These Days, What Makes a Game Worth Pre-Ordering?

In case you’ve not been on the Internet for a minute, news of a nominal discount on Cyberpunk 2077 pre-orders (for the standard edition on the PS4 and Xbox One) has been popping up all over the place. No one knows how long the “sale” will last, but if you pop over to Amazon or Walmart right now, you can pre-order the game for around fifty bucks. It’s not a bad deal…if you’re into pre-orders and Cyberpunk 2077. The discount caught wind in my own household, but in the end, we opted to pass. Although we’ll likely be adding the game to our library eventually, the need to somehow “get it NOW” just wasn’t that strong. Other than the discount, there were no other pre-order bonuses. And who knows? Maybe an even better deal might rear its head in the coming months. 

The choice to pre-order a game feels a bit less special than it used to be. During ye olde bygone days of yore, there used to be quite a bit of excitement about getting your pre-ordered game on day one and playing it in the moment within the ethereal plane of like-minded souls. Even if you were all by yourself, you knew that you weren’t alone in experiencing everything your new game offered for the first time. As with a lot of things, the Internet has spoiled some of the fun, as folks “with access” often show games before they’re released publicly. There’s something a little deflating in seeing videos on day one about “How to Beat [insert your new game here]” before you’ve even had a chance to download it.

Pre-orders also used to be about getting special in-game items that others couldn’t immediately, or ever, access. Again, there was a time when such incentives seemed worth it. My pre-order of Batman: Arkham City, for example, came with the Joker’s Carnival combat challenge. I was never very good at it, but it added a good bit of enjoyable action to the game. My pre-order of Dragon Age: Origins came with the cool “Blood Dragon” armor, a ring that upped my XP, and an extra skill point. Fast forward several years to me obtaining my pre-ordered copy of Red Dead Redemption II. With it I got a survival pack that didn’t really help me survive, extra gold to buy stuff I couldn’t afford, and a special horse, which died during an accidental shootout a few hours into the game. I will grant that these few instances are hardly representative of pre-order bonuses as a whole, but even the most casual, long-time player is bound to notice that skins and cosmetics are more likely to be offered as pre-order bonuses these days, over things that actually contribute to and enhance gameplay…the stuff that companies now prefer to stick behind paywalls.

So why bother pre-ordering at all? One of the biggest positives for me is convenience. While I no longer pre-order games months in advance, if I know that a big release day is coming up for a game that I definitely want to play sooner rather than later, I’ll go ahead and pre-order a few weeks ahead, just so I don’t have to worry about it in the midst of all else. To a certain degree, pre-orders also provide a way to show support for your favorite developers. And sure, sometimes the pre-order bonuses are decently enjoyable enough to make it feel like you got something out of your investment. There is also something to be said about anticipation. The hopefulness that comes with getting a shiny, new game is one of the very things that keeps us all playing. It’s just one more thing that makes it feel like that, with video games, we’re all in this together.

(Article Source: IGN)


What factors contribute to your own choice to pre-order a game? If you used to pre-order game but don’t anymore, what made you stop?

Lede image shared from Cyberpunk 2077 press kit © CD Projekt RED.

7 Comments

  1. Geddy says:

    The purpose of pre-ordering is so that companies can make money off of the interest of a locked-in sale. I have absolutely zero idea why people pre-order anything, with the exception of physical goods that will be in short supply.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Yeah, I get that. The notion of supply and demand with games has changed quite a bit in recent years, what with digital downloads rendering physical copies unnecessary. It’s funny cause pre-ordering never, ever crosses my mind with anything *except* games. Old habits die hard, and all that.

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  2. Krystallina says:

    Me, I’m the opposite: I don’t see why you wouldn’t preorder if you’re interested in a game.
    a) If a bonus is added, you can still get it. Most of the time, it’s added automatically.
    b) If it becomes rare or whatever, you have a copy.
    c) For some stores like Amazon, if the price drops, you get that price automatically.
    d) Most stores (as long as you don’t use something like PayPal) don’t charge until the order is shipped.
    e) If a better deal comes along or reviews are bad or you just decide not to pay the preorder price, just cancel. Most stores online, it just takes a couple of clicks. As long as you aren’t canceling and falling below a free shipping threshold or whatever that would cause red flags, it’s no harm, no foul.

    Just once a month, I go through my upcoming orders, and see if there’s anything I need to weed out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Sounds like you have it down to a science! 😀 I definitely like it when a discount is applied to a pre-order – it’s much more likely to make me take notice of the option. And yeah, if you work things out far enough in advance, you can always cancel. The convenience of not having to worry about unavailability or going to a store strongly works in favor of pre-ordering. The more choices we have to get our games, the better.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. cary says:

    Reblogged this on Recollections of Play and commented:

    A nominally interesting pre-order deal on Cyberpunk 2077 (which is still happening, as far as I can tell from Amazon) is what kicked off my thoughts in this recent Virtual Bastion post. Pre-ordering games in this day and age: love it or leave it?

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