What’s Wrong with Pre-Ordering Games?

You’d be hard-pressed not to find a particular video game at launch, nowadays so many games arrive in such large shipments it doesn’t really matter if you can’t make it to the store in time or if you just wait a couple of weeks. In fact, doing the latter might actually benefit you in the end since so many games get significant discounts not too long after release. Pre-Ordering is not what it used to be. I walked into a Best Buy looking to purchase The Last Guardian and i came across an impressive heap of additional copies.

I wasn’t relieved i was getting one, i knew there would be some, if not many. Although i do recall one instance in which Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls for PS4 was surprisingly difficult to find, to the point where i was forced to make a digital purchase but that was a rare case indeed. So what’s the point of pre-ordering? The Game Fanatics staff and I have been milling over this topic and quite a few of us have some points to make. Feel free to join in on the conversation.

Rochellie Fagan writes:

As soon as I was able to buy my own games without my parents, I would just buy them whenever they were out on their release dates. Never did I pre-order any games until I made myself into a collector. As an adult, even though you know you might not need it, gives you the nostalgic factor as a kid again. The extra goodies that you receive when you do purchase a limited or collector’s edition for that game that you’ve been waiting for all year or even many years makes it worth it. Some people don’t really care for things like that, but I am probably one of those rare gamers that enjoy looking at art books or collecting figures I might not have room for.

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Another factor of why I pre-order games is that there are certain games you just have to do it for. For example, many Nintendo games that involve Super Mario Brothers or The Legend of Zelda end up selling quickly the day of its release date. I want to be that person who gets to play it on day one rather than scrambling trying to find it at every retailer to only find out it’s out of stock. I think there are plenty of good reasons why people should pre-order their games. If it’s a game that you truly care about playing or supporting even, then it’s definitely something people should do more if they weren’t already.

Marcus Lawrence writes:

Against Pre-Order: Now I’m a man who rarely preorders. Why? Because pre-ordering could have been something worthwhile but for the most part, this system has only been used to further foul methods in the video game industry. It’s bad enough when story content is cut from a game for DLC purposes but when I need to preorder a specific title to gain entry to extra missions/story? That’s where I get upset. Factor in all the different exclusive store content and it’s enough to make people furious.

For Pre-Order: The few times I do preorder is because the publishing company gives me very good reason to. Take Persona 5 for example, the most recent of games to join my elite club of titles I’ve actually preordered. The sole reason for my decision came down to style over content. I want the steelbook CE for Persona 5 and even if I didn’t bite the bullet, I would not be subject to any loss in content. So bravo to you Atlus.

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Ben Runnings writes:

I used to preorder games all the time, but now it is less of a thing. There will still be games I know I want to play day one that I will preorder but sometimes that is done the day before release. With sales on games, I can wait a couple of months and get things for half price and that really discourages preordering unless it’s from one of my favorite franchises. With digital games and online shopping, game scarcity isn’t a thing either. There used to be a time when a store would get 3 copies of a game on release. That time is long gone.

Quinn Sullivan writes:

I’m not entirely for pre-ordering. I just happen to think it’s not a fight worth pursuing anymore. The fact of the matter is that the corporate powers that be–who are using pre-orders as a metric–have cemented its legitimacy into the foundation of revenue for investors. (In which there is an entire debate to be had about the effects of short term gains versus long term investments, but that’s an entirely different debate focused around the economy as a whole.)

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Most of that, however, is at the fault of the casual consumer. The ones who aren’t going to be reading this article, who just heard there’s this badass new Mass Effect game coming out. It’s also a good way to support the titles you’re invested in. I pre-ordered Red Dead 2 because I plan to buy it no matter what. I didn’t pre-order Call of Duty because I wanted to wait for impressions to come out before making a purchasing decision. Guess what? I didn’t buy it.

I understand that helping the publisher may not be the best argument for the existence of pre-orders, but they are the ones who are employing the artists who make our favorite games. They are the ones who gave Hideo Kojima a second chance. They are the ones who are flipping the bill for our favorite products. The Renaissance artists of old had their patrons, and now the artists of today have their publishers. It’s just how it is.

Tyler Chancey writes:

Pre-orders as a concept I am content with. If the game is a limited run and you want to be sure you have your copy, it is completely reasonable. It also helps if you’re short on cash and want to pay it off in small manageable amounts rather than a large upfront buy. Digital pre-purchasing; same thing. But with the latter there’s a much greater demand for research and discretion, no resale value and the like.

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Pre-order culture on the other hand can screw off. The practice of companies carving out chunks of their game to get people to pay and order upfront does not benefit the consumer at all, it just looks good on a sales projection sheet. It encourages a level of zealotry. A game can easily be mediocre but suddenly has more value because you got a special piece of content for paying upfront. Locking off entire modes or sometimes games behind these incentives can also go burn in a greasy tire fire.


And on that note, feel free to join the conversation! Do you pre-order? How do you feel about this?

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