In a brilliant, albeit insidious marketing move 2K is offering some of its greatest hits as free bonuses for those who pre-order BioShock Infinite on Steam, but only if enough people reserve it.
The rewards are separated into three tiers based on the amount of pre-orders. At the first tier - which has already been reached - the original BioShock is unlocked. This can be gifted to a friend, as I imagine many will do since I suspect most people anticipating BioShock Infinite have played the first one.
At the second tier, exclusive BioShock Infinite Team Fortress 2 items are unlocked. These consist of: the Vox Diabolus mask, the "Pounding Father" wig for Heavy, the Pinkerton Blind Justice badge, an iron mask, the Doe-Boy diving helmet, the "Sydney Straw Boat" hat, and the Steel Songbird.
Finally, at the third tier, X-Com: Enemy Unknown will be unlocked.
Additionally, all pre-orders will receive the Industrial Revolution Pack, which includes three gear items, 500 bonus in-game currency, five lock picks and the Industrial Revolution puzzle game.
Currently the amount of pre-orders has fulfilled the quota necessary for tier one and is four percent of the way towards meeting tier two's goal.
This marketing tact is an ingenious way of turning consumers into promoters as there's a real incentive to get your friends to hop on board. "To unlock all these rewards, you'll need to spread the word and work as a team," wrote Irrational Games on its official blog.
This would be perhaps mildly irritating in retail, but what's particularly devious about doing this on Steam is that users can't cancel their pre-orders after the game comes out - because they'll automatically own it at that point. So if the game gets terrible reviews, players are stuck owning it, whereas in a retail shop they can choose to cancel and simply have their minimum deposit (a mere $5 at Gamestop) transferred to store credit. It's also easier to cancel a retail pre-order by simply, well, not picking the game up, whereas on Steam one must contact Steam and request this.
What do you make of this, dear readers? Is it a deceptive ploy to turn fans into marketers and ascertain consumers' money before they have any idea what the quality of the product is, or is some chance at getting some pretty slick rewards better than no chance at all?