Games on almost all platforms have been offering extra content to those who reserve a copy of a game before it's released. This is meant to promote sales of course and test consumer loyalty, but can it be done better?
Before we start thinking about our opinions on pre-order DLC, let's talk about why developers add pre-order DLC to video games.
Pre-order DLC has two purposses: Promoting sales at the release of a game and getting an idea of how well your game will sell.
Game developers and companies like it when a game has a lot of success, especially at release as it ensures that the game will be a big hit. Just look at GTA V. This game sold 11.21 million units in the first 24 hours. Now that's not because of pre-order DLC but that game did have a lot of extra publicity because of its amount of sales, news about GTA V's success was everywhere.
As for the other purpose of pre-order DLC, let's compare it with the 3ds. One of it's largest flaws is it's region restriction. While this was meant as a means to combat piracy, it also serves to make it easier for Nintendo to find out which games sell well in which region. Now, going back to pre-order DLC. If a game doesn't get many pre-orders developers will not be able to react to that and market their game more.
In my opinion, pre-order DLC can ensure that many people pre-order a game, but most games companies do it wrong.
At the moment most games that feature pre-order DLC add extra 'exclusive' content to the game for only those who pre-order a game. However, doing this also means that they are both excluding those who do not buy the game on release day and showing that you do not have enough trust in your product for it to sell well without having to add things like pre-order DLC. Granted, we're only talking about minor things such as costumes or weapons (though some games — like Thief — add an extra level).
The video game industry isn't the only industry in which this is common practice and companies have their own reasons to either add or exclude "pre-order DLC". One example is in real estate. Many companies offer free cars or holiday's to those who "pre-order" a house. This is to ensure purchases, but just like with gaming it shows that the company doesn't have much confidence in their product. Also, just like with video games, there are real estate companies who shy away from that for those exact reasons.
The way to ensure sales is to show fans that they can trust you. (I think Sony's recent move with giving out store credit and PlayStation Plus trials to loyal fans was a great move).
But video game companies still want to give people pre-order DLC. Which, after all, does make sense. Next to fan loyalty, what's the best way to get people to pre-order?
I'll tell you…Pre-order-pizza!
Newegg had a sale recently in which you'd receive a free pizza with the purchase of one of a few select games. This, obviously, is the best deal ever. And something I'd like to see more often.
It doesn't cost much for a company to do this. In fact I'd like to bet some pizza companies would be willing to do it for free as it gives them a large sales boost as well. It doesn't exclude any portion of gamers, leaving people free to purchase a game later if they want. And it shows that you as a company are willing to come up with something funny and original for your fans. I mean, it fits perfectly with the whole lazy gamer eating pizza all day stereotype.
Of course, I don't think any company wants their fans to distrust them. In fact, I think all companies and developers care a lot about their fans. I'm just trying to help developers and show what I think about pre-order DLC. I think trust is the most important thing a company can have. If I trust a video game company I'll buy their game regardless of what reviews say or the game looks like.
If you want to read the original article as I wrote it on B-Ten you can find it at b-ten.com.