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What is the Worst Pre-Order Bonus?

worst pre-order bonus

Companies trot out all sorts of offers to entice players to buy games early. But what do you think has been the worst pre-order bonus? Let’s take a tour of the Siliconera staff’s favorite bad ones. Share your pick in the comments!

I think it goes without saying that Deus Ex: Mankind Divided had, perhaps, some of the worst pre-order bonuses to date. So much so that Square Enix had to change the pre-order bonuses due to overwhelming backlash to in-game items and guns being locked behind pre-order tiers. Can’t get much worse than that! Though I’m sure there are more than a few than could potentially hold a candle to this. — Kazuma

worst pre-order bonus zero time dilemma

I can think of an even worse pre-order bonus situation.

Who here remembers Zero Time Dilemma for the 3DS and Vita?

Who remembers the Zero Time Dilemma pre-order watch?

It was supposed to look like the in-game watches everyone would wear. Well, problems happened before shipments went out. The watches weren’t ready at launch. And then, when they did start showing up, some were broken.

Or, worse, people who went through Amazon had to deal with a situation in which promotional credit was set to their accounts, they had to “buy” watches for $500, but even though Amazon would “give” them the credit for the watches, there were still things like tax to take into account.

And then some of those ended up being broken when they arrived. It was a bad time! — Jenni

japan valkyria chronicles 4 squad 7 dlc

The Japanese PS4 release of Valkyria Chronicles 4 in March 2018 was my worst pre-order bonus experience. Sega had “A United Front With Squad 7” as exclusive DLC in the limited 10th Anniversary Memorial Pack. But since I pre-ordered the regular physical copy, I didn’t get this DLC.

The real kicker was that Sega made the Squad 7 DLC available more easily when the game launched in other platforms and regions in the following months. Guess how long did owners of the regular Japanese PS4 release have to wait until they could get it? Over two and a half years, in October 2020. That was the moment when I had one of the biggest regrets of my lifetime. — Kite

worst pre-order bonus asia

Growing up in Southeast Asia generally meant that most of the games I bought as a youth were pirated. Games would otherwise be far too expensive, being imported from America or Japan.

That changed in recent years, as rising buying power and specialty game retailers made it easier to find “original” games at affordable prices. But “pre-order culture” still took a while to take root. Early “Asian editions” of major releases didn’t have the cool figurines or bespoke tchotchkes that western or Japanese buyers could look forward to. Instead, local retailers substituted in cheap, generic “swag” items like coffee mugs, notebooks and mouse pads.

Preordering a new video game should feel like you’re getting something unique to the game itself, and not like you bought some limited-time sale item at the grocery. — Josh

mario rabbids kingdom battle pixel pack

On the scale of pre-order bonuses, one end houses some truly cool physical items, and inoffensive, nonessential cosmetics land somewhere in the middle. The worst ones? They’re actively harmful.

My least favorite of these was a part of one of my favorite games of recent years: Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. Included with advance purchase was the “Pixel Pack,” a series of blocky weapons for each character. The problem? They were way too good for early-game fights. You may want a leg up on progression in a multiplayer title, but in a solo campaign, you’re just ruining the challenge of some missions. — Graham

worst pre-order bonus borderlands 2

Getting any kind of bonus — no matter how cheesy or cheap the item might be — is always a nice touch. Personally, I’m not a fan of any retailer-specific in-game bonuses that are never offered up in any other way later. Also, any game that feels the need to lure in players with tons of useless cosmetic loot or allows new players to swoop in with unearned advantages is not my jam.

Case in point: Borderlands 2. The pre-order came with golden guns, a new character class, and a golden key for better gear. Sure, it might not have been game-breaking, but it makes me wonder: does adding so many bonuses to boost sales at launch cheapen the game? Shouldn’t a game stand on its own merits, and not some useless swag? — Carley

What do you think is the worst pre-order bonus of all time? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter! And read our other handy roundtables for more thoughts from the Siliconera team.

Graham Russell
About The Author
Graham Russell, editor-at-large, has been writing about games for various sites and publications since 2007. He’s a fan of streamlined strategy games, local multiplayer and upbeat aesthetics. He joined Siliconera in February 2020, and served as its Managing Editor until July 2022. When he’s not writing about games, he’s a graphic designer, web developer, card/board game designer and editor.