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Gamestop's Ludicrous Idea: Require Preorders To Unlock Custom Game Content 86

MojoKid writes: One of the great universal truths of modern gaming is that preorder bonuses suck. The term refers to the practice of ordering a title at some point before it actually ships in order to get access to a variety of minor outfit tweaks, a few starting weapons, or boosts to early gameplay. Today, some publishers take this practice to truly ridiculous levels; the recent game Watch Dogs has no fewer than nine pre-order options. GameStop, perhaps sensing that there's pressure building against the model, wants to turn the dial up to 11 — and create preorder-locked, GameStop-specific content. According to financial analyst Colin Sebastian, "[GameStop] indicates that software publishers are more enthusiastic about partnering with it. For example, by offering exclusive content on each major game release and longer term, future models may include GameStop offering exclusive gameplay." GameStop is enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment. The company has captured a greater share of the Xbox One and PS4 market than it held at this point in the console cycle last time around and it's clearly looking to increase the attractiveness of its own business. That's fine but this kind of arbitrary lopping off of content to boost sales at particular shops simply isn't going to sit well with most gamers.
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Gamestop's Ludicrous Idea: Require Preorders To Unlock Custom Game Content

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  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution came out a few years ago, with a "Mission Pack" that involved rescuing a character who appears in the original Deus Ex during the latter third of the game. That content was exclusive to GameStop pre-orders for a few years, but then Square-Enix decided to sell it as DLC on Steam. A lot of people condemned this practice, and there were some pretty hilarious reactions (look up "Deus Ex Unreal Revolution" on YouTube, I'm at work so I can't link it).

    Publishers won't allow this to happen

    • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @04:35PM (#47418969) Homepage

      Yeah, I'm a bit confused because I thought this had become common practice. For a few years now, I've seen a bunch of games where you get some special content (a different outfit, or starting the game with some bonus or special gear) when you pre-order from a specific store. Since it's different "special content" for different stores, you'd have to buy multiple copies of the game to get all of the content. Then, after some period of time, the game releases all of the special gear as "DLC", and then it's also is included in the GoTY edition (or whatever they feel like calling the edition that includes all the updates and DLC).

      Is there a difference between that and what we're talking about? I'm not sure I really see the problem. These bit of "special content" are usually kind of stupid, like maybe you start with a extra bit of body armor and some shotgun shells or something.

      Plus, honestly, I usually wait until the "extra special edition" is on sale on Steam before I buy games these days. Not that I would expect everyone to wait, but it's kind of great. I avoid the hype machine and get to see what people think after the hype has died down, you get all the DLC, additional content, and bug fixes all at once, and you get it for 40% off or something.

      • You're obviously an idiot, moron and a troll for not buying a game a year before release date

      • by praxis ( 19962 )

        you'd have to buy multiple copies of the game to get all of the content.

        It would appear that publishers are cashing in on people's fear of missing out, but I wonder what proportion of gamers actually shell out the price of a game multiple times just to have two different pre-order items. I also wonder what proportion of gamers just wait for the release then read the reviews or watch "Let's Play" videos before making a purchase decision and "miss out" on the (mostly pointless) pre-order items.

      • What's apparently happening here (didn't RTFA) according to the summary, is that they are looking to have non-fluff, etc content added specifically to the Gamestop versions of titles - meaning an actual part of the game is exclusive for their version (imagine playing a version of The Witcher for instance, that was missing an entire chapter from your version because it wasn't the Gamestop one).

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Daggerfall had custom content and that was 1996. (CompUSA edition had 16 extra quests)

      • Yes, but as in all of the Elder Scrolls titles, you'd almost never hit all of the quests in the game even in 5 or 6 playthroughs (because funny things happen, like questgiver NPCs dying to randomly wandering monster spawns or overly zealous town guards), so those 16 quests were basically useless fluff.

  • Doesn't this already happen on Steam? Then the extra content is released later as DLC?
  • by MRe_nl ( 306212 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @04:05PM (#47418649)

    The only pre-order bonus you should ever give is a discount. I understand the will to preferably "sell-out" pre-order, but all you can really do is give a bigger pre-order discount. All other options are Pandora's boxes.
    "Unlockables" should always be in-game content.
    "Custom" should be reserved for skins/cosmetics, not content.

    Just my 2 eurocent.

    • by Onuma ( 947856 )
      Plenty of studios understand this very well.

