Pre-ordering video games is, in general, a Very Bad Idea, as we've learned from the likes of SimCity, Battlefield 4, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Assassin's Creed Unity, Aliens: Colonial Marines, and many many more. So these days, video game publishers have to get a little more creative when it comes to getting you to blindly buy their games.
This year's first offender: Evolve, a promising 4-vs.-1 shooter by Turtle Rock, the studio behind Left 4 Dead. I've played Evolve; it feels really great and seems like it'll be a lot of fun to play with friends. It also could be buggy as hell or even broken when it comes out this February. We have no idea. We won't know until it's actually out. The smart bet would be to wait until release day before you think about spending $60.
But publisher 2K Games wants you to throw down your money now. So they've got a devious new pre-order bonus scheme that won't just give you extra stuff for buying the game early—it'll let you skip whatever obstacles are necessary to unlock some of the game's top characters. Most people will have to play the game to unlock everyone, but people who "pre-purchase" the game on Xbox One? They'll get an instant boost.
Here's Turtle Rock with an explanation (emphasis mine):
The Evolve Xbox One Open Beta begins next Thursday, January 15th. That much we've already covered. Now, would you like to play as Wraith and the latest four Hunters – Parnell, Abe, Caira, and Cabot – during the beta?
If you pre-purchase Evolve on Xbox One before or during the Xbox One Open Beta, you get exclusive instant access to Wraith, Parnell, Abe, Caira, and Cabot during the entire beta. Better yet, pre-purchasing on Xbox One guarantees that these characters are instantly unlocked when you pick up the final game which launches on February 10th. We'll share more news on when you can begin pre-purchasing Evolve very soon.
Devious. Normal players will rack up experience and unlock characters naturally as they go through Evolve, but 2K—like all big game publishers—doesn't want you to be a normal player. They want you to be a pre-orderer. No matter what it takes.
UPDATE (4:45pm): Shortly after publication of this article, a rep for 2K called me in hopes of clarifying that this bonus is specifically referring to "pre-purchasing," not "pre-ordering." So you won't get the unlocks if you just go and drop $5 at, say, GameStop. You've gotta "pre-purchase" on Xbox One—meaning you have to spend the full $60 before the game comes out—if you want this particular bonus. Fun!