WTS: Pick Your Pre-Order Poison
Welcome to an occasional outburst where we take a look at a relatively recent bit of gaming news and can’t help but to ask… What The Shit?! There may be the occasional bit of course language as we attempt to temper our knee jerk reaction and look at a bit of controversial, horrid, dunder-headed, amazing, or just plain… wow… bit of news from the gaming industry we love so dear. This week to kick us off on our maiden voyage is the long and eagerly awaited Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and its new pre-order initiative.
For those who have lived under a rock for the last 10 years, the Deus Ex series takes you to a future where someone probably watched too much Blade Runner, The Matrix, and never grew out of listening to Tool and math rock. I would give you a rundown of what happened in the earlier Deus Ex games but I think LORE sums it up quite well here.
Turns out Deus Ex: Mankind Divided takes us on a journey with Adam Jensen and his wacky escapades but that isn’t what WTS is here for. No, we’re here because of Square Enix and their way of promoting Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. The industry standard of selling games seems to be: Develop game, pull a chunk out, sell it as bonus pre-order content, sell the rest that is not as awesome as post launch DLC, buy fancy cars, rinse, repeat. Naturally a growing contingent of their consumer base seems to think that four fancy cars are four fancy cars too many and have pleaded with each other to not give in to the pre-order hype (while they themselves pre-order the game because someone has to buy it first on Day One and well… I really really, really, really wanted that digital OST, so fuck you and my hypocrisy. Do as I say, not as I do!). So in order to entice players with content that otherwise would have been unlockable on the disc circa 2000, publishers have tried a myriad of ways to get you to part with your Hearthstone booster pack allowance.
Square Enix figured it was best to stay away from all of those options. After all, they have been met with ridicule and reviled across gaming culture. What’s new and hip these days? CROWDFUNDING! Surely if that small and obsessive group of laid off IT guys and freelance illustrators could get their indie darling off the ground (with a very loose promise of actually delivering!) then people will love our AAA big budget game! So SqueEnix cobbled together pre-orders and Indie Go Go to be the Viktor Frankenstein to the Deus Es: Mankind Divided’s new monstrosity of a pre-order system.
In a nutshell: Pre-Order Mankind Divided and tell all your buddies! Because if you want something more than a costume that could’ve been an unlock throughout the game’s story everyone better pitch in something or no one’s getting jack shit! Every Tier we all bust through unlocks a new pre-order prize for all of us! And we get to choose! It’s just like the game! We can unintentionally gimp ourselves due to our misguided choices, but unlike the game where I can just jump back to a save point and reassess my decisions I’m forever stuck with something that sounded awesome but in hindsight was completely worthless! And hell, since SqueEnix loves our mone-us so much they’ll even throw us a bone. If we create enough bot accounts and drain our kids college funds fast enough they’ll crack the whip on Eidos to get the game ready even soon and you’ll get to play it FOUR DAYS EARLY! WOO! Pack up boys and call it a day! Let’s go get ourselves some hookers and blow and we’ll augment all over their asses!
I might be a tad angry at this. I might have issues with pre-orders and their system. The last game I pre-ordered was an MMO against my better judgement and while I still love the game I know I fell for it. You see in my opinion (and this is what WTS is, an opinion piece) Pre-Orders are unnecessary. They lopp off the super cool genitalia of a video game, you know, that part you know is hidden underneath those layers of gameplay that beg you to bring your A-Game to catch a glimpse and play with, but if you suck too much will forever be out of arm’s length while you listen to your friends regale you with their tales of digitally lusty conquest; and slap a sticker on it like a cheap thrill to entice you to come inside. You could walk right in to its dark hallways and discover a decrepit, half-formed, pile of shit begging you to put a bullet in its brain because someone didn’t warn mummy that snorting blow for breakfast isn’t the greatest way to develop something. Often a game is no better for it. In the past, exclusive pre-orders have completely unbalanced a game’s difficulty, or they locked out an entire contingent of players from ever seeing something. They sometimes end up a smokescreen for a version of the game that is completely unplayable because no one bothered to fix the fucking hole in the ceiling. Instead they threw a tarp over it; sold it as ‘natural lighting’ and went on their merry way.
Pre-orders leave a bad taste in player’s mouths. Especially one that LOCKS YOU OUT OF CONTENT. The Augment Your Pre-Order allows you to choose ONE option from each tier. Initially there’s some misguided logic to this: We heard in the past from other games that players would only guy a game for X item and give two shits about Y item so we’ll let them choose! In Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’s case the problem is the tiers that let people choose both have items that players want BOTH of! It’s that rabid fanbase that will shell out the money for an artbook to show off to their friend that screams, “Look at my piss poor spending habits! My future children will surely be proud of me!” SqueEnix is slapping their hands and yelling “No!” This only leaves a poor taste in your probably only defender’s mouth. Everyone else hates the fact that you, like offenders in the past, are restricting content! The only upside is early release, but that’s not even a guarantee! It’s a pyramid scheme that only works if people aren’t aware or don’t care about wasting their money.
Look, I’m just a fan of games. I’m not a well-respected journalist and maybe one day if I scream loud enough I might be respected enough to not have to borrow my friend’s E3 pass. But WTS give me an outlet to wonder aloud “Who the shit thinks this is a great idea? Shit like this makes us look totally legit compared to other forms of art and media yeah!?” Of course not. Deus Ex is great at playing with our minds and maybe making us think about the role we play. Are we a silver tongued son of a bitch, or a walking ginsu knife that pretends we aren’t Keanue Reeves? More importantly it lets us play with our actions and maybe makes us think about a video game that speaks of revolutions, mankind’s future, corrupt entities, and the lengths we go to achieve our goals.
But a 3rd rate buffet that tells you can’t have dessert until you’ve personally packed the house is all we’re gonna remember about it.
For the love of god stop Pre-Ordering games, says the pot to the kettle. Yeah we’re part of the problem and we’re all hypocrites but it’s our money that lets them think Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’s Augment Your Pre-Order is a good idea in the first place.