Stop Preordering Video Games. Please.

Stop Preordering Video Games. Please.

It’s not hard finding things that are wrong with the video game industry these days. From rip-off DLC to paid-for cheats to games that are sold essentially incomplete, consumers are increasingly getting short shrift.

If you want to push back, though, what are your options? Stop buying games? Effective, perhaps, but that’s also cutting off your nose to spite your face. And hands.

Emailing a publisher? Hahahahha. Hahahah. Haha. Oh, that’s a good one.

There is one thing you can do, though, to get a little back (provided you actually do it in the first place). And that’s to stop preordering video games.

Preorders really picked up steam around a decade ago as a means for eager and loyal customers to reserve a copy of a game before it was released. They were usually used for the biggest games, games that ran a serious risk of being sold out, meaning if you wanted to get in early and avoid having to wait for restocks, you’d preorder.

Over the last 10 years though, things got a little perverse. Publishers started manufacturing enough games so that if you walked into a store two days after a new Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto was released, there’d still be copies available. Yet we’ve become increasingly encouraged to preorder games anyway. Even though we don’t actually need to.

Um, why?

GameStop tracks them as a measure of success, and you may have noticed between all the free action figures, maps and fancy cases being offered, really wants you to preorder stuff. Publishers use them to gauge the expected retail success of a game once it actually hits shelves. The worst union of the two now manifests as retailer-specific preorder bonuses, ungodly partitions of content where someone preordering a game from Best Buy will get a different incentive to that of a GameStop customer.

Beyond the immediate benefits to both party’s bottom lines, though, there’s something more important going on, something that’s the real reason preodering a game is so important to them: these companies want you on the hook before anyone has had a chance to warn you off it.

There once was a time video game reviews and word of mouth played the most important part in determining the success of a new title. There’d be a chance for either professional critics or like-minded peers to get their hands on a game and tell you whether it’s actually worth your time or money. With games being so expensive, those opinions can be – and to be sure, are still in some way (especially word of mouth) – important!

They can also be bad for business if you’re in the business of making or selling video games, though, so removing that roadblock is in both publisher’s and retailer’s best interests. The cult of preordering is how this is achieved. By getting your commitment to purchase a game in advance, when all you’ve got to go on is a marketing campaign, you’re signalling that you, as a consumer, are totally cool spending $US40-$60 on a game simply on the strength of how it’s been marketed.

Want to know why there aren’t any demos anymore? This is why. Want to know why content is withheld from everyone’s game and is instead sprinkled across various competing retailers? This is why. Want to know why there’s now an accepted norm where those paying more for a game gain competitive advantages? This is why. Publishers don’t need to sell you on their games, because by slavishly throwing money down before they’re even out, you’ve signalled your intent to take whatever it is they give you.

So…just stop doing it. At least for big or even big-ish games (those that will be genuinely rare, well, do what you gotta do!). Walk into a store the day a game is released, or a week after, and just buy the game then. You won’t notice much of a difference. But retailers and publishers will. Eventually.

It may not be a glorious victory for the consumer in their never-ending struggle to avoid getting fucked, or stop many of the other major problems this industry saddles us with, but seeing retailers and publishers stage a forced retreat from preorder madness would still be a small victory for the little guy. And a small victory’s better than a never-ending streak of losses.


  • Refreshing to hear a games journalist telling the thronging masses to abate their lust for new content. In this case, I agree.

    • I’m getting pretty tired of people picking up minor annoyances that have no real impact on anything and claiming that it’s the cancer destroying gaming.

      • But Hitman just isn’t Hitman without 47’s fedora and tommy gun!

        [I know it’s focusing on the exact wrong part of the article, but damnit use a better example in your banner. There’s plenty out there.]

  • I think pre ordering is at a nuts level especially when games that everyone and there mom plays like the modern warfare series .

  • I preorder collector editions of PC games and on steam, because most of the time you can get a game before publishers tact on the bullshit australia tax. I will always preorder a game by blizzard unless they do a complete 180 and end up like bioware and epic.

    Having said that i will never preorder a console game or collector editions of games that dont have a sensible price (ie the Skyrims collectors edition was a wast of cash if you got it)

  • Isn’t it this kind of talk that gets you branded as “entitled”.

    It’s strange to see this kind of article considering most of what they put out on the subject is either mocking gamers or calling them entitled.

      • So, so true.

        It’s like ignorant used to be. There was this massive period where it was just an insult subbed in for calling someone a moron. Sort of a stealth insult that makes the user sound very intelligent and above it all.
        Now the same trend is appearing with entitled. If anything you say comes even close to asking for something you’re entitled. The worst part is 9 out of 10 times it’s used to make the people who actually care about the subject look like jerks. The people who stuck with SWTOR and want to see it succeed get blasted for being entitled almost every time the games name comes up.

        I swear, sometimes I think the internet learns words like a four year old. It hears a smart sounding word and then suddenly that word finds its way into every other sentence.

      • Amen to that, and the worst part is they are miss-using the term. What people SHOULD be saying is “you’re Self-Entitled”, because just claiming someones entitled is technically agreeing with them as it means “to be due or owed something and have yet to receive it”.

  • “By getting your commitment to purchase a game in advance, when all you’ve got to go on is a marketing campaign, you’re signalling that you, as a consumer, are totally cool spending $US40-$60 on a game simply on the strength of how it’s been marketed.”

