Red Dead Redemption Ripoff

by Zeus | 2010-02-04

Rockstar has ushered in a new low in the era of pre-order bonuses (one-use keycodes which unlock in-game goodies for the original customer, but cannot be transferred to a new owner's account). Pre-order bonuses have become a standard, and while it sucks knowing you'll never get the cool fire sword or skullgun if you buy used -- that's the whole point. People who pay more at GameStop instead of the secondhand market are rewarded.

Wanted Lineup

Until now, that is. GameStop customers who pre-order Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar's new "Wild West GTA" game, receive one of three outfits -- The Savvy Merchant, The Deadly Assassin, or The Expert Hunter -- each with its own special ability. This is a great idea. GameStop waves three potential rewards under your nose and then only has give you one of them. I'm thrilled, because it's hard for me to truly enjoy a game unless I'm overwhelmed by a crippling feeling of incompleteness.

Even better, customers don't get to pick which bonus costume they receive. There's a poll to determine that.

In what nightmare Twilight Zone scenario is it okay for strangers to vote on your clothes? This isn't a reality show, I haven't signed away my rights to a leering Brit with moobs, a tight t-shirt and bad haircut. No, this is how Rockstar "rewards" loyal customers who plunk down $60 at GameStop (even when they know it's going to hit $40 on Amazon in a couple of days).

Now, I know what you're saying. "Please stop yelling at me about cowboys." And you're right. You'd also be right if you thought: "Big deal, the Deadly Assassin is going to win, and he's the coolest, right?"

Of course Deadly Assassin's going to win, how couldn't he? He's got an eyepatch, a trench coat, the only thing missing is a double-scar down the side of his --

Deadly Assassin

Aw crap. This isn't democracy, it's your classic Magician's Choice. "Power to the Players"? They loaded this guy so full of Dudebro, the only way they could make it more obvious that they want him to win is if they accidentally let it slip that "Deadly Assassin" is ready to go, poll results be damned.

Rigged in the UK

Sure, I think Deadly Assassin is cool. I can't not think he's cool. But I voted for the Hunter instead. Lame as his coonskin cap may be, the ability is far more unique ("Receives double the amount of skins and hides from hunting," as opposed to "Regenerates Dead Eye targeting twice as fast."), and in his wallpaper, he's fighting a grizzly bear with a Bowie knife. That is the manliest activity known to man. It'd even put hair on Matt Lucas' chest. Alas, The Expert Hunter doesn't stand a snowball's chance in Death Valley.


Adding insult to injury, the poll is open to everyone, not just customers who pre-order, but anyone with an internet connection and a little free time.

Who could possibly benefit from this? Customers have an obvious choice between paying $60 to pre-order and get one of three costumes, or paying $20 for a used copy and getting none of three costumes. I doubt it's saving the Rockstar developers any work; the art team obviously had to render all three costumes, as evidenced by the promo shots, wallpapers, and sixty second trailer.

If this is all some misguided attempt to generate even more pre-orders, all I can say is this: there's no way in hell I'm not buying this thing used.

As much as corporations love making money by selling video games, they hate the public's legal right to sell their video games used. They would much rather we be stuck with our Superman 64's and Jackass: The Game's, bound to them forever as if we had had the misfortune to lift a cursed sword from a blackened swamp.

Anyone ever notice how close corporate laws are to the every whim of a mad warlock? Take small print: "We can do bad things to you because you didn't read the text that was small to read." Or the time I opened Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and saw a piece of paper informing me I had 'agreed' not to resell it on eBay: "You gave up your rights when you opened the box, just like it says on the inside of the box."

I give it ten months before Wallmart claims droit de seigneur.

Update: Rockstar came to their senses, and as of April 2011, all three outfits are available in the new Game of the Year Edition. Whether or not you will be allowed to buy the Game of the Year edition will be determined by a poll, available only to North Korean senior citizens with speech impediments. If you are not a North Korean senior with a speech impediment, you can try to sway their opinions with candy. But it'd better be good candy, or they'll likely vote against you.

Zeus only lets strangers vote on which outfit he'll wear if said strangers are Jessica Alba and/or Scarlett Johannson. And even then it's like, "Naughty construction worker again? *Sigh* All right."

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