You know, I’ve probably spent my entire period of writing about games, about 10 years now, railing against the garbage practice that is video game pre-ordering. It was, is, and always will be something that’s absolutely terrible for the average gamer, and yet everyone seems hellbent on doing it no matter how badly the major developers and publishers abuse it. Yet, time and again, whenever someone does abuse it the entire gaming community reacts with the same tired mixture of shock and confusion, as if this was somehow the first time. How many times are we going to have to be taught this lesson before it finally sinks in already?!
Now, I could go into detail about what pre-orders were originally for, how they were originally a good thing and how they’ve been co-opted into serving another purpose entirely, but what’s the point? We know all this already. Once upon a time it was a service stores offered for niche games. One that allowed fans to ensure they got games from smaller makers. Now though? It’s a sales metric. It has been for years and it’s also what’s allowed just about every mainstream series to degrade so badly.
Pre-ordering allows publishers to get the lions share of their sales early, before they even release their product. This has allowed them to rake in the cash without worrying about anything: not reviews, not online fallout, not word of mouth, nothing. The result: over a decade of broken releases, games ridden with microtransactions, and constantly degrading sports games. Pre-ordering isn’t the sole bane of gaming, but the wider populace’s insistence on committing to has allowed all of these companies to abuse us heavily.
Yet, we continue because we still allow ourselves to be bought by things like early access, cheap trinkets and tiny little extras that we forget as soon as we encounter them in-game. We continue because we “gotta have it now”. Why though? Why is it so important that we have it immediately? Don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of this too from time to time. I pre-ordered Cyberpunk 2077 back in 2021, thinking that CD Projekt Red at least could be trusted. Look how that turned out. I recently bought the Dead Space remake Day One too. Waited for reviews first, and thankfully it’s good, but I didn’t need it. I’ve got plenty to play as it is.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that the sooner we all break ourselves of the hype-culture surrounding new games and stop expecting these companies to suddenly stop doing what they’ve been doing, the sooner we’ll start getting better games. Heck we’ll even have more money to spend on them since we won’t be paying full price constantly. Alright, I guess that’s all I’ve got. Here’s hoping your next game is a good one.
How do you feel about pre-ordering? What kind of impact do you think it’s had?
Image from Cyberpunk 2077 flickr