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As a completionist, more often than not, I find myself trying to do and get everything in a game. In the good old days, time and commitment were the only things between me and that very goal. Now, I have one of the most absurd obstacles to overcome: pre-order incentives.
What was once an afterthought has now snowballed into a giant nuisance. Stop it!
Pre-ordering has quite a few benefits for both the publishers and distributors. For publishers, it helps give an accurate measure of the game’s first month sales – which is undoubtedly the definitive month for any game, as it helps shape and determine what its lifetime may be. For distributors, it helps determine the amount of games that will be needed for stock. It also allows distributors to pocket, invest and accumulate interest on the money gamers hand over for pre-orders.
Because of these benefits, it is quite easy to understand why a publisher creates these pre-order incentives to give to distributors. This carrot dangling in front of gamers’ faces has been a factor in deciding to pre-order for millions since its introduction. Whether or not it bothers you as much as me is the question. Am I alone in this frustration?
This first really set in when I went to pre-order inFamous. If you didn’t pre-order the game at GameStop, you were not able to receive an unlock for a melee power that, in all honesty, was an extremely useful power. Many thought that it would become paid DLC within a couple of weeks – try over a year! While I did pre-order at GameStop specifically for this pre-order bonus, thousands of gamers were left without the melee power.
Uncharted 2 is another great example. If you pre-ordered at GameStop, you were given exclusive multiplayer beta access as well as an unlockable item that wouldn’t be available for 10+ levels; at Best Buy you could receive a code for gold guns; and Amazon was giving out a fair amount of in-game currency to spend on upgrades. As a huge fan of Uncharted, I was frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t have my choice of any of these – even at a small cost.
Let’s face it, Amazon is easily the best way to buy games these days. Between Amazon Prime and the all too common ten to twenty dollar credit when pre-ordering, the decision is usually easy. However, when pre-order incentives are thrown into the fire I find myself playing a pre-order game. While this isn’t for every game, those games that I am very adamant about I will pre-order at GameStop, Best Buy, and Amazon.
Once I have received my pre-order codes I will return the games to GameStop and Best Buy. You may frown upon such action, but think about it from my perspective: I want these pre-order incentives and have no other option.
The fact that gamers who actually care about these incentives are forced into a corner is ridiculous. Offer these incentives a month down the line – not a year down the line, and certainly not never. EA had it right with Battlefield Bad Company 2 and their GameStop pre-order bonus. Some may not agree with me, but offering a smaller game mode to those that pre-order, and then unlocking it for free a month later for everyone else is a great pre-order incentive. It offers enough for those that are fans of the game to pre-order but also doesn’t leave a sour taste in the mouth of the gamer that either didn’t pre-order or pre-ordered somewhere else.
Ultimately, the way pre-order incentives are structured now is extremely cheap. There are much more elegant ways to go about getting me to pre-order a game without having an impact on the game itself. Despite what you may think, I am not an idiot. I am well aware that pre-order incentives won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. But the way it is now needs to stop! I’m tired of this pre-order game.
So do pre-order incentives bother you as much as they do me? Maybe you agree with me but it never really impacted you? Please tell me I’m not alone on this front. Or tell me I’m a whining idiot, your call. It wouldn’t be the first time.