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Pre-order culture, how greed turns games into a paint by numbers marketing scheme

Anyone who has been gaming for more than a few years is by now very familiar with pre-orders. Publishers and marketing teams for various games have definitely keyed in on the ingrained pre-order culture over the years. The result of their near constant reliance on this trend has created a monster within the industry that a lot of people are growing disgusted with, and quite rightly so. With publishers cutting out finished assets or bonuses from the final product and using them as pre-order bait; the idea is becoming harder and harder to justify with the harm it does.

Pre-orders have now become synonymous with the idea that marketing teams no longer see gamers as anything more than sales numbers. The industry is so in love with the idea of hitting up gamers for cash before a release that this pre-order trend will likely continue to get worse. Schemes that circumvent the system of reviewers, lets players, and other gaming personalities that filter out bad games for consumers will likely only get worse.

The latest scheme that falls into this egregious category is the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided “Augment” system. The asinine idea is a 5-tier system that relies on gross pre-order numbers to unlock voting for various rewards. The “Augment Your Pre-Order” system is structured with five unlockable tiers, and each tier contains a set of one to three options for what content players want unlocked on Day One of release. The first tier, which offers mostly cosmetic bonuses, is unlocked automatically, but each tier after that will only be unlocked when as-yet-undisclosed global pre-order goals are met. Some of the rewards include in-game items, digital books and music, and an extra in-game mission. Tier 5’s reward is getting the game four days early.

Every one of these tiers is ingrained with an exploitative mindset that treats gamers like drooling idiots. These systems remove any sense of confidence in the pre-order system that anyone could still have. As it’s obvious that if this system sees financial success, it will be recreated by other publishers. Once the novelty wears off and people see the shoddy system for what it is, the next iteration of pre-order shenanigans will take it’s place trying to take advantage of gamers.

Unless of course we wake up and make this system fall flat on it’s face by not pre-ordering the game. And also hoping that the marketing company that came up with this abomination is hung out to dry.

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ISKMogul is a growing video game publication that got its start covering EVE Online, and has since expanded to cover a large number of topics and niches within the purview of gaming.
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