Pre-ordering games have become such a staple of the industry that some companies will even announce the incentives for putting money down on their game as soon as it’s announced. While this works for some established franchises, more and more are we seeing new IPs ride the pre-order train as well. Whatever your stance is on this there is no doubting that it’s not going away anytime soon. This has only been enhanced by the boom of season passes and a variety of collectors editions that each company pushes. Now there are certainly some good examples of both these marketing strategies, but there are also some absolutely poor versions.
Whether it’s by gating off important content, playing with player’s expectations, or just being insulting to our wallets, there is no doubt that game companies have churned out some questionable ideas. When deciding this list we looked for not just overly lame bonuses, but if they impacted the game itself. Gating off content through pre-orders is never welcome, especially if it’s only for a certain retail store. These are some examples of pre-order bonuses that aren’t worth putting any money down at all.
10) Batman: Arkham Knight – Harley Quinn/Red Hood Story Packs
The Red Hood and Harley Quinn are some of the most beloved characters in all of the DC Universe, so it came as quite a surprise when we learned that we could play as both. What was even more surprising is that both of these add-ons were gated off via pre-ordering at Gamestop. Given that these are big fan favorites, there is no doubt as to why WB would force us to put money down on their game in advance. This is the kind of shady behavior that would make Two-Face blush.
9) Assassin’s Creed Black Flag : Official AC Football
Nothing says swashbuckling pirates parading over the open seas than a football with the Assassin’s Creed name slapped across it. No, really, this was an actual pre-order bonus from Best Buy for anyone who put money down on Black Flag. Outside of the fact that Best Buy clearly doesn’t understand the lack of correlation between pirates and sports, this football isn’t even regulation size. Yup, instead of more skins or cool weapons you get a mini-football you will probably never open or lose on your way home. Awesome.
8) Mortal Kombat X – Goro
Goro is one of Mortal Kombat’s most recognizable and iconic characters, so instead of including him in the core game why not gate him off via pre-order. This is one of the most frustrating types of “Bonus” content as this is something that should, by default, be included in the main game. While he is available for $5 separately, the fact that such a legendary fighting character is a pre-order incentive is just wrong. No one should have to pay for additional fighters at said fighting games launch.
7) Resident Evil 5 – Snow Globe
What is it with pre-orders and weird, irrelevant items that are packaged along with it. If you pre-ordered Resident Evil 5 with certain retailers you could obtain this lovely item that has literally nothing to do with the game outside of the name stamped across it. It also doesn’t help that the snow globe itself looks absolutely atrocious and is once again an example of companies not understanding what gamers would expect if they put money down in advance. Unless you’re a snow globe enthusiast, this pre-order bonus is one of the most useless ever conceived.
6) Evolve – Free Monster
If there was ever a better example of putting the cart before the horse it’s the Evolve pre-order bonuses. For those who don’t know, this content was actually announced before the game itself. Remember how we said it’s really awful when developers rope off entire characters for the sake off gathering pre-orders? Yeah, Evolve took that one step further by giving you a free monster if you put money down. What they didn’t tell you is that exact same monster will then be worth $15 dollars to those who decided to wait and just buy the game on launch. Evolve is probably one of the single worst examples of how pre-ordering can absolutely ruin a game’s reputation before it even launches. But hey, at least you can show off that Savage Goliath Skin to the 20 people that still play Evolve.
5) Watchdogs – 9 Different Versions
Watch Dogs is probably one of the most confusing pre-order strategies, as Ubisoft decided to release 9 different versions of the game. No single one contained al of the extra content, so users would have to pick and choose which version they wanted. Thankfully, Ubisoft provided a spreadsheet that only seemed to highlight how convoluted this entire set up was.
4) Donkey Kong Country Returns – Banana Wii Remote Case
Nintendo usually doesn’t delve too deep into the pre-order concept, but this is certainly one of their worst attempts. There are a plethora of cool concepts you could throw out for a Donkey Kong themed item, but a Wii Remote case does not jump to the top of the list. If you need to pre-order this game so you can ensure that you don’t lose a controller, perhaps it’s time to come up with a different strategy. This is a squandered idea that could have worked far better of it was really, anything else.
3) Metro Last Light – Ranger Mode
The Metro series is known for an immersive atmosphere, violent combat, and the feeling of trying to truly survive after a nuclear holocaust. So why not make the single most difficult setting and most intriguing modes only come if you with a pre-ordered the game. Oh, did we mention you could buy said mode for $5 buck after launch? Thanks, but no thanks Metro – I think we’ll pass on this one.
2) Star Wars Battlefront – Advanced Access to Jakku
Star Wars is arguably the single most known property in all of fiction, so obviously, there is going to be a big fan base. Especially if said fan base has been fawning over the idea of finally getting a new Battlefront game, so why not milk it for all its worth. By pre-ordering the game you had access to the Jakku map far earlier than anyone who didn’t. This was especially malicious given how short on maps the core game was and that Star War Episode 7: The Force Awakens was just around the corner. This game’s biggest problem was sustainability, so gating off one of the new maps for players didn’t do it any favors.
1) Deus Ex: Man Kind Divided – Tier System
This is seriously one of the dumbest and most baffling pre-order systems ever implemented. So how this works is that you can pre-order a different tier or all of them, and reap the rewards under that specific level. Not only does this gate off relevant content like a new mission, but encourages players to splurge for the entire tier system. While the other items we listed were poor examples of items to give, this is just a deceptive marketing tactic to suck as much money out from users as possible. It creates a have and have-nots scenario as those who did buy into the entire pre-order idea get all of this Deus Ex content. You can also bet all of the digital content listed will be sold after launch for money as well, because why not wall off an entire level?
Donkey Kong Country Returns - Banana Wii Remote Case
Nintendo usually doesn't delve too deep into the pre-order concept, but this is certainly one of their worst attempts. There are a plethora of cool concepts you could throw out for a Donkey Kong themed item, but a Wii Remote case does not jump to the top of the list. If you need to pre-order this game so you can ensure that you don't lose a controller, perhaps it's time to come up with a different strategy. This is a squandered idea that could have worked far better if it was really, anything else.