place.
SFG Grade: B. Small library, and the games may not be for everyone, but great customer service and good updates plus a non-overwhelming release schedule leads this to being a corp to check out and keep an eye on for the future.
First Press Games
Hmm, these guys are a company I unfortunately forget entirely about for months on end. That’s not due to anything bad, per say, but it’s simply because these guys are careful and don’t release stuff too often, focusing on getting the stuff they announced finished and done before announcing another big batch of games, which is admirable in an era where some companies pump out games on a weekly basis. They even do some cool things such as merch and oddball stuff such as cartridge soundtracks.
Lineup wise, not too much of interest: The fun Hole New World is a good time, and Rival MegaGun and the upcoming Crimzon Clover are great shmups, but these games aren’t gonna be heavy hitters for everyone. My only real gripes with FPG is that some games have patches exclusive to the physical version, such as Castle of Heart, and I still don’t like the idea of physicals getting exclusive quality of life updates.
The biggest one by far though, are the ship times. As good as it is that these guys don’t pump out new preorders every week, some of their preorders have been open for years. Some of their pending games go back to 2019, while they have a production update page, they don’t really get much moving and the wait times are frankly absurd, making my own review queue look competent. Hell, as I was drafting this, they mass delayed a bunch of stuff from Q2 to late Q3 or Q4. One item is even Q1 of 2023, and that went on sale last September! Mind you, all their stuff is not MOD, but a set run, so they could just easily hold off on putting stuff for sale until it was closer to being in-hand, but as it stands now, there’s next to no reason to get a pre-order from these folks as several standard editions are nearing the 2-3 year mark, which is pretty damn ridiculous.
At the very least, all their stuff is still available for purchase and in-hand items are marked, and the build quality does ultimately pay off in the end for some pretty impressive packages. With a new lineup of cute plushies, here’s hoping things pick up for FPG, with more frequent updates and variety in games, but man, standard edition games should not be taking so long. Also, it would be better form to not get mad at customers trying to email/comment on your socials constantly hoping for an update or to cancel their order? I originally was gonna give the benefit of the doubt here, but upon getting tips that some people struggled to even get a response on how to cancel some pending orders for weeks, or get so much as a status update beyond a generic Covid smokescreen, I kinda feel there needs to be a lot of improvement here with communication.
EDIT: The day of this article going live, First Press sent out a newsletter with status updates. Yet again, Covid is the reasoning. While I can understand that for the CE components, that still doesn’t explain why standard editions have been MIA so long, and they still need to up their communication game. They also turned off replies on the tweet announcing this, so… Uh, yeah. Score unchanged.
SFG Grade: D. Packaging is stellar and their lineup has some hidden gems, and their non-gaming items are really rad. The chance of a twinbee plushie already has me brimming with hype! But more communication would help a lot. Neat that they are offering homebrew GBC titles for sale, though. Definitely consider buying their in-hand items if any of them sound cool, but please do not preorder a thing from these guys until they get their act together. These aren’t MOD items, these are items that they can easily hold off on announcing until they’re closer to being in-hand.
SFG Grade: D-. Long delays with seldom updates on what games they’ll even release… With some Vita games still MIA years after telling people not to buy leaked Ebay copies. But really, the company’s abhorrent behavior and stealing IP rights from some friends of mine is plenty of reason for these folk to end up low. Buy all their stuff used if you want their games physically, since they at least mostly come with goodies. Or not.
Hard Copy Games
Oh hey, I reviewed something from these guys! A solid port of Electronic Super Joy. Sure enough, they published physicals of the two ESJ games, along with a couple of fun gems. The one that really got me interested was Elliot Quest for PS4. Besides that though, these guys don’t really do all that much, making this company a simple one to collect for, and I don’t really remember any of their games selling out right away, so what’s in-hand should be no brainer buys. I actually kinda forget these guys exist sometimes due to their infrequent releases, but the fact they aren’t opening up preorders that aren’t overdue at least makes these guys reliable, even if their stuff doesn’t probably sell well.
…Unfortunately, I do have a gripe with these folks, and while it may sound absolutely ridiculous, their behavior may be enough to turn you away from them. See, many years ago, a weirdo game came out on PS4 physical disc known as Poop Slinger. Yes, that’s a real game, and yes, it was sold, on a site called “Limited Rare Games“, not unlike Limited Run Games. It shipped out, people got their games, then the person behind the website shut it down and vanished into the ether, with the return address going to some random store on the east coast.
