FFXV Pre-Order DLC guide: how to get what packs you want, and a look at how inconsiderate Square Enix has become towards fans

When Amazon’s “Final Fantasy XV Road Trip” pre-order campaign was introduced through the game’s official YouTube channel last week, it seemed to raise more questions in fans than it did hype. How could there be even MORE pre-order dlc for this game? We’re nearing the end of Square Enix’s own Carbuncle Surprise, and honestly Amazon’s variant sounds like the exact same spiel: order through us and get content you won’t even get from Square Enix themselves! Only unlike Carbuncle Surprise where a purchase was not necessary to earn the rewards, you will have to pre-order a copy of FFXV through Amazon in order to redeem your prizes:

So to clarify: no you don’t have to pre-order through Amazon to participate in the Road Trip’s games, but you do have to pre-order through Amazon to redeem the prizes you earn. In other words this is Amazon’s (and in turn Square Enix’s) cheeky way of inviting you to see “what you’re missing out on” if you don’t pre-order through Amazon. Fuck you too SE.

It also doesn’t help that the confusion regarding these “bonuses” doesn’t just stem from the fact that there’s even more of them: we’re nearing the one month mark to release and dozens of fans literally have to make a checklist just to figure out which versions of the game to buy, what store they need to purchase from, AND whatever else from the FFXV Universe they need to purchase to ensure they get all of the items that they want. Remember in my Kingsglaive review how I said this was Watchdogs 2.0? Yeah, I wasn’t wrong.

There is in fact a spreadsheet in existence on the actual Japanese Square Enix Pre-Order website. And holy shit, I thought we had it bad with the the DLC parsing. Japan’s actually got it just as bad. Only except SE is more forthright about their practices there, apparently.

Anyone who follows that link and scrolls down will immediately notice that a lot of the supposed “new and exclusive” content has actually been live for Japanese pre-orders since the first launch date release back when it was supposed to be September 30th. We’ll discuss the implications of this towards the end, so log that nugget away for now as it does matter.

With that said, let’s dive into this convoluted spider mess.

Disclaimer: I don’t agree with any of this shit. I think the practice of pre-order DLC is shameful on its own, let alone cutting it apart to be store specific or even edition specific. Especially when the bonuses clash with the bonuses offered by other editions of the very same product. However, that won’t stop people from wanting the bloody things, and I can’t necessarily blame them. So this article is for those people: better to be an informed shopper than to just chuck money at Square Enix (or any publisher) in blind faith.

All of the confirmed DLC as of 10/18/2016

UPDATE 10/19/2016 : 

Due to popular request I have revamped my original chart to visually showcase the premium digital edition as well as the PSN and XBox One stores. Considering how large it is now if you need to view it in its original resolution you may do so here to avoid blurry text.

I also renamed the chart from “North American” to “USA” because apparently Canada’s retailers don’t have the same campaigns as USA does, and thus it was confusing some people. If you would like to compare the new chart to the original, you may view the original chart here: click me!

It must be noted that the FFXV Season Pass CANNOT be pre-ordered by itself. You must pre-order the Digital Premium Edition or upgrade your initial purchase (if you pre-ordered through PSN and the XBox One store). Though apparently you can pre-order the season pass through Best Buy?

A very warm thank you to everyone who helped me refine the chart!

That was as terrifying to make as it is to look at. With this update I have included the premium version of the game that includes FFXV’s season pass that contains even more console-specific exclusives with repeats from both the Deluxe Edition and the UCE (Leviathan skin and Angler set).

This is all quite frankly insulting to Square Enix’s customers. I don’t say that due to the amount of content. I say that because of the sheer dick moves the publisher has pulled with these pre-order bonuses that show zero gratitude to its fanbase. This is particularly true now that Amazon’s campaign has been added to the gauntlet. They have consistently made versions of their own game (the exact same game) compete with each other since their reveal. Which is a horrible business practice because you risk devaluing certain purchases over others while simultaneously pissing off your customers. Allow me to explain.

UCE owners should feel cheated.

First of all let’s tackle the game’s UCE. You know, the version Square Enix wanted people to cough up $270 for during a limited printing that was still riddled with bugs. That version?

Now clearly the draw of joining the mad rush to purchase a copy were the physical goods, and UCE owners can breathe easy knowing that that much hasn’t changed.

