Steel Books and Pre-Orders

These days it seems as though Gamestop essentially runs a monopoly on pre-orders–giving away valuable, in-game content with several of the year’s triple-A titles if you just pre-order them from a Gamestop store. It’s a wonderful business practice, as it costs very little to implement, makes the players happy, and guarantees that Gamestop will have thousands of customers once a game is released, well except that one time when they sold LittleBigPlanet Vita early, but otherwise…

Though while getting some eye-candy armor or an exclusive weapon is fetching on its own, none can ignore some games’ efforts in buyer incentive. Near the top of my list of impressive bonuses for pre-ordering or buying a deluxe edition of a game are things like the foot-tall dragon statue included in the deluxe edition of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, or MGS 2: Substance‘s replica ration tin obtained by pre-ordering the game in Europe, and more impressive than both is the deluxe ‘Love is Over’ edition of Atlus’ Catherine which includes a T-shirt, pair of boxers, pillowcase, (and if you pre-ordered it as well), sound track, and 36 page art booklet. No dragons to put above your fireplace, next to nana’s urn, but everything in there was delightfully relevant to the game’s context, and even came packaged in a pizza box from an in-game restaurant–I can’t think of a single game that couldn’t be improved by playing it in boxers and T-shirt while sitting on one of the main character’s pillow-face.

While Gamestop has actually been a bit quiet with its pre-orders lately, despite the fact that the Q4 flood of shooters looms over the horizon like an incoming hurricane of brownness and lethargy, something called ‘Steel Books’ has been on the rise. I didn’t even think this was a ‘thing’, but I suppose having a shining game case is as good a symbol of devotion as any, but if you think owning a shiny copy of Assassin’s Creed 3 is a sign of devotion to a game, then you seem more interested in it than the developers are. Jokes aside, it’s not unreasonable to see where companies are coming from with this whole thing–I still hold on to the golden NES cartridge copy of The Legend of Zelda after all these years, but beyond practically giving used game sales a slap in the face by making you less likely to relinquish your prized game (and even then the developer gets nothing out of it), I don’t know what steel books are getting at. If we all agree that Resident Evil 6 is bad, not even my own cryogenically frozen zombie is going to make me buy it, much less a shinier cover–this is where the expression ‘You can’t polish poop’ can be taken to its most literal form. You too Call of Duty Black Ops 2, I don’t care if Jack Wall is composing the sound track, you and I both know it’s only because ‘walls’ are the only set piece you know how to make.

I’m not all too sure what it is, but there must be some appeal to a steel book; in all honesty, it is just a phrase. You’ll never once even acknowledge the cover art unless you’re bragging about how you got the ‘special edition’. Do you know what a useful pre-order bonus is? Bookends–yeah, LittleBigPlanet 2 had the right idea there, because guess what game I think of every time I reach over to grab a game out from between them?  That’s how you do it; game cases are designed to be stacked–how can I even see your steel book cover art when it is designed to be covered by other games? Now if only I had some Blu-Tack to keep these bookends in place…

I wasn’t even joking, those bookends are wonderful.

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