Why You Shouldn’t Augment Your Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Pre-Order
It’s just another day in the gaming industry and another publisher is finding out whether they can take pre-order manipulations and stupidity to a new level. This time it’s Square Enix with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, a game that was bringing joy to many gamers’ lives, and now is causing us all to raise our pitchforks.
There may be those out of the loop on this, so let us recap. The people behind Mankind Divided just yesterday on the PlayStation Blog announced a release date for the game, as well as revealed a new pre-order program called ‘Augment your pre-order’.
This program lets you choose the digital pre-order bonus you want to get for your Day One edition of the game. If only the idea stopped there. You’ll select your bonus from five different tiers, which start off with in-game skins and go up to an extra mission and art books and such, and these unlock progressively as more people pre-order the game. The last ultimate tier will result in the game releasing four days earlier.
Seriously. That’s what they’re goading you with now.
As expected the campaign was met with huge negative backlash from fans, who decided to augment Square Enix’s promotional video for the announcement with a ton of dislikes. We’re talking over 16,000 dislikes to the video’s mere 200 likes.
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There’s a lot to discuss on this so let’s break it down from the top. If this sounds an awful lot like ‘stretch goal pre-ordering’ to you, then you’re on the right track. Except as usual the triple A scene likes to make an abortion out of indie, mobile or otherwise non-triple A concepts, and this is another case.
See stretch goals are great because there’s a base monetary figure that needs to be achieved in order for a project to be developed to completion. Anything beyond that enables developers to do more and provide more, because of the additional budget.
With Deus Ex: Mankind Divided pre-ordering the game does absolutely nothing to allow these additional pieces of content to be added. The game could have an extra mission and it could release four days earlier and it would have less than zero to do with the pre-orders received.
It’s cheap manipulation, and little more.
It’s often said that some marketing departments and publishers in the gaming industry have no idea what they’re doing, and the sad reality is that it’s more comforting for that to be true than if they did actually know what they’re doing.
You may say I’m being dramatic, and this is just a nice bonus for fans showing their support. Except you aren’t showing your support. You aren’t being rewarded. The things you miss out on for making your choice will probably be sold later rather than given to all those who pre-order. Worst of all you’re being suckered into throwing down your money and making a commitment to a product that you have no quality assurance for and no guarantee that it will even work at release. You’re committing to a promise of a product.
Kind of like Destiny.
Pre-order culture, as we like to call it, is built on two premises. The first is a fear that you won’t get your copy at launch because the demand is so high, which is a fear that doesn’t exist. Not only do we have digital copies of games (I know, in 2015 right?) but it’s an exceptional unlikelihood that all your friendly neighbourhood retail stores will ever all be out of stock of the game you want.
It plays on your irrational fear of being excluded.
The second premise is that you’re buying into the hype of getting to play a game on day one, and you get to feel part of that whole camaraderie that goes with the day one club while experiencing the minimum wait to play.
It plays on your impatience and desire to be included.
Which itself is kind of messed up because you don’t need to pre-order to be included.
The ‘Augment your pre-order’ campaign is a step worse, because it manipulates you into trying to get others to pre-order because it will be better for everyone to do that. Like some kind of pyramid scheme. It’s also more hostile than a traditional pre-order because instead of ‘pre-order now or miss out on this rad, exclusive content’ it’s more like ‘pre-order and you better get all your friends to as well or everyone won’t get this rad, exclusive content’.
Let’s not forget that Mankind Divided is a triple A game with a huge publisher behind it, so it’s basically like talking about potential stretch goals when the developer already can provide all of them and will create all the content regardless.
That brings me a step further to the fact that all the official website shows is a vague ‘percentage’ of how many pre-orders are required to unlock the next tier. So unlike a clear, exact stretch goal figure you have no idea how many pre-orders have happened and how many still need to happen to unlock new content. For all you know Square Enix has an absurd number in mind for the last tier, or may decide not to unlock it regardless of how many pre-orders take place.
And let’s not forget once again that you’re not unlocking anything because all of it already will exist without your pre-orders.
Let’s be fair though. Pre-ordering a game isn’t always one hundred percent bad. Sometimes you get a really good deal that’s hard to pass up, and of course there are Collector’s Editions that are to die for. But games that you end up pre-ordering should be ones that don’t rely on cheap tricks and manipulations to get you to do so, but an actual enticing deal.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution was an awesome game, and it’s sequel should not have to rely on tacky marketing gimmicks to get you to buy in. Fans were already excited for it, but this is just putting people off the game for no good reason.
We all know that if tiers like the bonus mission aren’t reached, you’re just going to charge for it in some DLC anyway. Why not just include it or offer it as a pre-order bonus for everyone? If your game can be released four days earlier, why not just do that anyway to get the game in your fans’ hands sooner? Are we so damn desperate that the chance to play a mere four days earlier is enough to drop money down now and encourage others to do the same, irrespective of what kind of game Mankind Divided turns out to be?
And how can you promise an earlier release eight months before the game is out anyway? God forbid Ubisoft had done this and we got Assassin’s Creed Unity four days earlier, even more broken than before and with no day one patch.
Better yet why couldn’t you just give fans who pre-order all the same bonuses, but allow them to choose specific extras like the cosmetics and weapons? That would have been pretty decent, wouldn’t it? That sounds more like augmenting your pre-order. This sounds more like augmenting your asses to our mouths.
There’s another major reason as to why you shouldn’t augment your Mankind Divided pre-order. It’s because every once in a while a publisher will push to see what it can get away with, and if we accept this new campaign then it only opens the door to those worse than Square Enix.
Each and every time it happens though someone comes along and says there’s an overreaction happening. And each and every time we wait until we face the next Destiny or the next Batman: Arkham Knight (PC version) or the next augmentation of our dignity to the toilet. I’m glad in this case to see people shooting it down now as opposed to just accepting it.
Mankind Divided is a game coming out in February next year. There is literally no point to pre-order it. It doesn’t benefit you in any way. Getting to play the game four days earlier because you all dropped your money almost eight months before release isn’t a reward, it’s a manipulative gimmick and a disservice to the actual fans who are dying to play the game. In before the game is delayed, and no early releases were had that future day from now.
Square Enix. Just stop. Stop taking ‘Mankind Divided’ so literally. Deus Ex doesn’t need this.
We never asked for this.