Gears of War 3 may not include incentive content due to low redemption of 'Flashback' DLC

focalbox In order to incentivize the new purchase of Gears of War 2, Epic Games decided to include a code that gave users free access to a map pack featuring maps from the first game in the series--dubbed the "Flashback Map Pack." According to Gears of War franchise executive producer Rod Fergusson, Gears of War 3 may not include a similar promotion due to the response of the Gears of War 2 offer. "That wasn't as successful as we would have liked it to have been," Fergusson told me in a lengthy interview at a Gears of War 3 Beta preview event in Toronto. Though Gears of War 2 was a commercial smash-hit, Fergusson says that "the rate of redemption on that code was really low." "For the fact that it was free, I was surprised that it wasn't redeemed as much as it was," he said. Fergusson didn't have exact numbers, but says it was low enough to still keep ideas of attempting a similar program for the third game's release up in the air. Since Gears of War 2 launched in 2008, other publishers have adopted a similar program to incentivize the sale of new games, including EA and THQ. Warner Bros. is also rumored to be using a similar program with its upcoming line-up. In all cases, the 'free, one-use code' included at retail was also immediately available for sale. "I actually kind of feel that, with the 'Online Pass' stuff--I think we gave people permission to start doing that stuff. I felt like we were one of the first." Fergusson said of the one-use code trend sweeping the industry, clarifying that companies tend to watch each other to see what ideas have potential in the marketplace. "You're basically trying to find a way to deal with game retailers who allow for used products and so you're trying to avoid that, but retailers are your bread and butter. There's this love/hate relationship. Anytime anybody attempts to do something they don't want to offend the retailers too much, but also they're trying to prevent used games as well."

Thrashball makes a guest appearance in one of the maps available in the upcoming Gears of War 3 beta.

The "Flashback Map Pack" included five remade maps from Gears of War: Canals, Gridlock, Mansion, Subway and Tyro Station. In early 2009, the Flashback Map Pack was made available for users that did not utilize (or have access to) the free download code--for $5. The problem, Fergusson agreed, seems to be at a consumer education level. "I think its systemic to the notion that people just don't want to type in five-by-fives [five blocks of five characters]. A lot of people either don't look at the pocket inside their case or they think it's an ad, not a code they can type in to get free stuff." Epic has yet to decide if Gears of War 3 will include an incentive bonus with new copies. While the offer wasn't successful in 2008, Fergusson admits that the actions of other publishers may have helped educate customers to take a closer look at the papers stuffed in the retail box, which could translate to a higher percentage of free code redemptions. Gears of War 3 launches on the Xbox 360 in September 2011. A beta for the game's online multiplayer begins on April 25. The full, forty-minute interview with Rod Fergusson will be posted early next week.