The North American console versions of DICE's Battlefield: Bad Company 2 are saddled with an unusual multiplayer restriction: for the first month following the game's release, only those who preordered the game from GameStop will have access to the game's "Squad Rush" multiplayer mode.
The mode is an objective-based battle between two teams of four players each. Those with preorder-based access will also be able to invite their friends to play with them throughout the 30-day exclusivity period.
PC copies of Bad Company 2, which share a March 2 release date with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, have no such multiplayer restrictions, nor do any of the European SKUs launching three days later.
Retailer-specific and preorder-specific bonuses are becoming increasingly common in game publishing. Even digital distribution outlets like Steam and Impulse frequently attach exclusive in-game items to copies of particular games purchased through their storefronts.
Separately, non-EA development sources who requested anonymity have told Gamasutra that in the case of certain heavy-hitter retail outlets like GameStop, it is becoming more difficult to secure distribution contracts without offering some kind of exclusive attachment.
Still, such attachments usually come in the form of added content. The case of Bad Company 2, which confers access to standard game content on a timed basis rather than adding new content above and beyond the base game, is much less common.
In addition to the Squad Rush access, GameStop preorder customers on any platform will receive multiplayer access to the AKS-74 assault rifle.