Back when Creative Assembly first announced Total War: Warhammer it would be fair to say it sent the beardy masses into hype overdrive. After all, why not? It was the amalgamation of two of the most beloved strategy franchises in existence. A marriage of tabletop and virtual battlefields. Where fantasy became reality.
And then the Chaos happened. One of the most popular races in all of Warhammer Fantasy, Creative Assembly, cajoled no doubt by SEGA, took the unenviable decision of announcing Chaos would only be available in the base game to those who pre-ordered a copy of Total War: Warhammer. It was a bartering chip in a game of Russian roulette, and in the months after it has felt like Creative Assembly pulled the trigger on its own head.
Take a cursory glance at the last few Total War games and they have been iterative, one and all. Total War: Warhammer is without doubt the largest leap forward the series has ever taken. Rid of the shackles of history, Creative Assembly has been given its best opportunity to stretch its legs yet. Underneath the ever watchful eye of Games Workshop, of course.
It’s a massive undertaking, and it’s got all the hallmarks of a truly brilliant real-time strategy outing, but all this is at risk for something as simple as pre-order bonuses. You don’t need to be a market analyst to see there’s plenty of pissed off people, pitchforks at the ready, miffed that they’re being forced to pre-order a copy of Total War: Warhammer in order to get access to what many perceive to be the most sought after race. I’ve read countless comments from people who’ve cancelled their pre-order, there's a petition dubbed Total Fail with 15,000 sigs, and it doesn’t help when Creative Assembly try to spin it as if they’re doing gamers a favour. This is a £50 game that by default only comes with four playable races, in comparison to Total War: Attila which had 10 playable factions.
This isn’t just to take a stab at Creative Assembly or SEGA either; this is just one game of hundreds driven by pre-order bonuses that seem to often turn as many people on as off. I remember taking one look at the litany of pre-order bonuses included with Evolve and I felt a migraine coming along. And, uh, well I guess we all know that particular saga turned out.
My point being the endless barrage of pre-order bonuses seems to have a cooling effect on hype. I just want the game. The finished article, whole and complete. I don’t want to be forced to put down my money without even knowing whether a game is good or not. I’m not willing to throw away £50 on a whim. Now I’m pretty sure Total War: Warhammer will be great, but I had serious doubts about Evolve, and if I’d pre-ordered that I’d have felt ripped of.
What do you think, do the incessant pre-order bonuses for today’s games actually kill your hype? Or do you actively encourage you to lay down your cash ahead of launch?