    A marketing campaign as opposed to spending $US40-$60 a week later based on other people’s word of mouth? Since personal taste is pretty subjective, I don’t see much of a difference. Even a game getting Arkham City levels of accolade isn’t going to be everybody’s cup of tea. Fact is, we’re always at a danger of purchasing something we may not actually like after all, no matter if it’s pre-ordered or bought a year later in a bargain bin.

    I have to say though, pre-ordering is clearly more about the free goods often packaged-in, rather than a case of securing availability. As a consumer though, it’s hard to ignore how nice some of those bonuses actually are. In some cases they’re available to the public later (albiet always for a fee), but not all the time.

  • Isn’t this also the method by which Kickstarter succeeds?
    You buy into a games concept, invest in an idea and are rewarded with extras by doing so. In some cases you simply trust in the developers and they have absolutely nothing to show for what the game entails. (Double Fine Adventure, Wasteland 2, Shadowrun Returns, etc)
    The more money you pitch the more you receive and hope the end game is as good as you imagine it to be. No one would pitch $10,000 and be happy to receive only what someone who pitches $15 gets. So you pay extra, you get extra.
    I’m not going to defend the seperated extra content between retailers, but if I know I am going to get the game anyway and someone is offering goodies for a little bit of extra cash (or better yet the same price) I don’t have a problem forking over the cash.
    Now if only they could tell me what I could get with Bioshock Infinite when it DOES get released.

  • Oh shut up Luke. It ensures sales. Its something that has to be done to keep the industry afloat with a push in Digital Releases and a crap economy.
    Yes sometimes publishers abuse the fact, but to boycott preordering all together? Do you like your job? Cause if we stop pre-ordering we might at as well kiss games goodbye.

      • Hang on now, isn’t this the same shannon who said he/she was a EB Games manager in another comment thread?

    • I know as an EB manager you’re going to have a different view of this than most people.

      But…seriously? If we don’t pre-order, the entire games industry is going to grind to a halt?

      I call bullshit.

      The game will be there and I’ll buy it when I’m ready – if not, I’ll buy it somewhere else, or I’ll import it, or I’ll wait.

      Or, yknow, I’ll buy a digital distribution copy of it – which is fantastic as a consumer.

    • i dont pre order if it is in game content your getting i want a statue and art book / sound track th in game content should be in the game not something you pay extra for
      also digital distrobution can just fuck off

    • What utter garbage pre ordering doesn’t keep the game industry alive

      It’s not like the company actually gets that 5 dollars from GameStop when you lay it down it sits in their coffers until a week before release when GameStop then uses it to buy the stock.

      If anything pre orders could be seen to promote the used games market more since by selling a game to someone who might end up hating it increases the chance of having used copies sooner

      The only real benefit the games industry gets is if they have GameStop saying we’ll give you 200k for the pre order DLC you got

    • This is article of the year right here. Anyone who disagrees with what the article proposes can go jump off a cliff.

    • You’re that EB manager from a previous article. Where’s your evidence that the gaming industry will die if we don’t pre-order? Typical EB drone.

      • Very few people are ever “typical” even if you like to label them as such on the internet. I was an EB manager and trust me, there are a lot of employees completely cynical to their pre ordering policy. Fact is, it’s not really up to the employee who is just doing their job. You don’t hit a certain number of pre orders, you get in trouble. That’s why they do it, it doesn’t make them a drone, I’m sure everyone here does something at work they wish they didn’t have to. EB’s pre ordering philosophy is stupid, it is essentially market research that’s put to poor, if completely inept use. It’s no guarantee of a sale either, we used to get half our customers cancel something all the time anyway.

    • OK this is the first comment I’ve ever made on this site because what you’ve said is just about the most retarded thing I’ve ever read on the internet. HOW IN THE HELL does stopping pre-orders lead to us “kissing games goodbye”? I love how economic illiterates such as yourself can just spout a line about us having a “crap economy” without citing anything at all; Australia’s economy is arguably the STRONGEST in the developed world and our appetite for games will ensure that the industry is kept afloat. Stop trying to bullshit everyone with your ridiculous scaremongering, pre-orders simply act as a disincentive for quality control, pretending otherwise is just ignorant.

  • are available on every format and walking into some stores I find that sometimes a shop is empty with the exception of these newly released games. I was stung by pre ordering with bf 3 I love every battlefield game so when I saw preorder and get the expansion for the same price as the release barebones game I was like what the hell I’m saving €19 and it was old and new maps that explode around you with more weapons ! there was no release date so I guessed it was a month or so off ……I got an ad on the loading screen of bfbc2 so I decided to check the release date I had preordered a game that would not be available for nine months….I won’t be doing that again . the only other game I ever preordered was dark star one and as the writer mentioned it was a small release and I ordered it because I played the demo.

  • I push back by waiting until the game is at least 50% off on Steam or similar (75% preferably ). There’s a few exceptions, Diablo 3, which I’ll hopefully be buying on day one.
    Also buying the game straight away or pre-ordering means you get all the day one bugs and glitches which so many modern games have on release, for PC anyway. Wait a few months and the developers have usually released a few patches.

    • yes because all games have bugs and glitches mostly indie games have that problem on pc and there like 10 bucks

    • This. So many games hit half price within a couple of months, and quite a lot of those will drop to $20 before long too. Through this I have some twenty-odd 360 games (360 being a console I don’t particularly care for and would never have bought, but happened to win) that barely cost me any more than $30 each, all bought brand new from shops. Most of them for $20 or less. There aren’t many games that have me hypersalivating to play them the moment they get released (in fact I can’t remember the last time there was one) so preorders are reserved for when there’s a bonus that has my eye and/or I’ve got some trade bait that’ll land me extra credit.

