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What goes well with a new game? A free old game

The game industry may never stop making overly elaborate special editions for its products, but in recent years, developers and publishers have offered alternatives to “cat helmets” and night-vision goggles by giving away full versions of older games with the purchase of newer ones.

We recently reported about Capcom’s plans to include the complete Resident Evil library (via digital download codes) with new Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 copies of its upcoming survival-horror game Resident Evil 6 this fall, but Capcom is not alone. Other companies have been releasing similar package deals for a while now, including:

  • Publisher Electronic Arts included a free download code for the original American Magee’s Alice with Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 copies of last year’s follow-up, Alice: Madness Returns. The company also offered complimentary copies of its online shooter Battlefield 1943 with the limited edition of 2010’s Battlefield: Bad Company 2. EA promised PlayStation 3 owners who purchased last fall’s Battlefield 3, the latest installment in the series, would also receive a copy of 1943 but went back and forth on the deal before finally making good on it. The PlayStation 3 limited edition of EA’s 2010 installment in its first-person shooter series Medal of Honor included a download token for Frontline, the fourth game in the series (released in 2002).
  • Japanese limited editions of developer Mercury Steam’s contribution to the Castlevania series, Lords of Shadow, contained a free download code for either the PlayStation classic Symphony of the Night (with the PlayStation 3 version) or the multiplayer-based Xbox Live Arcade game Harmony of Despair (with the Xbox 360 version). North American customers who bought Lords of Shadow at Best Buy received a download code for Symphony of the Night for both the Xbox and PS3 versions of the game.
  • U.S. residents who bought publisher THQ’s post-apocalyptic action game Darksiders received a free-ish copy (by mail) of 2009’s destruction-based action game Red Faction: Guerilla. Last fall, THQ also offered PlayStation 3 owners a free download of its insane open-world action-adventure game Saints Row 2 with the purchase of Saints Row: The Third.
  • The collectors’ edition of the recently released Diablo III included, among other things, a creepy replica demon skull and a USB stick containing Diablo II and its expansion pack, Lord of Destruction.
  • Japanese fans of the Square Enix/Disney collaboration Kingdom Hearts can pick up the 10th Anniversary Box, which includes the new Nintendo 3DS release Dream Drop Distance along with physical copies of previous installments 358/2 Days and Re:coded for the DS.

This trend is continuing with upcoming releases, like the aforementioned Resident Evil 6. Developer Irrational Games is throwing in a free copy of BioShock with PlayStation 3 versions of BioShock Infinite when it comes out in February 2013. The God of War: Ascension Omega Edition (pictured above) will contain physical copies of every game in the series on Blu-ray. Here’s hoping more publishers and developers keep it going; gamers only have so much shelf space for tiny helmets.


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