Encouraging players to pre-order games is a big part of how the video games industry works, because it guarantees income for games long before they’re actually released and threatened by things like “opinions” and “reviews.” The upcoming Deus Ex: Manking Divided, however, might have the most extreme and hardest-to-follow scheme to encourage pre-orders the industry has ever seen.
Publisher Square Enix is incentivizing its Deus Ex pre-orders with a “tier” system—as more and more people across the globe purchase the game ahead of its release, they progressively unlock new tiers, and each tier includes bonus digital content that everyone who pre-orders will receive with the game.
The rewards include a digital artbook, a sampler of the original soundtrack, a story-expanding comic and more. If Square Enix meets its goals and gets enough pre-orders (which are not listed, so we have no idea how many people have to actually buy to unlock this stuff), it’ll unlock the final tier, which is releasing the game four days earlier for preorder customers. You can read all about the system on the Deus Ex website, which is complete with an FAQ section.
Tiered unlocks for pre-orders aren’t exactly a new thing: it’s a system that digital PC game portal Steam has used before, offering customers extra (virtual) stuff as more and more people purchase a game. Where it gets especially confusing is in Deus Ex’s incorporation of choice: most of the tiers unlock multiple rewards, and you get to choose what rewards you want. So when the tier with the digital artbook and the soundtrack sampler unlocks, you pick one or othe other, creating a sort of custom pre-order kit of virtual goods.
Oh, and there’s also a $140 collector’s edition version of the game. With a (non-virtual) statue.
On the one hand, this is a helluva lot of stuff to go through just to buy a video game, but on the other hand, players routinely complain about (and feel ripped off by) publishers who make deals to offer a smattering of pre-release incentives with different retailers. Pre-order with Walmart and you might get a cool in-game gun; pre-order with GameStop and unlock a new character; buy the game on Playstation and you’ll see extra missions, while getting it on Xbox unlocks extra multiplayer maps. Often players can’t get content they want because they unknowingly shopped at the wrong store. Trying to get all the content on offer for a game at launch usually is expensive at the least, and sometimes impossible.
So the upshot for the Deus Ex’s system is that at least all the stuff is in one place. The downside is that you have to become some kind of preorder missionary or pyramid scheme enthusiast and suck in all your friends to guarantee you get it.