To this day, nobody really knows the person who opened that site and started printing copies of that game, and all traces of that Limited Rare incarnation seem to be dead… What does this have to do with Hard Copy? Well, they made the second version of them! Yes, somehow, Hard Copy Games, I guess because their current games don’t sell out fast, decided to pretty much create their own version of Limited Rare Games, and print stuff like Digerati’s Tamashii… With a FOMO focus.(This has been confirmed to me via several sources, along with how the Limited Rare Account mutually follows Hard Copy.)
Yep. In a move fooling nobody, Limited Rare “Returned” with a new Twitter account, showing off their new release, accompanied by a horribly unfunny and racist roleplay on their tweets in the form of deliberately bad grammar and stereotypes. Pretty much aping what the original Limited Rare did with their April Fools launch, but with games hoping to imitate that FOMO-induced desire to get the rarest PS4 game out there. Considering it has worked and both titles sell for absurd prices on the aftermarket, I find it absolutely childish and petty that Hard Copy pretty much built a shadow company for the sole purposes of FOMO, and aren’t beyond picking dumb fights with other people in the industry who find this out either, when they should be sticking to pushing their own releases, since they still are solid products that do as they say! No CEs, no hassle.
SFG Grade: D-. Decent lineup of games and do fine enough as part of their ordinary branch, if infrequent… But their “Limited Rare” roleplaying isn’t funny, benefits nobody, and hurts the market more than anything else. Like, come on guys.
Strictly Limited Games
In terms of my niches? These guys have without a doubt, the best lineup of any of the limited print folk for my tastes. Lots of fun retro compilations/ports/throwbacks, good indie picks, and some really huge gets: Egret II Mini and the Darius collections are all top-notch stuff, with some truly awesome collectors editions for games like Lode Runner Legacy and Spelunker HD Deluxe. Their parent branch, ININ games, have published lots of games digitally, and most of them I find pretty damn stellar, so this should be the biggest no-brainer company I’d urge you to support if at all possible!
…Unfortunately, I feel these guys have been slipping lately. By a lot. For starters, while these guys also follow a set print amount and don’t do open preorders, (not many stuff instantly sells out, mainly for the big reason I’ll get to shortly) some games, even standard editions take an absurd amount of time to get sent out. And I’m not talking a 3-5 month period bumped to a 6-8, I mean some cases where we’re nearing over a year, if not almost two on certain titles. Don’t even get me started on collector’s editions, where several of them have been at year+ wait times. All of this would maybe make some sense if frequent ETAs and updates were provided, but… They just aren’t at all.
Which is weird, as their digital stuff ends up OK, and even some of these games get retail launches before the SLG versions! Why SLG is unable to print a game physically that Walmart may get a month before, is honestly perplexing. Standard edition PS4/Switch games should not take as long as it has for several titles, and the most infamous wait by far is the Turrican Collection.
Opened for order in August 2020, followed by the great Flashback Retail compilation in Jan of 2021, this 2 volume compilation is still MIA, even in standard physical form as of the writing of this article. There’s been a few status updates here and there, mainly how the anthology will gain an in-game map feature as an exclusive bonus over the Flashback compilation. OK, fine, makes some sense why the compilation is a bit late in that regard… Until it got delayed again. And again. And again. Spring 2021, Summer 2021, Fall 2021, before December came and we got a proper update that indicated the thing would finally ship in Q1 of 2021… With it still not being ready, now slated for April 2022. In fact, as I was drafting this, it got delayed once again by another month, to May 2022 for Switch Standards. Honestly, it’s utterly absurd just how long this has taken, and I can’t help but feel preorders for this should have opened after development on the compilation finished, especially since this isn’t even an open preorder product, but rather, a fixed run, like the other SLG products, so they had no reason to even put these up so early.
Yes, the Anthology looks really promising and adds in so much bonus stuff that I felt was lacking in Flashback, and I do feel this compilation will be an absolute must when it does materialize… But I still think for having taken money nearly two years ago, more communication would have gone a long, long way.
Still, the current state of the world is unpredictable, but considering the long stretches of time between updates, I feel more updates in this regard would have been helpful to quell a lot of the frustrations building up… Especially considering how sometimes these delays silently are pushed to the manufacturing update page mere weeks before the current deadline comes and goes. Sometimes the opposite happens! Some CEs/standards that had vague windows and seemed months off are just starting to randomly ship, and most consensus report that the CEs are worth the wait. (For me and Lode Runner Legacy, I can vouch, it’s a gorgeous set!)
