Darksiders, one of the first big video games of 2010, is already upping the ante on a video game trend of 2009 -- the pre-order bonus -- with a cornucopia of pre-order items and exclusives that varies from region to region and already has seen fans ordering more than one copy of the game to ensure they obtain their favored mix of accessories.
Darksiders, one of the first big video games of 2010, is already upping the ante on a video game trend of 2009 - the pre-order bonus - with a cornucopia of pre-order items and exclusives that varies from region to region and already has seen fans ordering more than one copy of the game to ensure they obtain their favored mix of accessories.
Pre-order bonuses and video game special editions came to the fore in 2009 with publishers trying out several different ways to entice customers to part with their hard-earned salary or precious pocket money.
Hits of 2008 such as Fallout 3 and Little Big Planet were re-released as 'Game of The Year' versions which included downloadable content made available after the original retail version came out.
Japanese publisher Irem included a soundtrack CD with the 2009 PSP title R-Type Tactics II as a 'thank you' to those that pre-ordered, and PlayStation has been pushing the PlayStation Home virtual world by offering limited-edition costumes to pre-orderers of titles such as Killzone 2 and Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time.
Special editions were also used to create extra buzz around leading titles such as Assassin's Creed II and Modern Warfare 2 towards the end of the year, with frankly extravagant options made available, and both illustrated an emerging complexity in tracking down a preferred pre-order option: the multiple special-edition bundles were split among retailers, and each bundle was made exclusive to a particular chain.
Now, new software house Vigil Games is creating something of a frenzy among fans of company founder and famous graphic artist Joe Madureira: at least eight different pre-order items are being produced in conjunction with publisher THQ for its first game, the apocalypse-themed hybrid puzzler and beat-'em-up Darksiders.
Somewhat confusingly, retailers with outlets in different regions do not appear to have cross-regional exclusives. For example, Amazon is offering a virtual horse-shaped face mask as a pre-order incentive in the USA and UK, but German customers can get their hands on a Joe Madureira Darksiders graphic novel, while French purchasers are sent an in-game code used to unlock a tweaked weapon.
Other incentives include a figurine of the main character which, in these days of electronic communication, comes with the simultaneously bizarre and quaint feature of having a detachable sword that acts as a letter opener. Singaporeans find themselves recipients of the (so far) world exclusive Darksiders-themed deck of cards.
In keeping with the art style of the game, strongly influenced by Joe 'Mad''s legacy, art books are available in some regions, but one UK retailer finds itself trading on the supposed exclusive of a cover-girl calendar. Vigil Games has also promoted the game by launching a competition on popular internet art site Deviant Art and setting up draws around the world.
BOL in the Netherlands is also offering the horse mask, Play.com in the UK has a full costume for use with Xbox Live or PlayStation Home, while GameStop in Canada and Electronics Boutique in Australia have a bundle including a poster, art book, weapons guide and the graphic novel. Many retailers are emailing a weapon unlock code to customers - Amazon France, Gamestop USA, and GAME in the UK and France are a few - while GameCrazy in the USA and JB Hifi in Australia appear to have nabbed the more coveted exclusive 7 inch figurine / letter opener combination. ShopTo.net, a UK-based online retailer is shipping the game with a themed t-shirt.
What sets Darksiders' promotions apart from the usual video game bundles is that each one costs the same as or not much more than the normal recommended retail price of €59.99 / $69.99, whereas hardcore fans of Modern Warfare 2 were paying up to €129.99 / $149.99 to secure top-notch game-related loot.
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