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GameStop Has a Plan for the Future of Preorders, and it Sounds Awful

I love this industry. Video games are a uniquely exciting medium that’s fueled by talented developers, passionate fans, and the desire to push the envelope, both creatively and in the technology that lets us interact with and experience these virtual worlds in ways that no other medium can ever hope to match.

It’s an awesome industry to write about every day, but it’s still young, and it’s far from perfect.

There’s something that’s always bothered me about video games, and that’s the idea of preordering games for retailer-exclusive content. Forcing consumers to decide between buying a game at a specific retailer for special content they’d otherwise miss out on if they purchased it elsewhere only benefits the retailer and the publisher.

It’s horribly, blatantly anti-consumer, yet for some reason — despite our power to combat crap like this by simply refusing to waste our hard-earned money on the retailers that practice them — people continue preordering games. Much like DLC, which started out as free post-release content that developers used to keep their communities alive and interested months or even years after a game’s release (Burnout Paradise and Killing Floor are both excellent examples of developers that did DLC right) has gradually shifted in an alarming direction.

Publishers began strapping price tags to their DLC, and when we happily spent our cash on it they started charging more and more until we’re now paying $20 for map packs or $30-40+ for season passes that included most or all of the DLC that hadn’t even been released. I’m sure anyone who dropped $30 for the Dead Rising 3 season pass didn’t leave happy.

Stuff like this has a snowball effect, and if this report from GamesBeat proves true, it’s about to get substantially worse.

Apparently, GameStop recently met with investment company R.W. Baird to chat about a few things, including the future of their lucrative preordering business. In a note sent to the company’s investors, Baird analyst Colin Sebastian detailed the retailer’s plans for what preorders may soon become.

“[GamesStop] indicated that software publishers are more enthusiastic about partnering with it,” Sebastian wrote. “For example, by offering exclusive content on each major game release, and longer term, future models may include GameStop offering exclusive gameplay.”

As for what that means, exactly, Sebastian explained to GamesBeat that the company is interested in “getting involved at the time of game development where there could be some content exclusive to [the retailer] included in the game.”

This goes a step above unlocking retailer-exclusive maps, weapons or character skins. In the very near future, GameStop may have a hand in the actual development of a game, so they can use their influence (and money) to get developers to waste precious time and resources on exclusive content — potentially entire sections of a game — that will only be available to those who preorder it at their store.

The implications this has down the road are nothing short of disastrous, but that’s just my opinion — what do you think of all this?

If you’re not a fan of this, the best way to fight it is by no longer giving GameStop, or any other retailer who implements these harmful strategies, your money. I haven’t spent a dime at GameStop in years because of stuff like this, as well as the ridiculously pushy clerks who hound you to preorder a game in the hopes that you’ll eventually break down and give them more money.





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