Micro-payments have become big business on this console generation with the introduction of downloadable content and love it or hate it it’s here to stay. Add that to pre-order bonuses and things start to get a little hairy.
Gamestop has been giving downloadable bonuses for pre-orders for quite some time, whether it was a nuclear gun Mass Effect 2 or a fast horse in Red Dead Redemption. Apparently Rockstar felt the pre-order bonus worked so well they’re stepping it up a notch for L.A. Noire. Not only are they releasing custom clothing for your character, but they’re actually releasing cases as pre-order bonuses. The concept of receiving additional playable content as a pre-order bonus is annoying enough, but Rockstar has seen fit to offer separate content at different stores.
So if this game looks exciting enough to drop in your console on release day you have to choose between investigating a suicide courtesy of Gamestop or investigating a grand theft auto case courtesy of Walmart. Add in the fact that Rockstar’s long-time friend Playstation has secured exclusive cases for the PS3 and it becomes impossible to own the full game on launch day.
I would not be nearly as upset if these were just throw away cases. The description for the Walmart case says it’s the largest case of main character Cole Phelps career at that point in the game. I’d like to think these cases won’t affect the storyline, but I’m not holding my breath there either.
If that’s not a disturbing trend I don’t know what is. The rumors around Twitter have said the content will be available as purchasable downloadable content at a later date. If it follows Microsoft Point trends it would likely range between $10 and $15, shoving the retail price for the full game well above the $60 price we have grown to tolerate. Though you’re still not getting the full game if you don’t buy it for the PS3. I guess I can’t complain too much, the game was originally announced as a PS3 exclusive.
Best Buy and Amazon.com only get special outfits as their pre-order bonuses, but Target gets the short end of the stick. Pre-orders and launch week purchases from the big red store will get you a $5 in-store gift card and a t-shirt. Oh joy. Of course the biggest losers are us, the consumers.
Whether you’re interested in this game or not, the larger ramifications of Rockstar’s decision are huge. As the DLC trend has shown, when consumers consent to spend their money the developers are more than willing to deliver. I’d like to think the gaming community can get together and say “Hell nay, we won’t pay” but that’s just a dream. Between the demanding instant gratification 12-year-olds and the gamers that are more interested in gripping their controllers than their wallets we’re hosed.
An argument could be made that this is something that has been going on since the introduction of expansion packs. Blizzard took a little heat for releasing Starcraft II with only the Terran single player mission and not a Zerg or Protoss single player string of missions. So will it become acceptable to release expansion packs in micro payments? Rockstar and 2K eventually released bundles of their mini expansion packs for Red Dead Redemption and Borderlands respectively, but it wasn’t until almost a year after the original release.
I’m not interested in all these micro-payments, especially on launch day. When I pay $60 for a game I want the full game. Granted Rockstar is breaking ground with this motion capture and body language reading, but is this enough of an innovation to warrant an additional cost to the consumers? I don’t think so. Am I alone in that?