Wednesday brought Alien fans some pretty cool news. October’s Alien: Isolation is gonna have two movie-themed DLC scenarios. They’ll bring back the cast of the 1979 movie in some form (dead, soon-to-be-dead, Ripley) or another. These missions will actually be recreations of big scenes from the movie, and the entire cast (most notably, of course, Sigourney Weaver) are even around to do voice work.
It should come to nobody’s surprise, in this sick, hateful world we live in, that both DLC missions are pre-order bonuses. Pre-ordering the game gives you the Crew Expendable mission, which lets you play as one of several members of the crew. To get the Last Survivor mission, in which you play the climax of the film, you have to pre-order at GameStop. Yes, in Alien: Isolation, you get to live one of the greatest movie moments in history. And yes, in order to experience what could be the best part of the whole game, you have to give into toxic, retail-exclusive crap.
Remember Aliens: Colonial Marines ? Of course you do. Half the reason that game was so controversial, other than being terrible, was how ingrained into pre-order culture it was. The hands-off previews pulled the wool over the eyes of the press. Retail exclusives, pre-order bonuses and special editions were shoved in everyone’s faces. And, of course, review embargoes prevented consumers, the people with actual money at stake, from making informed purchases. SEGA told you all to buy the game before it even physically existed, and never gave you a legitimate reason to because it knew it was garbage.
We’ve been promised that this time will be different, that this time the game will be good. But what do we have to prove that? A bunch of scripted E3 demos? More exclusive pre-order malarkey? It’s the same song and dance all over again, but this time Alien: Isolation threatens to actively poop all over the legacy of a film that can hold its own on best-of-all-time lists. SEGA should be groveling at customers’ feet, begging them for their hard-earned dollars, for another chance. Instead, it is doing the same thing all over again, showing that the men in suits learned nothing from its failed venture with Gearbox.
There’s plenty of writing out there about how pre-ordering is bad, about how giving money to publishers before their product is even out takes power from your hands and slides it right into the wallets of hubristic studio executives. We need to let them know that we want content like this, but we don’t want it like this. I’m sure it’ll eventually make it to your marketplace of choice sometime after launch. Heck, if it turns out to be good, there will undoubtedly be a package deal sometime in the future. Maybe wait for that?