Alien: Isolation is the much hyped new game by Sega based on the Alien franchise of movies. Unlike the myriad of other Alien games that have graced, or often disgraced, various gaming systems over the years, the latest installment attempts to hearken to the original horror suspense atmosphere of the first movie. I was personally a big fan of the first two movies and was excited to hear of the different direction the latest game was taking.
Then I heard about Sega’s plan for the release. Sega recently announced that two exclusive DLC missions will be available to only those that pre-order the game. On top of that, one of the missions, called Last Survivor, is available only to those that pre-order from Gamestop. Is this a problem? Does the increasingly frequent practice of offering consumers additional content or perks for pre-ordering a game create an issue?
Look, I completely understand the financial reasons for game developers and retailers to push pre-orders. That doesn’t, however, mean that I have to like it.
1. Pre-orders help to lock in the sale of a game prior to it’s actual sale.
2. Exclusive content drives the consumer to purchase the game from the outlet providing the content, in this case Gamestop.
3. Pre-order exclusives entice the consumer to act in an uneducated manner, IE make a purchase before the game is reviewed.
4. Pre-order income is just that, income for a company before the actual sale of a product. It’s essentially the consumer providing the business with a loan that they in turn can invest in any way they see fit.
Now you may not mind this practice but evidently many people do. The negative reaction to the news seems to have prompted Sega to announce that the DLC will be available to those that opt NOT to pre-order as well.
Ngan Nguyen, Creative Assembly Community Manager for Sega, took to the game’s Facebook page and posted the following:
“Some of you have been asking if the two pieces of content are only available through pre-order or if we’ll be releasing them at a later date as well. So, I can confirm today that we do plan to release both Crew Expendable and Last Survivor at a later date and we’ll have more details for you guys on that shortly.”
So as it turns out everyone, including the losers that didn’t choose to pre-order the game, can play the extra content “at a later date.” Hmmm… what exactly does that mean and what kind of penalty will the aforementioned losers have to pay to access the content? Only time will tell because Sega’s not right now.
The bottom line is season passes, pay-to-win mechanics, pre-order exclusives, and what ever other tactics game developers and retailers come up with are here to stay. These practices help developers squeeze every last penny from their games and allow the retailers, such as Gamestop, to maximize their profits and remain relevant in an age where digital downloads are becoming more and more attractive.
So do we as gamers have to suck it up and accept the new norm? Probably. Is it necessarily entirely bad? No.
In exchange for forking over your money before a game’s release date, the publisher and or retailer is rewarding you with additional content. For some this is an easy trade off that is well worth it. Where problems arise however are when retailers don’t order enough stock to accommodate gamers that didn’t want to, couldn’t, or simply forgot to pre-order. I for one however plan on remaining a stubborn crotchety old man and NOT pre-ordering games for the most part. I will continue to read the reviews and make educated decisions on where to spend my money. But even I can be occasionally enticed to pre-order due to great bonuses, like the Destiny beta access.
What do you think? Let me know and lets make the world a better place.