We have asked and answered “Why Pre-Order?” but it’s also important to ask “Why Not Pre-Order?” This article will be the first in a series of posts that will attempt to answer the question “Why Not Pre-Order?”
In my previous three-part series, I addressed the most common reasons why people pre-order games and why each reason either does or does not have merit. In this installment, I’ll be giving you the reasons that have turned me off of pre-ordering games. Additionally, I’ll also be addressing ad business practices within the video game industry in general, since the two issues are so closely related. As with the previous series, I’d like to make it clear that I’m not saying “people are not allowed to pre-order games.” I’m stating that it’s a bad idea to pre-order games most of the time. I’m not telling people what to do with their money. You're capable of exercising rational judgement: use your money wisely, or don’t, it’s your choice.
[Please note: these articles are not meant to address pre-ordering with regards to Nintendo games. I consider pre-ordering Nintendo games a separate topic and discussion for another time since Nintento's business practices are so very different from that of the rest of the industry. These articles are aimed at non-Nintendo video game developers.]
Why Not Pre-Order? Bad Games
There’s one main reason why gamers play games: entertainment. We want to enjoy ourselves and not be bored. We spend so much money and many hours on this passion of ours. It’s the same reason why people watch TV, watch movies, read books, and listen to
music. We do all of this because we enjoy it. However, not every game is going to be entertaining, just as not every movie, book, TV show, or song is going to be compelling. Sometimes in the medium that we enjoy, there are entries which are poorly created. Those items can end up being lackluster.
When purchasing a game, how is a gamer to know if they are going to enjoy their experience? As with pretty much every other item available for purchase, this can be accomplished by reading reviews prior to purchasing the item. Game reviewers often are able to give us first impressions before a game releases. Impressions from beta testers and people who demoed that game at a convention can also help form early impressions of the game without having consumer feedback. What would you say about a person who purchased a brand-new car without having researched how well the car was made or designed? There are many readily available free resources for
discovering the quality and reception of items for purchase before purchasing them. A consumer just needs to wait for a product to be released in order to discover the product’s quality without risking their own money. Reviews are typically released at least the same day as the item, or, on occasion, several days before release of the item.
Information is the most powerful tool for consumers. It informs us as to the value and quality of potential purchases. It can save us from wasting money that could have otherwise been spent on a
better product. If every single purchaser of Sim City 2013 knew ahead of time that the game would be literally unplayable for weeks after release (editor's note: read here to find out why) then very few, if any, people would have purchased the game at release. They would have at least waited until it was playable. The only way to discover information like that, as to whether a game is playable, is to either wait for reviews (just a single day after release) or to buy the game themselves. Why spend $60 to get the information when it can be obtained for free?
Remember the reception of Superman 64? It was one of the worst games ever made. I have never heard a person speak positively about it, nor any fanaticism defending the game. If you were the type of person to blindly pre-order a game without waiting for review information on its quality, you risk getting a game like Superman 64: a horrible un-fun experience that is nothing more than a waste of money. If you care about spending your money on fun experiences that entertain you, then what reason could you have for not doing your research first? Would you research a car? Would you research a computer? Then why not research a game?