Thoughts 1: Pre-ordering games

This is the first of my Thoughts series of blogs, where I will just give my opinion on interesting subjects or news that I hear.

This is about pre-ordering games, and while I am positive most people already know what this is, I’ll give a brief explanation. Pre-ordering a game is when you pay full price for a game that has not been released yet (but usually has a known release date), securing a copy of the game on the day that it is released.

Now in theory, this is brilliant, getting a guaranteed copy of a game that you can play as soon as it becomes available to play is enticing on it’s own, particularly if it looks interesting and fun (why else would you buy it). However in recent years pre-ordering games seems to fading into the shadows, and there are a number of reasons for this.

1) The video-game market is much more digital

This biggest killer in my opinion is the fact that we live in a digital age, and video-games in particular are moving with the times. Basically every game that you can buy as a disk can also be bought and downloaded on your device from the comfort of your home. Combine this with the fact that more games (including indie games) are becoming digital only, the incentive to go the store and pick up a physical copy has diminished significantly. I can’t even remember the last time I walked into a store and bought a physical copy of a game.

And herein lies the problem.

Most people pre-order games to secure a copy on launch day, now that it is digital, there is no need to worry about managing to get a physical copy and possibly having to wait weeks for another shipment.

Furthermore, having the digital version is more convenient, as there is no chance of losing the disk, and no need to physically change the disk when changing game. I mean seriously, who has time to stand up and change disks nowadays (#firstworldproblems)

However there is another reason which may be even more significant,

2) Games being glitchy, or even unplayable

This is something I have noticed happening more often over the last few years,

Don’t you just hate it when you pay for a game that you have been waiting for for months (maybe even years in some cases), you are so excited, you load it up, start playing it and……

It sucks

Whether the game doesn’t meet your expectations, isn’t the kind of game you thought it would be, or is just simply buggy, glitchy or unplayable, this is one of the worst feelings a gamer can experience (tied with your younger sibling deleting your save file). In real life terms, this is the equivalent of going to new fancy restaurant in town, just to get sucker-punched in the gonads.

And with regards to pre-ordering games, why would you lock yourself into buying a game that could potentially break your heart, when you can wait two or three days after its released to see whether it’s really all it’s cracked up to be? Doesn’t really make sense right? I mean in those two to three days after its out in the market, the internet will be gushing with reviews and gameplay videos and news of any problems that will all make it clear to you whether you really want to be spending your money on this game. And because everything is digital (please refer to above rant) you don’t need to worry about missing out on the game if it does turn out to be the diamond gem you always hoped it would be. Even better, you might have a friend who does pre-order it, and you can try it out with them.

However, this is a problem, there are an increasing number of games that get very buggy releases (looking at you Arkham Knight on PC, and Battlefield 4) which shouldn’t happen. I mean sure, nowadays people will complain about it, and hopefully the developers respond by releasing patches that fix the game to how it should of been, but can you imagine if you bought a game before the digital age and it was unplayably glitchy? You would be stuffed, money wasted. As a consumer, I can accept the odd glitch, but when a game is released in a state where you cannot play and enjoy the game in all it’s glory, that you have spent your hard earned money on, that’s where I draw the line.

But enough ranting about what is wrong with pre-ordering and in part the industry, what are developers doing to keep people pre-ordering games? I mean you still hear about people pre-ordering games, and develoers would very much like you to pr-order their games, so how do they lure us in?

1) Pre-order bonuses

No doubt many of you have heard of or seen these at some point in time if you are a gamer. Basically a pre-order bonus is exactly that, pre-order the game, and get extra content in game when you start playing it that people who don’t pre-order miss out on. Usually these bonuses come in the form of small cosmetic items or in-game currency that do little to impact the actual game, however recently there have been entire levels and game-modes excluded from the full release that are sold as pre-order bonuses, enticing you to commit your money to the game early on.

While I can see the allure of these bonuses, it annoys me, as this is content that is being released with the full release, but only available for certain people. Similarly is day 1 DLC, where you can spend extra money on top of the full price game you have just bought, to get content that really should of been there in the first place (but I’ll save this rant for another day).

2) Hyping up the game

This one is a no brainer, game developers will talk up their game to be the best thing this planet has ever seen if it means more people will buy it. Okay that might be exaggeration, but in reality virtually no developer will ever talk their game down. Plus, I guarantee that if you are reading this, chances are you have seen an advertisement for a game somewhere in your life, and like any product, ads produce awareness, awareness produces curiosity, and curiosity is why you may or may not buy the game. Either way, more copies are sold.

However this comes with some potential risks, the big example being No Man’s Sky. This is a prime example of a game that overhyped and talked up to the point that the promises that were made by the developer couldn’t possibly be met. And sure enough, when the game got released, it was like opening the flood gates, everyone bought a copy, everyone started playing it…

And immediately everyone thought it sucked.

Not only were there many unfufilled promises, the gameplay was lacking in several areas, and this gem of a game that everyone praised initially, became a laughing stock.

Let me say, I have not played No Man’s Sky. I did what I have usually done, waited for the opinions and reviews to come through and then decide what to do later. I can only imagine how gutting it would of been to be one of those people who bought the game and were left disappointed.

In the end, I am positive that No Man’s Sky caters to particular people who love the game, but from a distance it seems many people don’t.

In conclusion, this is just my opinion, and I am only one person. If you love pre-ordering games and haven’t been burned yet, then don’t let this post deter you. I mean some developers just nail their games, like Nintendo (As a die-hard Pokemon fan boy, I still pre-order the newest game every time). The main purpose of this post is to remind you to be wary when it comes to pre-ordering games, make sure you know what you are buying before you potentially waste money.

Let me know what you think about pre-ordering games, I’m always open to other thoughts. Until then, thank you for reading, and have a good day. Stay beautiful.