Amazon Restricting Sales To Prime Members?

First uncovered by VideoGamer and then further explored in a story by Gizmodo, it looks as if the world’s biggest e-tailer Amazon has initiated a controversial change in the way it does business.

It appears Amazon has now begun to restrict sales of some items to only members of its Amazon Prime service. This includes many major titles ranging the gamut from Blu-ray like “Birdman,” “John Wick” and “Interstellar” to video games like “Grand Theft Auto V” and “Far Cry Primal”.

Take “John Wick” for example. To buy it directly from Amazon would be $9 and requires you to be a Prime member. If you’re not, you have to purchase it from one of the third-party retailers where new copies are starting from around $14.

Where the impact will really be felt is with international users of the service. Amazon Prime on the main site is restricted to U.S./Canada residents only and there’s no indication Amazon has major global expansion plans for it ala Netflix. It is available in the UK and a small handful of European countries, but on their local sites (eg. amazon.co.uk).

That means global buyers from Amazon.com have to purchase through third party retailers, many of whom do not ship internationally – those that do have shipping costs that vary far more considerably than the main Amazon service. Those in the few places that have Prime outside the U.S. are being funnelled to buy from their local Amazon site and even then have to have Prime in their country, otherwise it’s back to the third party reseller option.

There’s also no indication exactly what criteria is used to determine what items on the store will be made ‘Prime Exclusives’ – right now though it seems to be targeting both major and critically acclaimed titles that really aren’t that old.

Amazon released a short statement about the article, saying: “From time to time, Amazon offers exclusive selection and pricing on select items for Prime members. 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. Additionally, Prime members receive 20% off pre-order and newly released video games and 30-minutes early access to select Lightning Deals.”