Nevertheless, some items managed to ship out in time, mainly the retro reproductions of Super Turrican 1, 2, and Mega Turrican, all done by Dragonbox. From what I hear, the build quality of the carts are decent, and the games play well (ST1/MT even including new deluxe editions!), but what infuriates me personally about these repros is that all of them were promised to get a manual… Only for them all to be stuck with a thin sheet insert on how to control Turrican. Considering how they nailed every other aspect of these repros, it’s pretty damn insulting for the manuals to be so half-assed like this, and it took a Q&A video for them to apologize and note they’d do better in the future, which at least is owning up to it in some way. Considering these repros took 16 months to start shipping out though, it’s rather laughable and again, something that would have been made a lot better with more communication or even a heads up.
Speaking of delays, that’s the biggest and most irritating part of SLG in general, outside of Turrican. I already noted how standard editions are taking a crazy long time to ship out, and CEs are slipping in a similar manner, but even stuff from a year ago for games that already finished development and shipped standards. Cotton Reboot? Opened over a year ago, just delayed last week to May. Asha in Monster World? Shipping in June, 13 months after the digital launch. Both of these have kept being delayed without a peep on the specific reasoning or why the ETA has changed, as they only seem to change on the SLG update page, without much of an email notice to buyers, which is beyond infuriating as it feels like a silent bump, and having bought Cotton Reboot’s PS4 CE several weeks ago under the belief it would make it out around the Q1 ship window, it’s pretty ridiculous to have it quietly bumped midway through Q2 without so much as an email notice, so I just promptly canceled it (luckily that’s super easy to do due to EU’s consumer laws, and SLG staff are hyper fast at replying to support tickets in general from my experiences, so kudos to that!)
Communication would truly, dearly go a long way, especially as more big gets like a promising Wonder Boy compilation gets put up for preorder, and SLG put up arguably way too many preorders in a weekly row during the last quarter of 2021. There’s a pretty darn good reason why people hold off on buying until SLG’s stuff is in-hand at this point, and why stuff from them will often finally sell out once people report their copies have shipped.
One last story though, that I see as a positive example of how these guys still have my faith, even if shaky now, is regarding a game known as Bite the Bullet. When it shipped for Switch, the build on the cart was utterly unbeatable, and broken. This is pretty abhorrent obviously, and while a digital patch arrived that fixed the issue, it would still come off as those first versions being rushed out the door as buggy, broken messes, not really fulfilling the preservation stance these limprint games are often made for to begin with. Yet SLG went above and beyond, replacing the old cartridge with a brand new, patched cartridge for those who got the older version. Considering how other companies prefer to bury these issues and hope folks forget about them, and how it still did take a while for these carts to be sent out due to having to be made all over again, I commend SLG for doing the right thing and immediately pledging to fix the issue by making it right, even if did cost quite a bit in the process to re-manufacture a game. That alone is worth some comfort despite the frustration with their communication.
SFG Grade: C-. So far at least, I can vouch that all the CEs and games I buy from these guys do arrive as advertised and in pretty great quality, and their lineup is pretty much my favorite of all of them! This should be an easy slam dunk B+ or A-, but the absurd silent delays, lack of communication, crazy long wait times and more and more preorders opening up during all of this does give me a lot of concern, especially since this wasn’t really an issue with them years ago. Quality over quantity is key, but I feel SLG really needs to crack down and go into overdrive on improving communication before doing anything else, and even if stuff is delayed due to the world state, fine, but at least update folks via email the minute it happens and stay on top of which components are in the works and finished. I do at least feel these guys are way better and more down to earth with folks than First Press are, Turrican limbo aside, and it seems their recent stuff is shipping more on time when it comes to standard editions, so that’s at least more assuring to me that these guys will eventually pass the bumps in the road.
At the very least, you can still enjoy their stuff digitally via ININ games, and some of their titles are likewise at retail via that ININ brand, and those are way more solid in terms of delivery expectations, plus are also just plain easier to buy in general.
