Video Game Pre-ordering
I am an avid video game player. If a game that I love, or have been dying to play comes out, I’ll be one of the first to be in line to get it. But these days, when it comes to video game purchasing, a popular concept is the idea of pre-ordering. I used to pre-order all of my games, but now, I look at the idea and shake my head in disgust. This has been a battle in the video game business for quite some time, whether or not pre-ordering should happen. The worst case of pre-ordering comes from the video game specific retailer GameStop. GameStop is already a controversial retailer as they buy and sell used games. The main problem with used games, is that the publishers and developers of the game get no cut of what GameStop sells of them, because it’s purely a business between the game owner and the retailer. Also, they underpay you for your used games, while jacking the price up on them so that they are able to make a hefty profit off of the game which you spent a lot of money on. But I digress.
Let’s say you walk into a GameStop on the day of a big game release. As you walk in, you see piles and piles of the game that just came out today, and you’re excited that they have some in stock. As you walk up to the register and ask for the game, the employee tells you that they are out of stock at the time. Puzzled, you point to the stack of games behind him and ask him what those are then. He tells you that they are all pre-ordered copies, and that they are all accounted for. Checking your watch, you see that the store is about to close in an hour and tell him that they still haven’t been claimed, so why can’t you buy one. He tells you that they have a week to pick them up before he can actually sell them to anyone else. This is a situation that I feel is ridiculous. Yes, I understand that pre-ordering guarantees you a copy of the game when it comes out, but for those of us who are excited enough to go on day one to go and pick up the game just to find that we’re not allowed to get it really rains on someone’s parade.
GameStop needs to entice you to pre-order from them though, so that they can get a guarantee that they are going to get your money when the game comes out, so they bribe you with “pre-order bonuses”. This is where the game industry hits a serious road block for me. The following is a list of pre-order bonuses that you can receive from GameStop if you pre-order the game from them.
- WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2010 – GameStop exclusive in-game character “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
- Assassin’s Creed 2 – unlock the Palazzo Medici, a majestic building with treasure inside of it
- Dragon Age Origins – in-game items Feral Wolf Charm and Memory Ring
- God of War: Collection – code allowing you to download the God of War III demo
- Left 4 Dead 2 – in-game American baseball bat weapon
- The Saboteur – in-game Nazi knife weapon
- MAG – in-game character S.V.E.R. and GameStop exclusive beta access
Some of these pre-order bonuses are trivial, such as the in-game weapons, especially if you’re able to unlock them later on in the game anyways. Even if you aren’t, it’s still just a single weapon, and won’t change the gameplay too much. But let’s look at the game WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2010 for a moment. If you know anything about wrestling, or have even heard anything about it, you know that “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is a very popular and well known wrestler, albeit a little old by now. Basically what the developer did is took him out of the game so that only the people who pre-order from GameStop would be able to play using him. Again, obviously this is a very small issue, and to most people, wouldn’t matter, but those people who are hardcore fans of the WWE are now forced to not only buy the game from GameStop only, but also pre-order it.
Another thing that has baffled me lately is the idea of making the demo for your upcoming game exclusive. In saying this, I turn to the God of War: Collection. As of November 17, the only people who will have access to download the God of War III demo, a demo which is supposed to help and try encouraging people who maybe are on the fence if they want to buy the game to follow through by giving them actual gameplay, will be the people who buy this collection. To me, this completely defeats the purpose of a demo, unless of course they follow through by opening it to the public sometime later on. But by doing that, that means that this pre-order bonus is completely useless, unless someone is just so excited to play the demo that getting it before everyone else makes them think that they are superior.
A lot of people ask me if I pre-ordered these popular games which have just come out or are coming out in the future, and I continue to tell them that I haven’t. By pre-ordering these games, yes, I may get some sort of bonus (in-game Revenge Attribute bonus for Uncharted 2: Among Thieves) or early access to a feature in the game (early access to the multi-player mode “Extraction” for Army of Two: The 40th Day), but none of that is worth the hassle for me, when I can just go out and get the game from my local Target the day it comes out without any issue. When developers start pulling features from their games so that only people who pre-order can access them, then I’ll start to be upset, but until then, I’ll just play the game the way it’s been meant to be played.
Have you pre-ordered games recently? Which ones? For what bonuses? Weigh in in the comments! :)