During the week it emerged that Microsoft and The Coalition are going to release a $99.99 Ultimate Edition of the upcoming Xbox One exclusive Gears of War 4. No great surprise there, it includes the base game and the £40 / $50 Season Pass, pretty much what we expect from a AAA multiplayer title these days. Where things get far more contentious however is Microsoft throwing a sweetener into the mix - buy the Ultimate Edition and gain access to Gears of War 4 four days earlier than everyone else.
That’s an entirely new precedent, eclipsing even the four-day early release for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided if enough pre-order cash was laid down. This never materialised of course, and the game was eventually delayed six months.
This is a new system which rewards those who are willing to blindly pay more. It preys on hype and you can bet your bottom dollar that thousands upon thousands will cave in and pick it up four days prior to launch, particularly once those who are playing start chattering. It’s all well and good selling a season pass bundle basically, but it’s an entirely different matter to withhold a finished game from your fans in a form of ransom.
To be clear I'm not disputing the value of the $99.99 Ultimate Edition. It comes with 24 DLC maps so I'm sure it's great value for money, but this is more the issue of punishing those who pay 'just' $60 for the base game.
I’m personally not at all fussed about Gears of War 4 but if 2K came along and said I could play Mafia III a week early if I throw £80 their way I’d be both tempted and pretty peeved off.
Where do you stand on this, is this a fair deal rewarding those who are willing to commit to the game early and for the long term? Or could this worryingly be the start of publishers holding gamers to ransom for release dates?