GameStop's Brilliant New Idea: Require Preorders To Unlock Game Content

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News Posted: Tue, Jul 8 2014 11:53 AM
One of the great universal truths of modern gaming is that preorders suck. The term refers to the practice of ordering a title at some point before it actually ships in order to get access to a variety of minor outfit tweaks, a few starting weapons, or a few boosts to early gameplay. Today, some publishers take this practice to truly ridiculous levels; the recent game Watch Dogs has no fewer than nine preorder options, and none of them include every single perk or capability. GameStop, perhaps sensing that there's pressure building against the model, wants to turn the dial up to 11 -- and create preorder-locked, GameStop-specific content. 

According to financial analyst Colin Sebastian, "[GameStop] indicates that software publishers are more enthusiastic about partnering with it. For example, by offering exclusive content on each major game release and longer term, future models may include GameStop offering exclusive gameplay." VentureBeat reports that GameStop is specifically looking to design unique scenarios in which its own customers would be rewarded specific content.

Here's the problem we have with that. First, as this chart shows, the game industry absolutely can't be counted on not to destroy its own great ideas. If you want every bit of Watch Dogs, you'll be ponying up for four different versions of the game.


Original image from Kotaku

The problem with GameStop partnering with a developer to create their own content is that we're left with two inevitable options: Either the content will be terrible (badly acted / animated, or full of cheap advertising) and will therefore fail to boost sales -- or it'll be good, spur sales, and drive more retail chains towards the same model. Season Passes and preorder bonuses are bad enough -- imagine a Mass Effect or Dragon Age where entire chunks of content are sealed behind closed doors. Want to recruit more races to fight the Reapers in ME3? You'll have to buy it from Walmart. If you want a new character for the Normandy team or the option to earn some upgrades, on the other hand, you'll need to buy the game from Best Buy.

That's obviously where this road leads -- and unlike clothing or weapon skins, locking off content changes the actual game. Publishers could theoretically address the problem by making these locks time-limited or offering the content in late-year "Gold" Editions, but the more likely scenario is that the content packs simply get ripped, hacked, and uploaded to torrent sites. After all the fury over in-game DLC, you'd think the publishing industry would have learned that gamers really, really don't like seeing content they feel they paid for segmented off from the rest of the game on launch day.

GameStop is enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment. The company has captured a greater share of the Xbox One and PS4 market than it held at this point in the console cycle last time around and it's clearly looking to increase the attractiveness of its own business. That's fine, as far as it goes -- but this kind of arbitrary lopping off of content to boost sales at particular shops simply isn't going to sit well with most gamers.
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Watch Dogs set the example for an all new low on a multitude of things. Versions being one of them. That chart is truly ridiculous and the developer should feel ashamed and the publisher just as guilty.

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nfs3freak replied on Tue, Jul 8 2014 12:32 PM

This is absurd. I think I'm going to stop preordering any new games after Destiny. Even then, I've only preordered Destiny through Amazon.

 

All this exclusive stuff and companies willing to work with Gamestop for exclusive stuff like missions...I honestly am just going to forego any new content that is given to Gamestop. I hate their business model.

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This trend sucks........

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Die Videos sind OFT gut... die Videoüberschriften aber OFT ü erzogen und Theatralisch...

Ein wenig mehr info zum Vid und dafür weniger gehabe täte der seite GUT denke ich...! :-)

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That's been around for years online...

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Game stope will be out of business in 5 years. No need for them no more. You can download games. Same happen to blockbuster. If you have any stock sell now. Before its to late

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And this is why a) I've stopped buying physical copies of games and b) why I tend to game less and less on console and more and more on PC. And I will NOT be renewing my GameStop discount card membership.

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I actually have a feeling Gamestop won't be out of business because of gamers AND the gaming companies working WITH them. Why I say gamers is because there doesn't seem to be much of a movement large enough boycotting or monetarily being against exclusive content/preorders. Also, if Gamestop gets cooperation with businesses to sell exclusive stuff through Gamestop and gamers keep getting suckered in (as in, buying the stupid exclusives/preorders/dlcs), it only helps Gamestop do better.

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Um... I love video games, so this is very hard for me to say... but necessary. It's time we start boycotting every last bit of this micro-transaction bullshit.

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You are just about 5 years late.

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More than that lol... I'm sure the first "expansion pack" is what inspired the DLC and micro transaction flood we're drowning in now =/

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I have never bought any DLC for any game.

That said, I stopped buying ~anything~ from GameStop long ago.

They have tried to get away with sneaky sh*t before and that was reported here at HotHardware.

Their tendency to piss off the customers that support them is going to kill them off.

Dogs are great judges of character, and if your dog doesn't like somebody being around, you shouldn't trust them.

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More reasons not to shop at GameStop or to support Ubisofts and other publishers business practices.

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This is why I love how they cant apply their bullshit business practices to PC gaming.

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The greed is strong in GameStop.

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People still shop at GameStop? Who knew?

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Gamestop is still around?

 

lol 

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I think things like this are reasons why I agree with a recent Polygon columnist to not preorder games (http://www.polygon.com/2014/7/10/5887425/aliens-isolation-ripley-preorder-exclusive-no).

The sole exceptions are preorders executed similar to what CDRedProjeckt has done for Witcher 3, preorders to play an earlier state of the game during a period of time feedback given would be useful, and for games underrepresented in how they are executed.

CDRedProjekt gives you a significant discount on preordering Witcher 3 if you bought previous games, even if it was outside of their platform (Steam, Amazon, retail, etc). In addition to that you get beta access to another game in the Witcher Universe for free. 

In addition to that you get exclusive/early access on material towards promoting Witcher 3 and understanding what's to come with the final game.

This is totally a beneficial preorder package without it punishing release-day purchasers of Witcher 3 of the core game they delivering next year, nor does it have content that'll augment the game to be a different, easier experience directly through gameplay like Dark Soul 2's preorder DLC arguably (while most don't engage in the multiplayer portion for a while into the game, the DLC gives preorder buyers such as myself an unfair advantage vs. other new game players).

Speaking of Dark Souls 2, as well as games such as Divinity, Child of Light, and so on, these games I feel should be preordered to in fact help towards them being validated of being warrantable games to produce that'll hopefully result in similar games be produced in the future and additional content after they're released.

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Adam Todd replied on Thu, Jul 24 2014 11:47 AM

I guess I'm one of the few who like preordering. I've never ran into an issue where the game I wanted wasn't there when it came out. I also enjoy the special content I get when I preorder, specifically Call of Duty. The ability to get the game you want guaranteed with the added bonus of bonus content, sounds like an awesome idea. However, if I'm not preordering a game, mostly due to it being a brand new IP I haven't played, then I'll wait for reviews and buy it from somewhere other than Gamestop. I guess there's a lot of gamers that aren't committed to getting a game. My preorder list if you cared: Destiny, COD: AW, Halo: Master Chief Collection

"I'd rather have one and not need it, then need it and not have one." - Alien vs Predator

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