How to responsibly pre-order
It seems like in today’s climate the word pre-order has become synonymous with disappointment or shoddy corporate tactics; why would anyone pre-order a game before seeing the game (and it's day one bugs) in action?
Say pre-order and you'll hear (oh god will you hear) about such titles such as Batman: Arkham Knight, Evolve, and Aliens: Colonial Marines and a slew of others. It's perfectly legitimate to bring up these cases as cautionary tales warning people to think before throwing money at these publishers for your limited edition batman Bathrobe and xenomorph full body suit.
It's sad that there are so many reasons why one can't take a publisher ANY publisher at face value when considering cost-benefit of reserving their copy of the game and picking up some cool Spiderman socks while their at it. When I hear that nobody should pre-order games, however, I have to disagree and I’ll defend it until I’m blue in the face.
Pre-orders are fine when you do your homework.
Pre-orders are fine WHEN YOU DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
One of the biggest game changers in indie game development has been the popularity of Kickstarter and crowdfunding in general, and if crowdfunding has taught us one thing it's that we can use our dollar more effectively now than we ever could before. I mention this because in the light of some great (and terrible) Kickstarter campaigns a methodology has begun to develop to inspire consumer trust in a project (Who is the dev, what's the likelihood this'll actually get finished? etc.).The problem with pre-orders is that this research falls on the consumers entirely (no handy videos explaining how and why this promotion is going to be everything it's promised to be) and when the hype train hits full speed it can be hard to remember that shitty deals are out there waiting for the unsuspecting fan to step in their trap.
But how can this relate to a triple A game like Fallout 4? When Fallout 4 was announced at E3 it was to a chorus of applause and the more info Todd Howard teased the more hyped we all got. When the Collector's edition was available for pre-order it didn't last long, people were trying to reserve during the presentation! I was riding the hype train right there with everyone else but I knew that if I was going to put $180AUD down on this I’d have to do some (quick) considerations.
One of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to getting the facts is asking: Who? What? When? Where? Why?
Who: Is the company selling the pre-order? If the company behind the pre-order had the headline "shitty company rips off gamers" for their last game maybe think twice. Look at the lead up to the game, with the amount of info out there it's easier than ever to see if something looks too good to be true.
What: Am I getting for the extra dosh? Is the content I’m getting really worth shelling out the amount of money I’m spending? This one can be hard as it's pretty much entirely up to your tastes. These deals tend to come at times when you're so ready to jump at the game you'll buy anything (E3. enough said). Ask yourself "Would I give anything up to own this?" if the answer is no and you still get it then odds are you have a lot of disposable cash, if yes then the package is obviously worth it to you.
(Quick note: food is never worth giving up for games limited or otherwise so pre-order responsibly and make sure you can pay rent).
When: Do i have to make my decision? Take your time, if you're not sure right up to making the actual order then the package probably isn't for you.
Where: Do I place the order? Do i get it cheaper or get more content getting it through Amazon or EB? A big flag is if the exclusive content is carved out between several retailers (Evolve) as it can lead to a very hard to understand system that could cost you way more than you're willing to spend. Find what you want the most and just go for that, stick to your limit.
Why: Do i want this? This one is entirely up to you if you don't or you’re sort of iffy on the extras then don't pre-order, if you know hype has hit you think about What again.
These are just some guideline questions to ask yourself before you go out and pre-order, yes the extras are cool but are they cool enough for you?
I can safely say that I know what I’m getting into and that for the extra content I’m getting I’m happy to shell out the extra cash, don't hate pre-orders for pre-orders sake, do your research and make the decision for yourself.