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Pre-order Offer Overflow

Over the last year we have seen an increase of bonuses with game pre-orders, but has it gotten to the point where we are confusing consumers more than enticing them?

Jason Brown

December 28, 2009

3 Min Read

A couple months back when Dragon Age was nearing release I decided to head to the local GameStop and plunk down some money on a preorder. Shortly before I left, I went online to the store's website to check if there were any deals available. Assuming that Gamestop would be the only store with a preorder bonus I simply googled "dragon age preorder".

Upon hitting the Search button, a tidal wave of preorder offers came flooding over me. I could go to GameStop if I wanted one item. Amazon was offering a different item and $10 off with next day shipping. Steam was had a completely different item as well, plus their games can be preloaded for an even easier distribution. 

I briefly scanned over the items then found there was a collectors edition available as well. The offers and items for the CE were even more overwhelming than the standard edition. If I were to order from Steam I would get more items, some different than other offers. I could get more of the DLC free, and a couple other additions. The instore hard copy came with a map instead of some of the things offered in the Steam edition. Then the EA Store popped its head into my search, telling me what I would get if I purchased the game from them. 

So at this point I could go to GameStop, Steam, EA Store, or Amazon for a variety of offers and within those outlets I had a choice from cloth maps to rings to cloth wolf boots. Not to mention the choice to have a hard or digital copy of the game or an art book. And then there was the concern if I purchase DA:O on PC then buy Mass Effect 2 on XBox, does the armor cross between platforms? Oh and not forgetting the toolset, only on the PC version.

At this point I had to call a mental time out and step back. Now as an avid gamer and consumer I was able to make a choice pretty quickly and easily but thinking of an average Joe gamer or possibly a non-gamer parent wanting to buy the game as a gift this could all become extremely confusing.

Where did this pre-order proliferation come from? Was this planned by the publisher to offer choices to their consumers? or did each of the retail outlets demand their own form of unique giveaway? Could this also be an attempt to keep brick and mortar stores alive with promises of different items than the digital distributors?

Now Dragon Age is, by far, not the first game to have uniqe offers with many stores but it definitely seems to be one of the first to nearly flood the market with a nearly over abundance of unique items and offers.

I'm not sure if the overflow was a good thing for the market or not, or even if the amount or variation of offers really influenced consumer's decisions. But I hope that in the future retailers and publishers can streamline the offers for a more consumer friendly experience. 

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