Pre-order bonuses and collector's editions. Two things that have been influencing gamer's buying habits for a while now, but has anyone ever really sat down and analyzed how important they are? Let's take a stab at it now...
The questions that come to mind when you talk about pre-order bonuses are the following: Are they powerful enough to make someone a) buy a game they never would have purchased before, b) purchase a game at a store they normally wouldn't shop, and c) pre-order a game that they normally would have waited for a price drop before purchasing.
Starting with the first scenario, I have personally never purchased a game based solely on a pre-order bonus that was included. There has never been a pre-order bonus that made me care about buying a game I normally had no interest in. There have been some amazing pre-order bonuses before, but usually the games just aren't good enough to warrant a purchase. Does a company include an awesome pre-order to make a game look better or look more appealing to typical non-buyers? Absolutely... but it hasn't worked on me... yet.
Now a lot of people might know this about me, but I have a strong disdain for GameStop. I've never been treated well by any GameStop I've ever been to and I've never been a fan of any of their corporate policies. I have also been burned several times by pre-ordering at GameStop. So why would I go through the trouble of pre-ordering a game at GameStop when I would have a much better experience at a Best Buy or an Amazon? Two hyphenated words... pre-order bonuses. I bought Etrian Odyssey 3 at GameStop for the special collector's edition art book. I bought Doom 3 for the cool little hellspawn statue. And I just recently pre-ordered Resident Evil: Revelations for 3DS at GameStop. What would possess me to go against my beloved Amazon? An awesome 3DS case that changes artwork when it is in sunlight that is not currently offered at Amazon .
Now obviously I was going to buy Resident Evil: Revelations (it was my #1 game on 10 games you need to buy a 3DS for ), but I was planning on buying it at either Best Buy or Amazon. GameStop caught my eye and I had to pre-order the game there to get this awesome case. Some pre-order bonuses aren't enough to convince me that I need to switch stores to pre-order a game... like Super Mario 3D Land's Tanooki Mario keychain (meh). This one was definitely good enough for me to jump on over to the dark side however. Same with Portrait of Ruin on DS, where they gave you a ton of Castlevania collectibles for pre-ordering the game. And let's not forget the famous golden N64 cart for pre-ordering Ocarina of Time.
Enough to make me shop at GameStop? Absolutely!
Now the third scenario I know I have been caught in more often than not. I have definitely pre-ordered a game before I normally would have purchased it because I liked the pre-order bonus involved. As mentioned before, I bought Doom 3 for a stupid little figurine well before the price drop I normally would have waited for. I also bought Tron 2.0 well ahead of a price drop for a little bad guy guard figurine. What my obsession is with little statuettes is beyond me but apparently I can't get enough of the damn things.
Now onto fancy smancy collector's editions... the "you paid how much for that game?" way to a publisher's heart. Now I'll admit that some collector's editions are pretty cool, like the Assassin Creed II with Ezio statue that I won at PAX East from IGN (thanks again IGN!), but a lot of them are a lot of money for a game no one will care about or additions that no one will care about... like the Duke Nukem Forever "Balls of Steel" edition (which is surprisingly cheap at $29.99 as of now). But hey if you really need that bust of Duke Nukem for your favorite parlor room, this is the perfect way to get it! There are also collector's editions that are so confusing they need to release a guide to explain it!
Collector's editions are well known for being jammed packed with additional skins for multiplayer maps, cool figurines, photo books, soundtracks, and whatever else the publisher can think of that gamers need to show their love and affection for a series. They must be selling fairly well, and be in pretty high demand as there are TONS of these editions everywhere for sale and at a hefty premium price, it helps rekindle some money that could go into new games.
Ok so I have talked enough about this seemingly un-ending trend and I wonder what are your thoughts about pre-order bonuses and collector's editions? Have you bought a game based on one of the three scenarios I laid out before for a pre-order bonus? Have you shelled out a boatload of money for a collector's edition? Was it worth it? These things aren't going anywhere soon and now seems to good time to sit back and see if they truly add up in the end.