      Subset Games, who created "FTL: Faster Than Light", recently released their port to iOS, including content that did not exist in the original game. To show that they still appreciated their original customers, they released all of this content for all platforms simultaneously.

      That's business done well, for the sake of the devs and the gamers. Sure, Subset makes slightly less profit in the short run, considering they could have released the add'l content as
      • FTL. Never had any "iOS specific content". They had announced the new features well before any mention of an iOS port.

        • by Onuma ( 947856 )
          Fair enough. My misinterpretation then.

          Still, it is good on Subset for releasing free additional content which many companies would charge extra to obtain.
    • by The Rizz ( 1319 )

      Actually, the pre-order bonuses should be something outside the game, like the ones Dishonored did. Tarot cards, a game-themed USB lamp, etc.

      Give us something tangible, none of this "exclusive content" crap that's either pointless (different in-game clothing, a slightly-better starting weaon that you won't use past 15 minutes into the game, etc.), or is cool but will be available in DLC/GotY/etc. in six months.

      Make it T-shirts, skinned USB sticks, or something else that we might still give a crap about by t

      • But Dishonored also had several different sets of in-game bonuses depending on which store you bought the game from.

        • by The Rizz ( 1319 )

          Yes, but none of them modified the game itself in any way, and were not implemented as one-time-use codes. You could easily get most of the items cheaply on eBay or Amazon Marketplace right after the game came out (and still can). Try to reliably get a one-time code (that most people put in right away), and if you do, trust that it's unused (and try to prove that you didn't use it if it's not).

  • by doctor woot ( 2779597 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @04:05PM (#47418651)

    Gamestop is depending on a market with idiosyncratic practices. These practices may themselves seem strange or senseless, but if one is to take these as cultural shortcomings then the fault lies with the consumer, not Gamestop. This is an industry where the cozy relationship between critics and publishers is no secret, where being excited regarding an event consisting entirely of three days of advertisements is considered normal. If this idea seems exploitative, it's only because they're serving a demographic that wants to be exploited.

    • Well said.

      The only way for this kind of abusive marketing to be stopped would be for gamers to boycott the products and vendors, which would be like meth-heads boycotting meth.

      • by praxis ( 19962 )

        Well said.

        The only way for this kind of abusive marketing to be stopped would be for gamers to boycott the products and vendors, which would be like meth-heads boycotting meth.

        They need not even boycott the products. They could wait for the release of the game, study the game's reception, and then if still excited, buy it. If publishers saw that only a minority a game's sales happened during presale shenanigans, they might start putting that effort into more interesting things.

  • There are clothes lines and appliance lines that are exclusive to a particular retailer. There are even in-game bonuses you get that are different if you buy a game time/point card at Walmart versus Target versus Amazon. Gamestop using its market power to do this is no different than it using it to get a bigger discount or larger advertising budget from the developer.
    • by Cederic ( 9623 )

      If I buy a washing machine at Target I don't have to buy it again at Walmart to get the 'cotton' wash cycle, and again at Amazon to get the 'drain water at the end of the cycle' feature.

      Gamestop are intentionally causing game content fragmentation that diverts development resource and/or prevents customers cost-effectively acquiring the full game content.

      It's stupid, it's malicious and it's why everybody over the age of 30 waits for a steam sale to buy the game and its DLC these days, rather than buying hal

  • So, there are these consoles called the SNES (Super Famicom), and the Sega Genesis (Mega Drive). Back in those days, we didn't have any of that shit to deal with. Oh, except for the long lines of picking up our copies of Street Fighter and Mortal Combat. Oh the simple days of bliss. All you poor bastards, why do you even bother?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      In my day, we have to wait in line for 3 hours for the file servers to recognize our presence and let us start downloading a 7GB compressed game file. 2 hours later when it's downloaded, we get to wait through a 15 minute unpacking process, which is followed by the game double-checking with the same overloaded file servers to confirm that it was downloaded legally. Next up are the 15 day-0 hotfixes and possible a console OS patch. Once that's done, we get to watch a 24 minute unskippable sequence of anim

    • Time to dust off the Super Famicom and fire up Area 88
  • To what end? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tyggna ( 1405643 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @04:13PM (#47418759)
    Is this supposed to get me to buy through gamestop? Is this their effort to claw at a dwindling physical-medium retail space?

