GameStop has tried a variety of tacky business practices to improve sales, from bundling peripherals with hard-to-find consoles to employing a complex metric to monitor employee performance to opening stores on Thanksgiving Day. But its latest trick for boosting sales is tone-deaf, even by the company’s standards: A new animated ad for Assassin’s Creed Origins teases the game, only for the visual to be interrupted by a confused camel and this message:
Sorry. The Bonus Mission Is Blocked. Unless you pre-order Assassin’s Creed Origins.
Gating content behind pre-orders is a controversial tactic to increase early sales. Usually the extra content is framed as a reward, rather than something players are missing out on. Rarely is it framed so passive-aggressively.
The ad is similar to roadblocks that appear when a reader visits an online publication with a paywall. It’s a strange model to borrow from, considering paywalls don’t engender any feelings of warmth or joy in the average person.
GameStop’s business model is largely built around selling pre-orders of retail copies of video games, then buying back used copies and reselling them. But with the future of tangible video game discs uncertain, GameStop’s stock has been trending downward since late 2015. However, the holiday shopping season is the foundation of most retail stores; perhaps the company hopes it can grease the wheels with new games, funny camels and a little bit of rudeness.