Gamestop’s AC Origins Advert Reminds Us Why Pre-Order Exclusives Suck

"We've been too focused on the looming spectre of Loot Boxes, we forgot about the much older problem of pre-order exclusives."

Pre-order exclusives are, to put it mildly, a divisive business practice. At the very least, they offer ineffectual virtual tidbits like cosmetic items that hold no bearing over the game itself, yet at worse they exclude gamers who prefer shopping elsewhere access to missions and weapons.

Often times though, the mission or content is marketed as ancillary, or bonus. It won’t impact the overall experience in any way, yada yada yada. Unfortunately, Gamestop’s recent advert about pre-ordering Assassin’s Creed: Origins would have you believe otherwise (credit to Twitter account @YourPalRags and Kotaku for reporting on this first).

While it does say that the mission is a bonus, the connotations are clear: you’re being denied access to something that’s part of the game if you don’t pre-order with Gamestop. It’s shamelessly aggressive, and sets a dangerous precedent for the marketing of video games as a whole. We’ve been too focused on the looming spectre of Loot Boxes, we forgot about the older problem of pre-order exclusives.

Gamestop are certainly no strangers to controversy in regards to their business practices. Earlier this year, news broke out of their “Circle of Life” program, which essentially forced their employees to bolster their used game and pre-order sales, actively discouraging customers from just purchasing a new game, with staff being threatened with dismissal if they don’t reach certain quotas. If you happened to miss that shitshow, this Mega64 video should catch you up.

In the Kotaku article linked above, Laura Kate Dale pointed out the unintentional irony of the Gamestop slogan “Power to the Players” being shared with a poster that seemingly attacks players for not using their services. This isn’t power to the players; this is a fuck you to the players from a company too familiar with unethical practices.

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