Limited Run Games
Here we go, the company I have spent the longest time with and that was the genesis of all the other folks I mentioned in this article. I already mentioned their quality control history and how they completely fucked up my favorite franchise and reacted poorly to the backlash, but it’s been a whole quarter since then, with new preorders, new shipments, new policies, and even new staff. Surely things got on track and communication is solid, right?
Unfortunately, I don’t think it got better. If anything, it might have gotten worse, a lot worse since I started this draft, even. Lots of stuff has been delayed and missed windows with not a lick on why. Granted, that has mostly been the case to begin with. Standards still ship decently fast, barring odd exceptions such as Zombies Ate my Neighbors, but stuff like CEs still take an eternity with next to no updates. On one hand, that makes it easy to order a CE and forget about it knowing it likely won’t be done for 6+ months or more, but on the other hand, it makes any sudden, huge delays all the more infuriating, especially if said item isn’t deemed important enough to be sent out an update for via email.
Since the last opinion piece I made on them, they’ve since continued to release tons of games per month, completely redesigned their website, (wrecking the usability on mobile devices for a long while in the process, and also breaking tons of scripts people set up to track production updates, only recently making it tolerable again for my iPhone SE) and yes, continued their slipping of quality control. For every odd situation such as the Neo Geo Pocket Color CE getting delayed to redo the Foil on the box and make everything just right, you have stuff like One Step from Eden’s standard edition not including the advertised manual, but rather a thin sheet with a controller guide. Then they stealth edited the mention of the manual from the web page hoping nobody would notice the bait and switch, before claiming on their discord that it is technically a full color manual… All two pages of it.
That being said, there are some updates on aspects I mentioned. Game Tengoku replacement discs finally shipped, in working order! Not bad considering Dispatch Games tangled those rights for an eternity, and they were sent to Customers with little hassle upon request! What is a hassle on the other hand, is that Doom DRM situation. After months upon dodging it and pretzeling themselves on social media to not even utter the name despite the many, many attempts from folk to reach out and get a statement, they finally released a statement on it, how they’ll do a replacement program, and they also gasp put this up as a public website post for all to see!
Sadly, the replacement process is all sorts of murky still, and I had to get clarification from a friend of mine who’s been DMing me news tips for a while now, plus from a LRG support member that helped me set up my own replacement order, but here’s the gist: basically, to get the replacement with the new patch that removed the local account restrictions, you have to mail in your old version, loose, to LRG, around the time of the May deadline, (they’ll let you know when to and how, so no rush in that regard) and then they’ll take your copy… To destroy it. Then, in a few months when MOD finishes for the new pressings, they’ll send you back the loose version of what you wanted swapped.
Yes, this means if you want the fully patched, “Forever Physical” version of Doom, you have to wait all over again for a standard edition to be pressed and shipped out, without your game in the meantime! You’d think it would be like Tengoku, which was a simple “if you ordered with us, we’ll send you one no questions asked”, but here with Doom you have to send back the loose copy and basically trade it for a new one. According to LRG, this is implied to be a mandate from Bethesda and to preserve the one-pressing nature of their limited run model, by not having more copies printed than were meant to exist!
…Except Super Meat Boy got a switch reprint on LRG’s site years after the Best Buy release happened, and again, Tengoku was extra replacements, hassle-free. In a perfect scenario, everyone who bought a copy should get a replacement no questions asked, automatically mailed, or at the very least per-request without having to mail it back. That’s what I did when my Yu-Gi-Oh movie came with dubtitles it wasn’t supposed to, and it was very hassle free in the end to get that fixed!
Keep in mind, for overseas folk in PAL territories, this whole shipment return process is practically hell on earth to do as a result of this mandatory ship and swap deal. To make things worse, you basically have to bust open your copy/CE to get this swapped, too: no solution for sealed collectors, not even a simple “Send it to us and we’ll reseal it with the new copy”! While I’m the guy that actually enjoys playing my physical games, I definitely relate to those who feel irked that the company so aggressive on physical preservation suddenly went months without replying to a peep from anyone on the internet regarding this issue: considering how much the CEOs go off on people, it’s a miracle they didn’t even give so much as a No Comment statement on the DRM incident after it was made aware of the ordeal in November… And when they were made aware last spring, during Doom’s Pre-Order Process, so they at the very bare minimum should have noted that this game would have offline shenanigans for those without a linked account, even though as I noted in the last article, LRG aren’t dev gods and can’t bend devs to their will if they don’t want to fix something. But they can communicate better, which they failed to do yet again.
