Recently, an explosion of Max Payne 3 ads has hit all over. This is fine. It actually makes me more excited for the game when I am at work, and I look out the window to see Max Payne's face on the side of a bus. What does bother me are all of the Gamestop ads and commercials saying that I can get an exclusive map if I preorder the game.
Let me state that I understand how useful preordering a game can be to a customer. Some people like having a guaranteed copy on release day. But I don't like the aggressive nature of retailers trying to get customers to preorder titles.
To me, preordering a title is pointless. All you get from stores is a guaranteed copy on launch day and maybe an exclusive map or weapon. I used to preorder years ago until I realized that people who were walking in off the street asking for the same game would get a copy at launch as well. So I stopped preordering, and most of the time when I would go into a Gamestop on release day, not only do I get a copy of the game I'm looking for, I also tend to get the preorder bonus. If I can still get the bonus content and receive a copy on day one, what's the point of a preorder? And these so-called exclusive maps and weapons are nothing special. Do I really need the add-on graveyard map for Max Payne 3? No, I don't. I will be too busy experiencing Max's story to care.
Some might argue that preordering is good for developers. Preorder numbers help them determine the demand for their upcoming releases. This might be true to some extent, but the way I see it, preorders are nothing more than a way for retailers to get early money from their customers. They make sales look good by being able to sell something that hasn't even come out yet. With Gamestop's relentless push for preorder numbers, every time you walk into a store, an employee harasses you about preordering a game. This is why I no longer shop there.
Enough about my hatred toward Gamestop. It's not the only retailer who pushes for these types of sales.
The preorder exclusives that retailers throw in our faces feel silly. Take Batman: Arkham City for example. Gamestop, Best Buy, Walmart, and Amazon all had different exclusive content for the game. These additions were nothing more than extra costumes or different characters for the challenge portion of the game. The content added nothing to the actual experience.
So why do outlets keep offering preorder content when the content itself is pointless? It must be because gamers keep preordering. I can't blame a customer for preordering their most anticipated titles, but are gamers actually reserving games for the bonuses alone? After a few months, these elements usually end up as downloadable content to all players. If these incentives are important to gamers, then a few developers have certainly noticed.
Some exclusive-content deals aren't tied to preorders, just to new copies of a release. Both Arkham City and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning went this route. If you bought these titles new, you would have access to a code that unlocked a playable Catwoman in Arkham City and a faction quest line in Reckoning. Both games used this tactic well. Neither of the elements were game breaking if you didn't have them, but they were still compelling enough to encourage customers to buy new. These efforts are smart moves by developers pushing for better sales. Say what you want about used games, but they are hurting studios and publishers. So if they want to reward players for buying new, they have every right to do so.
The difference here is that with pre-order exclusives, retailers are looking for fast cash while developers are still making the games in question. New-game bonuses, on the other hand, help developers sell more new copies while receiving higher sales.
Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below.