When Steam updated today, I got the popup with Steam’s “updates”, which is a fancy way of saying “buy more shit”. The first thing that popped up was the new Tomb Raider which, despite the controversy it got for apparently glorifying rape, if you’re overly sensitive, an average tumblr user or both (likely both). This itself is not notable, even though Square-Enix is selling the game for $10 less than the console version and seems to have improved their PC reputation lately. They are also selling the pre-order at 10% less than the normal retail price. Good so far!
So of course, I see this little sliver on the page that I missed at first, but had to go back to:
That little “pre-purchase rewards” bit caught my attention, so I decided to peek in and see just what they were trying to do:
So let me get this straight: the goodies I get with my game are completely and totally dependent on the rest of the internet?
In what universe does this make sense for the player?
I can see what the intention is. Some executive at Squeenix – probably in their Western offices – figured that they would just “crowdsource” public relations, and make it an incentive to get your friends to purchase the game. “Hey, Johnny, if you don’t get five people to pre-purchase this game, you won’t get all of these wonderful goodies! You better get to it!”. Basically, Squeenix is using this as the next evolution in Zynga-style guerilla marketing.
However, to me, it gives me the exact opposite effect. Why would I spend my money with the prospect of getting additional content, including DLC for my game, if there’s no guarantee whatsoever that it’s going to sell enough copies for me to get my stuff in the first place? What Square-Enix is asking its customers to do is jump head first into the video game equivalent of an initial public offering (IPO), without any cognitive thought towards the potential outcome. As someone who isn’t naturally a Tomb Raider fan, and who isn’t interested enough to do anything more than a cursory rental, this is not the sort of perk that makes me want to shell out my $45.
If you’re a Tomb Raider fan and will not waste time in buying this, this is a good deal; you lose nothing, and you could gain perks if the preorders are good enough. But I hate to feel like I’m paying to work in a major publisher’s PR department, and I’m sure a lot of people, if they think about it that way, will feel the same way.