Why Do People Pre-Order Video Games?

Jul 17, 2022 | 1 Votes by Mikhail 10 rate Your vote
Pre-ordering games is already an industry staple. The thing is, why do millions of gamers do this, and should it continue? Well, let’s take a look at a few things to consider. WWGDB - Why Do People Pre-Order Video Games?

Preordering video games is comparable to preordering other items. In a nutshell, this means you’ll spend money and make a purchase without getting hold of the commodity yet.

It is a practice that is already a norm in the games industry since the 90s when real-life stores started it. After all, there were instances where people lined up in the wee hours of the morning to grab hold of a SNES or SEGA Genesis cartridge.

Fortunately, if you want to preorder a game today, you don’t need to line up in front of a real-life shop because you can do so online. And yes, you can perform this instantly if you’re obtaining a digital copy, thanks to digital storefronts like Steam, Epic Games, GoG, etc.

With all that said, why do people do it, and should it continue? In terms of being practical, it makes little sense since you’d be spending money for something you can’t hold yet. Moreover, let’s face it: games aren’t exactly a crucial item. But hey, if you’re an avid gamer, you’ve probably done this before - I have, and I don’t think I’ll stop anytime soon.

Why do publishers/developers do this in the first place?

Bloodstained is a great example of a Kickstarter game

Before we dig deep, let’s consider why publishers and developers enable their player base to do this.

Of course, the main reason is money. Preorders ensure that cash will head over into the pockets of the developers or publishers, which is vital, especially if they’ve underestimated development costs. In a way, it could also support development, like in the case of Kickstarter projects where preorders help fund a video game project. Good examples include Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night and Pillars of Eternity.

Apart from having cash in their pockets, it also helps developers gauge product interest. It will help a video game’s marketing team determine whether their trailers and other promotional campaigns are enough to render people to go over the fence and make a pre-purchase. Finally, preorders act like makeup since higher numbers will generate more interest.

So, now that we’ve determined why publishers and devs enable preorders, let’s move on to why people do it:

They’re excited

If Skyrim looked this good, imagine TES VI

It’s normal to be completely excited about a game to the point of preordering. I am guilty of this, especially when Crusader Kings III and No Man’s Sky released their respective trailers. In other cases, it wouldn’t be farfetched to hear gamers do it for highly-anticipated titles and sequels. We’re sure preorders for upcoming games like GTA VI and The Elder Scrolls VI will be through the roof, given their loyal fanbases.

However, it’s important not to lose yourself to the hype. After all, you wouldn’t want to be part of the demographic of the next point, which is…

They’re making a totally uninformed choice

No Man's Sky is a fantastic redemption story

This hits hard. Again, I preordered No Man’s Sky, and we all know how it ended post-release: it was a lackluster, monotonous game with little to do. Thankfully, the developer, Hello Games, more than made up for it with constant updates, making it a fantastic redemption story. Regardless, it taught everyone who preordered it a lesson: make an informed choice when preordering.

The No Man’s Sky situation makes it clear that developers should know about a game’s release state. Moreover, this also makes demos, or in Steam’s case, prologues, necessary.

Brand trust also plays a factor, although there are instances wherein even the most established gaming brands stumble. For example, EA flopped with Mass Effect Andromeda, while CD Projekt Red, probably one of the most renowned companies today, failed their fanbase with the bug-ridden Cyberpunk 2077.

They want a “shipment on release” guarantee + bonuses

Persona 5's special edition

Developers today incentivize preorders by giving bonuses. Good examples include receiving a revolver keychain if you preordered a Red Dead Redemption 2 physical copy and exclusive skins and costumes. Some of these bonuses are quite rare and, in gaming, are a must-have.

Most importantly, it guarantees players a “shipment on release” and a sure copy when the release date arrives. This barely plays a factor in regular copies, but it’s a must for editions that include rare figurines and collectibles. For example, Persona 5’s Take Your Heart edition came with a steel book, stuffed Mona toy, and an official art book, which are rare today. Such commodities are limited, and buyers who manage to secure preorders should consider themselves a tad lucky.

Should you continue to pre-order?

I know people who regretted preordering Cyberpunk

Preordering will likely continue, and it should. After all, it benefits both developers and gamers in a variety of ways.

However, before adding to the cart and making a purchase, be sure that it’s an informed choice and that you won’t regret making the preorder. Many people felt duped when they finally got their hands on their copies of Cyberpunk 2077 and No Man’s Sky. Moreover, be sure to check if you can refund your purchases just in case you’ll end up feeling buyer’s remorse.

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