In a time where video games are sweeping the globe and quantity is no longer the issue it once was, the question that many gamers are asking is, “is pre-ordering worth it anymore?”
Back before 2008, when video games weren’t as prevalent as they are now, game developers had a hard time keeping up with first day sales. Therefore, especially if a game was popular, game developers came up with the idea of allowing pre-ordering of their games. Pre-ordering was once the best tactic for buyers so they could guarantee they’d get the game on release.
But Ryan Betson, editor in chief and co-founder of a personality-based pop culture and entertainment media outlet The PopCulturists, says pre-ordering video games is not worth it anymore.
“Video game pre-orders are, the majority of the time, a bad thing. In a day and age where limited quantities are truly a problem (for games at least) they really aren’t necessary. Outside of collectors’ editions (which are also not that limited) and consoles there is really no reason to pre-order. You will always end up paying more,” he said.
Betson said pre-ordering benefited the video game companies, not the consumer. “From the business side of it they do in fact have benefits. If it is an online multi-player game it provides a base line for potential minimum server demand and nicely provides cash throughout development. For smaller games, this could truly help improve the game,” he said.
Some companies, such as EA and Activision, release on-launch games which sell for an extra $10 to $50 in comparison more than the same game that is released a week later. In 2014, Activision launched Destiny on the next-gen consoles with a myriad of problems. The servers would constantly crash, PvP felt sluggish and the hit registration felt awful. The game almost felt unplayable for the first couple of days. In the end, buyers paid more for this broken game that would barely run in the first couple of days due to pre-ordering, while the buyers who waited a few days for problems to settle down benefitted.
Jacob Siegal, a gaming journalist, said: “If we hadn’t preordered Destiny, Bungie and Activision might not already be neck deep in the development of overpriced expansions and a full-fledged sequel due out in 2016. If we hadn’t pre-ordered The Master Chief Collection, we would have known that the multi-player component of the game was broken before it was sitting on our shelves collecting dust,” he said.
With the digital market becoming more prevalent, more copies of games can always be made, therefore there is no real risk of not obtaining a copy.
Alec Cartmell, a retired professional video game player, said he didn’t think pre-ordering was a good idea. “In general it’s bad consumer practice. It’s like buying food before you see it. It could be mouldy. You don’t really know until you eat it. This has shown to be the case more and more recently. Developers release little snipits. Controlled pieces of the game where they can decide the look, the feel, how it runs and how it plays. They can present the best part of the game, where in reality the final product is no where near close to that. Pre-ordering video games is negative for the consumer and is more like a gamble than a purchase”.