      Far too many games unplayed as it is, there’s plenty of time to get around to the others.

  • But, but i preorderd Diablo III CE from Amazon and got it for US$115 including shipping, i think i got a good deal there, considering that i have seen it for preorder here in Melbourne for $200.

    I also preorderd Darksiders II CE on PS3 for $124 and i am okay with paying that for what i get in return.

    I don’t see a problem with preordering games if you get what you want in return for the amount of money you are willing to spend.

    If you don’t like it, you don’t have to buy it.

    • i pre oderd the freedom edition of ac3 for $130 and its worth it cause it isnt shitty ”extra” game content that should already be in the game but it does come with A 24cm figurine of Connor
      A steelbook case art George Washington’s notebook Lithograph
      and 2 extra missions and multi player content but its still better than it being 100% in game content

  • You clearly don’t understand what you are talking about Luke. This method seems to be keeping our current gaming universe in one piece. If publishers and retailers use this as a method to track how many to sell/buy or wether the game is made or not then if you get rid of it, you suffer an industry that doesn’t know what to make, what to buy and what to stock. I don’t recall a situation where I have missed out on purchasing something which I wanted in the last 10 years or so. Most retailers always have stock of the “hot” items, so abolishing this method would do more harm than good.

    I do appreciate the angle that you are trying to spin, but flat out telling the gaming community that they should STOP preordering which could hurt the industry is quite frankly irresponsible.

    I agree that publishers certainly are playing with certain tactics to spread DLC over many retailers, something which to me is annoying, but most of the time its irrelevant.

    Instead of plainly going off half cocked, give me an idea of what changes you would inact to make it better for everyone. Anyone can sit on the sidelines and shout stop doing that, but if you really love the industry and your job then give us what you would do!!!!! or at least open up a forum for people to discuss their wants.

      • To say Luke doesn’t know what he’s talking about is an over-reaction; his argument is logical, even if you disagree, which you are fully entitled to do.

        I’d say that using pre-order as a way for business to determine stock levels and development is a pretty poor business decision. Are a large amount of pre-orders an indicator of the products quality? No, it’s an indication of how much people are anticipating it, which is determined by many things; brand perception and marketing effectiveness to name a few.

        For what it’s worth, I’m not opposed to pre-ordering, and at any one time will have at least have one or a few. However, I’ll only pre-order things that I’m almost certain to enjoy. Having said that, it can be a tough choice when I face the possibility of “missing out” on pre-order bonuses, and that does influence my decision to pre-order somewhat.

        Pre-ordering isn’t about customer satisfaction. It’s about maximising profits, and of course there’s nothing wrong with that; that’s what a business is for after all, and in that sense, pre-ordering is critical to the industry.

        The industry that is. Not customers.

      • Um. Why is it that preorders are apparently so important? This sounds like the whole anti-used argument all over again. Plenty of other industries survive and/or thrive without preorders, what makes videogames so special as to require preorders?

        • I’m leaning more towards Franz’s philosophy. I’m not saying people have to pre-order, nor that the industry would die without them, just that pre-orders are good for making developers and distributors lots of money.

    • Basically you’re arguing against employing critical thinking towards purchase decisions, in favour of simply thowing money at the industry because they don’t know what they’re doing otherwise. But of course we end up with games that are loaded with presentation and thin on entertainment. There’s no need to deliver an actual game, when a mildly interactive tech demo meets the criteria.

      If the industry is so dependent on both its own and its customers’ fantasy, then perhaps it does need to take a step back and start making decisions by interacting with prospective customers and focusing on delivering substance. Let’s not forget preorders work online as well; there’s no need to ship any units, yet the preorder collection plates are passed around just the same, if not in an even more needy fashion.

      Of course it’s not entirely broken; some notable Kickstarter projects of late appear to be thriving the same way, albeit by offering way more and asking for way less. Let’s apply the crowd-sourcer’s premise to a potential Modern Warfare release;

      Pledge $60 You get a game
      Pledge $80 You get a game, dlc and a medal
      Pledge $150 You get a toy plus all other tiers

      Now for some perspective, if you pledged $100 to Double Fine, you’re getting the private beta, an art book, a poster, a game soundtrack, a dvd of the making of documentary and special thanks in the credits.

      It’s just an example that some people in the industry really want your money, others simply expect it. You tend to get what you paid for. When you’re paying for smoke and mirrors, expect an excess of fog and bloom effects and all the fun of witnessing a really good illusion.

  • steam does it best, pre order the game and you pay 10% less, good deal if you are intending on buying upon release.

    The writer forget to mention “Used Games” the Number 1 reason why pre-order is so aggressively pushed along with post launch DLC. Publishers want people to buy new and the best way would be for people to pre order, after that in order to keep the player from selling back the game to game-stop or what ever they release DLC to entice people to keep playing long enough not to bother taking it in. The problem with Pre ordering is that for many, we have all been burned really bad on over hyped products be it movies, games what ever, products that have been hyped as the second coming of Jesus only to be a horrible mess with good marketing.

  • Preordering isnt always good just for the store… its basically a layby. If you cant afford $100 up front on release day, then preordering a game ensures that every week you’re able to chuck down $10 or $20 and by the time the release rolls around its paid for. It works for consumers too.

    I must admit though, with all the extra crap “exclusive” to stores, it does get a bit annoying.

