Pre-order bonus are nothing new. The fact that it’s a trend that upsets many gamers doesn’t seem to be decreasing the wide-spread usage of pre-order bonuses. Many games, you’d have to buy multiple copies from both brick and mortar and online retailers to compile all the various extra weapons, levels and perks being offered, which is obviously a non-customer friendly practice. Even stranger, it’s not uncommon to see codes for bonuses sell on eBay for $10 or sometimes much, much more. Now that details of BF3’s “Physical Warfare Pack” and “Back to Karkand” have been fully explained, many gamers have been fighting back against DICE and EA on these practices, claiming that if you don’t pre-order the game, you’ll be at a disadvantage online because you won’t get the extra weapons pre-orderers will get. Also, you’ll have to pay extra to get the “Back to Karkand” pack, which includes some old favorite maps like Strike at Karkand and Wake Island, that any BF veteran will want access to.
What kicked it off was a threat of boycotting the game over at Reddit, which then prompted a response by DICE. Of course, gaming boycotts rarely work — and we all remember the CoD:MW2 Steam boycott group (over lack of dedicated servers) who many of which were found to be playing the game on release. However, the internet reminds us it was Sarcastic Gamer who promoted a boycott of the original (console only) BF Bad Company game, which tried to pull a similar stunt on pre-order exclusive weapons scattered about various retailers. After hearing the outcry of the internet, DICE and EA backpedaled on the idea, and everyone was happy.
This time around, DICE doesn’t seem as willing to compromise, stating that pre-order weapons won’t imbalance the game, and will just offer a “more varied arsenal.” As far as “Back to Karkand” — well, if you don’t pre-order the game, you can still get it post-release at an undisclosed extra price.
I’m definitely not a fan of pre-order shenanigans like this, although I have been known to pre-order games, mostly at Amazon. My main motivation for pre-ordering is usually monetarily based, due to the plethora of $10 and $20 credits offered pre-release on high profile titles. I usually won’t pre-order a game that only offers exclusive content as it’s usually just throw-away items — most developers won’t offer “game changing” items because it throws the whole balance of the game out of whack. DICE says they are most definitely not doing that here, almost alluding to the fact that these extra weapons are worthless. However, the extra map pack, offering some highly desirable maps, could save you money by not making you pay full retail for the game ($60 on all platforms) plus conceivably another $10 or more for the Karkand pack which includes Karkand (duh), Wake Island, Gulf of Oman, and Sharqi Peninsula which represent the best maps from the previous BF games.
Who’s pre-ordering this one? I’m still on fence, but don’t appreciate DICE explaining the pre-order bonuses as “rewarding our core fanbase.” We know what these incentives are for, please don’t insult us. A better way to reward your core fanbase is to offer these 4 map remakes to all purchasers of the game, included in the base price of $60.