A-Z of Gaming: E is for Extras
For a long time now video game publishers have been doing more and more to tempt us into separating us and our hard-earned cash. Going beyond pure video game quality, many games today offer extras, pre-order incentives, collector’s editions or distributor exclusive content. Whatever your view on these, it seems to be a trade that’s here to stay.
These extras, some little, some not so much will come in the form of digital content or a physical collectible. Exclusive levels are a popular temptation with pre-orders, distributors offering extra content in trade for your promise to purchase the game one release. Assassin’s Creed 3 had the “Ghost of War” mission as an exclusive pre-order bonus, and more recently Thief has the “Bank Heist” mission exclusive to pre-order customers. This is one of – in my humble opinion – most dastardly incentive programs. To me it feels as if I am being forced into purchasing the game, or risk being locked out of parts of the title’s content.
For example, Thief (I use Thief as an example just as it is one of the closest games to release upon writing this) has been available to pre-purchase and pre-order for a while now, much longer than full reviews of the game have been available. What if you are a consumer that feels it’s sensible to wait for reviews and an impression of the game before you part with your hard-earned cash? You may be at risk of being denied this content reserved for those who pre-ordered/purchased, which in my opinion, isn’t fair.
I’m aware in some instances this extra content will become DLC, but it still means paying extra for the right to reserve purchasing before release.
The physical rewards for pre-ordering feel like more of a “thank you”, a proper extra little bonus, rather than left feeling like you’ve missed out on a piece of content.
At the end of the day, I’m not going to feel too sour if I missed out on a t-shirt because I waited to see what details and reviews came out about the title, but I’d be a bit frustrated if that meant I’m missing out on an hour or two of gameplay or something I’ll end up having to pay to download at a later date.
Special edition releases are a different story, whilst you’re still getting extras, you’re paying for them, so you expect a little more. Again, these can come as digital or physical content. More often than not, the digital items are cosmetic changes, skins, or usable equipment in the game, which doesn’t really take experiences away from the game.
These special editions have ranged from the fantastic (my Fallout 3 lunchbox and bobble head still proudly sits on my shelf), to the awful, and downright strange. (See Agarest War 2’s Limited Edition).
I’m a bit of a sucker for these special editions, the collector in me pines for the cool, if not largely useless bits of memorabilia. Often these items will end up in a draw or gathering dust. Looking back on it, I don’t know why I pre-purchased Dynasty Warriors 7 from a specific retailer just to get a Cao Cao click pen; I instantly took it apart and broke it.
I have steel boxes galore that don’t match the rest of my game’s shelf, boxes I don’t know what to do with, and a small leather sack from Assassin’s Creed. What do I do with that? Why did I feel I needed that?
Often a source of buyer’s remorse once the hype of the coming release dies down and you’re left with another spare game case or art cards you’ll look at and put away forever. It can be a rare thing to find a piece of extra merchandise that’s really awesome.
The Dark Souls 2: Collector’s Edition Undead Knight is something that’s going to take pride of place on my desk.
So what’s your opinion on pre-order/pre-purchase bonuses? What cool things have you been left with from your years of games accumulation? Let us know in the comments or tweet @GGSGamer