    • So what you’re saying is… if you can’t afford to lay down the lot at once, you should save up beforehand?

      Ingenious 😛

  • My respect for Luke just shot right up. I’ve only half-heartedly considered this before, but its so true. My only point of departure is that I dont think people are preordering based on advertising either. They preorder sequels. When thats how the success of a game is determined, what chance does a new IP have.

    • I agree. Positive re-inforcement is way better than punishment.

      Good job, Luke. Keep writing well thought-out articles that encourage discussion.

  • If reviews could be trusted as a legitimate form of review then maybe the deterrents to pre-ordering would be justifiable

    Most major publications release their review before the games release anyways meaning that there is still a back out point $5 on a game doesn’t mean you must pay for it. So reviews could still stop the pre order masses.

    Problem is though that too few publications can be trusted and generally the more trustworthy the publication the less likely it gets it’s review out early since there is a restriction if your review is not higher than an 8 or so

    • Which is an issue with the current system. And in a way an effort to ensure that their staff are actually doing something other than babysitting the store.

      The fact is though it’s a moronic practice. Pre-ordering games can only be achieved by someone that comes and talks to you. Sales staff aren’t going to be able to go up to people and go hey pre-order this, right now even though you have 9+ months to do so.

  • Yeah, preorders are getting a bit ridiculous in the last few years. Alot of the added stuff is just cheap junk really, aside from a few well thought out limited editions. I used to preorder virtually every limited/collectors edition, but mostly only worry about getting editions with art books now. Though I love stuff like, the Oblivion septum coin, bioshock 2 vinyl LP and the Assasins Creed encyclopedia is great – stuff that enhances and breaks the 4th wall is great, just not cheap shit with the official stamped logos. And I also got burned by EB with the Skyrim Limited Edition, had a preorder 12 months before release, and they couldnt fill it through lack of stock in my area – one would you believe. One!

  • He didn’t mention the practical reason why I occasionally preorder, perhaps because I’m the only one who does it. 😛 If I really, really can’t wait for an upcoming game to hit sale prices on Steam for example and I am cashed up, I will preorder knowing I won’t have to find the cash down the track on release day. As a uni student this is an issue for me sometimes. 😉

    • I don’t have much against pre-ordering; it comes in handy when a special edition of a game is coming out, though. Let’s say there’s going to be a Batman Arkham City: Game of the Year Edition which is coming out on March 29 and September for European countries and Australasia. You look at the reviews of the game and determine whether it might get a special edition based on the score. When you find out there is one, that’s when pre-ordering come in handy; you’ll normally find regular editions of the game about 8/10 of the time. If you pre-order it, you don’t need to go looking for it, rushing around the stores just to find that one special edition. And who knows? You might get a pre-order bonus. That’s why pre-ordering can be good. I do disagree with store exclusive bonuses, though.

  • Agreed and a half!
    But i will always preorder certain things. E.g. Collectors editions of games that i really want. And games like Diablo 3 which is going to be selling like wildfire!!! Seriously Went into game today to see if they could transfer my preorder to my hometown seeing ill be there on launch day and every store has all their stock all ready pre ordered…


  • Well done Luke, respect gained and earned. I haven’t pre-ordered since Ocarina of Time 3D came our and I ended up canceling it to get it earlier and a lot cheaper. You can throw in a piece of shitty DLC or a plastic Ocarina but in the end I want to buy the game as cheap as possibble and if I can as early as well. The last high-end edition I brought of a game was inFamous 2 and the pre-order ‘goodies’ are laying around collecting dust. Unless it’s absolutely fantasic I won’t fork out hundreds.

  • ” There’d be a chance for either professional critics or like-minded peers to get their hands on a game and tell you whether it’s actually worth your time or money.”

    Are these the same professional critics who are forced to play by the rules of the big publishers if they want to continue being “allowed” access to press evemts, etc?

    I don’t remember the last time I read a review in a magazine that didn’t come across as a paid advertisement.

    • If you wait to post release before buying, you can read reviews by compqnies who have an editorial policy of paying for games themselves.

      • Once again though, taste is subjective. Hearing other people’s thoughts isn’t any more a guarantee if you’ll like a game or not than judging by demos ,videos and commercials.

  • Sometimes I decide to wait (possibly years) for the complete editions to appear. They are cheaper and I know I am not missing any content. Day 1 purchases are rare for me, I dislike all the spin for what turn out to be shit games and the hassle of returning them.

  • To all the kids who go on about getting the collectors editions, supporting the dev’s etc.

    Let me take you back to 1996 when big and myers had PC sections.

    Not a shelf, not a corner, sections, im taliking atleast 3-4 shelves of pc games or in the case of the tea tree plaza myers 6 double sided shelves full of pc games.

    Preorder BS didnt happen, the game came out it was $100…. if it was good it retained its price if it didnt perform that well it went through the racks and gradually hit the $20 and under pretty quickly.

    If you bought the first release of the game you were guaranteed 3 things, A nice box, instruction manual and a case.

    Most of the time you got this there would usually be something else with it as well whether it be a tshirt, soundtrack, art book, redline racer even came with $30 sunglasses.

    If you missed out on a game you wanted it was no dramas, they would simply call up the supplier and as long as it was in the print cycle (within first year of coming out) and left a 10% deposit you would have it ordered in.

    It has all gone to hell. You tell me back then the australian dolalr is going to get as high as it did, and that we were actually going to publish games in this country would have blown my mind. Back then most games had a healthy mark up on them in the shops myers used to get the game in and mark it up exponentially which is why their sales got so low, they could take losses to get rid of some product.

