Opinion – Pre Orders With No Order

As far as publishers go, I really do love WB Games. They never really seem like they’re overmanaging or interfering with creative decisions in the interest of profiteering, plus they make some pretty wise investments into development studios that have payed out well for them. Plus, they’re a big third party publisher on Nintendo platforms where everyone seems to avoid them.

But christ almighty, they are the absolute worst when it comes to pre-order DLC.

I happened to be reminded of the impending release of Injustice: Gods Among Us and the numerous editions and ways to grab the game. By grabbing the Collectors Edition, you get (aside from a statue and comic book) three DLC character skins based on DC’s New 52 Reboot. By pre-ordering at JB Hi-Fi, you grab the “Blackest Night” edition, which nets you zombie skins for several characters and also Arkham City skins for characters. By pre-ordering at EB Games, you get skins and missions based around the Superman: Red Son graphic novel. Finally, by being on the first 5,000 people to vote on the Injustice Battle Arena promotional campaign, you grab a free DLC skin based on the CW version of the Green Arrow.

Injustice_SupermanDid you get all that? If not, let me sum it up: 11 additional character costumes, plus a series of DLC missions, have been announced as pre-order incentives. You can grab them all Day One, provided you basically buy three versions of the same game across two different retailers (and be up early enough to vote on the Battle Arena stuff). Oh, and the fun part? None of this applies to the Wii U version of the game.

Now, you may not be worrying about it so much because in the end, who cares right? It’s just costumes. It’s not characters or gameplay functionality, so it’s not that evil, right? And in that case, you’re absolutely right. It’s just costumes and extra missions that can easily be made available post-release. But there’s no guarantee on that. Just ask the fans (fan, singular –ed) of Lollipop Chainsaw who wanted all the costumes, but couldn’t get them all — they couldn’t be unlocked in-game. If you didn’t pre-order, you were out of luck.

At least WB Games learnt from the absolute unmitigated disaster that was Mortal Kombat (2011). If anything, the one positive of having the game refused classification was that it spared us from some truly insane pre-order schemes.

It was similar to Injustice, wherein a number of retailers had pre-order costumes, mostly retro outfits for the ninja characters. Where it got really nutty was when WB was offering incentives for pre-ordering the Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat Annihilation Blu-Rays: Not only additional costumes, but also fatalities.

MortalKombat_XrayTo me, you draw a very fine line when you decide to hold fatalities, arguably the core feature of every Mortal Kombat game ever, as a pre-order incentive. And while it’s one fatality out of four per character, it’s still stunning that any part of that game’s core features is held hostage by pre-orders, especially pre-orders for something that’s not even related to the new game you’re releasing!

But there may be hope for a GOTY edition that does contain everything you may have missed in the pre-order phase. Thankfully, WB seem to be pretty good about releasing them for some of their more popular products, if Mortal Kombat and the Batman games are any indication. Granted, it usually means we get some truly awful covers, but it’s nice that they actually do it.

Look, I really do like Warner Bros. as a game publisher. Compared to most other publishers that have a background in film, they’re easily the most successful and have adapted the best to the video game market. But goddamn, I really wish they’d stop their pre-order bonus nonsense. It makes it just that much harder to support their otherwise good efforts.


Come back on Thursdays for more thoughts and views from the NG+ cast and crew.

[Image credits: London Records (via Wikipedia); WB Games; Mortal Kombat Wiki]