Not too long before the writing of this article, Square Enix decided to cancel their controversial “Augment Your Pre-Order” campaign. The general idea behind the campaign was that as more people pre-ordered the game, rewards would be given out to those who pre-ordered the game. These rewards were ranked in tiers, with three of the tiers having selectable rewards, such as the choice between a digital art book or a digital OST sampler, while other rewards included an additional in-game mission, and the advancing of the release of the game four days forward. Some compared this to stretch goals for a Kickstarter campaign, as all of the rewards were just additional add-ons exclusive to those who pre-ordered the game, thus giving Square Enix more money to fund Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Recently, Square responded to the overwhelmingly negative feedback given by cancelling the event, and stating, “When it was first conceived, we wanted the program to give you more choice about what you received in terms of pre-order incentives – because we’ve seen in the past that when we choose those packages ourselves, and split them across regions, it has caused frustration. We quickly noticed that this approach created even more frustration than before, resulting in a resounding amount of negative feedback.”
This decision once again inflamed those who have long been against pre-ordering video games–a group that seems to get larger and larger every time a a big-budget game releases their pre-order incentives. A good example of an unsuccessful pre-order bonus can be found with Sonic Lost World, a game that was previously a Wii U exclusive. In order to really hype buyers up and get cash flow going, Sega was generous enough to offer twenty-five extra lives to anyone who pre-ordered the game. Now, remember that these are in fact in-game lives, only useable in Sonic Lost World and sadly not in real life, where such a bonus would have held an actual value. While it was entirely possible not to include the pre-order bonus, it seems as if more and more games push pre-orders whether they have actual content planned or not. While it makes sense for indie games on Kickstarter to offer free content to those who helped when publishers did not, it comes across differently when larger studios with more money to spend come begging to gamers, asking for more money in exchange for disposable in-game items.
To contrast this with another pre-order campaign, gamers can look towards none other than Nintendo and their reward for those who pre-ordered The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Rather than a simple toy or in-game reward of the sort to which most companies now resort, Nintendo gave buyers a emulated copy of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time along with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest at the time of the pre-order. Although this was reward scheme was exploited by gamers who pre-ordered the game, kept the bonus disc, and then cancelled the pre-order, with some refinement such a practise could in fact be a good idea for pre-ordering games in the future. However, this is comparatively easier for Nintendo, as opposed to some other publishers, because of Nintendo’s extensive older library, making older classics much easier to be sent out for free just for pre-ordering a newer title.
What do you think about pre-ordering video games? Do you love getting rewards for your loyalty, or do you think it is a scam to fund unfinished games? Share your opinion in the comments below and make sure to come back next time!