Video games are now huge. The industry has grown to surpass both music and film over the past decade and even eSports (professional gaming sports) is building traction to go head-to-head against real sports. Thing is, not everything is rosy. Pre-ordering remains to be a real pain in the side of gamers, especially with titles that fail to live up to marketing promises.
Here’s why you’re right to not trust pre-ordering.
The rise of premature ordering
Pre-ordering is now utilized by large publishers and even some smaller developers on platforms like Steam. It’s perfectly fine to be excited and hyped for a game to hit the market, but to part with funds prior to actually getting hold of said game, and in some cases even before proper materials have been released, baffles me.
Not only does it mean gamers are no longer relying on reviews by critics to determine if a game is worth the money, but they’re essentially heading in blind in some cases, giving away money for a commercial product that may not live up to what was marketed. This allows for poor quality games to hit stores and enables developer/publishers to get away with some bad choices to make a quick buck.
Pre-orders can come in a number of formats. From simply providing the game once released to offering early access, exclusive DLC, or possibly even a “season pass” for future content. Originally, pre-ordering was something I actually agreed with, simply because we used to purchase games from physical brick and mortar stores. This allowed gamers to get their hands on a launch copy on day one.
That sounds all good, so long as they perform adequate research prior to placing down a pre-order. Now that we’re mostly bolstering libraries by downloading games through online platforms, one would have assumed pre-orders would have disappeared, but companies have held onto the pre-order. Gamers are now saving themselves a spot in line for something that won’t go out of stock on launch day.
Tapping into greed
Some pre-order packages tap into the greed of some gamers who become excited by the idea of receiving some bonus content (be it physical or digital) that other game owners will not receive should they purchase the game once it’s released. This switches up the priority of what the gamer in question will be holding out for — not the game, but the extra content promise.
Take a look at how games are marketed prior to release. Vital mechanics are almost leaked out to the public. Only enough is revealed to keep everyone hyped and ready to part with cash, especially if there’s something that a developer or publisher knows the community will not like. This could be poor single or multiplayer, or something related to the story/lore, graphics, etc.
Everything is well within the developer’s grasp to ensure nothing makes out prior to release that isn’t in the best interest. This not only provides developers and publishers with more power over consumers — I’m obviously not including the fact that refunds are a thing and are used correctly by consumers, it’s beside the point — pre-orders with bonus content ruins the balance, favoring those who pay out either early (or more) and rewards them with additional bonus content.
Just stop it already
It amazes me how people who pre-order games, only to realize that it’s not quite what they were lead to believe, then have the audacity to complain bout being burnt afterward. Quite frankly, if you pre-order a game, lose out on said money afterward and don’t have a killer experience, no one else is to blame other than yourself and the developer. Reviews, in my opinion, should be critical in making an informed decision. You don’t simply pre-order a house or vehicle, so you shouldn’t pre-order a game.
Just look at the royal shitstorm that came with the launch of No Man’s Sky. This game was a colossal failure, wrapped up in lies, overambition, overpromises, and glorified marketing. Even a fundamental feature like multiplayer was said by the developer to be included in the game prior to release, but once the game launched it took two players to land on the same planet, head to the same spot to only realize there isn’t any multiplayer.
It took Valve to offer refunds to consumers through Steam who happened to play for more than two hours as compensation. Those like myself who were skeptical and held off until videos and reviews came in were glad that we avoided the hype train that ended up at the wrong destination. The only real fix to this mess is for consumers to band together and cease pre-ordering. Cease picking up season passes and only pay for what you play. Unfortunately, this isn’t going to happen anytime soon (if at all).
All I ask is that you, the gamer, pays attention to marketing material, news surrounding upcoming titles, hold out for reviews and then make an informed decision. Don’t let feelings and hype cloud your better judgment.