“But wait!” You go, “Didn’t they put out a web blog post like you wanted them to for Shiren? How’s that bad now?!?” Well, good question! While I still think it’s a good move in general for LRG to put out a public statement to let folks know what the problem is and that they’ll try to make good on it, the problem comes from the disastrous shift and strange clarifications hours after the fact: One of the CEOs got into a public twitter spat with a concerned customer who was angry about the overseas shipping aspect, and despite the blog post indicating that customers would have to pay return shipping themselves, he then insisted they’re looking into a a way of not doing that! (Someone in their discord DM’d me to say they apparently will pay return shipping, so good on them! Just should have been in the blog post from the getgo…) Of course, going from one stance on your website to another is definitely enough to confuse people, making me wonder why they didn’t just bother to edit the blog post with this updated info right away, or just outright reply to folks asking these questions in the replies.
Speaking of conduct and replies, I regret to inform you that yet again, LRG have publicly handled this backlash absolutely terribly. While Josh has been smartly self-restrained on this front, the other CEO has gone on and blocked journalists without warning, (including a friend of mine who barely tweeted about them at all, seemingly only due to his association with me) blocked customers fuming with anger about this situation or others, muted a former moderator of their discord server for being unhappy with the conduct there, and banned (really just a temporary kick) a longtime member in the Switch Collector community over “trolling concerns” from their discord server over inquiring about the mixed messaging going on here… Before then dodging a question on the matter when a screenshot of the discord conversation was sent as a counter.
All because stuff wasn’t fully clarified and him trying to damage control so just made the situation worse, so rather than just ignore the situation/let a PR professional handle it, you lash out at customers. Again. Some of which have been around for a long time! May I remind my readers, that before my public spat with LRG, I had bought thousands of dollars worth of product from them since 2016, and was a very active diehard supporter. Some of the prior stuff I saw that I thought were irksome errors I just shrugged off as bumps in the road, or minor nitpicks. Hell, I was even in one of their newsletters due to my collecting habits and thought to be on good terms with both folk. The fact both CEOs blocked me over the Shiren PC bait and switch, and the fact I still don’t have a PC-DVD of the game to this day and was tipped off to their many quality control issues? Yeah, that pretty much showed their true colors to me.
These guys may have started out with great intentions and got tons of awesome games on physical (And I still say for stuff like Gotta Protectors and the upcoming Rondo of Blood TGCD, they still do put great stuff out!), but when so many of these games are shipping with errors with CE items, manuals, game builds, or the entire product in general, and nothing has improved on any fronts since my last report in the fall outside of a website redesign, that pretty much reaffirmed to me these guys do not give a shit about preservation in the way they should. Josh has publicly gone on record saying that physical media isn’t the best source of preservation, even. And yeah, sure, but when your company motto is “forever physical”, and you promise something is “a physical PC DVD”, and you ship them a steam code and get all defensive over a long-time fan being rightfully pissed for a lawsuit worthy bait and switch, intentional or no, that’s silly, isn’t it?
That shows a lack of care, and that ultimately, LRG’s problem now is that they’re doing way too much shit at once and overwhelming themselves. What used to be a few games a month are now a few games a week, with several SKUs for each of them. Add merch and other goodies to all this, and you get months with absurd amounts of products for them to send in for MOD purposes, or instances where the shipping queue is completely tsunami’d from a bunch of finished stuff coming in all at once and derails everything. Stuff that’s in-hand sometimes takes a month or more to ship out if they’re in the middle of a huge rush of products, especially if it’s a huge game like Scott Pilgrim or Castlevania coming in hot and getting priority.
And with that, stuff slips through the cracks, such as my broken S.C.A.T cartridge that won’t work on the AVS despite the original cart being able to do so, misprints on boxes, soundtracks with broken tracks or track orders, etc. That ain’t a thing that can be patched, especially for the retro reprints, so for me I’m literally stuck with a paperweight for my AVS and a CD with a song glitching out, with not a thing LRG or I can do about it now, due to rights reverting back to the owners (which, as I noted in the SRG segment, is ultimately a good thing due to allowing future prints and other companies to take a crack at games LRG worked on, meaning more folks get them and thus, more preservation.)