    These days we get told this crap about how all the game shops make next to no money on each copy, i’ve supplied EB and GAME they even mislead their managers about how much titles cost.

    But beside the point its now 2010 and we’re still paying $90-100 per title for whats now known as a standard edition, disc and packet….. limited amounts of installs, malware called steam.

    When I worked in their supply I asked one of the head honchos why game prices were structured as they were and why they kept cutting down on the goodies and was told, to get a game on the shelf it costs $5.00 this was back in the day of getting disc, case, instruction manual and book. $5.00 no matter what the game was. Pre-ordering and DLC was unheard of at the time.

    It happened gradually, first the boxes shrank, then the manuals shrank, now in many cases they are gone… valve used a software leak as an excuse to push DRM onto us, others soon followed. As a pc gamer I cant even play most PC games anymore because oh wait we wanted to blame piracy so this game is STEAM only.

    So you think ok i’ll give steam a go and always hear the fanboys going on about the sales….. and the sales are the same prices you find in retail stores….. so we get told for years games are expensive because they have to make all the physical components… they now remove them and prices are still pretty much the same.

    Now we’re at a point of them even removing parts of the game and selling it to us separately.

    Fanboys get behind the company claim everyone feels entitled to premium content that was never part of the game etc… go on about how they can save and switch pc’s and the cloud has their saves.

    Go back 10 years… you buy a PC game, you install it… your playing in 2 minutes you wanna go over to a mates house whack the game on their pc bring a copy of your safe files and your good to go.

    We havn’t really evolved. Think about it.

    Hell for the last 5 years now we’ve been paying more for collectors editions that were pretty much the standard editions back in 1996 and the rest are blown out of proportions.

    Some just scream the old proverb, you can have a rolls royce thrown in, if you pay for it that is.

    Like buying a collectors pack of a game you can get for $60. or you buy the collectors edition $120 exclusive to one retailer, contains crap their supplier printed that we’rent intended as part of the game. Or you can buy the Survivor edition, comes with a crappy statue or molded plastic piece that you never get to see before you buy or it looks bigger in the advert, and a standard version of the game.

    All yours for $250. FFS

    Or hey you could just buy the vanilla version of the game and enjoy it.

    That is until you get slaughtered in the first five minutes over and over again by the fanboys who preordered it so got levelled up heavily already because of pre-order DLC. Or until you finish the game only to find out you didnt run into tracer tong even though the dev’s said they made a mission with him in it… but oh wait it was pre order dlc.

    Hell…. the best one yet, finishing the game to find out the ending wasnt even included and will be released as DLC

    • acex1138, you need to relies that it’s all options, don’t complain about something your not willing to buy and if you buy it don’t complain that you did because that just makes you look like a fool.

      And as long as i am not spending your MONEY on collectors editions i don’t see how you have a say in what versions of games i buy.

      If you don’t like collectors editions don’t buy them, if you think there too expensive don’t buy them, if you think the extras are crap don’t buy them, it’s all really simple.

      If people are getting an advantage over you by buying or receiving day 1 dlc, that effects the multilayer portion of the game, then don’t buy that game.

      I don’t buy dlc and i don’t play multiplayer games, and i wait for game of the year editions of games (still have not bought red dead redemption, waiting for price drop on the complete edition) and i never ever buy Capcom games day 1, after seeing what the did with SFIV that convinced me that i would be wasting my money buying day 1 from Capcom, i also buy most of my games second hand because i really don’t care about how much money the industry makes, i am here to play games and get decent value for my money, and i do.

      But again these are all choices, there is no use complaining about something devs and publishers aren’t going to change, they want there money and they are making it.

      • I didn’t see him stating that everybody should follow his opinion was best and that he should dictate yours.

        ‘The buy if you want, don’t if you don’t’ argument works by itself but it does little for topics like these, to use it i this case would typically imply that by extension you are for the negatives brought up here, as long as blame resides on stupid consumers that are clearly not you. I know you have stated that you don’t agree with shitty DLC and the like but how does it help the situation to remind us that all those ills are the result of big business?

        I mean games these days give us half as much for twice the price and the fact that we can ‘choose’ to buy it or not makes it ok?

      • “there is no use complaining about something devs and publishers aren’t going to change, they want there money and they are making it.”

        It’s this kind of apathy that publishers rely on in order to make the money that they do.

        Publishers will do anything in order to make an extra dollar from gamers. They are a business, not a creative outlet. People must draw a distinction between the creatives who make games (the developers) and the businessmen who are only interested in their share price (the publishers).

        I think people are often prepared to defend publishers in a misguided attempt at defending developers.

        I’d argue that publishers are as much an enemy of developers as they are you and I.

        The only true power we have as consumers is to vote with our wallets. They only thing businessmen understand is a change to their bottom line.

        I am certainly tired of publishers dictating to us, what we want.

        If we choose to nothing under the auspices that it nothing we do will affect change then things will only get worse.

        The video game industry is bigger than it has ever been. It’s up for the businesses to meet our needs and innovate in order to find competitive advantage. There is no requirement for us, as consumers, to blindly believe and follow what we are told by businessmen.

        If consumers are to vote with their wallets it will cause publishers to change the way they do business. It certainly will not lead to the death of this industry.

        Perhaps publishers may one day find value in creating brilliant, innovative products that capture consumer attention rather than simply trying to rape and pillage consumers for every last cent they can squeeze from them.

