Ever since gaming became a big thing and video game stores appeared across the world there has been the pre-order. A system that basically provides you a legal “dibs” on a brand new game as soon as it hits the stores for some of your precious money.
But now that we are in the age of digital download and CD copies are more or less a glorified prepackaged installer with a digital platform auto install setup, is it still worth for you to pre-order anything?
Well to be honest, NO!
How it began:
Originally pre-orders were only a thing because all the stores had a hard limit of stock that they could shelf. There were only an X amount copies they could sell. So they invented pre-ordering as a way to get more money and less disappointed fans at the store.
But as everything shifted from cd install to digital download, it has been difficult for stores who mainly make up their money from pre-orders to survive on just cd sales.
So instead the industry came up with a replacement way to get your attention. A sleazy way to turn something made for customer service into a cash cow.
Of course, I am talking about the all too well-known phenomena of giving away exclusive content to those who pre-order a video game. This, in turn, tends to sell like crazy because mentally if we are hyped for a product, obviously we are going to want exclusive content.
After all, everyone wants to be part of an exclusive club so we can feel special and better than others.
However pre-ordering a game still has a massive drawback.
The problem with hype
This drawback is what I call “unconfirmed quality and entertainment value”. You see, when you pre-order a game, you are paying for a product in advance without it being reviewed.
This means that you have no idea of its quality or how well it will live up to the hype.
Think of any other product. Would you pay for anything else without hearing from other people or companies how good or bad the product is. Or even, without testing it yourself.
Think TV’s displayed in a supermarkets or electrical goods stores. In most cases, the TV’s are displayed actively and suspended over a wall so you can compare them (going to overlook the obvious tricks they do with screen brightness to sell the higher end TV’s).
When you go to a car dealership you can look at the car, inspect it, and in some if not most cases test drive it. So you know if it is any good or not.
A culture of buy before try
With video games, we buy before we know if it’s worth even a penny.
Just think of the recent tragedies of mass lies and overhyping to sell copies of a game that doesn’t have the hyped content I could make a list but I’m not going to.
Games like “No man’s sky” for example would have never gotten to massively disappoint people across the globe if it was reviewed by critics BEFORE everyone purchased it.
And keep in mind to be vigilant about shady publishers like Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment that apparently used some sort of “reviewer non-disclosure” contracts to allow reviewing but you aren’t allowed to say anything “negative” about the game.
The safest strategy for anyone is to purchase it after being reviewed by all the major reviewing players or just wait until some of your dumber friends have played it from pre-purchase to know if it’s any good and if it has all the nuts and bolts attached.
However, you really should never pre-order anything. Because for all you know the only thing the game contains is a picture of a dead stinky fish and you would be thinking you just parted with your money for an awesome product.
Obviously, that’s never happened before but my point stands, you are buying an idea with pre-orders. But that doesn’t mean when the product gets to you, you aren’t going to be utterly disappointed. And on top of that, from what I hear the pre-order stuff is almost never as useful as it’s supposed to be.
Is pre-ordering still worth it?
So in my opinion guys, don’t pre-order – instead, wait until the video games you are interested in have been reviewed positively by enough sources for you to feel comfortable to make your purchase. Perhaps wait for the let’s play giants to start a playthrough to see what it’s actually going to be like. Pre-orders as a whole should be shut down because now it’s just a cash cow instead of a customer service.
Perhaps we should just bring back demo’s as they were a great way to gauge games before purchase.