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What You're Actually Doing When You Pre-order a Game

Pre-orders are bad for consumers, and we need to stop before it is too late.

It isn't difficult to look at the gaming industry and find problems. You 'walk down the street' and you come to the looming figure of launch server stability issues on a game that had been in development for 3 years.

Turn the corner and you'll run into the shady dealer who's ripping people off with pieces of DLC, and walk another few steps you'll see his partner giving you an incomplete game, forcing you back to his compadre who sells the DLC at $20 a pop.

Anyone love the ME3 ending before the DLC?

It seems like the community of consumers seem to be located in one big ghetto. Except in this part of town, you have the big players looking down on the smaller guys, and they spend every living minute trying to take a dollar out of your pocket when you aren't noticing.

Well, one of the problems is that we as consumers can't do much about it. The creators have total control of what they are doing, they control how they distribute, and how they run things. As long as they put their product out there, the hungry driven buyers addicted to that certain type of rush will make the purchase right?

Big companies won't look out for you.

Wrong. With that said, the biggest problem is that we as consumers are supporting this sketchy type of business. We are supporting it by falling into the trap created from the advertisements of big pre-order bonuses. Maybe we are blindsided by the hype delivered from an unfinished title, but there is definitely one thing we can do to start an uproar against the empire... DON'T PRE-ORDER!

What Pre-Orders Means for the Publishers 

When you pre-order a game you are reeled into what basically is a commitment on the idea of an unfinished product. At this point it's already money in the bank for the company, and they already locked you into buying it. This shows that you aren't going to their competitors, and you will go to the store to pick up their game no matter the reviews or hype surrounding it. 

The magic of a pre-order gives the publisher security. Look at Assassin's Creed: Unity. If you solely take a look at the gameplay, and reviews coming from around world, would it still have sold so well? No, in fact it should have been counted as a failure with it being the buggiest Assassin's Creed to date. 

Everyone who pre-ordered was greeted by this warm face.

Good pre-order numbers also look good for a publisher's statistics, showing that they will have a successful launch. It is then turned into a PR weapon and used against your fellow consumers as credibility for their game. This then generates hype for the game, helping the next Watch Dogs to reach a million dollars before it is even released. This allows the developers to stop worrying about the state of the game, because no matter bad or good, millions of people are already lined up to buy it.

Heck even distributors like GameStop are in a better place then the consumers. They get to know how much people are buying the game so that they wouldn't have to spend extra money on unneeded copies. Oh and that commitment with the publisher, is also there with retailer. You are investing your money into Gamestop, and the only way to back out is, well embarrassing yourself in front of that cute cashier working there.

You are Getting Cheated Out of a Full Game

In order to fuel those pre-order bonuses, developers are now cutting out portions of their games and reserving them for people who pre-order the game specifically. This can be seen now in every AAA release where extra missions, modes, or skins are available for those who choose to give their money away before they receive the full product. This is promoting laziness in game development and is ruining the state of games.

Metro outraged millions of gamers when they dropped Ranger Mode.

In Evolve anyone who pre-orders is able to completely skip a fraction of the level grinding in the game and move onto a level where they can already stomp on newbies. What happened to the days of where there was a learning curve that you figured out as you progressed through the game? Are you able to pay your way out of difficult situations as long as you have the guts to pre-order now? This ruins the gameplay as it creates an unfair advantage starting from the day of the release, but hey, who cares about the gameplay when you cash in that big fat check?

Then you have games like Metro: Last Light and Dying Light where they choose to complete sacrifice the experience of the game as a whole for those who don't pre-order. 

Ranger Mode, the hardcore version in Metro was put in only for those who pre-ordered or bought the DLC. The developers were willing to cut out their most immersive experience just so that people would pay in advance. Ranger Mode was beloved among its fan base, as it accredited the series with one of the most challenging gameplay experiences in gaming. I guess the developers also realized as they show to sacrafice integrity and pride for an extra buck.

This also goes for Dying Light as they made a separate zombie mode reserved for people who pre-ordered the game, crippling the potential of the multiplayer. 

Think About the Actual Benefits of Some Bonuses 

Every publisher tries to get people to pre-order using these "insane bonuses" that you can't get them anywhere else. Well are these deals actually worth pouring your trust into an unfinished game?

Most of the pre-order bonuses are released for free later down the road.

Most of the times, in a game like Battlefield the guns become rather obsolete after the first few unlocks, and on a game like EA's Fifa franchise, what is one pack a week really going to get you? In truth, you're not getting much from the pre-order. Are you still going to be using that bonus pistol after you pass level 10, and was it worth supporting the devastating launch that comes with every Battlefield release? 

For example, recently 2K released a pre-order promotion for NBA 2K16. Anyone that pre-orders gets to play the game four whole days early, and they get a bonus emerald player pack. At first it may sound like a sweet deal, but given some thought you realize that this actually isn't what it is made out to be.

A whole 4 days? Have fun with the old roster...

To start, the emerald packs are one of the worst player packs in the 2K15 edition of the series and that usually any player you get in there is pretty lackluster. Also, getting the game early means you'll have to deal with the issue of old rosters since you would be playing it in the offseason where big name moves are yet to be made. Glitches will be prominent along with every game in the NBA 2K series and any progress you made in the career mode will not be moved over to the better version after the right updates.