        I’m yet to see a compelling argument I support of pre-orders be made in the comments.

        This is a good piece Luke, I hope people listen

        • @Snacuum, But how can the shitty DLC effect you if you don’t buy it (and avoid games that the dlc gives an advantage in mutiplayer), there is a tremendous amount of games out there this generation there must be some games you can play that don’t have that type of dlc, i mean i have 36 games on my PS3 alone (and i would have a lot more if i had more cash, but that is my problem not the gaming industry’s) and i only play single player games.

          All this complaining about dlc makes me think of a person watching tv, he turns it on and flips through the channels looking for something to watch, he lands on a channel which is playing a show he hates and gets upset, he continues to flip through the channels and finally finds a show he likes and starts to watch it, but he isn’t enjoying his show as much as he would because that other show he hates is on the the other channel and that is upsetting him.

          Now that tv show he hates is doing nothing to him, its not forcing him to watch it, it simply exists there as a choice and there are probably a lot of people out there that like the tv show he hates and that is why it is on tv.

          Its the same with dlc, its a choice some people like it, others don’t no one is forcing you to buy it (just like no one is forcing that guy to watch the show he hates)

          @Staf, i don’t care about publishers or developers, the video game industry is the biggest entertainment industry in the world, i think there doing okay.

          They put out what they think will sell and for the most part it does, i don’t preorder many games and if i preorder a game its always the CE version and it always has either an art book or behind the scenes dvd (physical media not digital download) i buy these things because i enjoy them, other people probably do the same.

          People generally buy what they enjoy and they don’t like to miss out, if you preorder a CE you are guaranteed a CE on release day, people want there games and they don’t want to miss out, that’s why they preorder.

          You don’t have to like it.

          • “But how can the shitty DLC effect you if you don’t buy it (and avoid games that the dlc gives an advantage in mutiplayer),”

            It affects me by being the new hot shit that all games companies now love. I may not be directly affected by shit DLC I didn’t buy, but I am affected by the cool games that I want that have now become piece-mealed with dlc before release.

            “but he isn’t enjoying his show as much as he would because that other show he hates is on the the other channel and that is upsetting him.”

            It’s not upsetting him because he knows there’s a TV he hates on another channel, he’s upset because the next 6 channels have decided to show the same terrible programming.

            “Now that tv show he hates is doing nothing to him, its not forcing him to watch it, it simply exists there as a choice and there are probably a lot of people out there that like the tv show he hates and that is why it is on tv.”

            Yes I agree. In fact we had a bunch of channels that showed a variety of shows all appealing to these varying audiences, and they all shared the same reasonable timetables, the same advertisement practices. But that’s in the past now… because business, because marketing, because trends, because commercial hegemony.

            “You don’t have to like it.”

            No we don’t. We don’t have to accept it just because it can be explained. Things were FINE before, and yes I know it makes me and the haters here sound like ‘dinosaurs’ and hell you could even use new hottness that is ‘entitlement’ to describe us. However it then does sound like the same ‘entitlement’ that an elderly person would clearly be guilty of when they say “They don’t make them like they used to.”

          • Man i have been playing games for quite a while, i remember when i could go down to my local arcade and deposit 20 cents into space invaders or galaga and have heaps of fun, then more games came out and soon i was paying 40 cents to play a game, then 60 cents, then 1 dollar, then 2 dollars, then 4 dollars (daytona when it first came out) and then there was nba jam which was depending on where you were playing it 1 to 2 dollars a quarter (4 to 8 dollars a game).

            Things change and we either go with the flow or do something else, you don’t have to buy there day 1 dlc, its obviously not for you just ignore it or wait for the complete edition of said game.

            I very rearly buy games day 1, i wait to see what they are going to release dlc for it and if they are i wait till the complete edition comes out and i grab that or if no complete edition comes out i just get the regular one and don’t worry about the dlc at all.

            You have control of you money not them, you decide what you want to buy and when you want to buy it.

          • Hey mate, my comment about the publishers v developers wouldnt relevant to you personally but I still feel that it’s a fair summary of the attitudes of some gamers.

            You make a reasonable point about CE, and i can see some value in that for some people. Not me personally, but different strokes… where there is some apparent value then more power to you.

            Having said that, I simply don’t see the value in pre-ordering a title where there is essentially no added value. The last time I pre-ordered a game would have been around 1998, and that was simply to ensure supply. That is the only valid reason I see for pre-ordering. You confirmed that with your comment regarding CE versions, it’s about ensuring that you can get your hands on (what should be) a fairly limited release.

            The vanilla edition of games are released in such vast quantities these days that supply is no longer an issue. Publishers are simply attempting to artificially manufacture demand.

            “They put out what they think will sell and for the most part it does” This hits at the crux of the issue. People are pre-ordering titles and subsequently affirming their support for day one DLC (and whatever other tactics publisher X uses to help move game Y pre-orders).

            Most of the on disc DLC stuff and other pre-order bonuses doesnt directly affect me and doesn’t bother me with regards to making my purchase. A competitve advantage is another story though.

            I have no issue with people wanting to pre-order, my issue lies with publishers causing dev teams to allocate resources to creating pre-order bonuses and rubbish DLC to simply encourage pre-orders.

            The issue is not pre-ordering, the issue is the current state of game releases. Our community needs to push back and force publishers to stop shafting us with rubbish pre-order bonuses. You can’t really tell me that Batman Arkham City was the pinnacle of game releases can you? It’ll only get worse.

