This week has been a tale of two pre-orders. Admittedly, it’s been a pretty slow week, as you can guess. On the one hand, we’ve got Total War: Warhammer II’s Norsca race pre-order bonus, which grants you two new factions for the original game. It’s a bit arse backwards, but it’s a decent deal and it hooks the two games together neatly. While on the other hand we’ve got Need For Speed Payback’s ‘Exclusive Tire Smoke’, a specific blueish tinted smoke to equip your car with. Quite probably the most pointless thing of all time, and I’ll be sure to give it pride of place on my mantelpiece next to my powdered water.
If you pre-order Need For Speed Payback to get the exclusive tire smoke, you probably need locking into a shark cage and fired from a torpedo into the deepest, darkest depths of the Mariana Trench.
Pre-order bonuses are all the rage then, as publishers desperately scrabble around for reasons to convince fans to lay down their cash before a game is even out. Heck, before they even know if the game is any good or not. From a consumer point of view, in an age of digital games, there is literally nothing to be gained from a pre-order. Nothing tangible anyway, except the sight of it waiting in your Steam, Origin, Uplay, whatever, library. It’s not 1997 anymore, there aren’t only four copies of Ocarina of Time coming into Double Drive Computers that you’ll need to wrestle grown men for. Digital games are by their very nature unlimited. It's just a digital transaction which adds a line of text to your game library.
So the easiest way to attach something real to all of this craziness is to provide actual content; chunks of the game that can only be obtained with a pre-order. How publishers go about this is many any varied. Sometimes it’s one-off consumables such as in-game credits or health packs, other times it’s exclusive missions, weapon skins, or, er, tyre smoke.
Some are tempting, some really aren’t, but they’re all designed to tip you over the edge from ‘wait and see’ to ‘I’m buying this game ready for day one’. So what pre-order bonuses have convinced you to take the plunge? And conversely, what are some of the worst pre-order goodies you’ve seen? Let us know in the comments!