There are many reasons to hate GameStop, but one of the leading ones is its continued practice of gating content behind pre-orders and its most recent ad for Assassin’s Creed Origins puts this in full view in the most insulting way imaginable.
In the ad, the viewer sees Bayek hanging on a pyramid before the image is promptly blocked off by a smug looking camel before showing a message reading, “Sorry. The Bonus Mission Is Blocked. Unless you pre-order Assassin’s Creed Origins.”
As mentioned before this tactic is not new in the slightest, as GameStop has been using this as a means to help boost sales for the past few years now. Typically, however, the extra content is framed as a reward, rather than something players are missing out on. As such, the tone set by this new advertisement is definitely new, but it is by no means surprising.
If anything, it was only a matter of time.
GameStop has been employing a multitude of suspect practices in its continued efforts to improve sales after finding itself on a slow downwards spiral in late 2015. Beyond gating content behind pre-orders, it also packages peripherals with hard-to-find consoles and is even planning to keep stores open on Thanksgiving Day this year. On top of such controversial tactics, it’s easy to find horror stories online about GameStop staff treating customers poorly and other tales of varying incompetence.
And yet with so many strikes against it, GameStop still seems to continue doing it does with little repercussion. Why? Because people keep buying into it.
Yes, GameStop hasn’t been doing as well as it could in recent years, but that has less to do with its practices and more to do with the rise of easier means to pick up new titles and the uncertain future of physical game discs.
GameStop’s present business model generally revolves around selling pre-orders of retail copies of video games, then buying back used copies and reselling them; and it knows that consumers are more than willing to participate in that model by pre-ordering titles for exclusive content. If it’s aware of that reality, then why bother mincing words about it? It could make as many jokes as it wants about its shifty business model, it knows consumers will buy into it anyway.
This is no different than microtransactions which have become a hot topic as of late. Just like with GameStop, there are plenty of people more than willing to speak out against the use of microtransactions in full-priced games; yet with so many against both practices, there still remains enough people partaking in them to legitimize their continued use.
That said, it’s still pretty insulting that GameStop posted an ad that makes light of the fact that not all of Assassin’s Creed Origins’ content will be available immediately. But what do you expect from a company who has been getting away with this for years now?
The only way it could be any more insulting is if the ad added an “Idiot” at the end.