Gaming Report: Ugh, pre-order culture; once an immensely helpful service, but has since turned into what many consider the worst cancer of modern gaming.
Pre-order did once serve a very practical and useful purpose, back in the day when gaming wasn’t the widespread phenomenon it is today. At the turn of the century it was little more than a niche market focused toward a specific group of individuals, little more than an amusing novelty to the general populace.
It was for this reason that the concept of pre-ordering was introduced. Because of the relatively small gaming market at the time, retailers often limited their stock to avoid dealing with excess surplus and not everyone was guaranteed a new copy of an anticipated game on its launch day. In fact, it could be days or weeks until a copy was available. It was for this reason that the pre-order system was implemented; by putting money down on a game in advance you would guarantee yourself a copy of said game since you had already paid for it. It was a great system that was well-received by the gaming community as a whole, at least until it stopped serving its original purpose.
In recent years the gaming market has exploded, with far more people playing games as technology has made them more and more accessible. Now gaming has become as widespread as movies, books or music. While this rise in popularity has brought much more recognition to the gaming industry as a whole, it’s also indirectly responsible for depriving pre-ordering of its original purpose.
Because of this massive increase in gaming popularity, retailers now stock far more inventory to meet the increasing numbers of the market, ensuring that copies of the latest games are always available and abundant, even on launch day. Of course, this also renders pre-ordering utterly obsolete and irrelevant, which may lead one to ask why game developers and publishers push pre-ordering today more than ever. Well, while there are a few exceptions, I can tell you that they don’t have the customer’s best interests in mind.
Pre-ordering is something of a risk since you’re paying for a product that you don’t know the quality of, very much like gambling money at a casino; you don’t know the outcome. Well, modern gaming companies were quick to realize that if a customer pre-orders their games then they get all the money upfront and their obligation to provide a quality product is irrelevant since they have the customer’s money already.
Obviously, if a game company pulled this stunt on a constant basis, it wouldn’t take long for customers to catch on and simply stop buying that company’s games because they know they’ll just be burned again, which is why these companies pull every trick they know to distract the customer and make them believe that they’re still getting a good deal and even a better one if they pre-order since all games today come with “pre-order bonuses.”
These are essentially some type of extra content that is only available by pre-ordering the game that the bonus applies to. The actual quality of the extra content varies wildly between different brands and companies, but things get even more shady since people have actually cracked the code on some of the major releases and discovered that the “pre-order bonus” content is actually on the disk itself or was cut from it to promote it as a bonus. So, you’re not only denied content that was once a part of the game itself, but to get it you must pay in advance when the product itself may be of dubious quality.
Of course, not all developers or publishers do this, many offering pre-order bonuses that are actually worth getting, but for the most part the market is dominated by very shady practices.
Just remember, when you’re looking to buy a game, don’t pay in advance, wait for the reviews and user ratings before you put money down on anything.