          • I haven’t played Arkham city yet, i am waiting for the complete edition, you see i lernt from how they did Arkham Asylum that they would make a complete edition of Arkham city, some thing will go for Borderlands 2 when it is released, they will pump out heaps of dlc and then release the complete edition later.

            How many people are going to complain about Borderlands 2 i wonder, when the solution is very simple just wait for the complete edition at a discounted price then buy it.

            With the preordering the only reason i can think of preordering a standard edition game would be to get a reminder that the game has been released, most shops give you a call and let you know the game is in for you to pick up.

            Some people live busy lives (jobs, kids, exercise, extra marital affairs etc. etc.) and may forget release dates for games its nice to have a reminder (this does not apply to everyone though).

    • >malware called steam.
      You lost me here.
      Yes, Steam is DRM (yes, you said so yourself later on) but calling it Malware is just petty.
      And our getting dicked over by the prices of things isn’t Valve’s fault, it’s the publishers of games who decide they want to milk Australia for what they can.

      I agree on most other points though.

    • Whilst I agree with many of your points, Steam sales are a lot cheaper than retail sales. I got metro 2033 for $4. The cheapest boxed copy Ive seen was on ozgameshop and that was 20.

    • I agree wholeheartely.
      People who ignore video games history when making an argument for the future are only falling for the marketing schemes of the big companies.

      Day 1 DLC, content lock DLC, DRM, and now pre-ordering are all touted as being perfectly acceptable and even necessary for “the good of the industry”. This is bullshit.

      If people still choose to support these money-grubbing tactics for whatever reason then I guess that’s your choice. But I’ll be damned if I don’t at least try to convince you that by falling for these marketing ploys, you are doing your part in making the companies bolder and greedier.

      For the good of the consumers, buy wisely.

  • I kind of agree. And already do this. Right now I only pre-order those games that have something substantial in the pre-order. Otherwise I’ll wait until release and see who is selling it cheapest.

  • This is exactly the half baked, hacknied sort of pseudo information I’ve come to expect from this website.

    For the record, and on behalf of everyone who read this article but became to sarcastic/frustrated to even contemplate replying I say this.

    (It’s very early in the morning here btw and I apologize for my terrible pre-coffee spelling.)

    We are not sheep,
    we have not felt an increased pressure to pre-order.

    We are not subconsciously compelled to pre order like zombies and are we made to endure often frankly terrible marketing gimmicks by suppliers. We are not that fickle. We will pre order a game if we want a chance at getting it quickly. That’s how supply and demand works.

    While you are at it… Why not do a piece telling everyone to stop attending midnight launches? See if you can ruin the fun for them too.

    AND! “Educate” the masses on non-conformism by encouraging everyone who attends Ccosplay events to wear plain clothes. Although if you did that, that colleague of yours would have nothing to “write” about.

    And when I say “write,” I mean write two sentences of drivel and then post about 4 pictures.

    • Because of surplus stock, its been a long, long time since you’ve had to pre-order to get the game first. Luke points this out in the article. In fact, preordering can only stop you from getting it early, because your preorder is with a company that hasn’t broken street date.

      If it its not about getting it first, then why are you doing it: because advertising told you too. At least own it.

      And don’t try to compare preordering it to midnight launches, where you 1. Actually get it as soon as possible, and 2. Do it surounded by other gamers creating atmosphere.

      • People preorder because they want to, it has nothing to do with you, they are not spending your money and if advertising told them too then that’s why they did it as well.

        And again they are not spending your money so why should you care?

  • I never used to preorder, back when I lived in the UK, because I could usually guarantee that I’d be able to walk into a store on the day of release and pick up the game I wanted. When I moved out to Australia, the first time I tried that, there was no stock left when I got there.

    So now, I preorder if I really want the thing on day one. Better safe, I figure, than sorry.

    And for the record, when I tried to grab a copy of GTA4 back in the UK? Almost every store I went to had sold out on day one. I was lucky enough to be able to find a copy in a tiny independent game store. Not exactly ‘plenty available days after release’…

  • Having worked for a publisher in a previous life I know that the more pre-orders generated = bigger day 1 orders from the retailers = more successful launch. Yes – pre-orders in the past used to be purely to ensure you got a copy on day 1 but the industry has matured far beyond that now .

    The reason publishers are so fixated on pre-orders is that they not only give the publisher a good case when convincing a retailer to stock their product, but they also allow the publisher to track how close they are going to be to their financial targets for a launch as well as roughly how many units they will need to manufacture to cover demand (and also what incentives work best to provide better launches in the future).

    • “but the industry has matured far beyond that now .”

      Haw haw haw.

      One of the hard things about marketing and sales projection is determining the trace of origin. What I mean is while pre-orders are a good indication of if an upcoming game will sell and bolster the retailer’s confidence, it’s not THE indicator. Would there be any of these pre-order figures the retailer relies on if they didn’t parrot at people to pre-order? Would there be as much interest if the marketing was not really well done by the publisher? What happens when the marketing is left solely up to the publisher or the retailer?

      You could call me out on being “old-fashioned” or out-of-touch with business but I remember a time when the best indicator of sales was the game selling.

      • Agree fully that pre-order figures aren’t the only contributor to building up a retailers confidence in a product nor are they a definitive crystal ball into how a product is going to sell on day 1 – more often that not though a games day 1 performance will be relative to pre-orders numbers.

