With a release slated for September 28th, Brand Director Rob Bartholomew claims that the sheer volume of pre-orders is indicative of high expectations for the game among the community.
“We’re in the final stage of development now and very excited by the comments coming out of our closed testing and mock reviews. Loads of love for the new features, races and the sheer volume of gameplay. Great to see that expectation reflected in the number of pre-orders being placed, it really helps motivate us for that final push.”
The statement plays into the ongoing debate on the value and usage of pre-orders and pre-order incentives. Despite Bartholomew’s enthusiasm, the increase in pre-order sales marks a continuation of a trend that has many within the gaming community worried. The concern is that as game studios realize the efficacy of pre-order incentives, there will be motivation for studios to release a part of the game that normally would have come out on launch as “day one DLC”, available only to those who purchased before launch. In fact, Creative Assembly fell into a controversy over this exact topic back in 2015, after the release of the first Total War: WARHAMMER. Fans lashed out at the company for withholding one of the five races in the game to pre-orders only, which many viewed as an unnecessary withholding of content.
Despite backlash, Creative Director Mark Simpson defended the move, saying
“Is adding [a race] as a pre-order incentive “cut content”? I think the opposite is true. If we didn’t add it to the pre-order, it would have been DLC later on and not in the game at release.
We thought we’d done well. Maybe there is a better solution – we’re listening to all suggestions for the future. Maybe pre-orders are becoming so toxic they will stop working altogether. You’d hope not though, as it quite simply means those incentives will end up just being paid DLC”
While this didn’t provide much consolation to fans at the time, Mark Simpson appears to have been true to his word, as Creative Assembly has learned from their mistakes, and taken a different approach to pre-order incentives this time around. Instead of access to a playable race within WARHAMMER II, gamers who pre-order the new game will actually receive access to an all-new Norsca race in the original Total War: WARHAMMER, the game that had started the controversy in the first place. The decision is perhaps an olive branch to the many fans who were angered by their prior pre-order policies. Not punishing those who choose not to pre-order, but instead rewarding those who have been loyal to the series makes a lot of sense, and judging by the record-breaking preorder sales, gamers seem to agree. While it’s unlikely that qualms will vanish overnight, there may finally be a light at the end of this pre-order tunnel.
Total War: WARHAMMER II will be released for PC on September 28th.