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Locked Up: Activision Flip Flops on GoldenEye's Paintball Mode

Activision's decision to make classic multiplayer variant a pre-order bonus is just...ugh.

Paintball mode in GoldenEye 007 had to be earned. On Wii, it was unlocked by default. Now, it's a pre-order exclusive.
Paintball mode in GoldenEye 007 had to be earned. On Wii, it was unlocked by default. Now, it's a pre-order exclusive.

Turns out the Internet’s rabid paranoia was right on this time around.

When Activision issued detailing pre-order incentives for GoldenEye 007: Reloaded this week, it mentioned GameStop pre-orders would have a code unlock paintball mode, a classic visual "cheat" from the original. The fear was no one else would have access to paintball mode, but Activision dismissed those fears, telling me it was a standard in-game unlockable.

"If you don’t pre-order the game from GameStop you’ll still be able to play the Paintball mode, but you’ll need to unlock it by progressing through the game," said an Activision representative to me on Tuesday.

As fun as GoldenEye's single player was, it was multiplayer where the hundreds of hours went.
As fun as GoldenEye's single player was, it was multiplayer where the hundreds of hours went.

All good, right? Wrong. Activision sent me a note earlier today with a rather unfortunate correction: paintball mode actually is exclusive to GameStop. You will not be able to unlock it any other way.

“For online multiplayer, paintball is exclusive to Gamestop consumers, you can’t get it without an unlock code,” said the rep. “It’s still available as an offline mode for Mi6 Ops missions.”

Okay, fine. Maybe Activision’s simply planning to roll this out as downloadable content, as has been standard practice this generation.

“All DLC is TBA [to be announced], nothing is confirmed yet,” said the rep.

If you're playing online and the host has paintball turned on, you'll see it, too...which means it's on the disc.

Sigh.

I realize moaning about a simple paintball variant is a weird thing to get hung up on, but hell, paintball was one of my favorite modes from GoldenEye 007. Unlocking paintball wasn’t easy, either; it required beating the Dam stage on Secret Agent in two minutes and 40 seconds. This was a satisfying achievement before Microsoft attached scores to such things. My friend group would sit around the TV for hours, playing each level over and over again, in hopes of shaving a few seconds off our time.

We never did unlock Invincibility.

But when we finally unlocked paintball, we’d earned the right to play paintball--and damn it felt good. So while anyone who picked up GoldenEye 007: Reloaded through GameStop could optionally unlock the mode early, everyone else would still have the ability to flip on paintball the old fashioned way: earning it.

In light of Warner Bros.’ decision to lock Catwoman behind an Online Pass, despite heavily promoting her involvement until the week before the game’s release, it’s not hard to feel like things have gotten wildly out of control. Publishers, where the heck is the line here? Players, maybe we need to start drawing it. For me, apparently, it's blatantly taking advantage of my nostalgia.

The situation reminds me of an image I found on Reddit, a sentiment that probably rings true with some of you:

No Caption Provided

There are reasons this has changed, though.

The relationship between players and marketing has evolved, becoming more personal--witness the rise of the community manager. It’s about “brand engagement” today, with companies obsessing over the number of retweets, likes, and shares across social networks. Many fans are completely okay with this. It works for some fans, and doesn’t for others.

At some point, though, when has everyone lost sight about, you know, the game?

That’s what rubs me wrong about this. You wouldn’t include paintball mode in a remix of GoldenEye 007 unless you were intentionally strumming the strings of my own memories, but by locking it behind a retailer purchasing incentive, it insultingly misses the point. You know what's worse? Paintball was unlocked by default in the Wii version from last year. Default.

Perhaps it’s telling that Activision told me one thing on Tuesday and another thing on Thursday--even the publishers we're upset at aren’t sure what’s going on or what to do. Activision had it right the first time, though, and it still has time to fix it.

Patrick Klepek on Google+