Anti-Preorder: Will gamers ever start voting with their wallets?

Gamers constantly claim they will vote with their wallets & stop pre-ordering but will they ever follow through?

We've all heard the rallying cry to give up pre-ordering games, but will gamers ever start voting with their wallets?

After the rocky-to-failed launches of Batman: Arkham Knight, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Diablo III, and many other games, the internet battle against pre-ordering has grown strong. Outlets like Kotaku and GameFront wrote searing articles about why we should give up on pre-ordering games altogether. Echoing many gamers' belief that it encourages developers to ship broken games because they already have our money.

That isn't the only reason that gamers have it out for pre-orders, they also say the system encourages developers to lockout content that should have come on the disc. A recent example being the Harley Quinn story missions for Batman: Arkham Knight that gamers could only get by pre-ordering. Deals like that, gamers, say are making games shorter and more expensive at the same time. South Park summed up argument against the system best:

"Kyle, 'Pre-order' doesn't mean shit"

As we've heard, over and over, pre-ordering games is bad and gamers are constantly claiming that they will "vote with their wallets" and not put money down on a game. Yet, year after year, pre-orders still plague the industry with millions of players putting down money early for upcoming games. We can't seem to give up all the exclusive items and deals that publishers put on the table.

What hope does the industry have of breaking a bad habit like pre-ordering when gamers keep encouraging it? The sad thing is we may never know, because those exclusive pre-order deals are more tempting than the far-off goal of fixing the industry.


Published Jul. 1st 2015
  • Landon Sommer
    But, but, the goodies! Think of the goodies, man! I rarely pre order. It's only for franchises I'm absolutely in love with. I've been a fan of Fallout since #1. I would probably preorder Xcom if there were goodies involved. Gamestop was (and may still be, I don't buy much from them) a bad influence on this mechanic. I went to buy Fallout: New Vegas and the first question I got was "did you pre-order?"
    "Then we can't help you. We only get enough copies for our preorders...."
    What kind of crap is that?

    I would love to see the pre-order nonsense stop, but I doubt it will. Pre-order exclusives drive sales and can bolster a products popularity without any proof of success.
  • Elijah Beahm
    Featured Columnist
    To date, the only games I've pre-ordered were Bioshock Infinite, Fuse, and Dead Space 3. Alll in 2013. After that, I've pretty much crossed off pre-ordering unless I absolutely want to review something at launch.

    Ironically, Fuse was the one I was least disappointed with out of all of them.
  • Rothalack
    Master O' Bugs
    The first and only game I have ever pre-ordered outside of WoW expansions was... South Park the Stick of Truth. Dammit Matt and Trey, stop reading my mind.
  • Ainyan
    I just had this discussion with friends. Pre-orders aren't the problem. The problem is the toxicity of gamers and the necessity of instant gratification.

    Take Arkham Knight. Pre-orders didn't force Rocksteady to release an incredibly buggy game on the PC. Pre-orders had absolutely nothing to do with the decision to do a global release, which was made before pre-orders opened. Rocksteady decided to do a global release because they knew that if they delayed the PC port to give the company doing the port time to do it right, that PC gamers would throw a hissy fit that consoles got it first and that they had to wait. Gamers don't want to understand - or admit that they understand - technological or financial constraints. When a company can't do something fast enough to suit gamers, gamers become toxic and begin getting out pitchforks and torches and screaming 'Throw more money at it! You owe us! Hire more people!'.

    While there are some publishers out there, I agree, that don't care about their customers as much as the bottom line, that is an incredibly unfair blanket assumption to make about all publishers. The fact is, if you say 'we will release on [this date]', gamers expect you to release on [this date]. Before pre-orders begin, delays in releases cause a lot of griping and grousing and negative press. After pre-orders begin, people begin lighting their torches and sharpening their pitchforks, usually with the cry of 'I've already paid! Give me what I paid for NOW!' - regardless of the fact that what they paid for isn't ready.

    Pre-orders have their issues; the bundling of exclusive content, for instance, is kind of frustrating. Collectors' editions are generally obtainable (with enough money) long past the release of a game, but pre-order bonuses are time-limited content. They pray on an all too-common natural tendancy by gamers to want to 'collect them all'. They give a false sense to developers and to the public of the worthiness of a game based on how many people toss down $5 at GameStop to reserve their copy. They do encourage publishers to push the release of a game because of money in hand, regardless of whether the game is ready to release or not, if only because the publishers are afraid of the toxic response if they delay once the customers have paid.

    In the end, I have three questions I have to answer 'yes' to before I will pre-order a game: 1) Am I absolutely going to get and play this game, regardless?, 2) Is this a limited-release edition that I'm not going to get my hands on if I don't pre-order it? (Or: Are the pre-order bonuses lucritive enough?), and 3) Do I trust the publisher enough to give them money sight unseen?

    I'll give you a hint. I tend to only pre-order from three developers: Bethesda, Blizzard, and BioWare. In the end, it's a matter of what the game - really, the Collectors' Edition, since a base edition isn't worth pre-ordering - is worth to me. Is it shiny enough? Then I'll pre-order. If not, then I can, and will, wait.

    In the end, I agree with you that gamers should use more discretion when pre-ordering, and that pre-orders are a skewed metric as to the 'worthiness' of a game. However, as with too much these days, discussion about pre-orders seems to want to lump all of the problems with gaming on a single source instead of looking at the real culprits behind the problems. Pre-orders have issues, but beware of ignoring other factors in your eagerness to assign the ills of the world to one. ;)
  • The Soapbox Lord
    Featured Contributor
    However, Rocksteady did not release Arkham Knight. Warner Brothers is the publisher; Rocksteady just developed the game.
    Also, Rocksteady did not port Arkham Knight to PC. That was handled by Iron Galaxy Studios (Who also bungled the MKX port too).

    WB knowingly released a buggy, broken product. Now Rocksteady is doing their best to fix the mess WB made.
  • Ainyan
    I don't deny that they are trying to fix it, but Rocksteady is the developer - they are responsible for the code. And it is Rocksteady, not WB, who outsourced the PC port to Iron Galaxy (as admitted by Rocksteady itself). Now, WB comes in for its fair share of criticism, as they had the absolute power to call a halt to the PC release and chose not to, and undoubedly it is because of the publisher's urging that Rocksteady was unable to delay the release - but the upshot of it is, pre-orders had nothing to do with this whole catastrophe. :P It started because WB insisted on a global release of console and PC.

    My comment was not intended as a slight at Rocksteady, who is working hard to fix this execrable situation, but rather the fact that attributing the Arkham Knight mess-up to pre-orders is not only fallacious, but serves to mask the far more serious issues of publisher pressure and gamer toxicity.
  • GameSkinny Staff
    We can dream the dream, but as long as publishers aren't given a reason to stop - it won't happen. And the reason they need is a total blowup of well-beloved franchise, which is a sacrifice that many gamers are probably not willing to make.

    Would you throw FF7 Remake on the sacrificial alter, for example, to end all pre-order nonsense? I doubt many would.

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