Ben Kuchera, writing for Polygon:
It's worth paying attention to the pre-order bonuses of The Witcher 3, which included keychains, comic books, and limited edition packaging. These objects get you a reason to pre-order the game, but none of these bonuses includes any content that was removed from the game and only given to people who buy at a certain location. You may want that keychain or that comic, they both looked pretty neat, but wherever you bought the game you were given the full game. Nothing was removed to make retailers happy.
I'd imagine any gamer at this point has been burned (or nearly burned) by a pre-order bonus. Being required to choose between your goto retailer and another for the sake of a piece of content that already exists on the fucking disc, locked away by an arbitrary agreement made between publisher and retailer, is absolute garbage.
During my younger years, in equal parts due to my naivity and my willingness to support the company in which I was employed (rhymes with LameShop), pre-ordering video games seemed reasonable. Personally, in that environment, where all copies of a game were equal (aside from their initial availability upon release), I could still argue that it wasn't such a terrible deal. You drop five bucks and you could pick up the game on release day. Awesome. The online retail landscape looked a lot different then, and a service like Amazon Prime wasn't available to help you get a copy of a hotly anticipated title the day it was available in stores.
As retailers started realizing their relevancy was dwindling quickly, they strengthened their grip and started making deals with publishers that wanted a guarantee that they'd sell titles. Who could blame either of them? I mean, aside from all of their customers who they now turned into the enemy. It's a business decision, made with consumers out of sight and out of mind.
I haven't pre-ordered a game in years now. Frankly, I can't remember the last title I did purchase before the reviews published. Between the launch fiascos of games like Sim City, Battlefield 4, and Assassin's Creed Unity (to name just a few), as well as the completely tone deaf and bizarre hostility publishers and retailers have for their customers, pre-ordering has left a bad taste in my mouth. It pains me, because I am so excited for Arkham Knight, and I want to support Rocksteady, but this shit has got to stop.
It's sad that Ben Kuchera has to applaud the developer of a triple-A title for not treating their customers like crap, but the environment in which we currently reside necessitates the heaping of praise.