Their “Distro Line” also makes no goddamn sense anymore, since it flip-flops from “we carry other people’s products and help them sell it”, to “we produce literally everything but slap our name on secondarily so we don’t have to number it as a main release”. Seriously, for every Shadows of Adam or Hyper Light Drifter fully produced by another company and sold through LRG’s site, you get oddballs like Neogeo Pocket Color Selection which has all the trappings of a LRG release, such as a CE containing a book with words from a LRG staffer, a full manual with lots of pages, and a super particular replica box that was literally delayed an entire quarter just to replicate the foil, (which I can say they thankfully succeeded on) yet some of their numbered games get less treatment from LRG staff than a few of these distros, which is just weirdly bizarre.
Still, From what my sources have told me, most of these distro games do not sell that well at all either, and are often banished to Amazon when they fail to hit MOQ. Even stuff like the Astro City Mini have bombed terribly at Limited Run, which was likely moreso due to how it’s a niche product that was already available at Amazon Japan for cheaper… and despite being in-hand, took over a month to ship with english stickers plastered all over the original box, and no other changes, making me wonder what the point of that was to begin with outside of testing the waters to see if Sega products like the Game Gear Micro could also be brought west in a similar fashion. (Of course, as you may know, that obviously didn’t pan out, and don’t expect to see the Astro City V make it over as a result)
At this point it seems to me that the distro lineup is just an extra way for LRG to pad out their release calendar for the whales and to put out games that they know wouldn’t sell much to begin with as a numbered release… Which is why it’s just bizarre to see this mindset of “RELEASE EVERYTHING” in general, let alone in a money-tight pandemic. Operating on FOMO, while sometimes unavoidable, is pretty darn silly in this climate, especially when your new website has it plastered several times how your games are limited, rare, and collectible items… When in the old days, they were that, but also primarily a way for a digital only game to get its literal only shot at being printed on physical media at all. As I noted prior, stuff like Futuridium and Astebreed would have absolutely never gotten a physical release in 2016/2017 without LRG, and the same goes for a ton of their early lineup, and even the occasional game now and then!
Yet, the bigger games LRG gets, the more I wonder if these guys just get the rights to big name stuff for the heck of it, even though some of these could definitely get normal prints through the smaller retail distributors popping up of late, such as Nighthawk. I dunno about you, but something tells me a brand such as Star Wars can effortlessly sell The Force Unleashed and KOTOR remasters at retail, and don’t need LRG to make limited print runs for them. Same goes for games such as Demon Turf, which got an Xbox Series X physical release via Nighthawk, available at all retailers on a system that seldom gets indies on physical to begin with, only for LRG to take control of the Switch/PS5 versions, when Nighthawk have published on those systems before. At this rate, I feel LRG is taking in way too many things at once: and it’ll eventually come back to bite them hard.
SFG Grade: D. What started off pretty strong got worse and worse overtime, and it seems the company is doing way too many things at once, thus impacting their quality control severely. Their inability to take criticism on cutting corners and constant quality control slip-ups, along with lack of communication on some game delays, (though I will admit they are at least spot-on for emailing you when your game is finally in-hand and ready to ship, if you subscribe to their newsletter that is) add to a company that while they will get you your games in the end… It may be a long while, or completely vary from what you originally expected.
And that concludes it! Uh, wow… That didn’t look like a good report card, did it? Yeah, some companies I missed such as Special Reserve or EastAsiaSoft, but quite frankly, I didnt really buy or talk much with those two, so I can’t really form much of an opinion on them either way: same goes for any of the many, many other limprint companies I either don’t even know about or haven’t bought or ever heard from. Trust me, there are a lot of these kinds of companies, with Limited Run being the genesis for them, and that is good in a way, since it means more games on physical media, thus leading to the PS4/Vita/Switch having an absurd amount of retail releases, far from the dark, slim days of the Wii U!
Yet to be perfectly honest? After my fallout with LRG over Shiren, I cut out limited print collecting almost entirely. What I used to do was just buy anything that interested me and waited for physical versions to come out before buying digital versions… Now though? I just stick to buying stuff that’s in-hand or already existing if I really want it and it’s something I feel I’ll play this minute rather than years down the line. Never mind the fact MOD wait times mean my interest when I order is often different than when it finally arrives: at the end of the day, FOMO is a strong force, and having been pretty much pulled into the art of being a whale for so long, it’s pretty nice to be free and just buy stuff at my own pace. At the very least, if I regret missing out… There’s always the aftermarket or trading with friends.