Stop Supporting this "Shady" Business

The pre-ordering shenanigans have to stop before it is too late. Rumors have already been swarming Rainbow Six: Siege about Ubisoft not even letting customers get their own money back if they change their mind on a pre-order.

When we pre-order a game we show the big companies that they can get away with millions of our hard-earned dollars by generating hype around some incomplete game. It shows that they don't have to worry about the end product, as long as the propaganda surrounding a pre-order is good enough for us to buy into. This allows publishers to stop worrying about the game at hand, and move onto working on the next advertising campaign for another inadequate title.

 

Mr. Krabs warned us of the hooks these companies throw at us.

We are smarter than this, and we don't need to fall for the tricks of some big corporate business. For most of us, that $60 is hard to come by, so lets all stop blowing it on some insufficient product. Maybe, and just maybe, once we show that we are better than what we as consumers are now, general decency will once again resume in the practice of making video games.

Published May. 29th 2015
  • Si_W
    I'm quite happy to pre-order games.

    I am quite picky though and never get caught in the hype, so my expectations are never dashed as I don't pin my hopes that each new release is the best thing ever.
  • David Fisher
    Featured Columnist
    The only games I've ever pre-ordered are Nintendo's first-party ones, but only because I know the game will be 100% complete when I receive it. It's what I've appreciated the most about their non-DLC games. With Nintendo finally looking at DLC and updates, I've still continued to pre-order the ones I'm interested in because they have yet to give me a dud. Maybe I'll stop if the trend does, but for now they're in the green with me.

    Other companies not so much, especially anything EA or Ubisoft related. The games have been getting shottier and shottier with each release until I simply stopped buying the games completely (I'm looking at you Assassin's Creed). I loved the AC series for its story. Now... I don't even think that's any good anymore.
  • Victor Ren
    Columnist
    Well hey according to Ubisoft they will be only focusing on the single player and taking everything else out of the game in Syndicate lol.

    But yeah Nintendo is trustworthy, I don't own any of their systems anymore sadly but if I did would have reserved Super Smash Bros.
  • Si_W
    Everyone who pre-ordered was greeted by this warm face.

    Not true, I never saw this face once. I did fall through the floor once though.
  • Victor Ren
    Columnist
    Ah the falling through floor cheese. I guess that is less startling than the face. When I first saw it I thought it was just some weird photoshop that was meant to be creepy instead of an actual glitch lol.
  • topher339
    I almost never pre-order games. Very few games ever push me to do so. Halo is chief among them but that's simply because they tend to be games of extreme quality with (usually) little to no bug issues. They don't give crazy pre-order bonuses that make a difference to the game on single or multiplayer and, best of all, you never need DLC to feel like you have the complete game.

    I also ordered Battlefront, but that was purely an emotional decision. I let idea of nostalgia filed games run through my head and ,rather foolishly, pre-ordered the game. It'll probably live nowhere near my expectations.

    When I do pre-order it's usually for a limited or collector's edition. The Halo copy I reserved is a limited edition. However, I didn't feel like handing over another $10 bucks for what is basically the Battlefront DLC edition.
  • Victor Ren
    Columnist
    I think that is pretty good decision making, and I agree that if you really love a specific franchise go ahead and do it. There has to be an assurance of what they deliver based on your past experiences. It is just that with stuff like Battlefield and all of its server problems people still do it.
  • topher339
    Agreed. One thing I really don't understand is why people pre-order something like CoD or Battlefield year after year. They really aren't pre-order worthy in my opinion.
  • Victor Ren
    Columnist
    I don't get why people still buy them year after year either. I guess COD is from different developers but Battlefield is generally the same with the "ALL OUT AUTHENTIC WAR, DESTRUCTIBLE LEVELS, HUGE MAPS AND VEHICLES". Now don't get me wrong, imo Battlefield is a lot more fun than COD, its just that it is their slogan every single year.
  • topher339
    Exactly. Add to that the fact that CoD hasn't been faring so well recently. The last few games haven't lived up to peoples "standards". Yet, when the next one comes around, people still line up for it. I enjoy CoD and Battlefield but I usually only get every other installment, if even that, and never on release.
  • StayNoLonger
    Featured Contributor
    I've stopped pre-ordering now, if the publisher knows that they have made enough pre-order sales for the product to be successful they are unlikely to push for the product to be great as that would be a waste of money. The main problem with the video game industry at the moment is that it is mostly being run by businessmen who don't actually understand the industry. I remember Jim Sterling saying about when one of his friends asked a large shareholder in one of the large publishers (Might have been EA) about the industry and they didn't even know about Assassin's Creed. Although they did know about free to play mobile games like Kandy Krush and Attack of Clans, this is because the profit margins are vastly superior to AAA games because development costs are so low.
  • Victor Ren
    Columnist
    The last game I pre-ordered was Battlefield 3 lol. But if Sterling's case is true then that is horrible. In any case, if you are only in something for the money, and don't actually love or show any passion for what you are doing then it will go south sooner or later.

    It's too bad that is the case with all the passionate gamers in the world.

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