Good afternoon, NZGamer. It's time we had a talk.
You'll hear a lot about what is “ruining the games industry,” and how preordering is the 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, mostly. See, there are good reasons to preorder, and good reasons not to. These are the Three Don’ts and Two Dos of Preorders
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. Nobody likes this.
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 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...
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. 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?
I have never understood why people do this. Oh no, but it might sell out! Look, it won't sell out. Games never sell out, because it's literally impossible in this day and age for them to sell out. Can't get a physical copy? There's a digital copy. Download it! It’s probably cheaper that way anyway.
There are some exceptions to this, like if you have a really subpar internet connection or whatever, but generally, ordering the base edition of a game is just lunacy. It's not killing the entire industry, no, but it's not smart, and it does affect marketing and quality assurance. If you're so desperate for a physical copy at release, it's obviously a game you care about; splurge and get a Collector's Edition. Go on, treat yo' self.
It can be argued that this isn’t really preordering, but let’s say it is. I'll be fair, only some of us do this. This is more of a Kickstarter thing because, considering games like Wasteland 3 and the like, they'd struggle to be made otherwise.
Yes, it's a risk; I've been burned by Kickstarter more than once. But when they come through, and you get to play a great game that literally wouldn't have been made without support of people like you? That’s cool. Plus you usually get a pretty sweet deal, support indie developers, and basically get to be awesome; those warm fuzzies mask the sting of any losses. I recommend it.
I contradict myself a lot, but let me remind you that I preordered Haze. HAZE. And Naughty Bear. And, to my eternal shame, I did that for digital exclusives. I regret these mistakes deeply, and I write all of this to spare you my pain. If you're not sure about a game, wait for a review. Here at NZGamer we usually have a review up within a day or two of release / embargo, and you can wait that long. Believe me, it's worth it.
Not to say you can NEVER preorder a new IP. I got Dishonored at release, partially for sweet Tarot cards, and mostly because the trailer and setting looked amazing. I wasn't wrong. I also have a neat little Altair statue from the first Assassin's Creed, because again that looked badass. No regrets. Use your best judgement, really, is what I'm saying.
I'm not telling you how to live your lives. I'm just saying that, among all the voices screaming at us not to preorder, there are some valid reasons to do so. It's up to you to decide, and not just listen to whatever certain people tell you.
Except me. You should definitely listen to me.