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Why I’ve Given Up on Preorders

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When the idea of preordering a videogame was first mentioned to me, many many years ago, I would have assumed that it was just to ensure a copy of a game specifically for me would be waiting at the store when I arrived. I would have been happy with just that when it came to preordering. Then companies started offering little incentives for preordering videogames, and a younger me was pleased by this; I was getting a bonus for buying something I was already going to buy. That’s good, right? Well, let’s judge that at the end.

Blood Dragon Armor from Dragon Age: Origins imageLet me share a quick story with you; I promise it has a point. My first big reward for preordering a game came with Dragon Age: Origins. I’d never really heard of this game, but at a friend’s insistence, I decided to preorder it. The retailer then proceeded to give me printouts with codes on them that informed me I was going to get an item called the Feral Wolf Charm for preordering from GameStop, an item called the Memory Band just for preordering the game in general, along with downloadable content like the Blood Dragon Armor (pictured) just for buying the game new.

I was astounded at all the little things for the game I was getting just because I’d preordered it (even though, when I think about, all I got was a neck piece that I replaced very quickly and a ring I never really used with DLC I would have gotten anyway if I’d bought the game on launch).

Likewise, the first time I’d ever regretted not preordering something was Mass Effect 2. I’d missed the bandwagon for that game, but when I finally did get the first two games in the series through a Steam sale, I was blown away by how much I enjoyed them. Right up until I was watching another friend play and this exchange occurred: “Did you just shoot a %#$@ing BLACK HOLE at someone?” “Yeah, man. Preorder gun. It’s my favorite one.”

Well, that settled it. If I didn’t preorder things, I was going to miss out on incredibly awesome perks and items with games that I’d never be able to get anywhere else. Suddenly, I wasn’t preordering because I was really looking forward to the game; I was doing it because if I didn’t spend money on the game before I could even play it, then I wasn’t going to be able to get everything with the game anymore. I was going to spend the same amount as other people, but not get the same product.

Shut up and take my money.

While that works for games like Dragon Age: Origins or Mass Effect that I loved, you can feel really burnt on the idea when you decide to preorder something like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II. Fun game, but the Maulkiller skin was not worth me spending the $50 or $60 at launch. I got distracted by the shiny things and paid for a game that I personally didn’t feel was worth what I’d spent. Along with all these shiny bonuses are the reviews that can seem misleading with “gameplay footage” that isn’t gameplay footage. I think that’s happened to a lot of games recently.

Jacob Siegal at BGR wrote a lovely piece on why we should stop preordering games, based on 2014’s releases. I think he makes good points by calling out big name games like Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed Unity, and Destiny; these were the beautifully hyped games with amazing videos, rave reviews, and shiny preorder item packs that did not live up to their expectations. Yes, we have patching now to alleviate some of these problems at a later date, but it’s difficult not to feel scorned when you shell out your money for something that just doesn’t measure up to what you were promised. No amount of shiny in-game costumes are going to make up for the fact that a game is barely playable due to falling through the map or whatever.

Diablo III PS3 preorder itemSo, I’m sorry-not-sorry to all the developers out there, but I think I’m done with preorders. Warlords of Draenor was the last thing you’re going to get out of me for a while, and that was only because it gave me a concrete bonus to a game I already was playing and knew I enjoyed. Why pre-order Diablo III and hope the game ran smoothly on launch when I could wait a few weeks for everything to be worked out?

I’ve become a more patient gamer, and as I’ve grown up and gotten busier, I don’t have the money or the time to throw at things that are shiny and hope it all works out. As it turns out, there’s something to old cliches; “all that glitters is not gold,” and despite how sparkly and shiny your sweet preorder items are and your gameplay videos can be, I can wait a week and instead watch a Twitch stream and read post-release reviews to see what the public actually thinks about the product. That +EXP bonus is tempting, but this gamer will instead look for the sure things. Please stop asking me for money for a product that isn’t out yet.

Also, I’m really, really spoiled by sales now. But it’s mostly for the reasons above. Mostly.

About David A. Reeves

David is a 25 year old graduate with a BA in English, and he's wondering how all of this adult stuff crept up on him. He has a large love of Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy, a lack of budget sense during Steam sales, and is involved in an abusive relationship with the MMO genre. Outside of gaming, David can be found reading books with swords and magic, suffering from writer's block on that story he said he'd write, enjoying a hookah or a beer with friends, and trying not to say anything inappropriate despite the overwhelming urge. He's an odd fellow.

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