The magnetic pull of pre-order gifts

Being in my last year of college, I seem to find myself constantly busy.  If I am not at school than I am working on my internship or working at my job. Gamecrazy, my present employer, is a video game store that gives me a sneak peek into how the video game industry works. One of my duties is to keep myself updated on the new video games and pre-order gifts that are being released in the near future.

A video game pre-order gift is essentially an added incentive for customers. The pre-order gift has become increasingly popular throughout the last decade, and nowadays it is not uncommon to have a customer inquire about future gifts.  Pre-order gifts come in all shapes and sizes (including key chains, art books, exclusive in-game content, and much more), but the gift is normally chosen depending on the video games specific audience. For example,  the widely popular Harvest Moon series released two games this year, both with its own pre-order gift. Being that that majority of Harvest Moon gamers are female, under the age of 20, or both it’s no surprise that the pre-order gifts were adorable plushy animals. The Nintendo DS release, “Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness,” came with a plush chicken, while the Nintendo Wii release, “Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility,” came with a plush cow.

From first hand experience, the cow and chicken plushes were widely successful. Some avid fans (and new fans) pre-ordered a Harvest Moon game specifically for the pre-order gift.  Like the majority of pre-order gifts, the plushie was only handed out to customers who bought the game after they pre-ordered the game.  Essentially, this meant that some of the newer fans were paying $29.99 (or more) for a plush cow. Even though they were getting the game along with the plushie, they were essentially paying the $29.99 for the plushie and just hoping that the game was enjoyable as well.

The Harvest Moon example is a great case study to show exactly why pre-order gifts have become popular.  The allure they present to both die-hard and new fans is often too much to resist. Even games that don’t follow the “audience rule” and release random pre-order gifts (such as the straw bag released for Little Big Planet) seem to draw in a few customers as well.

In all, the pre-order gift is a ingenious public relations tool for video game companies to use.  It gives customers an added bonus to buy a game, draws new fans in, and is a fairly cost effective method.  Have you ever bought or been drawn to a video game because of a specific pre-order gift?  I’d love to hear some personal stories on the “magnetic pull” of pre-order gifts.

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