Pre-Order DLC has long been a point of contention between fans and publishers, with fans venting frustration over being locked out of content because they are uninterested in committing $60 to a specific store on a specific date. Ostensibly, pre-orders don’t provide the customer with much except the guarantee that they will end up with a copy of the game the moment the store opens on release Tuesday. So publishers include tacky posters and other little trinkets in order to get you into a store and plunking down your money months ahead of time. Pre-orders have continued to exist with an uneasy truce between creator and consumer, clearly enough buyers use pre-orders perpetuating their existence, but occasionally a company ends up kicking the hornet’s nest with their pre-order bonuses.
The most recent kerfuffle was started when SEGA announced the recent Alien: Isolation DLC. Originally announced as a two-part pre-order DLC, one part available with any pre-order and a second part only available when pre-ordering from GameStop, SEGA brought the cast of Alien back together to make content inspired by Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic. SEGA is attempting to repair relations with Alien fans, making impressive strides since 2013’s Aliens: Colonial Marines disaster, and getting the cast of Alien back together is an impressive feat. However, in the same swipe, they seem to have brought up a touchy issue with their pre-order DLC content. Thus, SEGA announced the DLC would be available for all players at some point after the game’s release. That might be good enough for some fans, but one Alien fan in Northbrook, Illinois is taking a stand against Alien: Isolation with a brave approach.
Joe McLaughlin is a 28 year old working professional in Northbrook, currently living with his fiancee and 3 year old cat named Aslan. Joe is a self described, “HUGE” Alien fan. who has seen the Alien movies, “a billion times.” So when it comes to Alien: Isolation’s DLC, Joe is ready to let his voice be heard. “Yeah, I’m just not gonna buy it,” Joe declared with defiance in his voice.
Not buy, Alien: Isolation’s DLC with the cast reunited? The brave move has captured the attention of many fans and developers alike. Isn’t he worried about his credibility as a gamer? That he will continue to be a beleaguered consumer, locked out of content he should have access too?
“I don’t think it’s big deal,” said McLaughlin, “I mean, I’m excited about the game, but I don’t feel any pressure to buy it for some tacked-on content. I mean, they can make and sell their content however they want, I just have the right not to buy it. I don’t really care that they brought some cast members back to recreate some scenes from the movie. The game’s probably gonna be plenty long without that stuff. With time for my fiancee, my fantasy football league, our trip to St. Louis, and working 50 hours a week, I don’t have time to get bent out of shape about this kind of thing.”
SEGA Hajime Satomi was blown away by McLaughlin’s consumer strategy, “We have ran the numbers on DLC multiple times and never have we figured someone wouldn’t buy it. The nerve. Shouldn’t they be ranting on Reddit? Tagging us in furious Tweets? How can he not buy this DLC?”
Satomi is not the only person to be surprised by Joe’s plan to “not buy” the Alien: Isolation DLC. Rick Stockton is a frequent online user who is shocked Joe wouldn’t be more vocal about his feelings. “Dude, the only way SEGA knows that we aren’t going to buy DLC is if we let the internet know how incredibly angry we are. It’s not that I like complaining about stuff on the internet, it’s my responsibility to let publishers know that I’m angry about something. Clearly sales data is only something nerds would pay attention to, the real wars of consumers are being fought out there on the internet.”
Mr. Stockton’s point is well taken. Consumer’s have a responsibility to complain about things. If the Alien: Isolation DLC is good everyone might buy it and then SEGA will think it’s okay to sell DLC with content people really want. If we post angry things on Twitter and start Reddit threads to express our outrage, then SEGA will get the point. So how does Mr. McLaughlin justify his lackadaisical approach to consumer feedback?
“Look, I don’t really care,” Joe said when asked about his responsibilities. “I have a big job interview on Tuesday, Aslan needs to go to the vet, and I have a fucking wedding to plan for next summer. In the end, I’ll probably pick it up the day it comes out at the Wal-Mart by my office, and giving some extra money to Best Buy or Gamestop doesn’t really prove how much I like Alien. Now please stop showing up at my house, uninvited.”
“That’s fucking bullshit,” said an outraged Satomi-san upon hearing about McLaughlin’s, “We brought back the whole cast of Alien for some asshole to save money for his wedding?”
Stockton was also disgusted with Laughlin’s comments, “If he’s not gonna get the collector’s edition at the midnight launch, he’s a total poser-fan. I mean, real fans let the internet know exactly what they don’t like, pre-order the collector’s edition, then complain about everything they don’t like about the game afterwards. God, I can’t stand fake-nerds.”
Fake-nerd indeed. It looks like Joe McLaughlin’s story begins with bravery, but ends in shame. Truly an issue as important as pre-order DLC can not be represented by a fan who is has priorities like taking their cat to the vet. While McLaughlin’s strategy about simply not buying content is ambitious and brave, it’s is based on the logic that we, as the consumer, have self-control. This writer believes that is a little presumptive and asking a bit too much of the consumer. Instead, we should continue to cry out on the internet and demand access to all content all of the time.
Stockton puts it best when describing the responsibility of the consumer, “If SEGA doesn’t hear our voice on the internet, they will continue to do despicable acts like this. We must rise up and voice our protest, then buy the very thing we despise, because we are real fans and that’s what real fans do.”