Good afternoon, CultureJam. It’s time we had a talk about preorders.
You’ll hear a lot about what is “ruining the games industry,” and how preordering is among the main offenders biggest one. Social media and forums are full of comments about how “the industry sees preorders as guaranteed sales,” or how “they just don’t put as much effort in as they used to” and, of course, “they’re just making worse games”. I see this all the time, from pretty much every outlet, and there’s something important to note from this diatribe.
Well, I mean, mostly. Now, I wrote most of this a couple of years ago, but it bears repeating that there are good reasons to preorder, and good reasons not to. These are the Three Don’ts and Two Dos of Preorders.
Don’t – Preorder for exclusive digital content
Hi there, Deus Ex. And Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and the myriad other franchises hopping on this bandwagon. Who loves preordering these games for 30 minutes of extra content, or 3 bonus missions? Nobody, that’s who. Literally nobody.
Nobody like it, publishers.
If the extra half hour of content isn’t good enough to be in the main release of the product, it’s not good enough to preorder for. Extra DLC like this, technically available at launch, is effectively holding the players to ransom. It’s sneaky and conniving, cutting pieces out of a game, and we shouldn’t fall for it. This is the aspect of preorder culture that’s damaging the industry. Sure, some developers say they go gold months before launch; these snippets of content are done in the interim, instead of just sitting on their butts not doing anything for a few weeks.
Far be it from me to say that those devs could be focusing on QA or full DLC; you just need to look at the example CD Projekt Red set with The Witcher 3 to see that. Even if you’re making bite-sized add-ons while waiting for release, you don’t need to hold it to ransom.
On the other hand…
Do – Preorder for exclusive physical content
Look, I love Collector’s Editions. I really do. And if you do too, there’s no harm in preordering to get an awesome statue or model or whatever. The difference here is that you’re buying something to complement a game, not something that probably should’ve been there by right.
My current gaming room has merch from so many games, because I like stuff. That badass Witcher statue, a cool deck of Dishonored Tarot cards, a replica PipBoy; these were worth a preorder to me. I won’t order EVERY Collector’s, sure, but the ones I deem worth it I’m all over.
As a side note here, guys, don’t get a Collector’s Edition because you think it’ll increase in value. This happens so rarely that unless you’re a genius or insanely lucky, you’ll just end up with a room of sealed boxes and wasted cash. Display those statues, wear the shirts and props, put up the posters. Enjoy what you’ve bought, ya know?