    No amount of douche-baggery will cause me to give up my preferred method of spending money. If I want the release-night environment and other anonymous gamers to talk to while waiting for my copy, then gamestop it is. If I want to forego putting on pants, I'll go with a digital distributor, and no amount of virtual clothing tweaks or outlet-specific items can make me put on my pants!
  • Be interesting to see what wins. So far masochism looks like it dominates every online game I have ever seen. I remember when City of Heroes launched going rogue, and had Gamestop only gear. I have to think that pissed off veteran players who didn't need to buy the game and people in other countries that didn't get access. Can't imagine that anyone who didn't like Gamestop but played the game was happy about this either.

    Anyway look at any MMO's forums.

    1 Comment the game is horribly buggy, Response all softw

  • There's one thing my gaming PC doesn't have: an optical drive. I haven't needed one for the past three years.

    Check out the Cooler Master Elite 110. If you know of something even smaller that would still fit a Zotac GTX 750, please tell me. I don't use 3.5" HDDs either.

  • This problem should solve itself as downloading and cloud-based games take over and game stores disappear. GameStop is closing 120 more locations. [ibtimes.com] Game retailers are going the way of record stores and video rental outlets.

    • But free-to-p[l]ay gaming is also becoming a serious contender. It solves the problem of gamers who won't buy a game without a demo, it solves the problem of having an adequate online player base, and it solves the problem of gamers who simply won't buy games but who might buy the occasional piece of DLC.

      The truth is that Gamestop guaranteed their eventual nonexistence when they dropped games for old consoles. I get that they can't stock everything, but it eliminated my reasons to go in there. I can get all

    • Game retailers are going the way of record stores and video rental outlets.

      Yeah, now if I want to listen or watch something that isn't 6 months old or less my options are either buy it if it is even available or not hear/see it. Boy did we show those dinosaurs, AmIRight?

  • by Torp ( 199297 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @05:01PM (#47419249)

    Any game that has launch day DLC, be it preorder bonus crap or not, I will only buy - IF i bother - when they release the "GOTY edition" with all the content included, at half the price. Or maybe I'll wait till said edition goes on sale at 75% off :)
    If you're impatient and want to have a game at launch, your (monetary) loss.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      If you are to patient, it's your (social) loss.

      Like talking about last month's tv shows.

      • by praxis ( 19962 )

        If you are to patient, it's your (social) loss.

        Like talking about last month's tv shows.

        Do you feel that the only art worthwhile appreciating is art created in the last thirty days?

        • He never said claimed anything of the sort. He simply observed that people like being able to talk about current tv shows and video games.

          To answer you directly: sure, some art is worth appreciating more than 30 days after it's created. But this is unrelated to keeping up with current video game trends.

      • by Torp ( 199297 )

        You should get a Brave New World quote, but I'm too lazy to look for an appropriate one.

  • Not store specific, but there were pre-order bonuses of 15th anniversary cars. In order to play some of the seasonal events, you have to have one of these cars. Under no circumstances should one ever be forced to buy aftermarket (or premarket) content in order to play a game. If they want to sell content to make it easier, to add bonus missions, to put stupid costumes on your character or whatever, that is fine. But I bought the game and I should be able to play it to completion with spending an extra penny
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      "But I bought the game and I should be able to play it to completion with spending an extra penny."

  • Game X is coming out soon.
    Company Y is going to sell the game.
    In order to provide incentive, they mod the game to provide some extra content.
    Since moding is expensive for Company Y to do, they outsource it to the makers of Game X who know the game better,

    So, what is evil in this scenario (select all that apply)?
    A. Company Y shouldn't bundle stuff it sells.
    B. Game X makers should provide the mod kit to everyone.
    C. Game X makers should prohibit their product from being bundled.
    D. Company Y should sell any mod

    • by praxis ( 19962 )

      There is no evil here, only uninformed consumers with a fear of missing out that give a company money for useless in-game items because they don't want to be the only kid on the block that has the blue gun and not the blue and gold gun.

  • ridiculous?

  • You young gamers have it rough i would say, back when I played Games, ALL the content came on the disk and the Game didn't require a patch every two days. We played a finished product that some company put love into because they themselves were Gamers and wanted to get it right "the first time".

    I feel really sorry that you've all just gave up and accepted being ripped off and cheated. It's sad you don't what a good Game really is but I'll give you a hint: It's not Graphics. Multiplayer? We had that too, but

    • the Game didn't require a patch every two days

      They often did require a patch; the patches just weren't forthcoming.

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