Video Game Pre-Order Bonuses Are Getting Stranger Every Day

Video Game Pre-Order Bonuses Are Getting Stranger Every Day (UPDATE)

Pre-ordering video games is, in general, a Very Bad Idea, as we've learned from the likes of SimCity, Battlefield 4, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Assassin's Creed Unity, Aliens: Colonial Marines, and many many more. So these days, video game publishers have to get a little more creative when it comes to getting you to blindly buy their games.

This year's first offender: Evolve, a promising 4-vs.-1 shooter by Turtle Rock, the studio behind Left 4 Dead. I've played Evolve; it feels really great and seems like it will be a lot of fun to play with friends. It also could be buggy as hell or even broken when it comes out this February. We have no idea. We won't know until it's actually out. The smart bet would be to wait until release day before you think about buying it.

But publisher 2K Games wants you to throw down your money now. So they have got a devious new pre-order bonus scheme that won't just give you extra stuff for buying the game early — it will let you skip whatever obstacles are necessary to unlock some of the game's top characters. Most people will have to play the game to unlock everyone, but people who "pre-purchase" the game on Xbox One? They will get an instant boost.

Here's Turtle Rock with an explanation (emphasis mine):

The Evolve Xbox One Open Beta begins next Thursday, January 15th. That much we've already covered. Now, would you like to play as Wraith and the latest four Hunters — Parnell, Abe, Caira, and Cabot — during the beta?

Thought so.

If you pre-purchase Evolve on Xbox One before or during the Xbox One Open Beta, you get exclusive instant access to Wraith, Parnell, Abe, Caira, and Cabot during the entire beta. Better yet, pre-purchasing on Xbox One guarantees that these characters are instantly unlocked when you pick up the final game which launches on February 10th. We'll share more news on when you can begin pre-purchasing Evolve very soon.

Devious. Normal players will rack up experience and unlock characters naturally as they go through Evolve, but 2K — like all big game publishers — doesn't want you to be a normal player. They want you to be a pre-orderer. No matter what it takes.

UPDATE: Shortly after publication of this article, a rep for 2K called me in hopes of clarifying that this bonus is specifically referring to "pre-purchasing", not "pre-ordering". So you won't get the unlocks if you just go and drop $US5 at, say, GameStop. You've gotta "pre-purchase" on Xbox One — meaning you have to spend the full $US60 before the game comes out — if you want this particular bonus. Fun!


    An online only game handled by 2k just screams do not pre order. Every year they can't get their nba series to work online for ages

    Yeah but there is no point in having unlocked characters if the game is borked and none of your friends own it or want to play it...

    I think the games industry have broken their current model and we all know we are buying beta games at best...I'll pick up a game early if they want to pay me to be a beta/qa tester.

    It's just a shame it carries an $80 Price tag here in Australia. Not to mention we still don't have the option of paying in AUD, so at the moment that's more like $100 all up. I enjoyed my time in the Alpha, but I'm not dropping that much on a pre-order. Been burned way too many times before.

    If I'm ever going to pre order a game again, I want it cheap, I'm talking 50+% off the retail/launch price. No amount of bullshit bonuses will make up for what will inevitably be a buggy mess.

      I agree. Dick Smith had a $10 discount on a couple games last year for a pre-order which I thought was clever. It wasn't publisher driven, purely the store itself. And when DSE usually have a pretty competitive price anyway, I picked up a few great games for like $50 brand new pre-ordered from a bricks and mortar store. Sweet.

    Isn't unlocking things part of the fun?

      Absolutely. One of the reasons I lost all interest in recent iterations of games like Tekken and Street Fighter once you started the game with a full roster of players. There is a fine line of fun and grindfest these days and we all know how publishers love to waste our time on grindfests just so we feel compelled to fork out $$.

    I love that it's considered a bonus to unlock characters in the beta. A BETA IS SUPPOSED TO BE FOR TESTING IF THINGS WORK. Aaaaaargh

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