However Square Enix has technically devalued the UCE, even if it’s by a minute margin in the eyes of some players. For one thing three of the “exclusive” DLC packs that weren’t even offered for the Deluxe Edition or regular edition are now suddenly open game to customers of both thanks to Amazon’s new campaign:

Amazon's How to Play screen
Amazon’s How to Play screen
The UCE for XBOX One from the Square Enix Online Store
The UCE for XBOX One from the Square Enix Online Store

On top of suddenly offering the three item packs, the Amazon Road Trip actually promises to give their customers even more than the UCE in terms of  DLC packs with access to the weapons Blazefire Saber, Mage Mashers, and Gae Bolg alongside a new Regalia skin. Keep in mind that these aren’t even the only potential prizes to grab through Amazon’s campaign as the site’s page is careful to word that what I’ve listed are “included” rather than stating that was all one could earn.

To be frank, a person who pays $70-$90 on the Deluxe Edition will receive more in-game bonuses than the people who paid $270 for the UCE, with those getting the regular game ($42-$60) only missing out on the Royal Raiment and the Leviathan Regalia Skin packs.

I feel the need to repeat that the value of the UCE comes primarily through its physical goods, as collector’s editions of any kind should. However that does not change that when this limited time and limited quantity product was introduced the in-game items were part of the UCE’s total value. Had this Amazon campaign been made known at the time of the Uncovered event earlier this year, then those purchasing the UCE could do so knowing full well what exactly they were getting.

However, regardless of the reason why Square Enix waited until now to let Amazon run this campaign, it doesn’t change the fact that these new purchase options were made available long after UCE buyers were locked into their purchase. Square Enix also has not, and won’t ever, allow for the UCE to be sold at any other retailer beyond its own store front in the west. This means that, again, those super hyped die-hard fans that trusted the publisher with $270 upfront are suddenly being told that they can’t take part in or receive these pre-order bonuses, despite the fact they were probably the very first customers to pre-order at all.

It doesn’t help that this is not the first incident (GameStop’s exclusive A King’s Tale has UCE holders missing out on an entire extra game), or even the second (Square Enix claims that the season pass doesn’t contain content from the base game, however it does contain exclusives from both the Deluxe Edition and the UCE), it’s not even the third (Kingsglaive‘s limited edition lets people get Brotherhood), but it’s actually the fourth time UCE buyers have been told that they’re either locked out of content or had something exclusive to their expensive purchase suddenly not be exclusive anymore.

We also have zero indications that any of these item packs will appear in network stores after launch, and it will be a lose-lose situation regardless of what that answer is. If the answer is yes they will be available then it won’t matter if they’re free or premium packs: people will feel cheated for having to go through this whole pre-order song and dance since March. If they’re paid packs then UCE buyers will have to drop more money on top of that initial $270 if they want any of the sets. If the sets aren’t available at all, then UCE buyers won’t even have the option to get their hands on them: it’s either forfeit your limited UCE or forfeit the item packs.

That is not a choice someone who paid $270 for your $60 game should be forced to make. Period.

I said it before both in my Kingsglaive Review and my rant about World of Final Fantasy and its gating of language packs behind pre-order DLC: this method of holding game content hostage behind pre-orders is downright wrong. Even more so in FFXV’s case because there’s more money involved and again, the publisher is literally pinning versions of its own product against each other. This does nothing but fuel animosity and confusion within your consumer base while lowering your reputation. It needs to stop.

Add to the fact that we know the game’s OST will be made available for general purchase to meet consumer demand (or at the very least, the chances are very high. I mean season pass owners will have a “mini version” of it already), then that means the only goods that separate the UCE from every other version will be: the art book, the specific steel case, and the PAK Noctis figure holding a limited run weapon accessory (not the actual figure, just the weapon he comes with is exclusive to the UCE). While the Noctis figure himself and the game technically justifies the UCE’s price in terms of retail, the things that are now officially exclusive to only the UCE certainly don’t. This is how Square Enix rewards your loyalty, everybody.

The Deluxe Edition’s value has suddenly sky-rocketed if you care about DLC.

The Kingsglaive limited steel book edition
The Kingsglaive limited steel book edition

When this edition of the game was first released it was downright overpriced and pathetic compared to its counterparts in terms of both physical goods and DLC in return for its asking price. Especially after Kingsglaive’s limited edition came along offering the “extended cut” of the much more emotionally engaging Brotherhood anime. Which that was previously only available to the “lucky” few who managed to get their hands on the UCE. I imagine this was done in the hopes of yet again driving overpriced sales by holding content hostage.

