Good grief! Bonus game content is a load of geek-fleecing crap
I can’t take it any more. I have absolutely had it up to here [points to top of own head] with bonus game content. And I mean bonus content of all types. I mean bonus in-game content, whether it’s DLC, pre-order content or special edition content. And I mean bonus merchandise like all the crap they throw into special editions, like CDs and DVDs and books and maps and keyrings and toys and all that.
Every day I get e-mails telling me that consumers can get extra pointless stuff with their game so long as they meet some stupid set of conditions. Like if you pre-order Gun War XXV on behalf of your unborn grandchild on the seventh Sunday after the summer solstice then you get a bonus in-game shoe as an exclusive pre-order bonus. Or if you get the Special Elite Collector’s Edition of Enemy Shooter: Revenge then it comes with an Enemy Shooter branded vest and underpants. It’s all such total, utter junk but if it’s an effective marketing strategy then I don’t really blame the companies that do it. I blame the idiots who lap this stuff up so enthusiastically.
What people need to realise is that there are two types of ‘bonus’ content. At best it’s stuff that simply would not exist if it hadn’t been made for the sole purpose of manipulating gullible geeks into parting with more of their cash and parting with it sooner. That’s bad enough, but the other kind is worse.
The other kind is stuff that would simply have been integrated into the game had its publisher not seized upon the opportunity to make it appear more desirable by separating it out.
At least when he snaps up the first type of content, the gullible geek is just filling up his own life with pointless tat and/or adding content to his own game that is at best pointless, at worst throws the game’s level of challenge and pace of progression completely out of whack. But any gullible geek taking the bait when it’s the second type is giving publishers more incentive to tamper with everyone’s game experience.
People often complain about bonus content being on the game disc but locked. That’s kind of my point, but at the same time I think it’s missing the point. That being that there is a far broader, more general problem – regardless of whether bonus content is on the disc or not, the simple fact is that games are being designed with these kinds of marketing strategies in mind. As a result, the line between those two types of bonus content is blurring and the idea of a developer making the standard version of the game as definitive, complete and well-balanced as possible is being slowly eroded away.
Stop taking the bait, people, and we’ll all get better games.