Call of Duty character looking concerned

The hype for upcoming games can be intoxicating. Cinematic trailers flood the internet and all kinds of bold claims get bandied about, promising new titles will do things no game has ever done before. Pre-ordering these games can be a risky proposition, though. Prospective buyers can never be sure what condition the game will be released in. There could be bugs, server issues, or any number of other problems that make the game unplayable. The release of "Cyberpunk 2077" is a prime example of this. Fans had every reason to believe that the game was going to change the industry, but the product they pre-ordered ended up being an incomplete mess which ended up severely damaging the developer’s reputation. In truth, there’s little reason not to simply wait until the game is out before making a purchase.

Publishers know this, and one of the ways they try to entice fans is by offering pre-order bonuses. This exclusive content or merchandise could give people who wouldn’t otherwise commit to an unreleased game a reason to think twice. Unfortunately, these bonuses are also sometimes unable to live up to consumer expectations. Here are a few examples of the most overhyped preorder bonuses in gaming.

Resident Evil 5 sand globe

Resident Evil sand globe

"Resident Evil 4" is widely regarded as one of the greatest horror games of all time, so the hype couldn’t have been higher when "Resident Evil 5" was announced. Not only would it be continuing the more action-oriented, over-the-shoulder style combat established in "4," but it also was going to have a co-op mode, so friends could shoot their way through genetically altered bioweapons together for the first time.

In what has to be one of the strangest bundles ever conceived, one retailer was giving away a sand globe featuring figures of Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar with every preorder of the game. It’s hard to find an official record of this deal now, but an old GameFAQs message board confirmed that it was Game Crazy (a now-closed subsidiary of Hollywood Video) that offered the globe.

Many fans seemed disappointed with their prize once they received it, however. YouTuber TheVideoGunner posted a video of their new prize, showcasing how the glittery sand simply sank in the globe rather than drifting around like a traditional snow globe. They also pointed out the facial details were extremely poorly painted and the characters looked nothing like they did in the game.

Star Fox Adventures Survival Kit

Star Fox Adventures Survival Kit

"Star Fox Adventures" was the last game Rare made for any Nintendo home console. Players who were interested in pre-ordering the game back when it was released in 2002 had the option to take advantage of a very unique promotion that was being offered by Circuit City. The tech store advertised that those who pre-ordered the game would also get a "Star Fox" Survival Kit. This seemed thematically appropriate since "Adventures" was very different from most other "Star Fox" games. Instead of doing barrel rolls in space, Fox spent most of his time on the ground, trying to survive the dangers of Dinosaur Planet. People who got the pre-order deal were confused and disappointed by what they found inside, however.

YouTuber Bird Dog Gaming made a video going through everything that was included in the Survival Kit. Inside, he found a bottle of green apple Jones brand soda labeled "Fox Fuel." Then there was a door hanger that said "enter at your own risk… Arwing refueling!" on one side and "do not enter… adventure in progress" on the other. But by far the strangest item in the Survival Kit (and the only one actually related to survival) was a roll of "Star Fox Adventures toilet paper. This came with tips and tricks for the game printed right on the TP. There was also an air freshener and some temporary tattoos, which were not included inside the box, but were apparently handed out with the package when buyers picked up their new game. What those items have to do with survival is anyone’s guess.

Battleborn collectable figures

Battleborne Thorn figure

"Battleborn" was shut down back in early 2021 after years of costing the developers a ton of money. It failed to compete with "Overwatch," but there was a time when Gearbox Software’s chaotic MOBA hero shooter was one of the most anticipated games of 2016. Many gamers thought it was going to be the kind of game that changed the industry. That was why it was so intriguing when GameStop offered a pre-order bonus consisting of a 3″ tall painted figure of Thorn, Rath, Orendi, Montana, or Miko (via Game Preorders.)

These collectible figures were given out randomly, so those who chose to buy the game would be rolling the dice on which action figure they would get with their $60 game. This made it frustrating for people who wanted a specific figure, but it also had the potential to raise the value of certain figures as there were limited quantities and most people wouldn’t want to buy the whole game over and over again just to complete a set.

It seems that most of them were of exceptionally poor quality, however. Many of the figures gamers received looked like they had been hand-painted by someone who had only a vague idea of what a human face looked like.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare: Day Zero Edition

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare gameplay

Physical bonuses tend to be more dramatic, but digital pre-order bonuses can be just as disappointing if they aren’t done right. One of the biggest examples of this was in the 2014 "Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare: Day Zero Edition." Every new "Call of Duty" release has its fair share of hype, but the early edition of "Advanced Warzone" was built up more than most.

According to the official Activision blog, the "Day Zero Edition" "gives players access to the game a day early. … Additionally, "Day Zero Edition" owners will be able to earn double XP throughout the early access period. The "Day Zero Edition" also comes with two bonus weapons and the Advanced Arsenal, which includes the bullet brass exoskeleton and a bonus directed energy weapon, the Quantum EM1." This had many players scrambling to pre-order the game as it promised to not only give them weapon and experience bonuses that would put them at an advantage in the multi-player, they would also have a full day’s head start and get to play the game before most people.

Unfortunately, the early launch didn’t go smoothly. TweakTown reported that a number of Xbox One gamers couldn’t get their game to download. This problem was also reported by several users on Xbox User Forums. "Advanced Warfare" was generally well-received and Microsoft eventually fixed the problem, but the "Day Zero Edition" launch was largely seen as a disappointment.

Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma watch

damaged Zero Time Dilemma watches

The third game in the "Zero Escape" series from the development studio Chime and published by "Danganronpa" creators Spike Chunsoft was called "Zero Time Dilemma." It was a game that forced its characters into a deadly competition where they had to solve dangerous puzzles in order to survive. "Zero Time Dilemma" had 33 different endings that changed based on the decisions the player made in the game. Each of the game’s chapters was played in 90-minute intervals and each of the characters was forced to wear watches that would inject them with a drug at the end of that 90 minute period to induce memory loss. These watches were featured prominently in advertisements for the game, so many were excited when they learned that they could have their own Zero Time Dilemma watch if they pre-ordered a limited edition version of the game through either Amazon or GameStop (presumably minus the amnesia drugs.)

Siliconera reported (archived by WayBackMachine) that the watches were damaged in transit and had to be shipped back to the factory to be repaired. Those who purchased them would get the game on release day, but would have to wait an undetermined amount of time before getting the watches. It’s unclear if the manufacturers actually did anything to repair them though. Many buyers shared pictures of their damaged watches on NeoGAF, reporting that they came with cracked cases and dials falling off the sides even after the extended wait.