Granted apparently Amazon agrees with me that this particular edition was overpriced. It’s now on sale for only a few dollars more than the regular edition.

But now the Deluxe Edition of FFXV will suddenly grant you access to more pre-order content than any other version of the game…so long as you pre-order it through Amazon. That means no A King’s Tale or Brotherhood for you either. Those who have already pre-ordered through GameStop will have to make the choice as to whether they should cancel their purchase or if having a free game means more than having extra content for the game they originally made the pre-order for.

Again, this is not a choice your paying customers should be forced to make. An entire side game should not be “pre-order” exclusive content. The fact that we haven’t made a big enough uproar about that alone is a tad upsetting (though not unexpected).

None of these pre-order bonuses are new or made out of thin air. They’ve been around since the beginning.

Ever since the announcement of Amazon’s FFXV Road Trip campaign I noticed a lot of people both in YouTube’s comments and across forums wondering where the new content came from. Many speculated that this was content being given to us out of the goodness in Square Enix’s heart to make up for the delayed launch date. Others have speculated this was content that would have been made available after launch and they’re just letting us have it now.

To be frank the first option is most certainly not true, and while there’s an actual possibility of the later being true it should be a bit enraging. Once more let’s return to the Square Enix Japan’s FFXV pre-order guide page.

There’s a lot to break down here, however I’m going to help guide you through it. First let’s look at the grid I referenced at the start of the article and used as a basis for my own chart’s format:

So in Japan there are five editions of the game (in order from left to right): the equivalent of our Day One Edition, the Deluxe Edition, the UCE, the standard digital download, and the premium digital edition. These editions all get different perks depending on where you purchase the game from just like we do. As far as I’m aware (and please correct me if I’m wrong) these distinctions were made shortly after the game’s initial launch date was released.

This means that the idea of store-exclusives was planned long before it was even revealed GameStop would get A King’s TaleTo many this may not be a surprise, but to many more this thought might not have occurred to them given the media’s knack to make things sound like such plans are exclusive to certain regions.

Also take note that unlike North America and Europe, Japan had two outlets for purchasing the UCE: Through a 7net  promotion or through the Japanese Square Enix e-store. While I understand that Square Enix is a Japanese publisher and will see to the happiness of Japanese customers first, that doesn’t change the fact that clearly the number of supposedly world-wide limited UCE’s could have potentially been skewed towards Japanese customers.

Now maybe they did the math so that it was equal across the globe, and I certainly hope that is the case. But I’m also a huge Kingdom Hearts fan, and after the decade of Final Mix bullshit I really wouldn’t put it past Square Enix at this point.

Next we’ll break down the store exclusives:

7net’s “Blaze Edge-FFXII model” pre-order campaign

So 7net/Seven-Eleven has two large FFXV based campaigns taking place. The first from the banner you can click takes you to this page showing off clothes and other goods being sold based off of Noctis’ in-game outfits among other items. If you purchase specific clothes from the website you will gain a download code to unlock the associated items for Noctis in game:

 

I wouldn’t try to get that code unless you have a Japanese PSN or XBox store account, as the video is technically unlisted on YouTube and probably a region exclusive.

The other campaign is where you order the actual game as you can see in the screenshot. Upon fulfilling requirements you’ll get the BlazeFire Saber, the Gourmand Set, a phone strap, and a copy of A King’s Tale.

For the rest of the page Square Enix details which bonuses you will get if you happen to pre-order the game out of a specific list of stores. Among those is Amazon.jp, which interestingly enough doesn’t seem to be getting the same Road Trip treatment:

Anyone paying attention will notice right away between this and the previous screenshot that all of these pre-order exclusives are exactly the same as what’s being offered through Carbuncle Surprise, GameStop, and Amazon’s Road Trip campaign. The Japanese Square Enix store offers multiple pre-order sets, including the set with FFIX’s Mage Mashers that are in our Amazon campaign alongside the Camera Kit. Amazon.jp gets Gae Bolg and the Travel Pack, etc. etc.

One thing that must be noted is that these exclusives were made well known in advance to the Japanese public. And that all of these exclusives have been around long before the Amazon Road Trip was ever announced.

