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Retailer specific bonuses

“Daaaaamn, you musta pre-ordered that shit from GameStop!”

With the release of Mass Effect 2, more so than I can personally remember with any other game, it has grown too apparent that marketing gimmicks have started overstepping their bounds into a realm in which totally screws consumers in different ways. In an attempt to streamline the game play experience of Mass Effect 2, BioWare had much of the RPG content which I felt made the first game great removed or altered which included, but was not limited to, a robust equipment inventory and modification menu. With the reduction in emphasis on picking up equipment and modifying your team it only makes sense that there would be fewer items to acquire, in fact straight out-of-the-box there is only one armor set available (the default N7 set) which brings us to the point…

 Blood Dragon armor in Dragon Age: Origins (left) and Mass Effect 2 (right)
Blood Dragon armor in Dragon Age: Origins (left) and Mass Effect 2 (right)

Downloadable content which affect’s game play is bullshit. By pre-ordering Mass Effect 2 from GameStop or Play.com, players would be treated to the Terminus Armor set and M-490 Blackstorm Heavy Weapon. With the purchase of the Collector’s Edition, players receive the Collector Armor set and Collector Assault Rifle and even those who bought and registered BioWare’s previous title, Dragon Age: Origins, would gain the Blood Dragon Armor. This is all well and perfectly fine for everyone who pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition of the game from GameStop after playing through Dragon Age: Origins, but what about those who ordered the game on Amazon.com or rented it for the week because they didn’t necessarily have $60+ to spend on a video game? Do they not deserve items that could increase their enjoyment or enhance their experience just a fraction more, even if just for the different aesthetics?

“I’m Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite drink on the Citadel!”

The economic idea behind such a campaign is not an unreasonable one; if a specific retailer wants to pay money to have a specific incentive to purchase from them then it makes all the sense in the world that such would be developed, and I hold no issue with it. What I hold issue with is we are talking more than simply adding a new color or “dye” mode (ala “Hellgate: London”) to better modify one’s avatar to a more pleasing personal look. By each downloadable bonus available adding character skill enhancements, thosewith them have a distinct play advantage for the first half over those who simply bought the regular edition from another retailer. Even Dr. Pepper jumped on the bandwagon and started releasing redemption codes for head-gear in the game (amongst other Electronic Arts releases).  While I’m sure this was a successful campaign for Dr. Pepper and continues on to be, there is something inherently evil with making people drink diluted battery acid by the gallons for a twelve alphanumeric code andmakes me wonder, when it will stop?

I have nothing against Mass Effect 2 and in fact it is overall one of the best games I have played for a long time.  I do have a problem that, although its not the first game to whore it’s content out for the benefits of other companies, it is one of the largest examples of which that could continue on the trend of over-buying for something that should have been there originally in the first place.  I just don’t want to see a future inwhich to be able to fully experience a medium on my own terms I have to buy three cases of soda, five bags of chips and two Limited Edition copies of the same thing from two different retailers.