This post is the second in a series examining why gamers should reconsider pre-ordering games. If you're just joining us now, you can find the first part in the series here.
Why Not Pre-Order? Save Money
I am a frugal gamer. I love saving money, which, ideally, results in me more “bang for my buck”. When gaming on consoles, I loved picking up games from the bargain bin for $10-15. As a PC gamer, Steam has ruined me for buying games full price. I can expect 33% off in 2-3 months after release,
50% off when a sale hits, and 75% off when a sale hits after 5-6 months after release. Many times games also re-release as GOTY (Game of the Year) editions that include the DLC that I would have otherwise had to pay for. Waiting, as a PC gamer, only increases the value of your purchasing power. Additionally, along with the decrease in the costs of the games, patches and bug fixes typically come out for games in that time, meaning I get to pay less for what's usually a better gaming experience.
In my last series, I mentioned that one can save money by pre-ordering (though this usually only applies to PC games). It has been a recent trend that discounts on the order of 25-30% can be obtained by pre-ordering, which is quite large for a new game. After those pre-order phases end, games go back to their full price, until the inevitable sale. With Steam, sales are fairly frequent. It takes a measure of self-control and willpower to wait the couple months to get the better deal. However, many gamers value the ability to play the game immediately more than the savings they would eventually get from waiting for the price to drop.
Why Not Pre-Order? Anti-Consumer Practices
There are tons of terrible business practices that gaming companies have taken to in the past several years. Some practices can be defended to a degree, while others are simply indefensible to all except the developer’s bottom line. The ONLY way bad practices will ever stop is if the measures themselves become unprofitable.
Game development is a for-profit business. If a game developer finds a trend in gaming that consumers like, consumers will spend money on that trend, which means the developer will make money off of it. If the trend is something the consumers don’t like and the developer loses money from following the trend, then the developer will stop following that trend. In this way, customers have the opportunity to vote with their wallets against practices that are bad for them.
One such practice is game abandonment after launch. Hypothetically: You purchase a brand-new game; you are very excited to play and you jump into playing the game. As you play, you find an increasing number of bugs and glitches that affect the digital world around you, and some that even halt your progression altogether. You go online and check out discussions on the game to find that a majority of other people playing the game are running into the same issues. You are annoyed that the game was launched in such a state. Eventually the developer
comes forth and announces that they are aware of the issues and that they might choose to fix the bugs that prevent you progressing through the core narrative, but they will not be fixing any other bugs since their efforts will be spent creating DLC. In other words, the developer has just said that milking its player-base for more money with DLC is more important than fixing bugs it is aware of in its game. If you don’t believe this is a real situation, then you are not familiar with what happened with Arkham Origins from Warner Bros. Montréal. I will not be purchasing any games from that studio again until they change in some meaningful way and I urge you to do the same. This is not how a good company treats its customers.
Other anti-consumer practices would include:
- Pre-order bonuses and discounts to encourage consumers to buy the game without providing opportunities for reviews to either be drafted or seen.
- Shady review embargoes so that consumers can’t find information about a game
- Pay-to-win elements in multiplayer games when the multiplayer is supposed to be skill-based (like Evolve, which we don't recommend purchasing)
- Micro-transactions and other DLC that are pay-to-win, split the multiplayer community, restore cut content from the game, or are integral to the main content of the original game
This BS makes me crazy. It should make you crazy too.
- DMCA takedown requests on non-infringing use of game content in a transformative nature such as a YouTube review of a game
- Removal of content from a game that has already been purchased (like Rockstar did with Grand Theft Auto: Vice City)
- Shoving games out the door that are literally unplayable (Sim City) or games that are buggy and broken for a large section of the gaming community (Assassin's Creed: Unity) just so they can make their money now rather than wait until the games get to a cleaner, more finished state.
To this point, let’s look at the option of pre-ordering the new Assassin’s Creed: Rogue After already
|There is no defense for the bugs of Unity.|
knowing how terrible Assassin's Creed: Unity was for most people, and how poorly optimized Watch Dogs and Far Cry 4 were at launch. It can be said that Ubisoft has a poor track record lately. While the company used to have a reputation for making good quality games, the last several releases from various studios under Ubisoft have been rushed and buggy. The most likely culprit for these results
is that Ubisoft corporate directed the developer studios to release games, regardless of their state, so that Ubisoft corporate could make money sooner. If you don’t want future Ubisoft games to be buggy on release, and want them to remain in development until they are ready, then you need to not buy buggy games on release. That means: don’t pre-order.
There is only one way that companies will stop these practices and that is to make these practices unprofitable. If you just give your money to a company any time they tell you they are planning on releasing a new product, what incentive do they have to make the product good? What incentive do they have to make the product work properly? What incentive do they have to do anything different release after release? If most gamers refused to purchase games from companies that took part in these anti-consumer practices, then the practices would be unprofitable and the companies would stop using them.