        Pre-orders are definitely reliant on both the retailer and the publisher acting in unison – the retailer is reliant that the publisher will provide appropriate marketing to boost the buzz surrounding the product so the retailer is able to capitalise at store level and capture this buzz in the form of pre-orders with their various incentives.

        Totally agree that game-dependant DLC as a pre-order incentive is a terrible terrible idea…

        “but the industry has matured far beyond that now .” – yea it even felt a bit weird writing that – by ‘matured’ i mean 10 years ago pre-order numbers weren’t seen with the same value to a publisher as they are now (to Luke’s point).

        • yeah I was just targeting the funny semantics, but it is an interesting debate of which I wish game companies would shed real light on. Not in the “I don’t work for them and now I’ll tell you about it in my memoirs” way but real up front honesty. Ahh, we can dream I suppose.

    • “as well as roughly how many units they will need to manufacture to cover demand”

      If only they had pre-ordering back in the day when those ET games were made. Then there wouldn’t be a landfill full of them.

  • It depends on what you want, I wanted Black Ops Hardened edition or whatever it was called for the original zombies maps, but it was already sold out in just pre-orders . So there is still room for it on special or limited editions

  • With Kickstarter, pre-ordering has been taken to the next level, indicating you are willing to spend money on sights unseen before it even hits the metaphorical shops.

    I’ll pre-order stuff if it has a good collector’s edition or I think it will be a niche title that the store will only order in for those that pre-ordered. Other than that, it’s just like putting an alarm in a calendar that there is a game coming out and I should pick up a copy.

    I have no qualms about cancelling at any time though and quite often I’ve cancelled based on articles about the game but then bought it at a later date based on reviews (or sometimes not). No publisher should ever take my pre-order as an indication of sales strength.

  • When I pre-order games, it has absolutely nothing to do with the bonuses that come with it. I pre-order games so that I can pay for them over time instead of shelling out $60 all at once!!!

  • Also, on that same note, I’m sure that there’s enough people that pre-order for that same reason that it could many game companies because sales number would be WAY down if people couldn’t pre-order.

  • You want to know the argument against pre-ordering?

    Guild Wars 2.

    During the recent Beta weekend, they had “sold out” of digitally distributed software. The only version they mysteriously had available was a $150 collectors edition.

    This is why all you pre-order people have ruined game releases. Publishers will now rape you with “no stock” digital releases, with additional content which is already developed but you must pay extra to access. Their business models are now based around a 3-tier approach, the “base package”, the “enthusiast” and the “collector”. And they will charge you extra for this content because they know you will.

    I long for the days when you paid $20 dollars and received Doom in it’s entirity on a few floppy disks. No hidden suprises, no withheld content, just honest-to-goodness gaming. I got burned with the Battlefield 3 pre-order lie, never again.

    As long as you continue to let the big publishers get away with it, they will continue to disappoint.

    Vote with your wallets.

  • Luke, I hope you read this. I’m not normally a fan of your short, pointless articles, but this is a great article—well done! I totally agree with your argument that preordering has become bastardised (as has the whole software marketing paradigm in the last 10 years.

    Please write more articles like this. Tell it like it is and don’t be afraid to flop your cock on the block.

  • “Publishers use them to gauge the expected retail success of a game once it actually hits shelves.”

    So publishers actually do use pre-orders to see how many copies will sell? Yet when Beatles: Rock Band was released in Oz, they didn’t even release enough to cover the pre-orders. Kinda shows just how amateurishly that franchise was handled in this country.

  • I’ve mused the reasoning for pre-ordering, and I think this is a pretty dysphemistic take on the whole thing.

    Preordering is simple.

    1. Retailers take preorders, offering rewards to consumers to do so
    2. Consumers take rewards and are happily assured they will get a popular game on release
    3. Retailers ADJUST THEIR STOCK and order more NON PREORDER stock, so that they have supplied initial demand and can also meet subsequent NON PREORDER demand.

    The reason there is now stock on shelves days after release is good business, not greedy corporate planning. I happily preordered games such as Skyward Sword knowing I’d enjoy them regardless of what reviewers say. Also the reason demos are less uses is because manufacturing disks is time consuming and expensive when people will just go online and check preview footage and first impressions anyways.

    TLDR: Preorders are to make sure stores can meet demand, and savvy consumers aren’t stupid enough to preorder a game without knowing it’ll be good. If people blindly preorder a game without proper research, that’s their problem – and not some organisational agenda.

  • Oh so pre orders are killing games. I thought it was the unoriginal 90 dollar release titles that were doing that.

  • I’m one of those old fashioned (relatively speaking) folk who preorder for the cool physical stuff. Total War: Shogun 2 for instance, that chess set is pretty cool. I won’t preorder for mere digital products though since they’ll be DLC within a month anyway. Fortunately most games these days ship with digital only products, maybe an exclusive map (For the low price of 20USD extra, you too can be playing on a map only ten other people have!) so my preordering has plummeted. As has regular game buying, GOG now takes up my money.

    Which manages to send a “No to DRM” message at the same time. 😀

  • Best article you have written in a long time Luke. Makes sense too, I think I am going to stop preordering games so often.

  • Obviously this game journalist has never worked retail. Such as Best Buy, Gamestop, or any other retailers that sell video games. A great example is Persona 4 Arena being sold out at over 10 Gamestops in my state. All were preorders. This guy’s “logic” is not supported by anything but suspicion and biased information. This is Kotaku writers at their finest. They do not bother researching an issue or even talk to members of the community.

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