This means four things:

  • That this massive parsing of pre-order content was planned from the very beginning, considering that none of these items aside from the Gourmand Set, Travel Pack, Camera Kit, and Angling set were advertised during the big Uncovered event.
  • Square Enix was fully aware that they were cheating UCE buyers out of DLC and would be undermining their purchases later in the year. Yet they still made a huge ceremony out of getting tens of thousands of people to shell out $270 over something “exclusive”.
  • This Amazon Road Trip is literally a slap to the face of all fans, as it gates everyone who didn’t choose Amazon from activating the rewards. Customers now have to decide if going through the process of canceling pre-orders (which isn’t always an easy process depending on where you live) and sacrificing certain perks will be worth the new, clearly better perks. This also promotes potential bad relations between Square Enix and GameStop considering the potential loss in pre-orders (granted for a lot of people GameStop can shove it, so this might not be a bad thing if you’re one of them).
  • Square Enix knows for a fact it’s lying to its customers, but is banking on a rather thick language barrier to keep western consumers from finding out.

We don’t know if Square Enix had Amazon’s campaign planned before the release date delay. We also don’t know if any of the campaign’s rewards would have been in respective network stores instead of a pre-order campaign at all had the delay not happened.

But the “what-ifs” don’t matter here. What does are the facts we have in front of us now, and it is a fact that Square Enix had planned this contest between FFXV’s various editions from the very beginning. This means that a lot of good people’s early pre-orders were taken through very shady sales practices. Nothing illegal, unfortunately, but it’s about as close as you can get.

Why the hell does any of this matter?

I can hear you now: “but Rabbit, that’s why pre-order culture needs to die! If you were stupid enough to pre-order that’s your own fault!”

To a degree I understand and agree with that sentiment. Pre-orders really should only be allowed for games in limited physical printings or for collector’s editions that offer limited physical goods worth their salt.

However, at what point do we finally look at video game publishers and call them out for horrifically terrible advertising practices? In this particular case Square Enix did offer special editions with limited physical goods that would justify a die-hard to drop money on a pre-order. Square Enix then turned right around and used that to hold various content hostage while putting the blame on consumers for not being smarter shoppers despite the fact that Square Enix never gave out the materials for the average shopper to research with until it was already too late.

I’m not saying we need measures as drastic as what’s happened with the No Man’s Sky crowd. However I am a bit angry that there’s been next to no discussion over any of this. As a fan I certainly want FFXV to succeed. I’ve waited nearly half my life to see the damn game finally come to fruition. But I do not want it at the expense of Square Enix treating the people they’re taking money from like absolute morons. If they want us to pay for their product, and in turn their livelihood, then they should treat us consumers with at least some respect.

Every single piece of DLC being offered through this pre-order bullshit could and should have been in the game by default. Why can’t I earn Prompto’s camera kit through leveling up his photography? Same thing with Iggy’s Gourmand set. Couldn’t have the Regalia skins been achievement prizes? But no, instead they’re being used as bargaining chips and in quite possibly one of the most insulting ways: forcing consumers to miss out on content no matter which variation they buy. Even the ones that dropped $270.

This is not okay. These practices need to be talked about, and they need to be stopped. Or curved at the very least. Because you can bet this trend will only grow worse across publishers if we don’t.

FOLLOW UP (as of 10/19/2016)

I wanted to take a moment and say thank you to everyone who shared this article and my post on reddit gaming. As many of you have seen this website is still a baby in terms of blogs. As such there was a very heavy realization that despite how important I felt this topic was to discuss, because I was the one who wrote it, it was most likely never going to be read. Especially not by people who are in a position to actually change something (as I am not).

However all of you who have contributed to the discussion both on reddit and other forums have changed all of that. As of this update over 1000 reddit  up-votes have been generously given, and even now there are still hits for this actual article from where many of you were kind enough to share the original link.

All of this means that over 1000 people are now discussing (or have at least read and considered) the practices that Square Enix and other publishers have employed. While that’s a drop in the bucket within the vast internet, it’s still far more than I ever expected or hoped to give the topic consideration.

It’s perfectly fine if you disagree with me on this matter. But what matters is regardless if people agree with me or not people of both sides are finally discussing this topic in regards to FFXV’s campaigns, whereas before it was barely mentioned at all no matter where you looked.

So one more time: thank you very, very much.