Sunday, 23 September 2012

Steam leads the charge with new ways to incentivise preorders

As a gamer its not been difficult to notice the change in how games are marketed toward us these days.  When I reached the age where I could afford to buy my own games, most games simply relied on word of mouth or magazine advertising to get your interest.  Many games relied solely on the box art or packaging blurb to pull you in.  Sometimes this was a good thing, more often than not it was a terrible decision.

Incentives to buy or preorder became big around the PlayStation 2 era, although not as much as it is today of course.  I remember offers online for games giving you extra things like soundtracks, art books, codes for unlocking features early that sort of thing.  I know it probably happened earlier but the PlayStation 2 was where I started to notice it the most.

These days practically every game being made has some form of incentive to buy.  New maps, early access to DLC, unique in game items, figurines, art books, soundtracks the list goes on.  Many retailers either physical or digital work out some kind of deal to gain exclusive rights to these items to bring in more business.

Recently steam has begun to copy a pretty popular format from kickstarter.  The idea of receiving incentives based on the amount of preorders.  The first game to use this was XCOM enemy unknown, which offered in game items for the first reward tier, team fortress 2 items for the second tier and finally a full copy of Civilization V.  Company of heroes 2 has been added in the last few days and also offers a range of incentives if you order from steam, including a full copy of dawn of war 2: retribution.

Offering full games as part of a scheme to bring in preorders is a great idea.  Steam take the money the day you order so they are already seeing a profit as soon as the item hits the storefront, while gamers now feel like they are contributing to each others items so your order feels like its adding to the total needed to get that free game.  I would love for this system to become more popular throughout the gaming industry.  Its not too big a step for retailers to start packaging games with certain offers on their websites.

It is true that what steam is doing here with its faux kickstarter program is offering the same kind of preorder bonuses available elsewhere, but at the moment its the only place to preorder a game and receive an extra one free of charge, even better when you factor in the ability to trade in those free games with other steam users to get a game you want instead, so there is still a reason to go ahead with the order.

The only downside is the way steam prices products.  Company of heroes 2 for instance is £39.99 which is a full £10.00 more than what the game will be to order elsewhere.  Steam has always been a little strict with their prices making them difficult for me to justify purchasing from them at times.  Still if the extra cost isn't that big of an issue then steam is looking to be the place to order the next big PC titles from.

Thanks for reading and come back tomorrow for my TNA review. 


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