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Deceptive Con: War For Cybertron Exclusives

See this axe? Yes, the imaginary one I’m holding, made from laserbeams and impossible fury. Well, I’m going to grind it.

I quite like Transformers. Ergo, I am quite looking forward to Transformers: War For Cybertron. One of the Transformers I most quite like is Shockwave. Shockwave is a playable character in War For Cybertron – but only if the game is pre-ordered from Gamestop. Or, if you’re all goody two-shoes and want famed Autobot Jazz, you can only play as him if you pre-order the game from Best Buy. There’s also Demolisher if you get it from Amazon, but whatever.

Basically: aaaaaaaargh. Angrytank, roll out.

This store-exclusive unit trend has been going on for a while – RTS especially seems to love it, with Total and Dawn of War cynically saving various desirables for whichever retail chain licked their feet. This isn’t just some dudes in slightly different hats or a power-sword with a silly name. It’s fan-favourite units being, essentially, denied to the people who most want this game. Unless they buy three copies at the highest prices going. Even being forced into buying one copy at the highest price going is bad comedy. It’s not as though these characters are just an incidental bonus – they’re even covetable enough to warrant their own flashy trailers:

I know, I know – but I still want Shockwave even though he turns into some sort of penis-jet rather than the comically gigantic spacegun of yore.

With crushing inevitability, these robot heroes will doubtless will be available as paid DLC further down line, along with Primus knows how many other fan-favourite characters. I’ll get ’em if I’m prepared to pay extra. That’s uncomfortable, but it’s not the issue. I am an enormous geek who’s getting upset because he can’t play with quite as many pretend robots as he’d ideally like. That is also uncomfortable, but not the issue. The issue is whether or not the game may be unreasonably filleted at launch of some of Transformers’ most iconic content in order to obtain heavy promotion from big stores. I don’t like the potential precedent of it. The way some DLC has been lately – apparently removing significant chunks of game to be sold separately later – is bad enough, but if this way of thinking spreads to store exclusives too, we’re in for a miserable time.

The case for the prosecution: it’s Jazz and Shockwave, characters recognisable to even relatively casual Transformers fans. Jazz especially, as he was in the first Michael Bay ‘movie.’ If I want both of ’em – and I do – I need two copies of the game. Also there’s Demolisher, but whatever.

The case for the defence: there are around 18 playable characters in the base game as it is, and the store-exclusive characters would only be playable in certain multiplayer modes. Obviously that can’t be stated with any confidence either way without playing the game, but it’s eminently possible these three bonus chaps will feel like marginal additions in the end.

We’ll see. I get why a publisher would want to do this kind of deal-sweetening, but the degree of nerdrage I’m experiencing (as, I’m sure, are many other children of the 80s) suggests they’ve picked the wrong targets here. Keep this kind of thing to skins, please. Or just Demolisher.

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Alec Meer

Senior Editor

Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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