Square Enix today announced the release date for next installment in the Hitman series Hitman: Absolution. The game will launch on November 20, 2012 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows PC.
Square Enix also announced a special pre-order bonus for players who pre-order the game from GameStop stores in North America. Those players will get exclusive access to Hitman: Sniper Challenge starting on May 15. The content is separate from Hitman: Absolution and has players take on the role of Agent 47 to assassinate an arms dealer and his bodyguards from a rooftop.
"Hitman: Sniper Challenge sets a new industry standard for pre-order incentives," said Mona Hamilton, vice president of marketing at Square Enix. "For all those HITMAN fans that just can't wait to play Hitman: Absolution, they can immediately take part in an exclusive competition featuring the original assassin when they pre-order at GameStop."
Players will be able to unlock equipment upgrades and use score multipliers to top an online leaderbord for the game. Monthly prizes will be rewarded to top snipers, and the player topping the leaderboard at the launch of Hitman: Absolution will win a trip to Copenhagen where he or she will have their likeness captured for use in the next Hitman game.
Players who pre-order from other retailers will receive an exclusive costume and weapon. Amazon pre-orderers will get a "high-tech" suit and a Bartoli custom pistol; Wal-Mart pre-orders come with a "high-roller" suit and a Krugermeier 2-2 pistol; and Best Buy pre-orders come with a "public enemy" suit and Bronson M 1928 SMG.
A pre-order mini-game with prizes leading up to a major game launch is a great idea. Unfortunately, limiting the content to only those users who pre-order from a specific vendor is unfair to users who can't or don't want to use Gamestop to purchase their games. Also (because I know you are thinking it), Gamestop is clear that pre-orders cannot be cancelled after a special promotion code or item has been redeemed.
Sadly, it looks as though retailer-exclusive pre-orders are here to stay. Both Electronic Arts and Activision have implemented the marketing scheme for games this year. What do you think? Are exclusive pre-orders unfair or a perfectly valid way for retailers to advertise? Leave a comment below and let me know.