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Oh enough already with this pre-order video game bonus content nonsense

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Angry Internet Man here with a chip on his shoulder and a shoot promo to cut. This pre-order “bonus” video game content bullshit has to stop. Lives are at stake.

The latest example of this chicanery is BioShock 2. If you pre-order the game from GameStop, den of sin and other bad stuff, you get two exclusive multi-player characters. Well, pardon me for being a jerk and buying the game from Steam (where the pre-order bonus is a free copy of the orignial BioShock, as if I didn’t already have that—twice). Now I have to envy all the other neighborhood kids who get said characters? You know, I always hated those kids.

Granted, the odds of me playing BioShock 2‘s multi-player mode are right around zero, so it’s not a huge deal, but there is a certain principle at stake here: why the heck should I have to buy—and pre-order, no less!—the game from GameStop to get access to the entire game? Why punish people who choose to shop at a different location?

And this is a benign pre-order bonus, extra multi-player skins. Who cares? Let’s look at something far more malignant: EA’s Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Did you know that unless you pre-order the game from, yes, GameStop, you won’t be able to play a certain multi-player mode for an entire month? Let’s say Wal-Mart is the only store in town; you couldn’t shop at GameStop if you wanted to. So you go over there, ask the nice cashier for a copy, come home, plop it into your PS3, and find out, oh, hey, I can’t play a mode that I paid for for four weeks. Awesome! Thanks, EA and GameStop!

(I don’t even understand how that’s legal, buying ostensibly the same product from one store but getting a hell of a lot more with your purchase than the guy who bought the same thing next door. Imagine buying a car from one dealership that included working high beams, but buying it from another store you get jack-shit for lights.)

Dragon Age: Origins had some pre-order nonsense, too. Basically, you had to buy the game 18 different times to unlock every single piece of “extra” content. What?

Mass Effect 2 rewarded armor and weapons—not superfluous multi-player skins, then—to people who pre-ordered the game from GameStop. Again, tough cookies, kid who bought the game from Target. You should have done the decent thing and driven an hour and a half out of your way to pre-order the game from almighty GameStop.

Let’s be fair: sometimes all this “extra” stuff is made available to everyone via Xbox Live or PSN after a certain amount of time. In SmackDown vs. Raw 2010, which came out last October, for example, Stone Cold Steve Austin was a GameStop pre-order exclusive (notice a pattern?) for a while, but now he can be purchased for 80 Microsoft Points. The stupidity of having to pay for something that’s already on the disc (or that could just as easily be included on the disc) aside, I do applaud THQ for at least making him available. Well, “applaud,” more like kick up dirt and say, “Gee, you guys shouldn’t have, really.”

What’s the purpose of this exclusive content stuff anyway? So GameStop can send a press release to Kotaku and JoyStiq and Techland a few days after a game’s release touting how many copies it sold? See, investors, people still buy their games from us! Yeah, of course, because you’re strong-arming publishers to incorporate extra content deals lest you devote precious shelf space to some other game whose publisher played ball with us. (I have zero information to that effect, it’s just what it feels like.)

When I buy a game, I want to know that I’ve bought the game. I don’t want to find out on CrunchGear of all places that I screwed up because I didn’t buy it at Store A, and thus lose out on armor or weapons or whatever the hell else. Why is this so hard to understand?

So you have a choice, gamers: participate in this charade by genuflecting at the shrine of GameStop (and others), thus perpetuating the garbage of “exclusive” content, or take your money elsewhere. That’s the only way it’s going to stop, too: refusing to shop at these stores that offer “exclusive” content, which only serves to harm your fellow gamers.

To arms and so forth!

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