Brick and Mortar Stores:
Your options for pre-ordering the Collector's Edition at a brick and mortar store are fairly limited. You'll have to trudge on down to the nearest EBGames/Gamestop, Best Buy, or GameCrazy store to put down the cash for the Collector's Edition. Your success is largely dependent on how much you're paying attention.
- EBGames/Gamestop/GameCrazy: At these stores, the register biscuit ringing you up will hand over a "Rave Card" at the point of purchase which should have the codes you need for the Open Beta, for the Head Start, and for the in-game pre-order goodies. If he doesn't give you a card, ask for it. If he claims not to have one, he's either lying or incompetent, and ask to speak to his manager. This rave card is your golden ticket, so don't leave the store without it!
- Best Buy: The situation here is slightly more complicated. Evidently, they're stocking stores with so-called "pre-order boxes" that, while mostly empty, should contain the aforementioned codes necessary to get you into the Open Beta and Head Start. A quick survey of the Best Buys in the DC Metro area yielded no sign of these pre-order boxes, but we'll be keeping our eyes peeled.
Now here's where things get complicated. You can choose to pre-order the Collector's Edition online from EBGames, Gamestop, the EA Store, Amazon, GoGamer, or GameCrazy. Each of the retailers appears to be handling the distribution of codes differently, so you have to be extra mindful before you put down your credit card number.
- Amazon: When you pre-order from Amazon, you're given immediate access to your pre-order codes, provided you know where to look. As soon as you get your payment confirmation email, sign into your account on Amazon.com, and go to Your Media Library. Click the "downloads" tab at the tap and all three of your codes should appear. It's simple, easy, and efficient. If you're ordering online, we recommend using Amazon.
- EBGames/Gamestop: The situation with EBStop is a bit more complicated. Apparently nobody told their higher-ups about the details of this promotion, or some wires were crossed along the way, because their customer service has been reporting that they haven't heard word one about distributing codes online. Their solution, and this was actually suggested in a customer service email, is that if players want to be sure they'll receive the promo codes, they should pre-order the CE in-store. Our philosophy: if a retailer tells you not use to purchase a product there, don't!
- EA Store: With all the other alternatives, one probably wonders, why the EA Store? We wondered that ourselves until we found out that Canadians don't really have any other choice, as Amazon won't take Canadian pre-orders and EBStop has proved to be incompetent. The only hitch, for those Canucks among us, is that the EA Store won't be distributing codes until "early April." So if you want to be guaranteed, absolute sure that you'll be on the w00t train to Open Beta, the EA Store might not be your best option. But if you're above the border? Well, you just don't have any choice, do you?
- GoGamer: GoGamer appears to be taking pre-orders without a hitch, as we have yet to hear any negative reports or specifics as to how they are distributing codes.
- GameCrazy/Best Buy: Neither GameCrazy nor Best Buy appear to be taking online pre-orders at this time.
While it is true that there are very slight differences in the in-game goodies you receive from various retailers, we have to conclude that the differences are so negligible that they are easily trumped by the relative quality and customer services of the retailers available. If you're keen on getting your pre-order in while they're still available (and quantities are limited to 60,000 in North America), we have to advise that you steer clear of most of the nonsense and just queue up a pre-order on Amazon. It's hassle-free, the customer service is excellent, and you get access to your codes immediately.
If you don't have a credit card handy or you'd rather have the security of ordering in a store, it seems like somewhat of a toss-up as to what brick and mortar store to turn to. It probably makes sense to just pre-order it at whatever retailer is most geographically convenient, but make absolutely sure that you have your hands on your codes before you leave the store. Game store employees tend to have sticky fingers with pre-order swag, so cover your butt.
Go get them while they're hot!